May 01, 2004

The End

I love irony, don't you? Today, May 1st, The EU officially welcomed the former Soviet states of Eastern Europe into the fold of free nations.

Hundreds of thousands of Hungarians celebrated their former communist country's entry into the European Union with midnight parties in the streets of Budapest as the EU welcomed 10 new states on Saturday.

Fireworks lit up the sky above Heroes' Square in the Hungarian capital as the national anthem was played, followed by Beethoven's Ode to Joy, which is the EU's anthem.

"Hungary has returned to Europe and the values which Hungary has held dear for more than 1,000 years," Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy said as a gigantic eight-meter (25-foot) hourglass was turned over to begin marking the nation's time in the EU.

Hungarians had kicked off celebrations with the tolling of a flower-shaped bell at noon Friday and then took to the streets for evening parties.

"We are finally triumphing over our misfortunes," Medgyessy said at the bell ceremony. "Our integration (into the EU) can be a historic turning point."

"We were the gates of Europe already but now we will be that from the inside," he said.



As I read and watch the reports of European celebration arrive on the wires, TV and subscription services, I smile and recall Churchill's remarks in 1942 after Alexander and Montgomery turned back Rommel's forces at El Alamein and the war turned.

"This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. "

Little did we know at the time that another forty-seven years of Anglo-American fortitude was required before the walls Churchill aptly dubbed "The Iron Curtain" lifted from Eastern Europe, the Baltic and the CCCP.

A job well done America.

Of course, no one will speak our name today in the EU love fest as the Hungarians, and others join the EU, rightly so, however, it is their choice and they make it freely. That's payment enough in my book, all we can hope to achieve. We spend our treasure, sacrifice our lives and then quietly walk away, satisfied. This celebration today is our best reply to the naysayers and accusers that we are an imperialistic power.

One can't help but point out that John Kerry and the Dems were on the wrong side of history in defeating the Soviets, just as they are now wrong in the War on Terror. If Kerry were President today, not only would Saddam Hussein still be digging mass graves and paying off our "friends", but had Jimmy Carter defeated Ronald Reagan, Hungary might well still be occupied by the Soviets.

In the current war on terrorism, we must draw on our Cold War experiences with the Soviet Union; we must now take a hard-line against militant Islam and terrorist states, while nurturing democratization and alliances within the Islamic world. We can best defend ourselves by fuelling the liberalization of repressive Islamic and despotic Arabic societies. We have unleashed the information genie from its bottle in the Middle East; it will destroy those who seek to suppress it, just as it did in the Soviet Union. Once people see and hear how others live, that others have choices; the pressure from within cannot be withstood. It would be extremely foolhardy for us to disengage now. It will not be easy, but we face the same choice that we did in 1948 in Berlin.

We must look beyond the partisan rhetoric of the political season, and the self-serving and narrowly focused media obsession with appeasement and retreat, for we now face the greatest threat to our existence since an aggressive, nuclear-armed Soviet Union held much of Europe in its iron grip.

Should the war on terror take forty-five years to win, chances are that I will not be here to witness the celebrations across the Arab world, just as much of my parent's generation are not here to witness the end of what they began in 1941. But our children and grandchildren will benefit or suffer by what we do now, that is an inescapable fact.

(Cross posted at The Command Post Op-Ed Page.)

Posted by feste at May 1, 2004 07:57 AM | TrackBack
Post a comment

Remember personal info?