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A Study in Contrasts: McCain and Obama on the Wall

2:12 PM, Nov 11, 2009 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) will commemorate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and speak about the continuing need for the United States to support human rights in its foreign policy at an address to the Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) today, Monday, November 9, 2009. Remarks are prepared for delivery and embargoed until 1:00 pm ET:

"Thank you, Kurt, for that very kind introduction. And thank you for your many years of service to our country. You are a model of what a Foreign Service Officer should be, and the State Department's loss is very much Johns Hopkins' gain.

"Thank you as well to Dean Einhorn, and to all of the leadership of this great university, for inviting me here today. The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies is one of the world's finest places of higher learning. And it is a privilege to speak to such a distinguished group of present and future leaders.

"Reaching out to young people like you was a key part of my presidential campaign last year - and look what that got me. All I have to show for it is an unhealthy obsession with Twitter. Actually, I wrote the following item there this morning: ‘Twenty years ago today, the Berlin Wall fell, Germany was united, Europe was transformed, and history was made.' This was a genuine turning point in human events. And I am honored to be here with you today to commemorate it.

"I imagine the fall of the Berlin Wall was a moment when some of you first began to grow aware of the wider world, and its capacity for change. At the time, you may not have fully grasped the enormity of that day 20 years ago. But you're now learning about the forces that led to the events of November 9, 1989 - when Germans poured into the streets of Berlin by the millions, tore down one of authoritarianism's most offensive monuments, and in so doing, not only reunited their nation, but brought forth the promise of a Europe whole, free and at peace.

"The shockwaves of that day reverberated for years to come - realigning the tectonic plates of geopolitics, and expanding the very boundaries of what people at the time thought possible. The fall of the Berlin Wall led directly to peaceful revolutions that liberated central and eastern Europe … to the collapse of an evil empire that threatened the peace of the world for decades … to the transformation of the world's greatest alliance, NATO, into an institution for unifying Europe … and to the single largest expansion of freedom in history, which has stretched across Asia, deep into Africa, and throughout our own hemisphere. This is the world you have grown up knowing, and the world that you now inherit. And to think: All of it began 20 years ago today. It's a truly remarkable thing.

"For an old guy like me, today also brings back many other memories - memories of ‘the long twilight struggle' that preceded the fall of the Wall. I remember moments when the fate of the world seemed to hang in the balance, but wise and brave decisions by Americans of both parties, and by our allies, helped to keep the peace. I remember the enormous sacrifice that this peace entailed - the many brave souls, some of them my friends, who gave their lives to win the Cold War.

"Most of all, I remember five long decades when, for all our many differences, Americans nonetheless maintained a bipartisan commitment to the freedom and security of our allies. And together, we in the West kept faith with those on the other side of the walls of that world struggle, confident that they wanted the same things we did - liberty equal justice, an opportunity to prosper by their own talents, and a chance to live under the rule of law, not under the thumbs of tyrants.

"This, my friends, is what today's anniversary is all about. The Berlin Wall fell for many reasons - it's true. Economic power had a lot to do with it - for without the combined wealth of the West, we would never have overcome our darkest hours of need. Military power also had a lot to do with it - for without the strength to defend ourselves, our dreams of peace would have remained just that. But beyond all of this, what truly toppled the Berlin Wall and ended the Cold War was a deeper power, a moral power - the universal appeal of human rights, and the support of the West for all who struggled for these values behind the Iron Curtain.