On November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall fell and Central and Eastern Europeans were freed from the constraints of communism. Twenty years later, the world that President Obama inherited from Ronald Reagan’s legacy is profoundly changed. Those suffering under planned economies and the denial civil rights are now living in free market economies and democracies. On the twentieth anniversary of this historic day Obama was absent. Instead, he sent his Secretary of State to Berlin in his place. Dr. Nile Gardiner points out that the administration added further insult to injury when Secretary Clinton ended her speech with a tribute to President Obama’s commitment to diversity and breaking down barriers to discrimination. Displaying an air of indifference and narcissism in no way endears Central and Eastern Europe to the United States.
Perhaps Obama should pay more attention to America’s greatest European allies in their unfinished quest for equality and prosperity. In the wake of the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, The Pew Global Attitudes Project released their report, “Two Decades after the Wall’s Fall: End of Communism Cheered but Now with More Reservations.” The report reveals that those people of “former Iron Curtain countries generally look back approvingly at the collapse of communism” and the majorities of people in most former Soviet republics and Eastern European countries endorse the emergence of multiparty systems and a free market economy.” However, since 1991 when the original survey was conducted, “the initial widespread enthusiasm about these changes has dimmed in most of the countries surveyed.”
Sally McNamara of The Heritage Foundation analyzed the report saying that, on the whole, public opinion in Eastern and Central Europe reflects a “good news story” but “it is clear that satisfaction is not evenly spread.” Democratic aspirations are most prevalent among the younger generation and future leaders. This is why democracy promotion cannot be ignored. In order for younger generations and future leaders to lead their countries to prosperity, it is necessary for the United States to foster their democratic beliefs. According to McNamara, as Obama’s “approval ratings have taken a bit of a beating in central and Eastern Europe” now is not the time to take the region for granted nor should he assume that the victory achieved twenty years ago is a done deal.