Posted by TheYank at 11/9/2009 3:21 PM EST
I'm sitting in my living room here in Ireland where I just finished watching the ceremony from Berlin marking the 20th Anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was a tremendous spectacle and a great occasion. There was only one aspect of the ceremony that struck a discordant note: the absence of President Obama.
Where was he? I cannot understand why he wouldn't want to be there. Everything that happened in 1989 was the culmination of a long, hard struggle undertaken by the United States and our NATO allies.
Celebrating the end of Communist rule in Europe is not a Republican vs Democrat thing. It's an America vs totalitarianism thing. By not going to Berlin today President Obama signalled that to him the destruction of Communism was not all that important.
Well, it was important to President Truman who decided that the Soviet Union had to be confronted. In 1948 when the Soviets tried to starve the people of West Berlin, President Truman ordered that the city be supplied by air. This was a costly, logistical nightmare that stretched the American and British air forces, but it was a price worth paying as far as President Truman was concerned.
In 1963 President Kennedy made his famous "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech, indicating America's support for the people of West Berlin who were then penned in by the new Berlin Wall. In 1987 President Reagan, in a speech to celebrate the anniversary of the founding of Berlin, challenged Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall," which was a symbol of the four decades of Communist tyranny endured by the people of Eastern Europe.
It wasn't just those three either. Every President throughout the Cold War reiterated America's commitment to the people of Europe in the face of the Soviet threat. For that reason President Obama should have been in Berlin tonight. The celebration was about more than the removal of a few pieces of concrete: it was about the victory of freedom over tyranny.
It wasn't solely an American victory, but America played the leading role. I have no doubt that any of President Obama's predecessors would have been in Berlin to celebrate what was accomplished and to mark the sacrifices made by Americans over a 40-year period. He should have been there.