«In his first year in office, Barack Obama has visited more foreign countries than any other president. He’s touched ground in 16 countries, easily outpacing Bill Clinton (three) and George W. Bush (eleven). It’s an itinerary befitting a “citizen of the world.”
But there’s one stop Obama won’t make. He has begged off going to Berlin next week to attend ceremonies commemorating the fall of the Berlin Wall. His schedule is reportedly too crowded.
Obama’s failure to go to Berlin is the most telling nonevent of his presidency. It’s hard to imagine any other American president eschewing the occasion. Only Obama — with his dismissive view of the Cold War as a relic distorting our thinking and his attenuated commitment to America’s exceptional role in the world — would spurn German chancellor Angela Merkel’s invitation to attend.
Obama famously made a speech in Berlin during last year’s campaign, but at an event devoted to celebrating himself as the apotheosis of world hopefulness. He said of 1989, “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 line was typical Obama verbal soufflé, soaring but vulnerable to collapse upon the slightest jostling from logic or historical fact. The wall came down only after the free world resolutely stood against the Communist bloc. Rather than a warm-and-fuzzy exercise in global understanding, the Cold War was another iteration of the 20th century’s long war between totalitarianism and Western liberalism. The West prevailed on the back of American strength.
But Obama doesn’t think in such antiquated, triumphalist terms. Given to apologizing for his nation abroad, he resolutely downplays American leadership. “President Obama is, (...) the Washington Post notes, approaching “the world as a community of nations, more alike than different in outlook and interest.” To the extent that the Cold War doesn’t fit this unbelievably naïve worldview, it’s an intellectual inconvenience.
An American president will skip events marking the end of a struggle to which we, as a nation — under presidents of both parties — devoted blood and treasure for 50 years. For Barack Obama, 1989 is just another far-away year — and the Democratic party of such men as Harry S. Truman and JFK has never seemed more distant.»
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