Thought of the day – What it really takes to be free

In the Weekly Standard’s blog section, William Kristol brings up a very keen point that in order for a nation to obtain freedom, it has to do more than just want it. Kristol backs up his point with historical facts, of which not surprisingly, President Obama is apparently ignorant of.

June 17, 1953

Today, speaking at the Brandenburg Gate, President Obama paid appropriate tribute to the brave East Germans who rebelled 60 years ago against Communist dictatorship:

“Today, 60 years after they rose up against oppression, we remember the East German heroes of June 17th.  When the wall finally came down, it was their dreams that were fulfilled.”

But he drew a strange lesson from their uprising:

“Their strength and their passion, their enduring example remind us that for all the power of militaries, for all the authority of governments, it is citizens who choose whether to be defined by a wall, or whether to tear it down.”

If only.

In 1953, the citizens of East Germany chose freedom. But their uprising failed. It failed because it was repressed by superior power—by armed force, by military might. If you were a 30-year old who sought freedom in 1953, your dream of living in freedom wasn’t fulfilled until you were 66. And it was fulfilled in large part because of Western military strength, and in particular Ronald Reagan’s military build-up.

So it’s not enough for citizens to “choose” freedom or justice. Freedom needs to be backed by strength. Otherwise it loses. Otherwise we see what Leo Strauss called “the sorry spectacle of justice without a sword or of justice unable to use the sword.” Contra Obama, the lesson of 1953—and of the Weimar Republic, to which Strauss was referring—is that merely wishing for justice, and seeking freedom, is not enough.

It would pay greater honor to the brave men and women of 1953 to acknowledge this fact.



One thought on “Thought of the day – What it really takes to be free

  1. No, being in the right does not guarantee success or victory, certainly not in the short run. Evil can and does crush the good and the innocent, let alone the weak, when it is powerful enough to do so. No reasonable person can question that Cuba’s totalitarian tyranny, for example, is wrong and evil, but it’s been in power over half a century just the same. One big reason for that is that the “good” nations have done practically nothing substantial against it, and many have not only condoned it but enabled it.

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