FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

The mission of FIF is to defend and expand the basic rights that Western civilization which we believe are inherent to each individual. Furthermore, this objective should be universally pursued because people who live in free countries are demonstrably happier and more prosperous than those under repressive regimes.

However, democracy is a messy process. Democratic governments require consensus for decisions compared to authoritarian and populist regimes which consolidate power with a small group of individuals. Further, a stable democracy requires established institutions including an independent judiciary, free press and social media. Without these protections democracies are vulnerable to the appeal of strong leaders who offer the citizens a better life or promises to restore national greatness.

Once in power these autocrats quickly dismantle these institutions and establish a tyrannical dictatorship through suppression of any opposition by brutal attacks on individuals and the press, diminishment of the powers of the parliaments and the courts, and the control of the military. The fate of the North Korean people under the loathsome regime of the Kim dynasty is the ultimate example of this process. Venezuela and even Turkey are on this path.

Sadly, 2018 marked the eleventh year of increase in the number of countries with autocratic governments and a comparable decline in democracies. Freedom House president, Michael J. Abramowitz, called this situation a “Crisis for Democracy.” The mission of FIF is basically in sync with Freedom House, and I suggest you review their web site, www.freedomhouse.org.

The United States is not immune to the populist call for a more authoritarian government. In an overdue action to protect American industry from egregious trade practices primarily from China, the Trump administration initiated a trade war by imposing tariffs on a wide range of imports from many countries. Understandably, retaliations followed. Tariffs are essentially a government tax on free trade. They hurt everyone, some more than others, and are a very blunt weapon to achieve this objective.

On a positive note the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act which was signed by President Trump on December 31st, is intended to enhance U.S. engagement with our traditional allies in the Indo-Asia region. The Act provides for $1.5 billion annual expenditures for five years for military, diplomatic and economic projects in this region. It is intended to respond to China’s effort to become the dominant power in the region. We applaud this measure as a vital step to support our allies who share our basic values.

Byron K. Varme
Executive Director