October 3, 2011
It was Ronald Reagan, my hero, who stood at the Brandenburg Gate and cried out: Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall! But it was President George H.W. Bush who, two and a half years later, quietly and skillfully guided the process of German Reunification. So, today, 21 years later, we can take note of the national day of Germany, or, Tag der Deutschen Einheit. And give credit where credit is due.
West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl in 1990 wanted desperately to unite his country with the East. It had been divided since the end of World War II. But Kohl was the only other world statesman who wanted this.
The Polish Pope, John Paul II, was all for ending Communisms iron grip, but he was not overly eager about the Germans coming together. Poland had suffered horribly at the hands of the old Germany. The Iron Lady, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, remembered the Blitz of World War II. She was cool to the idea of Germany becoming Europes premier economic and political giant. Frances Francois Mitterrand was unexcited about a new next-door neighbor reunified and rejuvenated. France had been overrun three times in a hundred years by Germany. He had reason to fear.
Back in the USSR, with the Communist regime spinning out of control, party chairman Mikhail Gorbachev was dealing with the inevitable consequences of his decision in November 1989 not to shoot as demonstrators danced on the crumbling Berlin Wall.
The German Democratic Republic (DDR) was the name of the rump state created by Stalin. It was never a democratic republic. And, as became obvious once the Wall came down, it wasnt German either.
TIME Magazine, of course, and the Nobel Peace Prize Committee would credit Gorbachev for the peaceful end of the Cold War. Well, they certainly couldnt give credit to Ronald Reagan and George Bush! As my friend Morton Blackwell says, is there any other example of giving credit to the hostage taker for not shooting his hostages?
Actually, there is. Its called the Stockholm Syndrome. Theres probably no better description of the mindset of Western liberalism than this bizarre situationwhere the hostages began to identify psychologically with their own captors.
Gorbachev came to power with 27,000 nuclear weapons trained on the West. Some of them doubtless would have hit Manhattans West Side, Washingtons Georgetown, and they may even have had one targeted on Marthas Vineyard. They had enough to spare.
So, when Gorbachev didnt shoot, he naturally became the darling of the Western elites.
If, as a candidate for President in 1988, George H.W. Bush had said he would like to see Communism collapse in on itself, the Outer Empire of Eastern Europe liberated, and the Inner Empire of the Baltic Republics, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, and Byelorussia go free, he would probably have been dismissed as dangerous, even delusional.
Its not at all clear that George Bush himself envisioned all that would come to pass on his watch. He was, however, prepared and coolly capable of pressing events to their proper and pacific conclusion.
Germany had been the source of incredible danger and terror for the entire worldbut only from 1890 to 1945. We should never forget the Rape of Belgium in 1914 or the Holocaust of 1942-45. Still, the German people had centuries of spiritual, cultural, and scientific genius to share with mankind.
With the single exception of unjustly persecuting home schoolers, Germany since 1945 has been a reputable modern democracy. Ambassador Klaus Sharioth publicly thanked America for sending 60 million young soldiers and airmen to defend his divided country. He said no nation in history had so generously protected another.
In 1989, I loudly opposed George H.W. Bushs policy of not dancing on the Berlin Wall. I thought Ronald Reagan would have publicly celebrated the great day. But President Bush was right and I was wrong. He surely deserves the Nobel Peace Prize for this signal achievement. And just as surely, he will never get it.