Defining America's Role on the Global Stage. (American Thought)

By Hagel, Chuck | USA TODAY, May 2003 | Go to article overview

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 consequences if America shrinks from today's challenges. The war in Iraq and a long-term engagement with the Middle East offer as much peril as promise. We also face an urgent threat from North Korea and the potential for nuclear war between India and Pakistan. The AIDS epidemic in Africa, Russia, and Asia poses one of the most-deadly threats to all humanity. Moreover, we cannot overlook our own hemisphere, where Colombia and Venezuela are involved with continued violence and instability.

The complexities of an interconnected world give us little margin for error in dealing with these great international challenges. The first priority for the U.S. and all sovereign nations is to protect its citizens. To do so we must build and sustain global institutions and alliances that share our interests and values. Harold Ickes, Secretary of the Interior under Pres. Franklin Roosevelt, put it powerfully in a speech on May 18, 1941, when he said, in response to those who urged the U.S. to stay out of World War II, that American support for Britain was "the sort of enlightened selfishness that makes the wheels of history go around. It is the sort of enlightened selfishness that wins victories. Do you know why? Because we cannot live in a world alone, without friends and without allies."

The serious obligations of global leadership come with a price. Beating the burdens and costs in defeating global terrorism, countering nuclear proliferation by nations and terrorist networks, and ending poverty and hunger on this planet are investments in our own security, as well as in the stability and security of the world. Security at home cannot be separated from dangers abroad.

The war against international terrorism and its sponsors is unlike any one we have ever known. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Defining America's Role on the Global Stage. (American Thought)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.