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Opinion: It's liberty at stake in a warming world

US Congress and Obama must seize the moment in Copenhagen to preserve liberty for future generations.

To address the increasingly complex needs of security and liberty, we need international cooperation at a level never imagined in the past. As climate change takes its toll over the coming decades there is no individual future of liberty and no individual national future of security. Security and liberty will be determined by the global community.

After the fall of the Berlin wall, the United States could have chosen to join other nations in building new collective strategies to respond to global challenges. At that moment, the U.S. had the opportunity to deploy its commitment to help the world prepare for these new challenges and preserve liberty in the 21st century. Instead the U.S. chose to continue to deploy liberty as the warrior — as the liberator — rather than collaborator.

If our children are to overcome the hurdles of liberty in this century we will need to cultivate a role for the U.S. as a collaborator and not as the liberator. However, Americans face a particular challenge in taking on this role. Some argue that climate policies represent yet another subterfuge of the state to curb the liberty of individual citizens.

This very American obsession with individual liberty has been an obstacle for the U.S. in playing a leadership role on global issues. Following WWII, the U.S. was the evangelist of international law, agreements and organizations; however, in recent years, we have increasingly operated as a "lone ranger."

The unique American experience with liberty has magnified our obsession with the sanctity of our national sovereignty. The United States has chosen to avoid agreements that would limit individual freedoms. The U.S. Congress has not ratified a treaty for decades and presidents regularly opt out of international negotiations.

Yet, at the U.N. General Assembly, President Obama pledged a reversal of the U.S. spiral into selfish survival. President Obama and the U.S. Congress together must seize the moment at Copenhagen and in Washington to make good on this pledge and establish the U.S. as the credible leader for the preservation of liberty for future generations.

William Luers was the American Ambassador to Czechoslovakia and Venezuela and Dr. Amy Luers is a climate scientist and Environmental Program Manager at  All the views stated here are her own.