The West Has to Face Facts, and Fast

This drive can succeed only if Western nations understand their own central values: Rule of law, representative government, core freedoms of expression and conscience and property rights are at the heart of the West’s rise and grandeur. Understanding them well and promoting them thoughtfully can be persuasive to emerging nations, adapted as necessary to circumstance. The West needs to be a club that others want to join, in which they can see themselves as full, equal members, rather than an exclusionary body.

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The West’s historical development and expression of its power means the entire globe has been shaped by its relation to Western ideas and methods. In a sense, we are all Western now. The primary geopolitical question of the twenty-first century will be whether the marriage of Western science with anti-Western beliefs will prevail. A smart adaptation by the West to global reality on the ground can prevent a disastrous collision with a powerful rival bloc, while supporting the spread of core Western ideals better than the blind confidence of the early 2000s ever could.

[Olsen counsels a more humble foreign policy, especially in relations to former colonies, which one can debate. We have spent the post-Cold War years humbling ourselves over that with unnerving enthusiasm, and it doesn’t seem to have been appreciated so far. However, Olsen’s spot-on about understanding the real strengths of Western civilization as outlined above and centering on those. At the moment, it appears that the Western elites want to dump those core values in favor of Eastern-style tribalism and authoritarianism. That’s the real threat. — Ed]

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