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."
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.
President Barack Obama, speaking today in Berlin, cited German philosopher Immanuel Kant:
"For thousands of years, the people of this land have journeyed from tribe to principality to nation state to reformation and enlightenment. Renowned as the land of poets and thinkers, among them Immanuel Kant, who taught us that freedom is the unoriginated birthright of man and it belongs to him by force of his humanity."
Charlie Rose last night asked President Obama his new Syria policy. The president first objected to it being called a new policy. "I'm not sure you can characterize this as a new policy. This is consistent with the policy that I've had throughout," he said.
A new CNN poll finds that 66 percent of American adults believe that it's "right" for the Obama administration to analyze and collect Internet data. Only 33 percent believe the action is "wrong," and 1 percent have "No opinion."
Speaking this morning in Belfast, President Obama took the opportunity to mix in a little golf talk as he addressed Northern Irish youth.
"Northern Ireland is hosting the World Police and Fire Games later this year -- (applause) -- which Dame Mary Peters is helping to organize. (Applause.)," Obama said, according to the official White House transcript.
Chinese president Xi Jinping and U.S. President Barack Obama doffed their ties, rolled up their sleeves (well, at least Obama did), and even took the now-obligatory stroll around the Sunnylands Estate in Rancho Mirage, California, in the manner of Eisenhower and Khrushchev at Camp David, and Reagan and Gorbachev in Switzerland. This enabled the leaders to “establish and deepen their personal relationship,” according to Tom Donilon, Obama’s national security adviser at the time of the meeting.
With an email today from the daughter of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, the group formerly known as the Obama reelection campaign, Organizing for Action, is reigniting the fight over guns in America.
"My mom, Dawn Hochsprung, was the principal at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut," the email from Erica Lafferty begins.
"Six months ago today, she was shot and killed in her school, along with five of her coworkers and 20 of her students."