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By EDWIN J. FEULNER, JR., President of The Heritage Foundation
Delivered before the Windsor Group Conference, Pultusk, Poland, November 12, 1994
Whenever I give a speech somewhere, I always say I'm delighted to be there - and I usually am delighted. Tonight, I feel something more, however. I am honored to be here. I'm genuinely honored to be among you who are carrying on the glorious, disheartening, frustrating, God-inspired battle for human freedom.
Five years ago, who can forget how high your hopes our hopes - were running? We all felt your joy. The world was absolutely giddy with the prospects for political and economic reform. And rightly so. Some of those hopes have been fulfilled; some have caused heartache. So I am well aware that tonight has a bittersweet taste for some. In the words of the American humorist Will Rogers.
"Liberty don't work as good in practice as it does in speeches."
Even a great optimist like myself must tell you that democracy always has a certain wistfulness - perhaps even a trace of melancholy - in its character. Why? Because as conservatives, we know that the human condition is such that Man can never reach his perfection. The practice of democracy is an imperfect art. I once heard someone say that democracy is like a raft - it doesn't sink, but your feet are always in the water.
Some of the countries who are gaining democracy have water up to their knees, their waists. But, oh, my friends, the sustaining, uplifting purpose of what you have undertaken to accomplish! And I remain decidedly optimistic about your eventual success. I look forward to the U.S. and Central Europe enjoying a free trade relationship. I look forward to Poland and all your countries being part of NATO. I look forward to the countries represented here this evening making real economic progress towards free markets for free men.
Theme: American Leadership
In those places here in Central and Eastern Europe where reform has stalled, I believe one reason is because American leadership has stalled. America's purpose has drifted since the Cold War ended. I don't believe the United States can truly advance …