Obama’s Absence in Berlin

November 8, 2009

President Obama is not attending the celebrations in Berlin commemorating the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989. For a president that has extensively traveled during his first year in office and who even chose Berlin for a major, if problematic, speech during his campaign, this seems strange at first glance. Consider that he even went on a last minute trip to Copenhagen to make a narcissistic plea for bringing the 2016 Olympics to Chicago. And he will go to Oslo in December to accept the Nobel Peace Prize which even he admits he doesn’t deserve.

But upon some reflection, it actually is very consistent for Obama not to attend the event that more than any other one symbolizes the triumph of capitalism and limited government. When candidate Obama spoke in Berlin in 2008 he talked about the fall of the Wall as an event where the “world came together as one.” This statement didn’t make any sense. The fall of communism was an unambiguous triumph of freedom over 20th century totalitarianism. We won. They lost. Of course, West Berliners welcomed their fellow citizens from the East with open arms, but they were welcomed because they embraced Western freedom, not because everyone was coming together regardless of their beliefs. East German Politburo members were not welcomed.

President Obama today advocates a radically different approach to government and to international relations than the policies of President Reagan that led to the fall of communism, policies that were continued in varying degrees by his successors George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. What are these differences?

In relations with governments hostile to Western freedom, the approach starting with Reagan was a strong national defense and an unwillingness to compromise on basic principles. Bush 41 continued this in Kuwait, Clinton to some extent in Kosovo and Bush 43 in the fight against Islamist fanatics after 9/11. Yes, there were failures by Clinton to react to the growing attacks from al-Qaeda and by both Clinton and Bush 43 to effectively contain North Korea. However, throughout the 28 years from 1981 until 2009, the responsibility of the United States as the world’s leading (and after 1989 only) superpower to stand up to threats against freedom and to intervene when our interests where threatened was never fundamentally questioned.

Barack Obama, on the other hand has traveled around the world apologizing for America’s actions before his ascent to power. He did this in 2008 in Berlin, in his speech to Muslims in Cairo and most recently at the United Nations General Assembly to name just a few. Towards Iran he has adopted a policy of appeasement reminiscient of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s “peace in our time” policy towards Hitler in the late 1930s. Obama has fully bought into the stereotypes of America as the world’s bully that became popular among the global left during the Bush administration. Of course, President Reagan was attacked in the same way as a warmonger who would cause a nuclear holocaust. Once his policies resulted in victory for the Western world and the end of 40 years of Cold War, the left’s hatred of Reagan and the US was largely forgotten and President Clinton had the fortune of governing during an exceptional period of history.

President Obama advocates appeasement toward Iran and wants to shift power to international bodies such as the IMF on economic and monetary policies and the UN to redistribute wealth under the pre-text of “fighting global climate change.” These policies are ultimately a violation of US sovereignty and for our Constitution.

What role would Obama have in Berlin given his policies? He has repudiated the approaches that led to the triumph of Western freedom. European politics have recently moved away from the leftist ideology advocated by Obama. If he repeated his pronouncements from other global events in Berlin, he would be a nuisance at best. He can’t give credit to America’s policies that led to the fall of communism without undermining his own policies. And there certainly would be no forum for his narcissism promoting himself as the new great hope of the world. It makes perfect sense, for Obama not to go to Berlin. He wouldn’t be welcome.

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