What a difference three decades make. When the Berlin Wall was torn down on November 9, 1989, it symbolized the collapse of the Iron Curtain and the liberation of more than 300 million people from the tyrannical grip of communism. We in the west celebrated the start of a new era of democracy and freedom, one we were told was possibly endless. Yet a mere 30 years later, communist parties are gaining ground, and the free world is literally shrinking — in size and spirit.
Freedom’s retreat is evident from Asia to Africa to South America and even closer to home. Across the Pacific, the Chinese Communist Party is pursuing a policy of oppression at home and aggression abroad, cracking down on Hong Kong’s liberty and seeking to create satellites from Nepal to Djibouti. North Korea is threatening free South Korea and Japan and, with China’s protection.
Cuba’s expanding influence
In the Western Hemisphere, Communist Cuba is dominating Venezuela, propping up the Nicolás Maduro regime and siphoning off the once-rich nation’s oil. Havana is also supporting the increasingly brutal socialist dictatorship in Nicaragua, Evo Morales’ corrupt regime in Bolivia and is attempting to make inroads in Mexico as well. Perhaps most disturbingly, 30 years after the end of the Cold War, polling by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation and YouGov finds that 52% of U.S. Millennials would prefer to live in a socialist or communist country.
What happened? The answer is that the free world has forgotten the lessons of 1989 — not just the fall of the Berlin Wall, but also the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing.
It’s common now to assume that communism’s collapse was inevitable, but the opposite is true. The Cold War demonstrated that victory over communism depends on three distinct components: an organic desire for freedom on the part of the oppressed; a loss of ideological will by the communist party; and clear moral leadership in the free world. All three were present in the years before the Berlin Wall came down.
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