John Bolton has pulled apart Obama’s Berlin speech, and it’s not pretty.
The successes Obama refers to in his speech — the defeat of Nazism, the Berlin airlift and the collapse of communism — were all gained by strong alliances defeating determined opponents of freedom, not by “one-worldism.” Although the senator was trying to distinguish himself from perceptions of Bush administration policy within the Atlantic Alliance, he was in fact sketching out a post-alliance policy, perhaps one that would unfold in global organizations such as the United Nations. This is far-reaching indeed.
It’s even more silly when you realize that the coalition that took out Saddam was much bigger in terms of nations than that which took out Hitler. The only difference was that some nations that might have normally been expected to jioin had been bribed and had other interests in Saddam’s continuing reign, and thus chose not to join. But the scandal is not the bribery apparently.
Second, Obama used the Berlin Wall metaphor to describe his foreign policy priorities as president: “The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand. The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. The walls between races and tribes; natives and immigrants; Christian and Muslim and Jew cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down.”
This is a confused, nearly incoherent compilation, to say the least, amalgamating tensions in the Atlantic Alliance with ancient historical conflicts. One hopes even Obama, inexperienced as he is, doesn’t see all these “walls” as essentially the same in size and scope. But beyond the incoherence, there is a deeper problem, namely that “walls” exist not simply because of a lack of understanding about who is on the other side but because there are true differences in values and interests that lead to human conflict. The Berlin Wall itself was not built because of a failure of communication but because of the implacable hostility of communism toward freedom. The wall was a reflection of that reality, not an unfortunate mistake.
Quite true – we knew exactly where the communist stood, and they knew exactly where we stood. We wanted freedom, they wanted to keep their people under tyranny.
Tearing down the Berlin Wall was possible because one side — our side — defeated the other. Differences in levels of economic development, or the treatment of racial, immigration or religious questions, are not susceptible to the same analysis or solution. Even more basically, challenges to our very civilization, as the Cold War surely was, are not overcome by naively “tearing down walls” with our adversaries.