Green: Democracy, liberty must come first

Mark Green: “Over the last four decades, the number of democracies has increased more than three-fold.

Mark Green’s boss typically opens his board meetings the same way.

“My friends,” says Sen. John McCain, “I have never see the world in greater disarray than it is today.”

McCain chairs the International Republican Institute (IRI), a non-profit group that advances the growth of international democracy.

Green has served as IRI’s president since January 2014.

“For a guy who has spent five years in a prisoner-of-war camp, that really is saying something,” said Green, who spoke at Ripon College last week about the spread of democracy around the world. “But in all honesty, as we scan the world today, it’s hard to disagree with what [McCain] is saying.”

Green, a former four-term Wisconsin congressman and U.S. ambassador, cited reasons why the world is a dangerous place:

— the Syrian civil war and resulting refugees;

— China and Russia flexing their muscles;

— Iran liberated from sanctions;

— ISIS striking at the heart of Western culture.

“As we scan the world and see this all around us, it’s very easy to slip into a funk about the future,” Green told about 75 people who gathered in the Great Hall of Harwood Memorial Union. “But that would be pointless. And quite frankly, it would be wrong.”

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