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|Ideas Have Consequences||
This week, President Bush met with several world leaders, including Russia's Vladimir Putin. Relations with the Russian president have been strained since the liberation of Iraq and the inquiry into the United Nations' "Oil For Food" program. Yet some critical issues force the United States and Russia to come together. At the top of the list: missing nuclear weapon components, North Korea's nuclear armament, and the increasingly tense situation in Iran.
The White House released a joint statement saying, "The United States and Russia will enhance cooperation to counter one of the gravest threats our two countries face, nuclear terrorism. We bear a special responsibility for the security of nuclear weapons and fissile material, in order to ensure that there is no possibility such weapons or materials would fall into terrorist hands."
Against this backdrop of life-and-death issues, President Bush chose to include other concerns related to Russia's transition to a free society.
President Putin defiantly declared last week, "The fundamental principles of democracy and the institutions of democracy must be adapted to the reality of today's life in Russia, to our traditions and history, and this is something that we will do on our own."
Russia's path to democracy has included some not-so-democratic actions lately, including the clampdown on a free press, the cancellation of gubernatorial elections, the meddling in Ukraine's elections, and the apparent opposition to free enterprise.
Why would President Bush bring up such delicate domestic issues while arguably more important global threats loom large? Because our president understands one of the absolute truths in life: ideas have consequences.
Our President works consistently to promote the archetypical American "worldview." From the German word Weltanschauung, a worldview is a "life perspective" or "way of seeing." It is the means by which we interpret the situations and circumstances around us. It determines our basic outlook on life.
The worldview held by Vladimir Putin must be tested. Coming from a communist system long entrenched in a totalitarian worldview, Putin's commitment to freedom must be challenged and encouraged.
President Bush understands the importance of this truth. He understands that a democratic worldview tends toward a free society, and a totalitarian worldview tends toward fascism or dictatorship. Every belief system will ultimately bear fruit and the fruit will be consistent with the root from which it comes.
The fruit of Russia's new democracy must be tested. If it does not taste of freedom, then the root must be eradicated and a new seed planted. The leader of the most powerful nation on earth stands in a unique position to lead new democracies in the way of freedom and President Bush has wisely chosen to pursue a course of gentle persuasion.
It is healthy to engage Russia in a constructive, yet firm, dialogue in order to protect our own people and continue to liberate the people of the former Soviet Union. Putin's good ideas must be supported and his bad ideas must be opposed, because the consequences of his ideas, both good and bad, will affect our world for generations to come.