Former Ambassador John Bolton weighs in with a harsh analysis of Obama's recent address in Berlin before a crowd of 200,000 Germans:
First, urging greater U.S.-European cooperation, Obama said, "The burdens of global citizenship continue to bind us together." Having earlier proclaimed himself "a fellow citizen of the world" with his German hosts, Obama explained that the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Europe proved "that there is no challenge too great for a world that stands as one."
Perhaps Obama needs a remedial course in Cold War history, but the Berlin Wall most certainly did not come down because "the world stood as one." The wall fell because of a decades-long, existential struggle against one of the greatest totalitarian ideologies mankind has ever faced. It was a struggle in which strong and determined U.S. leadership was constantly questioned, both in Europe and by substantial segments of the senator's own Democratic Party. In Germany in the later years of the Cold War,Ostpolitik-- "eastern politics," a policy of rapprochement rather than resistance -- continuously risked a split in the Western alliance and might have allowed communism to survive. The U.S. president who made the final successful assault on communism, Ronald Reagan, was derided by many in Europe as not very bright, too unilateralist and too provocative.
This is, of course, exactly right. The Cold War didn't come to an end because we all came together as one world to reject Communism; it ended in spite of a drift towards seeing the Soviet Union as a mirror image of -- and occasionally useful counterbalance to -- to the excesses of American power. During the '80s, Ronald Reagan's hard line against the Soviet Union, which included basing medium range Pershing missiles in Germany, sparked massive protests across Europe. Yet, it was this hard line stance that convinced the Soviet leadership that they would not be able to prevail in a confrontation with the West. The need to choose between guns and butter ultimately led to the rise of Mikhail Gorbachev and his polices of glasnost (political openness) and perrestroika (economic restructuring).
The Berlin Wall fell, in no little part because of Gorbachev's outreach to the West and his decision to not use military might to rein in Poland and other balky Warsaw Pact nations. But without the hard line -- and unpopular -- Cold War stance of Reagan, backed by Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II, the Soviets would have pushed more aggressively for world domination, and reformers like Gorbachev would not have been ascendant,
Obama either forgets or ignores those lessons at his own peril. It is very possible that, should he end up in the Oval Office, he will be forced into a remedial course.