Just about everyone across the globe has a stake in the U.S. presidential elections and the role of America as the leader of the free world.

Those who doubt this need to listen carefully to what is said by Tibetans, Burmese, Darfurians, Taiwanese, Israelis, Kurds, Afghans and others similarly surrounded by thuggish regimes or abused by tyrants about their wish to live in freedom.

It was the same for the people of divided Europe through the frigid years of the Cold War, living behind the Iron Curtain drawn by the former Soviet Union, and their longing to be whole once again in freedom.

Freedom, as President George W. Bush has repeatedly reminded Americans, “is not America’s gift to the world; it is God’s gift to all humanity.”

Its abridgement, denial or repression is the source of conflict; its advancement the surest prescription for peace and prosperity among people and between nations.

But there also are opponents of freedom, tirelessly devoted to bringing about the humiliation or defeat of America. Nikita Khrushchev once loudly boasted, “we will bury you,” and a whole lot of little Khrushchevs—or worse, little Stalins—can be found just about everywhere who nurture this goal with some ready to act on its impulse.

This is why the 2008 election is so hugely important, perhaps even more so than the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 when the United States stood humiliated and its diplomats held hostage in Iran’s capital, Tehran.

This election is about America’s capacity and willingness to remain the world’s last best hope for freedom being tested in Iraq and the broader Middle East.

And it is as if providence once again mysteriously has provided Americans with a clearly demarcated choice between Senator John McCain, the putative Republican nominee, and Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton or Barack Hussein Obama as the next president.

The junior senator from Illinois and the first serious Afro-American candidate has framed his campaign around the slogan of “hope” and “change,” and these two words have poured thick as Niagara Falls in his oratory.

Obama leaves the distinct impression that the more he indulges in the rhetoric which has given lift to his candidacy—and just about driven a stake through the unvarnished ambition of his Democratic rival Clinton—the less will be the scrutiny of what he means or stands for in the ranks of his supporters.

But it is Obama’s commitment to the earliest withdrawal from Iraq, and not the rhetorical polish of his slogan, that resonates inside the heads of freedom’s opponents everywhere.

ANY PRICE, ANY BURDEN

Those who seek America’s defeat, or at a minimum retrenchment from the cause of defending freedom by those willing, as President John F. Kennedy said, to “pay any price, bear any burden” for liberty’s success, wish Obama wins the presidency.

Kennedy characterized his victory as a “celebration of freedom” and a renewal of commitment to its cause. So will McCain if he wins, given his commitment to remain in Iraq until embattled freedom there is secure.

November is still some distance away, and those not so fortunate as Americans blessed with liberty’s grace will remain hopeful that the next president will be one who will not appease freedom’s foes nor betray America’s trust in God’s gift to humanity.