In December, President Obama will fly to Oslo to receive in person the Nobel Peace Prize he was recently awarded — beating, among others, Chinese dissident Hu Jia. He might also drop in next door to Copenhagen, where the United Nations will be trying to arrive at a global solution to climate change, a sort of another Kyoto, only successful.
President Obama, however, will miss the November 9 celebrations of the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the event symbolically marking the end of the Cold War. “Barack too busy,” reports Germany’s Spiegel.
Unkind cynics might say that Barack is too busy preparing America’s future defeats to celebrate her past victories. But even the more sympathetic observers will wonder what sort of “scheduling difficulties” will keep the leader of the free world from participating in a celebration of one of the most momentous events in the history of the twentieth century — one which was a culmination of America’s longest (albeit cold) war and which represented the victory and vindication of everything that America stood for over the forces of tyranny and totalitarianism.
Obama, of course, has notoriously missed another recent anniversary. The seventieth commemorations of the start of the Second World War held in Gdansk, Poland, were a rather low-key affair, though they did manage to attract Germany’s Angela Merkel and Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Obama could perhaps be forgiven for his absence at this somber occasion, since for the United States the war did not really start until more than two years later. What was more difficult to forgive and explain was Obama’s decision to celebrate the seventieth anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland, seventeen days later, by scraping the original missile defense shield over Poland and the rest of the Central Europe.
Unlike the Polish anniversaries, the celebrations in Berlin will be a big international affair, involving everyone from Lech Walesa — the legendary Solidarity leader and Obama’s fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner — to Kofi Annan, to every liberal’s favorite commie, Mikhail Gorbachev. Instead of basking in Obama’s glory, Messrs. Walesa, Annan, and Gorbachev will have to settle for Joe Biden. Aside from the Berlin celebrations, the vice president will travel around Eastern and Central Europe with an unenviable task of trying to convince the allies that they aren’t really getting screwed by the Obama administration in order to placate Russia.
My grandparents remember where they were when the Second World War started; my parents remember where they were when they heard John F. Kennedy was shot. For me, mid-Generation X, I will always remember when the second plane hit the World Trade Center, and I will also remember when Berliners started climbing on top of the Berlin Wall.