Thoughts on and out of the Baltics
Walter Russell Mead was in Lithuania recently, and ruminated on the tragic history of that nation in the 20th Century, and the role that American foreign policy played. He concludes that the stakes of American actions are high, not just for ourselves, but for peoples all around the world:
Developing American power and reinforcing its economic foundations at home, building alliances, promoting democracy, deterring aggressors: when we do these things well, people thrive. When we fail, they die miserably, and in droves.
As Mead points out, some of our most faithful allies in the last decade have been the plucky nations of Eastern Europe. Recently freed from communist oppression, the people of Poland, Lithuania, Romania, etc. are the most committed to advancing freedom, and to cultivating the friendship of the United States.
Reading about Mead’s experiences in Lithuania reminded me of my own days in Latvia, some 15 years ago. The psyche of the entire Latvian nation was scarred by the horrors of the Soviet era: mass deportations, the suppression of their culture and language, the surveillance and terror state. The Latvian people saw in America what we sometimes lose sight of: the United States as the beacon of freedom in the world. If things were bad in their own country, they saw America as the haven to which they could emigrate (as indeed many Latvians had). If Latvia was in trouble, they saw America as the friend and protector that they could call on.
I wonder if the current President thinks of America in the same way that the average Latvian does.
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