Monday, October 19, 2009

Anniversaries to celebrate

Matt Welch raises a very interesting question here: why is it that only one journalist remarked on the 20th anniversary, on August 23, of the breaching of the Iron Curtain? Or, for that matter, any of the other anniversaries this fall of events that led to the end of the Cold War?

Welch quotes historian Timothy Garton Ash, who wrote that 1989 "ended communism in Europe, the Soviet empire, the division of Germany, and an ideological and geopolitical struggle…that had shaped world politics for half a century. It was, in its geopolitical results, as big as 1945 or 1914. By comparison, ’68 was a molehill."

Some of this may come from Western self-absorption. Welch asked a student leader of Czechoslovakia’s Velvet Revolution why he thought 1968 still gets all the headlines. He gave a typically Czech shrug: "Probably 1968 happened to more people in the West."

I suggest two other reasons:

-- First, we didn't win the war; the Soviets lost it. Perhaps the lack of interest reflects the lack of effort on our part 20 years ago.

-- Second, many of our elite opinionmakers place more value on government control than on individual liberty. Perhaps they don't view the fall of the Soviet Union as something to celebrate.

(Thanks to Rachel.)

No comments: