Led by Senator McCain (R-AZ), the warhawks of the party are circling the dome of freedom in Washington with their usual flare for war, bloodshed and military power. And yet, it was their political idle President Ronald Reagan who was instrumental in tearing down the Berlin Wall, using diplomacy rather than military force.
In a 1987 speech at the Brandenburg Gate, in sight of the Berlin Wall, commemorating the 750th anniversary of Berlin, Reagan called on General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev to “Tear down this Wall.” Reagan said as Americans, “We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace.”
Referring to the removal of the wall, Reagan said, “There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. He challenged the Soviets and said, “If you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union, tear down this wall.”
On November 9, East Germany announced the opening of its gates to the West. The demise of the barrier was the bridge that paved the way for German reunification, Western European security and prosperity.
Maybe Republicans should take Reagan’s advice and tear down the wall of political hate for Obama and replace it with the common sense of diplomacy.
In his Berlin Wall speech, Reagan was engaging. He called-out Russian suppression of freedom and its division of Europe. He spoke directly to Russian leaders.
Now, we have Russian President Vladimir Putin speaking directly to President Obama and the American people in his op-ed piece published in the New York Times. Republicans are criticizing the Times for publishing it and Putin for invading the American press. But Reagan said we should welcome openness because we believe freedom and security go together to advance sectarian freedom, world peace and economic prosperity.
Another legendary Republican, President Theodore Roosevelt, had a foreign policy for peace based on an old West African proverb “speak softly, and carry a big stick.” Obama is not speaking softly but at least he is using the big stick approach as the fulcrum for diplomacy and the conduit for peace.
Too bad G.W. Bush couldn’t have used what he learned in his home economics class at Yale to make use of diplomacy in Iraq before he raised Vice President Dick Cheney’s big stick of war on behalf of Halliburton and the rest of the oil cartel. If the cost of the Iraq war was $1 million for every 10 points of Bush’s IQ, the war would have only cost American Taxpayers $50 million.
We should all support President Obama’s strategy to negotiate openly with Russia. The elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons benefits Russia as well as the rest of the Mid East. It could be big step in building a political bridge over the tainted waters of a troubled world.
David Farside is a Sparks resident and political activist.