And so those are some of the dynamics that makes it hard. And I'm troubled by
isolationism and protectionism. As a matter of fact, I dedicated part of my
State of the Union address a couple of years ago to this very theme. And what
concerns me is, is that the United States of America will become fatigued when
it comes to fighting off tyrants, or say it's too hard to spread liberty, or use
the excuse that just because freedom hadn't flourished in parts of the world,
therefore it's not worth trying, and that, as a result, we kind of retrench and
lose confidence in our -- the values that have made us a great nation in the
But these aren't American values; they're universal values.
And the danger of getting tired during this world [sic] is any retreat by the
America -- by America was going to be to the benefit of those who want to do us
harm. Now, I understand that since September the 11th, the great tendency is to
say, we're no longer in danger. Well, that's false. That's false hope. It's
either disingenuous or naive, and either one of those attitudes is unrealistic.
And the biggest job we've got is to protect the American people from
harm. I don't want to get in another issue, but that's why we better figure out
what the enemy is saying on their telephones, if you want to protect you.
(Applause.) Notice I am deftly taking a trade issue and working in all my other
But I'm serious about this business about America
retreating. And I've got great faith in the transformative power of liberty, and
that's what I believe is going to happen in the Middle East. And I understand it
undermines the argument of the stability-ites -- people who say, you just got to
worry about stability. And I'm saying, we better worry about the conditions that
caused 19 kids to kill us in the first place.
And the best way to deal
with hopelessness is to fight disease like we're doing in Africa, and fight
forms of government that suppress people's rights, like we're doing around the
world. And a retreat from that attitude is going to make America less secure and
the world more dangerous, just like a loss of confidence in trade.
yet the two run side by side: isolationism and protectionism. I might throw
another "ism," and that's nativism. And that's what happened throughout our
history. And probably the most grim reminder of what can happen to America
during periods of isolationism and protectionism is what happened in the late --
in the '30s, when we had this "America first" policy, and Smoot-Hawley. And look
where it got us.
And so I guess to answer your question, there needs to
be political courage, in the face of what may appear to be a difficult headwind,
in order to speak clearly about the effects of retreat and the benefits of
trade. And so I appreciate you giving me a chance to opine. (Laughter and