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President Obama’s D-Day ”Snub,” George W. Bush’s D-Day “Snubs,” and the Long Shadow of World War 2

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The

president is

facing

some

flak for not releasing a statement or otherwise acknowledging

yesterday (except for a

tweet!) the 68th anniversary of D-Day, when Allied

forces stormed the beaches of northern France in a surprise attack

on Nazi-occupied Europe; 10,000 Allied troops were dead by the end

of the day.

President Bush only commemorated D-Day

twice; in 2001 when the National D-Day Memorial  was

opened in  Bedford, Virginia and in 2004, when he commemorated

the 60th anniversary of D-Day along with then French

President Jacques Chirac. Bush, though, largely avoided the kind of

criticisms Obama is facing for the same kind of “snub.” Much of

that is naked anti-Obama partisanship, the same kind that insists

Obama’s foreign policy is “weak,” even though it’s not much

different from what Mitt Romney’s might

look like and even noted neo-conservative Bill Kristol declared the

president

one of his own.

The United States

president doesn’t commemorate D-Day or other World War 2

anniversaries every year because, well, we’re not a country like

Russia, which actively deploys its World War 2 history to justify

its actions more than half a century later. For example at his

inauguration this year, Vladimir Putin said that Russia has a

“great moral right” in its ‘security strengthening’ foreign policy

“because it was our country that bore the brunt of the Nazi attack,

met it with historic resistance, traversed immense hardships,

determined the war’s outcome, routed the enemy and liberated the

world’s peoples.” Nevermind that Russia then was at the head of a

Soviet Union whose leadership was responsible also for the murder

of millions of their own.

Which is not to say that perhaps America could not use some more

historical perspective when it comes to World War 2; since then,

America has subsidized much of Europe’s defense,

even

after the end of the Cold War. The American foreign policy

establishment’s belief that the security of the free world lies on

their shoulders can be traced to World War 2 and its aftermath,

when institutions like the IMF, the United Nations and NATO were

formed. Whether these institutions are still relevant or useful or

necessary or proper in the 21st century is an open

question, but not for the foreign policy establishment. American

reflection

on World War 2 does not go that far, but it should. Commemorating

history may be important, but only an understanding of how we’ve

become prisoners of historical circumstance can force us free of

arrangements that may have far outlived their usefulness

already.

Reason.TV remembering World War 2 Vets:


Read more at Reason Magazine



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