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The Bush Institute’s Freedom Collection received a valuable addition yesterday, when His Holiness the Dalai Lama gave President George W. Bush an early draft of the 1963 Tibetan Constitution, which he promulgated a few years after being exiled to India. The Freedom Collection will highlight past and present freedom movements from across the globe, and this remarkable artifact will serve as its “founding document.’ His Holiness, who formally resigned from politics in mid-March, is among the world’s most recognizable and powerful symbols of resistance to tyranny. Speaking Tuesday at Southern Methodist University, where he received an honorary degree, the Tibetan spiritual leader emphasized that the desire for democracy is not unique to the West, but rather is universal across countries and cultures. This is an especially timely observation, given the recent wave of political upheaval in the Middle East and the ongoing pursuit of religious freedom and autonomy by the people of Tibet. Not so long ago, Western skeptics doubted that representative government was compatible with “Asian values.” Today, we see successful democracies across the region, from Japan to Taiwan to South Korea to Indonesia to India. The Indonesian experience also confirms that democracy is compatible with Islam. Indeed, the largest Muslim country probably gets too little credit for its democratic achievements. The spread of democracy over the past few decades demonstrates that the human aspiration for self-government is constant throughout the world. That’s something important to remember amid the current turmoil in Egypt, Syria, China, and beyond.
Amanda Schnetzer serves as Fellow, Global Initiatives at the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas, Texas.
Previously, Amanda served as Director Global Initiatives after serving as founding director of the Human Freedom Initiative. In this role, she was responsible for developing innovative research, programmatic, and policy efforts to advance societies rooted in political and economic freedom and to empower women to lead in their communities and countries.
Amanda has twenty years of experience in the international arena and a background in public policy research and analysis, public affairs, and management of diverse, high-level stakeholders. As senior fellow and director of studies at Freedom House in New York, Amanda guided research for the organization’s definitive studies of freedom. She began her career at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC, supporting research on U.S. foreign policy and international politics. Amanda is a published writer and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She holds degrees from Georgetown University and Southern Methodist University, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa.Full Bio
Chinese Prisoner’s Death Holds a Message for Americans and China
Liu Xiaobo, China’s most prominent dissident and Nobel Peace Prize winner died this week. His death holds a message for Americans and for China.
Release of Chinese Political Prisoner a Timely Reminder to Support Freedom Advocates Abroad
More than half the world’s population still lives in countries where basic political rights and civil liberties are only partly respected, if at all.
Bringing Freedom to the Forefront of 21st Century Politics
Is the global liberal democratic order in danger? Purposefully constructed in the aftermath of World War II, this order -- and the American leadership that is central to its success --has contributed to securing peace and expanding prosperity in the United States and around the world. Today, that order appears to be dissolving. This crisis is not new or sudden; it has been mounting for several years. Global challenges like authoritarian capitalism, violent extremism, demographic pressures, and displaced populations have placed global freedom in decline. Fraying traditional alliances united by core values of freedom are increasingly weak to respond. It is alarming that the downdraft in democratic resilience over the past decade or more includes countries that have long been part of the consolidated democratic West. This is democratic deconsolidation. In much of the Western world, we see a rise in demagogic populism, illiberalism, nationalism, protectionism, and waning conf
The Importance of Speaking Truth to Tyrants
What the president of the United States says matters. Even during the realpolitik policies of détente under Richard Nixon, it was still clear that American policy was based on a set of core values. Nixon’s practical goals of reaching deals with America’s adversaries was never based on the “great chemistry” with himself or praising the Soviet or Communist Chinese leadership doing a “fantastic job.” When the president aligns himself with the autocrats and dictators, he aligns America with their oppression. He sends a message that corruption and brutality are not our concern. Contrast that with how Ronald Reagan defied much of world opinion in calling out the brutality of the Soviet system. Natan Sharansky, then a refusenik imprisoned in a Soviet gulag, later wrote for the Weekly Standard of his thoughts on Reagan’s pronouncement that the USSR was an evil empire: “It was the great, brilliant moment whe