Thursday, February 24, 2005

Der Spiegel: Bush May Be Right

The German newspaper Der Spiegel has a word of warning for German's who plan to protest President Bush's visit: that he, just as another hated American President, Ronald Reagan, may be right.

Like Bush's visit, Reagan's trip was likewise accompanied by unprecedented security precautions. A handpicked crowd cheered Reagan in front of the Brandenburg Gate while large parts of the Berlin subway system were shut down. And the Germany Reagan was traveling in, much like today's Germany, was very skeptical of the American president and his foreign policy. When Reagan stood before the Brandenburg Gate -- and the Berlin Wall -- and demanded that Gorbachev "tear down this Wall," he was lampooned the next day on the editorial pages. He is a dreamer, wrote commentators. Realpolitik looks different.

But history has shown that it wasn't Reagan who was the dreamer as he voiced his demand. Rather, it was German politicians who were lacking in imagination -- a group who in 1987 couldn't imagine that there might be an alternative to a divided Germany. Those who spoke of reunification were labelled as nationalists and the entire German left was completely uninterested in a unified Germany.

We have now, as we had in 1987, a President that refused to back down or be swayed by the relentless crticism of the press. What did the strength of the President reap for the world then? The end of the Soviet Union and te fall of the Berlin Wall. What will it reap for us now? The tide in the Middle East seems to be turning a meere weeks after the first democratic election in the Middle East. History will judge President Bush, but at this point it seems that the most important event of this new century wasn't the events of September 11th, but the election in Iraq.
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