Unless you've been imbibing 100-proof hope-and-change, you could hardly listen to President — er, make that, Candidate — Obama's Berlin speech without questioning whether there is anything that he is truly willing to fight for. Not merely fighting metaphorically or deploying persuasive prose, but actually committing American lives to defend a principle that must not be compromised.
When Obama's campaign appropriated Brandenburg Gate as the backdrop for his "citizen of the world" speech, his handlers certainly expected the venue to frame him in a distinctly presidential stature.
Instead, the staging created an unmistakable contrast between courageous presidents who faced down genuine threats from dangerous enemies and the empty, self-aggrandizing platitudes of Obama, who seems to take for granted his election and now awaits transfiguration.
Obama talked about the 1948 Soviet blockade intended to enslave Berliners under communist domination, but he then suggested that "the people of the world" rose up to save Berlin.
The Allies' initial plan for post-war reconstruction of Germany faltered. (No, George W. Bush isn't the first president to have trouble transitioning from war against a uniformed enemy to uniting a conquered people and rebuilding their country.)
The Soviet communists, with a numerically superior military, saw the chance to seize control of an isolated people, but President Truman guided America, aided by Great Britain, to sustain a herculean airlift — more than 278,000 flights — that provided food and coal for isolated Berliners for nearly 11 months.
Obama recalled how the mayor of Berlin exhorted his people and "the people of the world" to "stand together united until this battle is one."
But Obama's record toward the people of Iraq is just the opposite. Had his view prevailed, the world would have turned its back on the Iraqis, allowing Saddam Hussein to continue his reign of terror, torture, murder and rape. Rather than help Iraqis secure their freedom, Obama's policy of retreat in the face of adversity would have told the people of Baghdad, "We're outta here; fend for yourselves."
So far, nothing about Obama indicates that he places a higher value on courage than on protecting his popularity.
President Kennedy's 1961 visit demonstrated solidarity with citizens of West Berlin when the Soviets divided the city by constructing the Berlin Wall. Kennedy's declaration, "ich bin ein Berliner," was considered too provocative by his own national security advisors.