The Free World
is a propaganda
primarily used during the Cold War
from 1945 to 1992, to refer to the Western Bloc
. More broadly, it has also been used to refer to all non-communist
It has traditionally primarily been used[by whom?]
to refer to the countries allied and aligned with the United States
, European Union
, or the United Kingdom
and to those affiliated with international organizations such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization
(NATO). Critics have pointed out the contradiction between the use of the term and the fact of its being applied to all NATO members - even at times when some of them were ruled by military dictatorships (such as Turkey
, and Portugal
) as well as to various anti-Communist dictatorial regimes closely allied to the US.
History of the concept
In World War II, the term free world
was used to refer to the nations fighting against the Axis Powers.
During World War II the term free countries
was used to identify the western allies. During the Cold War, the term referred to the allies of the United States
In both cases, the term was used for propaganda purposes.
During the Cold War, many neutral countries, either those in what is considered the Third World
, or those having no formal alliance with either the United States or the Soviet Union
, viewed the claim of "Free World" leadership by the United States as grandiose and illegitimate.
The phrase has also been used in an ironically negative manner, usually in an anti-US context, by those who do not approve of either United States foreign policy
or despise the United States as a whole.
One of the earliest uses of the term Free World
as a politically significant term occurs in Frank Capra's
World War II propaganda film
series Why We Fight
. In Prelude to War
, the first film of that series, the "free world" is portrayed as a white planet, directly contrasted with the black planet called the "slave world". The film depicts the free world as the Western Hemisphere, led by the United States and Western Europe, and the slave world as the Eastern Hemisphere, dominated by Nazi Germany
, Fascist Italy
and the Japanese Empire
21st century usage
While "Free World" had its origins in the Cold War
, the phrase is still used after the end of the Cold War and during the Global War on Terrorism
. Samuel P. Huntington
said the term has been replaced by the concept of the international community
, which, he argued, "has become the euphemistic collective noun (replacing "the Free World") to give global legitimacy to actions reflecting the interests of the United States and other Western powers."
Leadership of the Free World
The "Leader of the Free World" was a colloquialism
, first used during the Cold War, to describe either the United States
or, more commonly, the President of the United States
. The term when used in this context suggested that the United States was the principal democratic superpower
, and the US president was by extension the leader of the world's democratic states, i.e. the "Free World".
But remember, we have differences with our allies all over the world. They are family differences, and sometimes they are acute, but, by and large, the reason we call it "free world" is because each nation in it wants to remain independent under its own government and not under some dictatorial form of government.
Although in decline after the mid-1970s,
the term was heavily referenced in US foreign policy up until the dissolution of the Soviet Union
in December 1991. After the presidency of George H. W. Bush
the term has largely fallen out of use, in part for its usage in rhetoric critical of US policy.
Terms implying a leadership role in the "free world" later came to be used for other persons, places, or states.
German commentators agreed with Merkel's assessment,
and Friedrich Merz
, a CDU
politician, said that a German chancellor could never be "leader of the free world".
In April 2017, columnist James Kirchick
stressed the importance of the German elections
(on which "the future of the free world" depended) since America had "abdicated its traditional role as leader of the free world by electing Trump, the United Kingdom was turning inward after the referendum decision to leave
the European Union, and France was also traditionally unilateralist and now had an inexperienced president"; he called Merkel "something less than leader of the free world ... but something greater than the leader of just another random country".
References to America's abdication of its role as leader of the free world continued or increased after Donald Trump
questioned the unconditional defence of NATO
partners and the Paris climate accord
Jagoda Marinić, writing for The New York Times
, noted that "Barack Obama all but literally passed on the mantle of 'leader of the free world' to Ms. Merkel (and not Mr. Trump), and most Germans feel empowered by that new responsibility" and that Germany "is coming to understand its role in standing up for liberal democracy in a world turning more and more authoritarian."
Other commentators – in the United States and Europe – rejected the appellation "Leader of the Free World":
some argued that there is no single leader of the free world;
others queried whether Merkel remained
the "leader of the free world" and the champion of liberal values.
Questioned about Merkel's standing following her performance in the German elections in September 2017
, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
opined that Merkel was "the most important leader in the free world".
However, after Merkel's party suffered losses in the 2017 election and there were delays in forming a government, the claim that Merkel is the true leader of the free world was referred to as a "joke",
described as a media phenomenon,
and otherwise called into question.
- ^ Haight, David J. (April 2008). "Propaganda, Information And Psychological Warfare: Cold War And Hot—A List of Holdings: Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library" (PDF). Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home. p. 3. Archived from the original(PDF) on 15 October 2011. Wide use of labels such as 'Free World,' is, itself, a form of propaganda intended to influence particular audiences.
- ^ "Free World". Dictionary by Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, Inc. Retrieved 18 January 2021.
- ^ Masur, Salim (29 May 2010). "Churchill's lessons for a modern world". Toronto Sun. Retrieved 11 June 2012.
- ^ Wills, Garry (March–April 1999). "Bully of the Free World". Foreign Affairs. 78 (2): 50–59. doi:10.2307/20049208. JSTOR 20049208.
- ^ "Left Alone by Its Owner, Reddit Soars". The New York Times. 2 September 2012. Retrieved 2 September 2012. If the leader of the free world stops by to answer questions from your users, you're probably doing O.K.
- ^ Huntington, Samuel P. The Clash of Civilizations, 72 Foreign Aff. 22 (1992–1993)
- ^ a b c Tierney, Dominic (January 24, 2017). "What Does It Mean That Trump Is 'Leader of the Free World'?". The Atlantic.
- ^ William Safire. Safire's Political Dictionary. Oxford University Press; 2008. ISBN 978-0-19-534334-2. p. 265.
- ^ John Fousek (2000). To Lead the Free World. UNC Press Books. p. 130. ISBN 0-8078-2525-5.
- ^ "Biden sweet-talks MEPs on anti-terrorism deal". Retrieved 19 May 2017.
- ^ "2010 News from Washington". sarajevo.usembassy.gov. Embassy of the United States Bosnia & Herzegovina. Archived from the original on 16 February 2013. Retrieved 19 May 2017.
- ^ Gibbs, Nancy (9 December 2015). "Why Angela Merkel is TIME's Person of the Year". Retrieved 29 November 2015.
- ^ Smale, Alison; Erlanger, Steven (12 November 2016). "As Obama Exits World Stage, Angela Merkel May Be the Liberal West's Last Defender". The New York Times.
- ^ "How Angela Merkel, a conservative, became the 'leader of the free world". The Washington Post. 21 November 2016. Retrieved 29 November 2017. Now, she is being hailed as the 'leader of the free world' on social media and by some commentators as the Obama era nears its end, Britain is beset by upheavals over plans to leave the European Union and France faces its own break-the-mold populist surge.
- ^ Richter, Konstantin (17 November 2016). "Angela Merkel's new job: global savior". Politico. The fear of a xenophobic populist in the White House has liberals everywhere looking to Berlin for moral guidance. They tout Angela Merkel as the new torchbearer for human rights. They call her the next leader of the free world.
- ^ Shuster, Simon (12 December 2016). "Why Angela Merkel Isn't Ready to Be the 'Leader of the Free World'". Time. Retrieved 29 November 2017. Many commentators even began referring to Merkel as the new leader of the free world, a title that she dismissed as 'grotesque' and 'absurd'.
- ^ a b Naß, Matthias (22 March 2017). "Nein, die Führerin der freien Welt ist Merkel nicht" [No, Merkel is not the leader of the free world]. Zeit Online. Die Zeit. Retrieved 29 November 2017. Als 'absurd und grotesk' hat sie den Gedanken zurückgewiesen, die Führung des Westens könne vom amerikanischen Präsidenten auf den deutschen Regierungschef übergehen. Eigentlich eine pure Selbstverständlichkeit, aber vielleicht wären andere für die Schmeichelei empfänglich gewesen. ['Absurd and grotesque' is how she rejected the idea that leadership of the West could be transferred from the American president to the German head of government. Which goes without saying, really, but others might have been more receptive to such flattery.]
- ^ Rubin, James P. "The Leader of the Free World Meets Donald Trump". POLITICO Magazine. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
- ^ Krauel, Torsten (12 June 2017). "Ein Bundeskanzler kann nie 'Führer der freien Welt' sein" [A German chancellor can never be 'leader of the free world]. Die Welt. WeltN24. Retrieved 29 November 2017. 'Ein deutscher Bundeskanzlerkann nie "der Führer der freien Welt" sein' ...
- ^ Kirchick, James (6 April 2017). "Op-Ed: Germans need to recognize that the future of the free world depends on their election". LA Times. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
- ^ "Matthew Fisher: Merkel's moment to lead? Trump's exit from Paris accord further riles Europe". National Post. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
- ^ Vennochi, Joan (31 May 2017). "Merkel, not Trump, rules on the world stage". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
- ^ Marinic, Jagoda (25 June 2018). "Opinion - Trump Is Saving Germany's Liberals". The New York Times.
- ^ "The Merkel doctrine: Germany is not the new leader of the free world". The Economist. 8 July 2017. Retrieved 29 November 2017. Once Mr Kohl's protégée, the chancellor of his reunified Germany is sometimes dubbed the "leader of the free world" in the Anglo-Saxon media. Yet such epithets get things wrong.
- ^ Hoffmann, Christiane; Müller, Peter; Traufetter, Gerald (9 July 2017). "Isolating Trump: Merkel's G-20 Climate Alliance Is Crumbling". Der Spiegel. Retrieved 29 November 2017. The German chancellor may have become the hero of liberals and democrats around the globe, but she is unable to fulfill the expectations placed on her as the putative "leader of the free world," at least not when it comes to power politics. Even Merkel's psychological deftness in dealing with the posturing potentates of the world isn't enough to make up for the fact that Germany is not a global power when it comes to foreign and security policy. America, it seems, will remain the world's power broker for the time being.
- ^ Slaughter, Anne-Marie (17 July 2017). "Discard old ideas of a leader of the free world: Never mind Trump or Merkel, global problems demand a collective approach". Financial Times. The idea of one 'leader of the free world" will soon come to seem very quaint indeed.'
- ^ "Who is the leader of the free world?". 10 July 2017. Retrieved 29 November 2017. The G20 underscored more emphatically than ever before that there is no one leader of the free world anymore.
- ^ Shepp, Jonah (25 September 2017). "Angela Merkel Won Reelection, But Is She Still the Leader of the Free World?". Retrieved 29 November 2017.
- ^ Ali, Yashar (24 September 2017). "Clinton Says Angela Merkel Is The Most Important Leader In The Free World". Retrieved 29 November 2017.
- ^ Porter, Henry (20 November 2017). "Angela's Ashes: Will the Collapse of Merkel's Germany Leave Europe on the Brink?". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 29 November 2017. With the election of Donald Trump, the joke has been that Merkel, not the sitting U.S. president, is the leader of the free world ...
- ^ Hucal, Sarah (21 November 2017). "Germany's political coalition crisis stokes fears the far right could rise". ABC News. Retrieved 29 November 2017. Months after being hailed by media as the new leader of the free world, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is facing the greatest political crisis of her 12 years in office.
- ^ Nougayrède, Natalie (21 November 2017). "Germany's crisis means uncertainty for Europe. But it won't be fatal". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 November 2017. If Merkel was supposed to be the leader of the free world in the era of Trump and Brexit then what might the future look like without her?
- ^ Rogan, Tom (5 December 2017). "Is Germany the new leader of the free world? Not a chance". The Washington Examiner. Opinion. Retrieved 26 December 2017. ... the idea that Germany is somehow going to rise to displace the U.S. in global leadership is utterly ludicrous. It lacks the means, intent, and credibility to do so.
- ^ Bershidsky, Leonid (19 December 2017). "Maybe the Free World Doesn't Need a Leader". Bloomberg. Opinion. Retrieved 26 December 2017. Merkel, however, probably doesn't fit the bill. Weakened by the last election, she has found herself embroiled in the longest coalition talks in Germany's post-World War II history. Even if she's back on top by Easter, global leadership will be pretty far from her mind as she settles into what's likely to be her last term in power. She doesn't even have an obvious successor in her party. Besides, she has always shown much more interest in shaping the European Union to Germany's benefit than in leading the world, free or otherwise.
Last edited on 27 April 2021, at 05:48
Content is available under CC BY-SA 3.0
unless otherwise noted.