As an historic day closes in Berlin, a reader asked me to post this excerpt from the prologue of America Alone, which to be honest had clear slipped my mind. But he seems to think it helps explain how we got from Reagan to Obama, and from the Berlin Wall to the Fort Hood media stonewall. So here it is:
There were two forces at play in the late 20th century: in the eastern bloc, the collapse of Communism; in the west, the collapse of confidence. One of the most obvious refutations of Francis Fukuyama’s famous thesis The End Of History – written at the victory of liberal pluralist democracy over Soviet Communism – is that the victors didn’t see it as such. Americans – or at least non-Democrat-voting Americans – may talk about “winning” the Cold War but the French and the Belgians and Germans and Canadians don’t. Very few British do. These are all formal Nato allies – they were, technically, on the winning side against a horrible tyranny few would wish to live under themselves. In Europe, there was an initial moment of euphoria: it was hard not be moved by the crowds sweeping through the Berlin Wall, especially as so many of them were hot-looking Red babes eager to enjoy a Carlsberg or Stella Artois with even the nerdiest running dog of imperialism. But, when the moment faded, pace Fukuyama, there was no sense on the Continent that our Big Idea had beaten their Big Idea …and, with the end of the Soviet existential threat, the enervation of the west only accelerated.