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A wake-up call: Facing the new challenges for Europeans and Americans

A wake-up call: Facing the new challenges for Europeans and Americans

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Remarks delivered at a conference sponsored by the Aspen Institute in Prague, Czech Republican on June 10, 2014.
Remarks delivered at a conference sponsored by the Aspen Institute in Prague, Czech Republican on June 10, 2014.

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Categories:Types, Brochures
Published by: American Enterprise Institute on Jun 10, 2014
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07/12/2014

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“A Wake
-
Up Call: Facing the New Challenges for Europeans and Americans”
 By Senator Joseph I. Lieberman
Delivered at a conference sponsored by the Aspen Institute Prague, Czech Republic June 10, 2014
 
 
I’m delighted to
 join you here in Prague to celebrate the 25
th
 anniversary of the fall of the Soviet Union and the liberation of hundreds of millions of people from Communist repression. There are only a handful of years in modern history with a claim to as much significance as 1989. But they were years of terrible bloodshed. 1989 stands alone as the year in which peaceful, principled uprisings achieved political transformation that can only be described as miraculous. The greatest credit for this triumph belongs to the people of Central and Eastern Europe who suffered for so long and arose so courageously. But, I hope you also know how much the people of America and successive generations of our
national leadership identified with your cause and rejoiced in freedom’s triumph in
1989. As I look back on my twenty-four years in the U.S. Senate, there is nothing that gives me more satisfaction than the work I was privileged to do to extend economic assistance to the newly independent nations of the former Soviet Union and to work for the admission of each of your countries to NATO as quickly as  possible. But, as we often say in America and as recent events in Ukraine make clear, freedom is not free.
 
 
If this conference had occurred on the first day of 2014, it would have been a  purely joyous occasion. We would not have asked, with any justification, whether the miraculous achievements of 1989 were permanent. Yet the unforeseeable has happened again. The peace of Europe is threatened. The fight that so many of you fought and won in 1989 is not yet finished. It was conventional wisdom just a few years ago that Europe had arrived at
‘the end of history,”
that Europeans had moved beyond geopolitics, and that, after  being ground zero of the great and grisly strategic contests of the 20th century, the continent was pretty much "fixed." The greatest danger for Europe, in this view, was its own growing irrelevance to the "real" strategic center of gravity for the 21st century -- presumed to lie somewhere off in the Middle East and Asia. Hence the calls for NATO to go "out of area or out of business," because the continent was on the cusp of perpetual peace, other than a few loose ends in the Balkans and Eastern Europe -- which presumably would go away as the magnetic balm of European integration eventually cured them. And this in turn also meant that Americans were free to stop thinking strategically about Europe. This view was and is dangerously wrong. In fact, the relative peace,  prosperity, tolerance, and security achieved from Lisbon to Tallinn is by any historical measure not the natural state of the European continent. On the contrary, this has been a part of the world that has proven unusually prone to conflict --

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