Defining America's Role on the Global Stage. (American Thought)
Hagel, Chuck, USA TODAY
ON MARCH 5, 1946, at Westminster College in Fulton, Mo., British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, with Pres. Harry Truman at his side, gave one of the greatest speeches of our time. Its power and majesty are not limited to time and place, although Churchill's warning of a Soviet "Iron Curtain" in Europe vividly captured the communist threat of that era. That day, he also conveyed something unique and special about America's international role: "... The United States stands at this time at the pinnacle of world power. It is a solemn moment for the American democracy. For with this primacy in power is also joined an awe-inspiring accountability to the future. As you look around you, you must feel not only the sense of duty done, but also you must feel anxiety lest you fall below the level of achievement. Opportunity is here now, clear and shining, for both our countries. To reject it or ignore it or fritter it away will bring upon us all the long reproaches of the aftertime."
With new eras come new challenges, and today the U.S. again stands at a pinnacle of power and again bears a heavy burden for securing a better tomorrow, for our citizens and for all the peoples of the world. At this critical juncture, the success of our actions will be determined not by the extent of our power, but by an appreciation of its limits. America must approach the world with a sense of purpose in global affairs that is anchored by our ideals, a principled realism that seeks not to remake the world in our image, but to help make a better world.
We must avoid the traps of hubris and imperial temptation that come with great power. Our foreign policy should reflect the hope and promise of America tempered with a mature wisdom that is the mark of our national character. In this new era of possibilities and responsibilities, America will require a wider-lens view of how the world sees us, so that we can better understand the world, and our role in it.
Just as Churchill pointed out in 1946, when historic opportunities for leadership are before us, they cannot be rejected, ignored, or frittered away. There would have been grave consequences if the U.S. had shrunk from its responsibilities in 1946, as there will be grave …
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Publication information: Article title: Defining America's Role on the Global Stage. (American Thought). Contributors: Hagel, Chuck - Author. Magazine title: USA TODAY. Volume: 131. Issue: 2696 Publication date: May 2003. Page number: 10+. © 2009 Society for the Advancement of Education. COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group.
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