Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Mr. Gorbachev, Open This Gate!

From Deutsche Welle a tribute to the speech that brought down the wall.
Reagan said: "We hear much from Moscow about a new policy of reform and openness. Are these the beginnings of profound changes in the Soviet state? Or are they token gestures, intended to raise false hopes in the West, or to strengthen the Soviet system without changing it?"

"There is one sign the Soviets can make," continued Reagan, "that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."
Peter Robinson, who wrote the speech, says those words almost didn't make it into the speech. It was too confrontational.

It took two more years, of course, for the wall to come down. History never happens as rapidly as we would prefer.

I listened to that speech again today. It's hard to remember what the world was like twenty years ago. It's hard to remember the euphoria of 1989, the An die Freiheit beneath the gate. From the other side of the world we watched the revolution unfold; watching what we thought, at the time, must be the end of history.