Sunday, August 24, 2014

Against Putin, It's Time to Channel JFK

Obama needs to hark back to Kennedy's "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech

August 22, 2014

The Economist, where I work as a senior editor, has hailed Estonia’s flat tax, its lean, clean government, its privatization record, its macro-economic stability, its liberal and open economic policy, its fiscal thrift, the integrity of its intelligence and security agencies and its robust resistance to Russian subversion and mischief.

Those achievements are all the more striking given the country’s bleak history. Every one of the Estonians who flocks to central Tallinn to greet Obama will have a painful, personal and recent family memory. The foreign occupations—first Soviet in 1940, then Nazi in 1941, and then Soviet again in 1944—took a huge toll. Tens of thousands of the best, brightest and bravest Estonians were deported to Siberia by the Soviets, or simply murdered. The small Jewish population suffered at Soviet hands because they were rich, at Nazi hands because of Hitler’s anti-Semitic extermination policies. A guerrilla war against the Soviet occupiers fizzled on for a decade. The last partisan drowned, fleeing the KGB, as late as 1978.

The damage done by Soviet rule in the decades that followed was grievous too: collectivization of agriculture, huge inward immigration of native Russian-speakers designed to dilute the country’s ethnic and cultural identity, destruction of libraries and cultural heritage and isolation from the outside world. Only Finnish television—easily received from a transmitter in Helsinki—gave Estonians a precious window on the outside world denied to the fellow-captives of the Soviet empire.

(More here.)


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