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Twenty years ago today...

...the people of Berlin got tired of waiting for Mikhail Gorbachev to show up, and tore down the Berlin Wall. Mitch Berg has an excellent post that covers the day*, and I'm not going to repeat what he has to say here. I'm not even going to tee off on the President for not joining in the celebration; that would be an easy -if cheap- shot**. I will link to this post cited by Instapundit, and this one on the refusal of the New Left to learn from history, even though the Wall has been down for twenty years and so much of the Eastern Bloc's dirty laundry has been exposed to any who had the will to see it.

P asked me not too long ago what I thought, how I felt when the Wall came down. It's hard to remember now, but I seem to recall being really really happy, filled with joy. It was over. The Cold War that had smoldered since 1945 and burst into flame all around the world from Greece to Malaya and Korea, the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Guatemala, Chile, Nicaragua...it was finally over. The Captive Nations were free again, after half a century under the Soviet yoke. Even the Chinese had turned away from the madness of Mao, paying lip service to his words while steering their country toward the open sea of capitalism. The only places that still claimed to believe in Communism were Fourth World shitholes like North Korea and Cuba. (Okay, college campuses, but that's Roger Kimball's3 and David Horowitz's4 turf.) I felt that we'd beaten the Russians when all the "best and the brightest" claimed it wasn't possible, run their economy off the cliff without even trying that hard, and set millions of people free. Something to celebrate, no?

What came after the Wall came down wasn't always pretty and it wasn't always neat, but there's no question in any sensible person's mind that it was a damn sight better than what we had during the Cold War. I don't agree with everything Fouad Ajami says in his essay, but he makes a good point. Where once we stood at risk from Soviet ICBMs, now we worry about Islamofascist mass murderers using whatever tools come to hand. Where once we had academics and TV talking heads blathering about "moral equivalence" between East and West, now we have generals blithering about the importance of diversity and Homeland Security chiefs gassing about purely theoretical "anti-Muslim" backlashes.

I'm still happy about the Wall coming down. Mainly because I don't have to worry about SS-18's incinerating my friends and family any more. YMMV.

Related.

* Complete with a clip of Ronaldus Magnus throwing down the gauntlet to Gorbachev in his epic speech at the Brandenburg Gate and another of just plain folks going at the Wall with hammers, crowbars, rocks, and construction equipment.
** Imma let Toby Harnden and Der Spiegel do it for me. ;) (Ace)
3. Tenured Radicals
4. One-Party Classroom: How Radical Professors at America's Top Colleges Indoctrinate Students and Undermine Our Democracy

Comments

(Anonymous)
Nov. 10th, 2009 04:27 pm (UTC)
We're different generations really - I was one of the kids back in America that you and my friend Walter (who was handling nukes with the Air Force in Germany back in the waning days of the Vietnam War) were protecting while waiting for the armored columns that never came across the Fulda Gap or the North German Plain.

Nevertheless, when the wall came down I felt the same sense of elation - we had *won* - but it wasn't until later that I came to realize that wasn't necessarily the best possible outcome and that the "peace dividend" was a bit of a mirage. The Soviets were rational; MAD worked with them, and there was a fundamental understanding that, rhetoric aside, they weren't gonna go popping one on us and we weren't gonna go popping one on them, unless the other side went first, which is what made the premises of movies like _Failsafe_ and _Dr. Strangelove_ fill our collective nightmares.

The Soviets were doing their part too, dare I say it, to keep some folks that were gravely in need of oppression... oppressed. Little proxy wars here and there are like zincs on a ship, provide an outlet for activity that is gonna happen regardless.

Without that other force in the world, it falls to us to keep a lid on the undesirables. That's not something we've been particularly effective at over the past 20 years or so. :-/

-RS

wombat_socho
Nov. 10th, 2009 06:29 pm (UTC)
Without that other force in the world, it falls to us to keep a lid on the undesirables. That's not something we've been particularly effective at over the past 20 years or so. :-/

Well, agreed, but then there are a lot of Americans who don't want to play global policeman, even though we have commercial (and arguably security) interests all over the world. On balance? I don't think it's worth keeping Eastern Europe and the Baltic states under the heel of the KGB in order to keep the Central Asian Muslims repressed - not that our problems have been with that lot anyway.

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