- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 12, 2001

Tony Blankley is on the mark about how the United States can best encourage human rights and freedom abroad (“A righteous commission,” May 9). The neo-Wilsonians, alas, still have a touching confidence in the capacity of international covenants and treaties on human rights to change the behavior of sovereign states. These instruments have their place, of course, but governments improve their practices more from domestic pressures than from foreign preaching. Quiet admonition also has its place.

The United States can most effectively encourage human rights by its example. John Quincy Adams understood this when in 1821 he said: “Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will heart, her benediction and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.”

In May 1962, Andre Malraux underscored the significance of America´s example: “For culture, for an Atlantic civilization, for freedom of mind, I offer a toast to the only nation that has waged war but not worshipped it, that has won the greatest power in the world but not sought it, that has wrought the greatest weapon of death but not wished to wield it; and may it inspire men with dreams worthy of its action.”

The United States, with all its shortcomings, is still a “shining city on a hill” worthy of emulation.


ERNEST W. LEFEVER

Chevy Chase


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