Monday, November 09, 2009

After the Berlin Wall - 20 Years Later

"General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" --Ronald Reagan

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. From then until today, a political debate runs between those who credit President Ronald Reagan with bringing about that fall and those who cannot remove ideological blinders. Regardless of which political party you call home, today Reagan is mostly given the credit he is due. Twenty years of reflection can do that to a nation.

In an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal by Anthony Dolan today, he wrote, "Reagan had the carefully arrived at view that criminal regimes were different, that their whole way of looking at the world was inverted, that they saw acts of conciliation as weakness, and that rather than making nice in return they felt an inner compulsion to exploit this perceived weakness by engaging in more acts of aggression. All this confirmed the criminal mind's abiding conviction in its own omniscience and sovereignty, and its right to rule and victimize others."

Dolan was chief speechwriter for President Reagan for eight years.

At the time, a debate raged from the White House to the State Department, between those wanting the line "tear down this wall" in the Reagan speech and those that thought it went too far. Those brave enough to speak the truth are encouraged to not delve into good versus evil, right versus wrong. We still are in the midst of such arguments. President George W. Bush outraged the left with his axis of evil and President Obama outrages the right with his talk of appeasing brutal dictators with direct talks.

Reagan used the line.

On the night of November 9, 1989 I was watching the events on television, as were most of this nation. A proud member of the Baby Boom generation, I grew up with a constant reference to a cold war between our nation and the Soviet Union. My only child was born in September 1989 and I couldn't help but think of what a completely different world my son would be growing up in. He would not know of Civil Defense drills and bomb shelters.

Remember the line used by President George W. Bush - "the soft bigotry of low expectations"? Some of that was evident within the thoughts of the Cold War, too. Just two years before the fall of the Berlin Wall, CBS newsman Dan Rather said, "Despite what many Americans think, most Soviets do not yearn for capitalism or Western-style democracy." That quote was used in a different piece in today's Wall Street Journal. It shows a tendency of the far left to be on the wrong side of history, in foreign affairs. True, many Soviets suffered terribly once the Soviet Union became Russia and more personal freedoms arrived. Going from a life completely state-run to making your own way in life is a mind boggling concept.

Today former President George H.W. Bush and Barbara are in Berlin for the anniversary celebrations. Former Secretary of State James Baker is there, too. European leaders all have converged on Berlin to celebrate and show a gesture of friendship with current German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Except for President Obama, the free world nations are well represented. Obama sent Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and provided a congratulatory video to be shown. For many of us, the fact that our current President didn't bother to attend the celebration is embarrassing. And, that he used a video in which he does his riff on 'who'd of thought there would be an American president of African descent' is especially troubling. This is not the time for classic Obama narcissism.

The collapse of Soviet communism was monumental in scope for the people of eastern Europe. The fall of the Berlin Wall changed our world.

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