The Truman Doctrine Comes Home

In March of 1947, then-President Harry S. Truman gave a speech that became known for establishing the Truman Doctrine.

“…Every nation must choose between alternative ways of life. The choice is too often not a free one. One way of life is based upon the will of the majority, and is distinguished by free institutions, representative government, free elections, guarantees of individual liberty, freedom of speech and religion, and freedom from political oppression.

The second way of life is based upon the will of a minority forcibly imposed upon the majority. It relies upon terror and oppression, a controlled press and radio, fixed elections, and the suppression of personal freedoms. I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures….”

Those words were directed overseas.

Today, those words resonate domestically. Ideologies that promise purpose and legitimacy to those who crave power without merit subvert our public institutions and threaten Americans with Truman’s “second way of life.” 

Armed agencies of U.S. governance intimidate those who have different opinions and dare to express them. They collaborate with private media to squelch ideas that conflict with their vision. They compromise election integrity. They also lock down those most likely to represent conflicting aims, all the while accusing political opponents of their own transgressions. There are outside pressures, too, most notably from a regime whose forebears committed the greatest atrocities and mass murders in history and who have infiltrated U.S. institutions including the highest levels of national governance.

It  has never been more important that we defend a liberal order and the rule of law that sustains it from those who would force failed ideologies upon us, destroying freedom and the morals that underpin liberty. This is war, one we must fight and win.

What does it mean to fight under these conditions? The national government is corrupt and brutal when aroused, so we should not start there. If seriously challenged, they react with thinly veiled condescension, invective and overwhelming force; their power is undeniable when focused.

We must start by building new, trusted institutions and financial centers located outside today’s corridors of power and peopled by those who believe in a liberal order under a rule of law and who achieve by merit and enterprise, not connections and corruption, e.g., Strive Asset Management in Columbus, Ohio. We must build trusted networks headquartered and staffed outside today’s techie Kremlins that prize diversity of opinion, not conformity under threat of cancellation, termination, imprisonment or intimidation, e.g., Substack. We must educate young and old in the history and philosophy of liberty and the morals that underpin a liberal order; we don’t need poison ivy-covered halls or stained glass mausoleums to do that, especially with today’s technology, e.g., PragerU.

What about leadership? Is great political leadership required today? Given the magnitude of the effort required, it would be disingenuous to suggest we can do without it. If we wish to preserve today’s Union, at some point we’ll need a great political leader. If it turns out we need to break it up, we’ll need several more.

The so called Greatest Generation did not lack for real political leadership in their hours of need, among them Winston Churchill in the U.K., Franklin D. Roosevelt in the U.S., and in the Soviet Union, one of the Second World War’s greatest generals, Marshall Georgy Zhukov, who was treated like dirt by one of history’s greatest degenerates, Josef Stalin. After the war, there were the wise men: Lovett, McCloy, Harriman, Bohlen, Kennan and Acheson, all architects of the peace and a liberal world order that lasted quite a while.

What about today’s political leaders? Nobody in politics today springs to mind, but I think we know who they aren’t. They certainly aren’t anyone who takes power under the banner of unity and then does nothing but divide and project. They certainly aren’t anyone whose combination of ego and immature discourse reminds one of a conceited, clever but nasty sixth grader instead of a statesman.

A great leader today would call upon liberty’s cultural leaders and ask them for their guidance formulating policies and programs to create, develop, support, and sustain liberty. Our liberty culture leadership bench today is deep and sits outside of the political realm. A great leader would be wise to call upon them for their counsel -- my list would be Ray Dalio, Dennis Prager, Claire Lehman, Bari Weiss, John Allison, Jordan Peterson, Victor Davis Hanson, Thomas Sowell, Peter Zeihan, Austin Bay, Jan Jekeilek, Dave Rubin, J. K. Rowling, Douglas Murray, Jonathan Haidt, Steve Pinker, Stephen Hicks. There are many more.

The good news is that the fight is now well underway. Great leaders will emerge. There is potential among some of those who haven’t yet been really tested but who look like they may be ready for center stage. Meanwhile find the new birthers of liberty, join them, support them. And brook no interference. Find a way. If Truman were alive today he would be aghast, but then he would certainly agree that Americans must support free peoples here in the U.S. as well as overseas.

Image: Picryl / public domain

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