F.R. Duplantier reporting Behind The Headlines
Week of:
November 12, 2000
Is Another American Century Ahead?

F.R. Duplantier

by: F.R. Duplantier

"The twentieth century has already been called the American Century . . . and the next century will probably be another."

"Twice this century, it fell to the English-speaking peoples to defend world peace in wars of European origin," recalls former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. "And, after World War II, it was our duty to face down the evil empire that was the Soviet Union." The end of the Cold War has not lifted our burden, Thatcher laments. "We have looked on in horror," she affirms, "as new tyrants have deliberately stirred ethnic hatreds in countries where Communism once fiercely imposed an artificial order. We have witnessed the rise of repressive regimes whose clerical leaders seek to wrap their brutality in the raiment of ancient religious beliefs. We have watched with concern as rogue states seek to acquire a nuclear capability by rummaging through the dusty arsenals of the former Communist-bloc states. And we have realized grimly that the willingness to use terrorism as a political tool has not abated. We look with dismay at the rise of organized crime and gangsters in many of the emerging democracies now finally freed from Communism's cruel yoke."

In a recent issue of American Outlook, published by the Hudson Institute, Lady Thatcher asserts that most of the problems in the world today "can be remedied by the steady spread of the fundamental values of the English-speaking peoples. We can help others do what we have done for ourselves." Though acknowledging that liberty is "a plant of slow growth and one that demands constant and careful attention," she senses "an inevitability about it, for liberty is man's natural and desired condition."

Thatcher examines the obstacles to be overcome by evangelists of liberty. "Creating the practical circumstances in which freedom can flourish requires more than the mere parroting of empty phrases about human rights," she affirms. "The challenge is to limit the powers of government even though the politicians wish to see them expanded. Private property must be secured even though the egalitarians and socialists are fueling envy. Taxation must be restrained even though the interest groups want ever-greater public expenditures. And, above all, the means have to be devised to create and administer an honest and clear rule of law even though temptations to sell influence, barter privilege, and wriggle around constraints are never greater than in times of fundamental change."

Thatcher also addresses "the need to change socialist outlooks where they still exist. Few things are more difficult," she concedes, "than to inject a sense of personal responsibility in those peoples where the all-pervasive, all-providing, all-controlling state has nearly obliterated such qualities. The preference for independence and risk, rather than dependence and security, can only be acquired over time," Thatcher explains, "and freedom and responsibility have to become second nature before they are truly safe. For, in the end, the institutions of freedom can only rest on the moral commitment to freedom. Those of us who enjoy the traditions of freedom," she concludes, "have an obligation to teach the newly emerging democracies how to be free."

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