A disarming president

Chamberlain peace

Liz Cheney takes President Obama to task for his misstatement of the end of the Cold War during his Moscow visit, effectively accepting Russia's version over the truth, and for his passive appeasement of our enemies in general: Obama Rewrites the Cold War

There are two different versions of the story of the end of the Cold War: the Russian version, and the truth. President Barack Obama endorsed the Russian version in Moscow last week.

Speaking to a group of students, our president explained it this way: "The American and Soviet armies were still massed in Europe, trained and ready to fight. The ideological trenches of the last century were roughly in place. Competition in everything from astrophysics to athletics was treated as a zero-sum game. If one person won, then the other person had to lose. And then within a few short years, the world as it was ceased to be. Make no mistake: This change did not come from any one nation. The Cold War reached a conclusion because of the actions of many nations over many years, and because the people of Russia and Eastern Europe stood up and decided that its end would be peaceful."

The truth, of course, is that the Soviets ran a brutal, authoritarian regime. The KGB killed their opponents or dragged them off to the Gulag. There was no free press, no freedom of speech, no freedom of worship, no freedom of any kind. The basis of the Cold War was not "competition in astrophysics and athletics." It was a global battle between tyranny and freedom. The Soviet "sphere of influence" was delineated by walls and barbed wire and tanks and secret police to prevent people from escaping. America was an unmatched force for good in the world during the Cold War. The Soviets were not. The Cold War ended not because the Soviets decided it should but because they were no match for the forces of freedom and the commitment of free nations to defend liberty and defeat Communism.

Cheney speaks the truth. The Cold War ended because, after trying to match the American rearmament under Reagan, the Soviet leadership realized they were being bled to death financially. Hence a new leadership under Gorbachev tried to save the USSR by retreating from the outer glacis of their empire and reforming the Soviet Union itself. But resentment against Moscow's tyranny and the historic hatred of the subject peoples for their Great Russian conquerors proved too much, and the USSR itself collapsed in 1991, too weak to prevent the secession of Ukraine, the Baltic states, and other territories.

Along with his ignorance of history, Ms. Cheney also excoriates Obama's apparent devotion to a "peace through appearing harmless" strategy, which, as she shows by quoting a National Security Council report issued during the Democratic Truman Administration, goes against bipartisan American security policy since the end of World War II:

"No people in history,"…"have preserved their freedom who thought that by not being strong enough to protect themselves they might prove inoffensive to their enemies."

President Obama's foreign policy is essentially one of appeasement, fed by an evident ignorance or plain disregard of history that leads him to draw false equivalences between us and our enemies; if "we" are no better than "they," then it becomes quite tempting to buy peace by conceding the point and not vigorously defending your own interests. Trouble is, it doesn't work. The crocodile eventually gets around to eating you, too.  Appeasement didn't work for Chamberlain, it didn't work for Carter, and it won't work for Obama – perhaps much to our peril.

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One Response to A disarming president

  1. […] of Venezuelan dictator Chavez against the constitutional government of Honduras; and a general policy based on appeasement. Gardiner’s list includes some I’ve overlooked, notably: 9. Embracing Genocidal Killers […]

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