by David Frum

By far the most frequent objection to my proposed mission statement however was to its inclusion of the phrase "peaceful American-led world order."

Plaintively in some cases, ferociously in others, people asked: why should American world leadership be a goal of any kind of conservative politics?

My answer: consider the alternatives. For 60 years, the democratic countries have known ever-rising levels of affluence and security. This benign system of collective security and free trade has extended outward to encompass more and more countries: beyond western Europe to include central and eastern Europe, beyond Japan to reach the small countries of the Pacific Rim. We have not done so well in Latin America and the Middle East, but Chile at least has joined the system and Brazil likely soon will. 

This construct is the work of no one country, but it ultimately rests upon the reassuring fact of American power. As Murray Kempton said of Dwight Eisenhower, it is the great tortoise on whose broad shell the world sat in sublime disregard of the source of its peace and security.

Just as even the most self-equilibriating markets need a lender of last resort, so even the most stable international system needs a security guarantor of last resort. Some describe the post-1945 system as a "democratic peace." But democracy alone did not suffice to keep the peace after 1918. It's an American-sustained peace, and should the day come when America loses the power or will to sustain it, the international system that will follow will be not only more dangerous but also less hospitable to liberal values in the broadest sense of the word liberal. 

If I am certain of any one belief, I am certain of that.

And with that credo, it's time to express my thanks for this week of hospitality at AndrewSullivan.com. First to Andrew himself, speaking of liberal in the broadest sense, for opening his floor to some very divergent perspectives indeed - although I realize now I never did around to posting those links to Zionist summer camps.

Next to Andrew's never-resting colleagues Patrick Appel and Chris Bodenner, who make the blogs run on time. 

And finally to you, the thoughtful and challenging readers of this remarkable place in cyberspace. I hope we can extend these discussions in the weeks ahead at my usual lemonade stand, FrumForum.com. 


We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.