Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives
Henry J. Hyde, Chairman

CONTACT: Sam Stratman, (202) 226-7875, October 1, 2004

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Hyde Addresses Graduates of

Institute of World Politics

“History has thrust the United States into a role of international leadership

that we ignore at our peril, and at the world’s peril”


WASHINGTON—In a commencement address delivered Friday to graduates of the Institute of World Politics, U.S. Rep. Henry J. Hyde (R-IL) underscored the importance of understanding that “democracy is not just a set of rules on how we sue each other. Democracy is not only a procedure, but it has real moral context.”

            “We believe that human rights are universal,” said Hyde, chairman of the House Committee on International Relations, referring to America’s responsibilities abroad.  “And we will work with the friends of freedom to advance the prospects of a world in which those universal human rights are acknowledged in life and protected in law. Yet our commitment to universal human rights does not make us ‘imperialists.’ We have no ambitions to rule others. We also know, however, that the world does not rule itself. And we recognize that history has thrust the United States into a role of international leadership that we ignore at our peril, and at the world’s peril.”

            The Institute of World Politics, a Washington, D.C.-based graduate program affiliated with Boston University, is designed to equip students with an understanding of both international politics and the ethical conduct of politics.

            In his address, Hyde noted that twice in his lifetime, America “thought it had earned a vacation from history.” The events of 9/11, however, serve as lessons that the world is too dangerous for the U.S. to retreat from the responsibility of self-defense, said Hyde.

            The first such retreat occurred at the end of World War II, Hyde said. Following the defeat of fascism in Europe and East Asia, Americans wanted to focus on their own  domestic affairs, said Hyde, a veteran of the war. With the rise of the Soviet Union, however, it became apparent that America was required to act. Hyde credited visionary leaders including President Harry Truman, Secretary of State Dean Acheson and Senator Arthur Vandenberg with putting forth the policies that ultimately led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

            Hyde also cited the events of September 11, 2001, as the rude awakening from America’s second “vacation from history.”

“Political vacuums, like natural vacuums, are going to be filled. Absent a vigorous defense of freedom, freedom’s foes will take the initiative,” said Hyde.

            These events taught generations of U.S. leaders the value of taking a proactive approach to defending freedom throughout the world. Ultimately, that is why we are involved in government, Hyde told the graduates, “advancing and defending the noble cause of freedom.”


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