DUNEDIN, New Zealand – The Boston bombers, whoever they were, do not seem to have intended to murder anyone in particular. Like the Muslim extremists who blew up the World Trade Center 12 years ago, they intended to hurt America.
They sought to maim or kill the marathon runners because those young athletes were, to them, glowingly symbolic of the vigor and virility of that great nation that one of your celebrated poets magnificently described as “the athletic democracy.”
Success has always been envied, then resented, then despised, then hated: hated especially by those who have failed. And America’s success is all the more hated because it is – on any measure – exceptional.
No other nation on Earth has given such wholehearted consent to Disraeli’s maxim: “Any man may succeed in our society who defers to the principle of that society, which is to aspire and to excel.”
In Socialist Britain, a Labor supporter who does not own a Ferrari will sneer at one if it passes in the street and try to think of ways to stop people owning Ferraris.
In free-market America, anyone who does not own a Ferrari will cheer at one as it passes in the street and try to think of ways to own one.
The dismal dictators who still govern most of the planet strive to prevent their subjects from ever getting to hear about the freedom and democracy of America. While the U.S. Constitution stands, uneasy lies the head of every tyrant.
Of Britain’s great Empire it may not unfairly be said that those who won dominion over palm and pine by what Enoch Powell used to call “the peaceful accident of trade” did so with more than half an eye to their own commercial advantage. Clive of India and Rhodes of Rhodesia were men of business, and brilliant at it.
Yet the Pax Americana that has gently but definitely supplanted the now-vanished Pax Britannica is inconspicuously but again definitely altruistic. The profit motive may sometimes be present, but the will to share with the rest of the world the merry chaos of free-market democracy is always there, though seldom noticed and still more seldom appreciated.
Let us, then, rise for a few moments above the miseries that are the price of success: the Boston bombings, the Soebarkah White House, the antimatter-filled Treasury, the near-worthless currency, the rising sea-level of uncontrolled immigration.
Let us count instead the blessings that America has unselfishly, unstintingly brought not upon herself but upon the rest of the world.
Who was it, when Churchill said “Give us the tools and we shall finish the job,” that came generously to the aid of Britain and Europe during the war for the very survival of all that is British and all that is European against the monstrous might of Hitler’s hate-filled legions? Uncle Sam.
Who was it, when Keynes besought Congress for the funds to create the first welfare state, that lent such large sums at low interest to a Britain bankrupted by war that we only repaid the last tranche of that long-outstanding debt a couple of years ago? Our Uncle across the water.
Who was it that paid – and paid for two long generations – the lion’s share of the heavy cost of maintaining forceful vigilance on Europe’s long eastern frontier with the murderous tyranny of Soviet Russia? Good old Uncle again.
Who was it that that then paid – and paid generously – to assist the newly freed nations of Eastern Europe to rebuild themselves after Ron Reagan and Margaret Thatcher had brought down the Berlin Wall? Uncle Sam.
Who was it that led – and led gallantly – the task force that expelled Saddam Hussein from Kuwait and then, a decade later, expelled his hated despotism from Iraq as well? Play it again, Sam.
Who was it that led – and led courageously – the rebuilding of Kuwait, of Iraq, of Afghanistan?
Who is it that many nations across the globe have been able to thank for generous assistance – whether civil or military – that was unfailingly given whenever it was requested? Everyone’s Uncle.
Who is that still sets and exemplifies today the standards of life, liberty, prosperity and democracy to which men of goodwill everywhere aspire? It is you, Uncle.
As your nation grieves for those whose lives the bombers so wantonly and so pointlessly stole, and as it cares for those in whom serious injury has snatched away youth and strength, never apologize for being not only a successful nation but also a good nation, and a good friend to all the Earth.
Know, too, that we who admire America, and who have so many reasons for gratitude that my little list above is notable more for what it omits than for what it contains, shall always be thankful for your courage in daring to be to the world’s best friend.
We will remember your gallant men at arms who, shoulder to shoulder with our own, have given their all, time and again, on freedom’s farthest frontiers. We will remember also the innocent victims of Boston and of many more unspeakable acts of terror against your citizens.
Their deaths will not have been in vain: for they remind not only America’s many friends but also its enemies how much you have risked to keep the world safe; how much you have paid to make it prosperous; how much you have striven to give it the chance of freedom. In this and every hour of grief, God bless America!