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The Necessity of Morality in Foreign Policy

In the face of geopolitical uncertainty and rising authoritarian threats, liberal democracies must unite to protect human rights. While doing the right thing is a moral imperative, it is also a far more realistic approach to foreign policy than trying to appease tyrants.

LONDON – It is easy to be wise after the event. But perhaps, as the old adage goes, the best way to prepare for the future is to learn from the past.

I was thinking about this the other day, after seeing Ken Burns’s outstanding The U.S. and the Holocaust, a three-part documentary series that explores the response of the United States and Europe’s liberal democracies to the rise of Hitler and the persecution of Jews under the Nazi regime. In addition to an unflattering portrait of America’s foreign-policy decisions, the series offers important lessons for Western policymakers seeking to address today’s humanitarian crises without repeating the mistakes of the past.

First, we must never turn a blind eye to other governments’ human-rights abuses. Moreover, we should always listen to brave journalists on the ground, rather than trust authoritarian leaders who insist that they have done nothing wrong.

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