This month marks the anniversary of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. The US, Europe and much of the rest of the world—with the significant exceptions of China and Iran—have rallied to support the Ukrainian people and condemn this unprovoked attack. This war isn’t one more clash of competing nations; it’s about a nation defending its freedom against autocratic aggression. While it is important to support the Ukrainian people with the arms and resources they need to resist Russia, the most vital asset the US can offer is the idea of freedom itself.
During the Cold War, Ronald Reagan understood the symbolic value of freedom. He founded his strategy for prevailing against the Soviet Union on his belief that the human yearning for freedom is universal and that America’s leadership in the world depended not only on military or economic power but also on its ability to demonstrate how freedom creates prosperity and happiness.