This is an edited and translated version of an article that originally appeared in QMagazine.
We must take our own side in this fight. We must be vigilant. We must persevere. And, through it all, we must never, never cease to believe in the moral superiority of our own values – that we stand for truth against falsehood, freedom against tyranny, right against injustice, hope against despair … and that even though we will inevitably take losses and suffer setbacks, through it all, so long as people of goodwill and courage refuse to lose faith in the West, it will endure.
This fragment of Senator McCain’s speech at the 2017 Munich Security Conference epitomizes his deepest values and beliefs, determining his exemplary moral compass. Throughout his entire public life and service, he acted as having been born to serve his country and defend its values. He was the ultimate incarnation of people of goodwill and courage. He always took this side in the permanent struggle for truth, freedom, right, and hope; crossing party lines and conventional ideologies, making many friends but also powerful enemies. He was many times inconvenient, irritant, sarcastic, and persistent — as only people of deep conscience and moral rectitude can be.
John McCain leaves a huge vacuum, almost impossible to fill. His departure weakens the ranks of the ones who still believe that the unravelling of the liberal world order – the “decadence” of our moral and political superiority – is not inevitable. It weakens the resolve for Transatlanticism in America and deprives European nations of a formidable ally in the quest of defending the indispensable link between America and Europe and among democracies worldwide.
I had the privilege to meet and learn from John McCain in my days as ambassador in Washington, foreign minister and president of the Romanian Senate. He was a strong proponent of the enlargement of NATO and was an engine of the renewed determination to resist and fight back against Russian aggression in our neighborhood. I had the pleasure to welcome him and late Senator Fred Thomson to Romania, drink some palinka, enjoy the beauty of the Carpathian Mountains, and the admire the combat skills of our alpine troops. His memory in my country will last forever.