The Magazine

Honoring Democracy

From the January 24, 2005 issue: Honor points the path of duty; the path of duty for us is the defense of liberty.

Jan 24, 2005, Vol. 10, No. 18 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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"It is baffling to reflect," Churchill adds, "that what men call honor does not correspond always to Christian ethics. Honor is often influenced by that element of pride which plays so large a part in its inspiration. An exaggerated code of honor leading to the performance of utterly vain and unreasonable deeds could not be defended, however fine it might look." "Here, however," Churchill continues, writing of the choice Britain faced at Munich in September 1938, "the moment came when Honor pointed the path of Duty, and when also the right judgment of the facts at that time would have reinforced its dictates."

Today, in Iraq and beyond, honor points the path of duty, and the right judgment of the facts reinforces its dictates. The path of duty for us, as it was for Churchill and Sharansky, is the defense of liberty. As he takes the oath of office for the second time, having won a deserved reelection from the American people, this is Bush's challenge, and his mission.

-- William Kristol