The longest-serving U.S. diplomat warned against isolationism and Russian aggression in a speech at his retirement celebration on February 24.
Ambassador Dan Fried said the gains for liberty and democracy that came after the West's "improbable victory in the Cold War" are now in danger because of a combination of faltering confidence and unity in the West and Russian aggression.
"The West's great institutions, NATO and the EU, grew to embrace 100 million liberated Europeans," said Fried, who served for nearly 40 years, including as ambassador to the Soviet Union and Poland before becoming assistant secretary of state for Europe.
"I learned never to underestimate the possibility of change," he said. "Nothing can be taken for granted, and this great achievement is now under assault by Russia."
"It is for the present generation to defend and, when the time comes again, extend freedom in Europe."
He warned against the United States turning inward and granting Russia and China their wish to dominate their regions of the world.
"Spheres of influence...would mean our acquiescence when great powers – starting with Russia and China – dominated their neighbors through force and fear, while creating closed economic empires," he said.