November 26, 2003

AUSTIN BAY HAS A NEW COLUMN UP, addressing issues raised by Czech President Vaclav Klaus:

December 1975, and I asked myself why the heck am I here freezing in a tank? The answer: Only America could “contain” the Soviet Union. In Frankfurt, fat cat turf, American troops were dirt. In border villages, Germans who lived near the communist guard towers smiled and gave us absolutely superb beer. The residents of Muhle — a real kuhdorf — weren’t in Frankfurt’s dream world.

I admit it. In 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell, I hoped America would no longer have to “do more,” at least with tanks and rifles. That hope was a short, sweet dream.

Recently, a radio interviewer asked me how long attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq would continue. His anxiety and concern were genuine and palpable. I hated my response: This war will go on a long time, not simply in Iraq and Afghanistan, but in other sad corners on the planet. There isn’t an easier way.

That’s why I’m thankful for soldiers courageous enough to face the violence. I should have added I’m also thankful — 365 days a year, not merely on the last Thursday in November — for aid and relief workers, and diplomats who risk their lives in a long, tough struggle to build a more secure and democratic world.

As we all should be.