To better understand Sen. Barack Obama, his speech before 200,000 Germans
in Berlin is one good place to start. As we shall see, however, it does not
leave one secure as to the senator's understanding of history, of America's role
in the world, and what to do about evil, among other important issues.
Obama: "At the height of the Cold War, my father decided, like so many
others in the forgotten corners of the world, that his yearning -- his dream --
required the freedom and opportunity promised by the West."
Promised by the West? Or promised by America? It wasn't "the West" that
Obama's father went to; it was America. During the Cold War, it wasn't "the
West" that led the fight to preserve Western freedom; it was America. Obama
concedes this point in his next sentence: "And so he wrote letter after letter
to universities all across America until somebody, somewhere answered his prayer
for a better life."
Obama's speech was a paean to the West and especially to Germany in
fighting for freedom during the Cold War. Throughout his speech he equated the
German contribution to defeating Communism with that of America
Obama: "And you know that the only reason we stand here tonight is
because men and women from both of our nations came together to work, and
struggle, and sacrifice for that better life."
It is understandable and even expected that an American speaking in
Germany will praise Germans. But even so, it is quite an exaggeration to state
that the "only reason" he and they are standing in a free Berlin is because men
and women from both countries sacrificed for that better life. Americans
sacrificed far more than Germans. The sad truth is that, with some heroic
exceptions, Germans on the right supported Hitler, and during the Cold War,
Germans on the left fought the Unites States more than they fought the Soviet
Union. When Ronald Reagan came to Berlin, tens of thousands of Germans -- many
of them, one would surmise, of a similar mindset to those who came to hear
Barack Obama -- protested his visit.
Obama: "The size of our forces was no match for the much larger Soviet
Army. And yet retreat would have allowed Communism to march across
Isn't this exactly where we are regarding the retreat from Iraq that
Obama and the Democrats have advocated? Wouldn't retreat from Iraq allow
militant Islam to march across the Middle East and beyond?
How is one to explain this? I have long believed that many liberals
recognize evils only after the evil has been vanquished. Today, Democrats like
Obama in his speech, regularly revile Communism. But from the late 1960s until
the end of the Cold War they rarely judged Communism. They judged
anti-Communists. Liberal Democrats routinely call Communism evil today, but when
it was actually a threat, they reviled those who called Communism evil. Again,
recall Ronald Reagan and the virtually universal liberal condemnation of his
calling the Soviet Union an "evil empire."
So, too, now, regarding today's greatest evil, to cite but one example,
not one Democrat in any of their party's presidential primary debates used the
term "Islamic terrorism."
Obama: "Where the last war had ended, another World War could have easily
begun. All that stood in the way was Berlin."
In his attempt to exaggerate the role of Berlin before his large Berlin
audience, Obama made a claim that simply makes no sense. "Berlin stood in the
way" of another World War beginning? How? If anything, Berlin was the flash
point of East-West tension and therefore could have triggered a war.
Obama: "People of the world -- look at Berlin! Look at Berlin, where
Germans and Americans learned to work together and trust each other less than
three years after facing each other on the field of
Germans and Americans "learned to work together and trust each other"
only thanks to the fact that America and its allies vanquished Germany,
overthrew its Nazi leadership, imposed democracy and freedom on Germans, and
kept plenty of soldiers in Germany. Why does Obama not apply this lesson to
Iraq? If Americans and Iraqis learn to work together and trust each other, it
will also be thanks to America and its allies vanquishing the Islamic
terrorists, overthrowing the Nazi-like regime of Saddam Hussein, imposing
democracy and freedom on Iraqis, and keeping soldiers in Iraq for as long as
Obama: "Look at Berlin … where a victory over tyranny gave rise to NATO,
the greatest alliance ever formed to defend our common
Obama did not want to offend his hosts by inserting an element of reality
here: Many of America's NATO partners have been largely worthless in confronting
evils from Communism to al-Qaida to the Taliban. A few weeks ago, leading German
newsweekly Der Spiegel reported that German forces in Afghanistan are under
strict orders not to shoot any Taliban forces unless shot at first. As a result,
they refused to shoot a major Taliban murderer whom they had in their sights
because his forces had not shot at the Germans and therefore allowed him to
Obama: "People of the world -- look at Berlin, where a wall came down, a
continent came together, and history proved that there is no challenge too great
for a world that stands as one."
The wall came down because America stood strong, not because the world
stood as one. What he said here is John Lennon-like fantasy, the opposite of
reality, and as such, coming from the man who may well be the next president of
the United States, a bit frightening.
Obama: "While the 20th century taught us that we share a common destiny,
the 21st has revealed a world more intertwined than at any time in human
Of all the lessons taught by the 20th century, that we share a common
destiny is not among the top 10. It is not even among the top 100. It is
actually untrue and meaningless. Just to cite one obvious example, did those who
lived under Communism and those who lived under democratic capitalism "share a
common destiny"? What is he talking about?
If the 20th century did teach something, it taught that evil must always
The speech reveals a man who has good will and noble desires, but who may
be dangerously naive regarding the lessons of history and what to do about evil.