No Freedom Without a Backbone

A government that sacrifices the long-term security of its own people in a vain attempt to appease its enemies of today cannot be said to protect either liberty or security. In his speech at 2011 CPAC, former Governor Tim Pawlenty (R–MN) repeatedly underlined this point. His comments were a strong reminder that we will “never, ever, ever, stop fighting for our freedom” and that in this fight we must maintain an “extraordinary commitment” to the cause.

Diplomacy is effective only if it can be enforced. Negotiating from a position of weakness only emboldens one’s enemies to press their advantage. This has been seen time and time again throughout history, and yet governments seem to forget this lesson. In the words of Pawlenty, “bullies respect strength, not weakness.” Unfortunately, today’s American “big stick” is old and rotting, not having been properly cared for in the 20 years since the end of the Cold War.

Pawlenty rightfully points out that, just as the appeasement of Germany gave it time to prepare for a second world war, we are currently debasing our support of our allies across the world by playing too soft with those that threaten our collective liberty. Appeasing such foes now will only leave them hungering for more in the future.

The governor is right when he says that this nation has to stop apologizing to the world. America’s military is a bulwark in the defense of both America’s and the world’s liberty, and yet the current Administration neither understands nor provides the support necessary to continue this mission. Pawlenty rightly stated in his speech that “if freedom were easy, everybody around the world would be free.” Instead, liberty is a goal that must be fought for both by those who have it and by those who yearn for it.

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It is time to buck up, strengthen America’s “big stick,” and “make sure that there is no equivocation, no uncertainty, no daylight between us and our allies around the world.” America is a beacon of hope for those who seek freedom, and it is time that as a nation we relight the torch that has so proudly shone forth in the past.

Matthew Despres is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit:

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