Western leaders searching for a long-term strategy to defend our civilization from fundamentalist Islam ought to reread the speech President Reagan delivered at the Berlin Wall 20 years ago this month.
It was neither democracy nor capitalism Reagan foresaw bringing down the wall. It was Christianity.
Reagan's demand that Soviet dictator Mikhail Gorbachev tear down the wall was the defining sound-bite of that speech, but it was another passage that defined the core meaning of the Cold War.
Pondering what sustained Berliners, surrounded as they were by the Soviet menace, Reagan concluded: "Perhaps this gets to the root of the matter, to the most fundamental distinction of all between East and West. The totalitarian world produces backwardness because it does such violence to the spirit, thwarting the human impulse to create, to enjoy, to worship. The totalitarian world finds even symbols of love and of worship an affront.
"Years ago, before the East Germans began rebuilding their churches, they erected a secular structure: the television tower at Alexander Platz. Virtually ever since, the authorities have been working to correct what they view as the tower's one major flaw, treating the glass sphere at the top with paints and chemicals of every kind. Yet even today when the sun strikes that sphere -- that sphere that towers over all Berlin -- the light makes the sign of the cross."
In Reagan's mind, their defining symbol was the wall, while ours was the cross. In any battle of faith and reason, our side would win.
"As I looked out a moment ago from the Reichstag, that embodiment of German unity, I noticed words crudely spray-painted upon the wall, perhaps by a young Berliner: 'This wall will fall. Beliefs become reality,'" said Reagan. "Yes, across Europe, this wall will fall. For it cannot withstand faith; it cannot withstand truth."
And the wall did fall -- at the foot of the cross.
Even as Reagan spoke that day in Berlin, the forces of faith and reason were laying siege to Gdansk, Poland. On one side were Polish police, on the other, a Polish priest. The former came to intimidate the masses; the latter to say a Mass. "A crowd of more than 1 million people chanted, 'Solidarity, Solidarity!' as Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass today amid a massive show of police force in this city where the labor movement was born," The Associated Press reported of the event.
The Protestant president and Catholic pope won the Cold War in Eastern Europe without ever firing a shot there because Christianity had a more powerful and enduring grip on the soul of that region than communism could ever have. Eastern Europe is now free and at peace.