President Obama has reportedly informed the German government that he will not travel to Berlin on November 9 to participate in the 20th-anniversary celebration of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It is an unfortunate decision on multiple counts.
First, it is another slight to another European ally — one that is going all-out to celebrate the event. The invitation to Obama was extended personally by Chancellor Angela Merkel last June.
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Second, it is a failure to correct the historical misstatement of his citizen-of-the-world address last year in Berlin, when he credited the fall of the wall to the “world standing as one” and failed even to mention the names of John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.
Third, it is an embarrassment for the United States not to be represented at the highest level for the commemoration of an event of this magnitude. As Matt Welch writes in the November issue of Reason magazine, November 1989 was “the most liberating month of arguably the most liberating year in human history” — the end of the Soviet Union and communism in Europe and a 50-year Cold War that was a worldwide ideological battle. It was battle led by America.
Fourth, it is an opportunity for Obama to give a speech in which he does not apologize for his country but celebrates the triumph of freedom that has been the driving force of American history from its beginning through his own election.
Barack Obama is not interested. But he is planning on flying to Europe to pick up his prestigious Nobel Peace Prize.