Obama Knows History
I remember having dinner with Col. Robert K. Morgan on Dec. 6, 2003. He had been the pilot of the Memphis Belle, the first B17 bomber to complete 25 missions over Germany during World War II.
I told him how grateful the British nation was to him and to America. He confided he found we were more grateful than America was. Morgan died the next year, but I have often thought about what he said.
Rodney Ward, in his April 10 letter, contended that America has no need to apologize for arrogance, and Europe should be more grateful to America for saving its bacon during two World Wars.
I want to reassure Ward that Europe is indeed very grateful, as much now for America's leadership as it was during two World Wars. Mr. Obama is a well-read president who understands very clearly that it is not what America is doing but the way that it acted that requires introspection.
He also understands that now, as much as during the World Wars, America's interests are better served fighting its wars over there rather than over here.
It is often said that nations have interests, not friends. It was clearly in America's interest to fight Nazism and Communism overseas so that the cities being bombed and the civilian casualties were not American. That is just as true today with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as it was then.
I hope nobody will doubt Europe's enduring gratitude and commitment to be a good partner in the global pursuit of freedom, prosperity and happiness. I also hope America will always have the humility to question itself and accept criticism. Obama understands that, and that is what he was talking about in Europe.
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