This week the world took time to remember two events of historical significance. The impacts of both of these events are still felt in the world today. One is a triumph of democracy over tyranny. The other is a triumph of tyranny over democracy.
The first event was D-Day. Seventy years ago this week, allied forces under General Dwight D. Eisenhower began an audacious plan to defeat Nazi Germany. There is no need to recount the thousands acts of bravery done by U.S. and Allied forces and their successful defeat of Germany. What made them brave, was their conviction-that the world needs to be liberated from the threat of tyranny.
Yesterday, there were many speeches on the shores of Normandy remembering the heroic deeds of those soldiers still alive and those who have died. There was the promise that we would never allow the events that caused WWII to happen again. One of the best D-Day speeches ever made is found here. Yet, looking at today from the eyes of history, it seems and feels that we are living in the 1930’s again. Here are two examples to consider.
Consider Russia’s action in annexing the Crimea and their use to agitate ethnic Russians in Eastern Ukraine. Consider our response to such actions. The inaction by Europe and the U.S. has allowed fears that Russia would agitate ethnic Russians in Estonia. An article explaining such fears is found here.
The second example of this 1930’s mentality is in the global war of terror. The militant Islam seen Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and other places in the Middle East, and in Africa is a direct decedent of the Nazism that was fought in Normandy’s shore. This Administration’s handling of the situation whether it is the unilateral withdrawal of troops without completing the mission or the exchange of 5 senior Taliban for one American traitor is mind blowing. How we are conducting ourselves in these situations shows weakness and an invitation for more provocations.
The second and final historical event occurred twenty five years ago. Chinese students were massacred by Chinese troops in Tienanmen Square on June 4, 1989, twenty five years ago this week. The students were protesting the Chinese Communist government, specifically, the corruption of party leaders along with the economic conditions of that time. The students believed that if China became more democratic, then China would become a greater and prosperous nation.
The Chinese Politburo responded with troops to dispel the students. The Politburo believed only having a strong force to crackdown on its citizens defines a nation’s greatness. As of today and every day since then, the Chinese government will use force to harass, or arrest those who mention or talk about Tienanmen. Right now, the conditions are ripe in China for another protest. The government is still corrupt and the Chinese economy is fragile.
The U.S. government’s position with China had been to use “kid gloves” in its approach. Yet I believe if it is time to change that approach. China is being recognized as an up and coming world power in the international arena. “With great power come great responsibility” a literary character once said. Maybe the time has come to treat China, not with “kid gloves.” But as a nation whose actions impacts the world as if it were the United States. An American policy that was similar to President Reagan’s policy towards the Russians. Maybe, just maybe the student’s call for democracy twenty five years ago will not be a vain call.