October 21, 2017

A Tale of Two Speeches

By Richard Fontaine

In two widely noticed speeches this week, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and President George W. Bush called Americans to a global leadership worthy of the country’s best traditions. They offered a compelling critique of the cramped worldview that has turned our political leaders increasingly inward. And they identified the fulcrum around which the intellectual battle over America’s proper place in the world will take shape.

Given the enormous stakes, it’s worth pausing to reflect for a moment on the two addresses and what they represent at this moment of political life.

In normal times, it would be unexceptional to hear a sitting senator and a former president call for strong alliances, an open economic system, and the promotion of human rights. McCain and Bush’s emphasis on America’s role in upholding international order would fit the approach of any post-World War II president, Republican or Democratic. Today, their calls are front page news. Many of the very fundamentals of U.S. foreign policy are now contested.

Read the full op-ed in Defense One.

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