(Bloomberg) -- Former President George W. Bush made a plea for continued humanitarian work overseas and cautioned against the dangers of isolationism.
"America is indispensable for the world and the dangers of isolation loom," he said during an appearance in Washington on Thursday. Quoting Winston Churchill, he said that the U.S. cannot rise "to be the leading community in the civilized world without being involved in its problems, without being convulsed by its agonies, and inspired by its causes."
Bush did not mention President Donald Trump, who critics accuse of pursuing an isolationist agenda with his "America First" policies.
Urging continued support for the campaign against AIDS in the developing world, the former president called on the American people to recognize the role the U.S. plays on the world stage for both moral and practical reasons.
"As we saw in 9/11, how people live overseas can affect us here at home," he said. "When we confront suffering, when we save lives, we breathe hope into the devastated populations, strengthen and stabilize society, and make our country and the world safer."
Bush was honored along with Army General Curtis Scaparrotti, the NATO supreme allied commander; Starbucks Corp. Chairman Howard Schultz and the Grammy-winning singer Gloria Estefan at the 2018 Atlantic Council Distinguished Leadership Awards dinner.
Schultz echoed Bush’s concerns about isolationism and also underscored the civic challenges faced by corporate America.
Starbucks, in response to the outcry over the arrest of two black men at one of its cafes in Philadelphia, plans to close more than half its U.S. stores on May 29 so employees can undergo racial-bias training.
Schultz said that "the rules of engagement for a public company are very, very different than they have ever been because we must pick up the slack and unfortunately, the lack of responsibility, of the political class."
What that means, Schultz added, "is we must do more for our employees, more for the communities we serve and regardless of the color of your skin, your sexual orientation, your ethnic background, your station in life."
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