In 1989, I was lucky enough to be the White House Soviet specialist at the end of the Cold War. It doesn't get any better than that. I was there for the liberation of Eastern Europe; the unification of Germany; and for the beginnings of the peaceful collapse of the Soviet Union itself. I saw things that I never thought possible. And one day, they seemed impossible; and several days later, they seemed inevitable. That is the nature of extraordinary times.
But as I look back now on those times, I realized that I was only harvesting the good decisions that had been taken in 1947, in 1948, and in 1949. And sometimes, I wonder how in the course of events, the course of the moment, people like Acheson and Truman and Marshall and Vandenberg saw a path ahead. After all, in 1946, the Germany Reconstruction was still failing and Germans were still starving. Japan lay prostrate. In 1947, there was a civil war in Greece. In 1948, Germany was permanently divided by the Berlin Crisis; Czechoslovakia was lost to a communist coup. And in 1949, the Soviet Union exploded a nuclear weapon five years ahead of schedule; and the Chinese communists won their war. In 1950, a brutal war broke on the Korean Peninsula.
These were not just tactical setbacks for the forward march of democracy. Indeed, it must have seemed quite impossible, that we would one day, stand at a juncture where Eastern Europe would be liberated, Russia would emerge, and Europe would be whole and free and at peace. If we think back on those days, we recognize that extraordinary times are turbulent and they are hard. And it is very often hard to see a clear path. But if you are -- as those great architects of the post-Cold War victory were -- if you are true to your values, if you are certain of your values, and if you act upon them with confidence and with strength, it is possible to have an outcome where democracy spreads and peace and liberty reign.
Because of the work that they did, it is hard to imagine war in Europe again. So it shall be also for the Middle East.
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
WorldwideStandard.com: Secretary Rice Challenges Democracy's Doubters
Weekly Standard has a blog now devoted to Foreign Policy and posted this speech by Secretary Rice. It's excellant and I'll post it over on my list of speeches. She ended with this: