September 18, 2009
Munich of the SkiesBy Ken Blackwell
It is very nearly the seventy-first anniversary of the infamous Munich agreement. That was the 1938 summit conference in the strongly Nazi Bavarian city that brought together Germany's Hitler, Italy's Mussolini, Britain's Chamberlain, and France's Daladier.
Hitler demanded that the Western democracies give him a free hand in Central Europe. Chamberlain and Daladier, bullied and threatened, gave in. It seemed that war had been averted. Chamberlain touted "peace in our time."
The British people were so relieved that they had averted war that hundreds of thousands crowded into the plaza in front of Buckingham Palace to cheer and weep for joy. Winston Churchill rose up in the House of Commons to speak on the disaster of the first magnitude that had occurred in Central Europe. He did not blame the British people for their outpouring of emotion. He understood their abhorrence of another bloodletting like the four-year nightmare of what was then called "The Great War." That was Britain and France's death struggle against Germany of 1914-1918.
In 1938, Churchill spoke of Czechoslovakia, then one united nation, whose freedom and independence had just been sacrificed.
Churchill said a terrible judgment had been rendered on the Western democracies. Quoting the Book of Daniel, he said: "Thou art weighed in the balance and found wanting."
President Obama has chosen this day -- the 70th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland -- to announce the abandonment of U.S.-backed missile defense for Eastern Europe.
It's worth looking back at how we got here. After the 1989 breakup of the Soviet Empire -- that "evil empire" Ronald Reagan had done so much to end-the newly free states of Central and Eastern Europe naturally looked to the United States, and to a lesser extent, to their Western European brethren, to safeguard their long sought freedom. Poland and the Czech Republic were among the first to apply for membership in NATO.
The U.S., it seemed, would extend it's nuclear umbrella of protection over these newly independent states. In these free states, streets and squares were being named for Ronald Reagan -- after the joyous people first pulled down statues of Lenin.
We should remember not just Munich, and not just the largely peaceful revolution of 1989. We should remember that Soviet invasion of Poland on September 17, 1939, seventy years ago.
Less than a month earlier, Soviet dictator Josef Stalin had concluded the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact with Adolf Hitler. That pact gave Hitler a free hand to invade Poland from the West. It also secretly approved Stalin's plan to invade Poland from the East.
Young Karol Wojtyla -- later to become Pope John Paul II -- fled eastward when the Germans invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, igniting World War II. Karol and his ailing father sought refuge from Nazis so brutal, so inhuman that they shot Poles who failed to step into the streets to let their German overlords pass them on the sidewalks.
But when, on September 17, 1939, Karol and his father learned that the Soviets had invaded Poland from the East, they returned to their little town. They were more willing to face death and enslavement under the Nazis than to take their chances under the Russian domination.
It was a good decision. A Polish website reports what happened to the Poles under Russian occupation.
In all, Poland alone suffered the loss of 22% of her people in World War II. These are the brave people we are now abandoning with this latest move.
Ronald Reagan came to office in 1981 wearing brown suits and talking about freedom for Eastern Europe. Neither move was fashionable then. He changed the world.
Now, Barack Obama is changing it back again. The Obamaphile media is reporting that the Russians will be "pleased" by the latest U.S. move. No doubt. They are regaining a position of predominance without firing a shot. Reagan is repealed. Barack Obama is proving to be indeed what he promised to be: a transformational President.
The American people are still cheering Barack Obama's foreign policy, just as the British once cheered Neville Chamberlain. But there will come a reckoning.
As Churchill said of Munich:
Ken Blackwell is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council and a visiting professor at Liberty University School of Law.