Many in the West, including the U.S., believed that the communists had history on their side. The wry debate reply from the defeatist lefties favoring unilateral U.S. nuclear disarmament was "better Red than dead." For decades -- I repeat, decades -- this crowd had a media pulpit from which its self-proclaimed intelligentsia preached the moral equivalency of the U.S. and the Soviet Union, and at times dropped the all pretense and fingered the U.S. as the "fascist state" and global oppressor.
In the language of the defeatist left, the U.S. was the jailer, the warmonger, the threat to world peace.
The Berlin Wall's collapse exposed that Big Lie, as did the documented moral, political, economic and ecological wretchedness of the Soviet Union. Unfortunately, we still hear echoes of this "blame America" cant lacing al-Qaida propaganda and the lectures of hard-left reactionaries like Bill Ayers. The great anti-American lies of the Cold War are recast as the great anti-American lies of the War on Terror.
Breaching the wall in 1989 was bloodless, but the Cold War certainly wasn't. World War III did not break out along the intra-German border and produce a nuclear conflagration, but the Cold War's battles on the periphery (e.g., Greece, Korea, Vietnam, El Salvador, Angola, Afghanistan) were expensive, fatiguing and deadly.
Despite the risk and strain, America didn't quit -- at least, the majority of Americans didn't.
Nov. 9, 1989, was a victory for freedom, but it would not have been possible without America and American perseverance. America carried the burden of leadership; American soldiers bore the brunt of defending freedom. American leadership and active defense kept hope alive -- the hope that empowered Eastern Europe's oppressed.
Austin Bay is the author of three novels. His third novel, The Wrong Side of Brightness, was published by Putnam/Jove in June 2003. He has also co-authored four non-fiction books, to include A Quick and Dirty Guide to War: Third Edition (with James Dunnigan, Morrow, 1996).
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