In 1959, President Eisenhower signed into law the Captive Nation Week resolution which mandated that the United States, as “the citadel of human freedom,” provide “leadership in bringing about [Captive Nations’] liberation and independence.” Last weekend, President Obama delivered his version of the Captive Nations Week proclamation.However, although Obama spoke to the value of “fundamental freedoms” and “universal principles,” his words lacked the passion and conviction needed to demonstrate America’s commitment to advancing freedom to all corners of the earth.
For instance, President Obama’s proclamation was completely devoid of any mention of democracy. This should come as no surprise. In the president’s first half-year in office, he has all but abandoned supporting democracy abroad, even in places where the foundations have already been laid.
Furthermore, the President refrained from mentioning any oppressive regime by name, in fact, choosing not even to address the concept at all. Compare this meager approach to President Bush’s 2008 Captives Nation proclamation, which unabashedly acknowledged the existence of ruthless governments “who murder the innocent and seek to subject millions to their violent, totalitarian rule.” Bush went on to pointedly call out eight freedom-stifling regimes by name, while also firmly stating a need to support the fledgling democracies of Afghanistan and Iraq.
In his remarks, President Obama declared that advancing freedom is in America’s interests, “not only because it is right, but also because our Nation’s fate is connected to that of other nations.” While Obama claims to understand the significance of championing liberty and human rights globally, his inaction and passionless words to this point don’t back him up.