Recently, a candidate for leadership of a great country made a speech on how he would treat a certain self-important little ally. Comments were phrased with, one hopes, a view to getting elected. A thousand years from now, when the people of that great power will certainly be far less ignorant and far more mature, perhaps they will permit a real leader to come into power and make a speech about a similar relationship. In that speech by the incoming leader of the great power in the year 3009, this new leader of the third millennium will state:
I pledge myself to be the leader of my country, not of any other country…but with consideration toward all other countries.
No other country’s security is sacrosanct at the expense of the security of its neighbors.
No other country deserves special privileges, nor, indeed, does our own country.
The rules of international relations should apply to all equally. No religion that demands a special place for itself deserves support; no country deserves support if that support requires the subordination of a neighbor; no country or people merits special treatment.
No country deserves to have the power to destroy all other countries – that is a fool’s game that only breeds hostility and ensures instability. There is no greater threat to any country than for that country to put itself on a pedestal and demand that all others recognize its superiority. My goal will be the achievement of a common security framework through the elimination of such exceptionalism.
We may not force other countries to the negotiating table but equally we offer no guarantee that we will support a country that refuses to negotiate.
As leader, I will probably not be able to achieve peace for all time, eliminate disease, or put smiles on every face 24 hours a day, but I will use all elements of national power to construct a world in which each common citizen of this small globe has reason to look toward the future with hope.
We have all heard some unfortunate remarks made by power-hungry politicians in various countries. Politicians speak for many reasons. Politicians address themselves publicly to many audiences.
As your new leader, it will be my policy to attempt to reason with any who may be willing to reason with me. I will not speak to people or fight with people or ignore people because of what they say but because of how they behave and because of how I may feel I have the opportunity to convince them to behave.
I do not wish to be president to sulk, to sneer, to conquer, or to obliterate; I wish to be president because I believe I can help in some, perhaps modest, manner to promote better behavior. If I turn out to be overconfident in my ability to do that, then at least I believe that I will be able to set an example of better behavior. And it is no mean achievement for the most powerful leader of the most powerful country on earth to set a better example.