Nov. 9, 2009
President Obama is not in Berlin today. Very proper, I think. Hes not there to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. Hes not going to say anything about how freedom triumphed over totalitarianism in 1989 and how we won a great victory.
President Obama is showing a decent respect for the opinion of mankind. Or, at least, hes not showing the kind of shamelessness that Bill Clinton regularly shows. George Stephanopoulos often said that Bill Clinton has no sense of shameand that is a tremendous advantage in politics. Bill Clinton likes to claim credit for the Wests victory in the Cold Wara victory he and his political supporters did everything in their power to throw away.
If the liberals had had there way, there would be no celebration in Berlin today. Thats because the liberals of Western Europe and the United States in the 1980s were all backing something called the Nuclear Freeze.
In the late 1970s, when the Soviets threatened the free nations of Western Europe by putting SS-19 and SS-20 Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles in their East European satellites, NATO allies pleaded with the United States to counter this dangerous move by putting Pershing and Cruise missiles in Western Europe.
Even the invertebrate Carter administrationsuddenly awakening to the danger of Communist aggressionrushed to reassure Americas NATO allies. Carter agreed to send U.S. missiles to Europe. But with the 1980 landslide election of Ronald Reagan, the European Leftand Americas liberalsgot cold feet. A Nuclear Freeze can do that to you. They all began to cry out for a freeze on U.S. missile deployment.
It sounded noble. It sounded like they were willing to take a risk for peace. In truth, they were frozen in terror. It was exactly what the Soviet secret policethe KGBwanted. We now know that the KGB was generously funding the Nuclear Freeze movement.
In 1982, fearing that President Reagan would drag us into World War III with his determination to match Soviet missiles in Europe, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 278-149 for a freeze resolution. Reagan supporters in the House had successfully watered down the resolution, but the Left hailed it nevertheless.
A year later, on September 1, 1983 (the dread anniversary of the day when World War II began in Europe), the Soviets shot down a Korean Air Lines jet. They killed hundreds of innocent civilians, including Rep. Larry McDonald of Georgia (D). The Soviets knew it was an unarmed passenger jetliner that had strayed off course, but they wanted to show their ruthless determination.
The U.S. Senate, perhaps noting the Soviet brutality, that October 31st voted against a Nuclear Freeze, 58-40. But the UN General Assembly on December 15, 1983 approved a freeze resolution, 84-19, with 17 abstentions.
The next year, 1984, former Vice President Walter Mondale ran for President on a platform that called for an immediate Nuclear Freeze. Every leading member of his party endorsed the idea.
President Reagan, still firmly opposing the Nuclear Freeze, carried 49 states in the 1984 general election. Mondale carried only his home state of Minnesota (and even that by the razor-thin margin of 3,200 votes).
Reagans theme of Peace through Strength carried the day in 1984. It is what enabled him to go to meet Mikhail Gorbachev in Geneva in 1985 and in Reykjavik in 1986. That military, economic and, yes, moral strength, allowed Reagan to go to the Brandenburg Gate on June 12, 1987 to deliver his historic Tear Down this Wall speech.
The strength of the United States then is what made it possible to negotiate for a peaceful resolution of the Cold War.
Our strength under President Reagan contrasts most sharply with the Obama administrations weakness now. Today, this administration cannot even protect our own soldiers from murderous rampages by jihadistsin Texas. Today, this administration cannot act decisively in Afghanistan. Nor can it decide what to do about Irans drive for nuclear weapons. In these circumstances, it doubtless better that Barack Obama stay home and do his homework. Besides, he already did his Berlin victory lap.