The Berlin Airlift: Obama Doesn’t Get It

Ich bin ein pretender

During his campaign speech to a large crowd of Germans, Barack Obama made several references to the Berlin Airlift. At the end of World War II, the soviet Union controlled the Eastern half of Germany. Within that Soviet territory was the Capital, Berlin, which was divided into four sectors. The Soviet Union’s sector was the Eastern half of the city. The western allies, America, France and Britain each controlled a portion of the Western half of the city.

In June, 1948, three years after the end of the war, Soviet troops blocked the access roads and rails that came across East Germany to the Western sectors of Berlin. The Soviet’s plan was to starve the people of West Berlin and thus force the Western allies to abandon the city.

President Truman stood up to the Soviets and ordered the US Air Force to organize a massive airlift of food and critical supplies into West Berlin. It was the largest such operation ever attempted. There were plenty of skeptics who said it couldn’t work and that it was best for the Unites States to pull out of the Berlin problem. But Truman and the Air Force forged ahead.

Over ten months American and British crews conducted 277,569 flights, eventually averaging one flight every 90 seconds. One of the two airfields was damaged by continuous use and crews worked around the clock repairing it, in short 2 – 3 minute work increments, between landings and takeoffs. The Airlift delivered more than two million tons of food, coal, and commodities to Berlin. Finally, the Soviets backed down and reopened the highways and railroads.

What is most important about the Berlin Airlift is that it proved to the Germans and Western Europeans in general that America could be trusted to keep it’s commitments, no matter how arduous the efforts that might be required.

Barack Obama treads on shaky ground in trying to cover himself in glow of this heroic episode. Since becoming a Senator, Obama has tried his best to cause America to abandon the people of Iraq to Al Qaeda, the Iranian-backed terrorists and other assorted barbarians. He voted against continued funding for the Iraq operation, even as US troops were fighting.

At the end of 2006 the status of Iraq could have been compared to the beleaguered West Berlin of 1948. The situation was desperate and the prognosis was bleak. In the same American tradition of tenacity that inspired the Berlin Airlift, our President and military passed up the temptation to abandon the enterprise and redoubled efforts to prevail, with additional troops and a bold change in strategy and tactics.

What was Senator Obama’s role? Just as the initial contingent of “surge” troops was leaving for Iraq in 2007, Obama introduced legislation that would have prohibited the surge and would have required the military to pull all troops out of Iraq within ten months.

Why was Obama so driven to bring about failure in Iraq? He has said why a thousand times on the campaign trail. Because he opposed the Iraq invasion before it began, from his seat in the Illinois Legislature. Because, in his opinion, it was a “huge mistake” to depose Saddam’s regime and embark on the arduous task of birthing a democracy and US ally against Islamic terrorism in the Middle East. On Tuesday, in an interview with Katie Couric he said that even though the surge has been an unqualified success his opposition continues because it cost too much money.

If Oama had been a Senator in 1948 would he have supported the Berlin Airlift, from which he drew inspiration for today’s speech in Berlin? Or, would he have complained that it cost too much? Would he have preferred that America walk away from her commitment to the people of West Berlin? From his rhetoric in this campaign one can only conclude that he would have been part of the cynical, defeatist opposition.

1 Comment so far

  1. aaa again on July 25th, 2008

    Setting aside for the moment that the names Truman and Obama used in proximity want to make one burst out in cynical laughter…….

    Your observation is absolutely spot on. Faced with the same decision in 1948 Obama would have wrung his hands and worried about angering our adversaries – and preached about fighting in the “correct” theatre, perhaps Poland. Sorry, West Berliners. But then eating is over rated.

    Who knows, he might even have given a Messianic speech about how Berlin had to “stay as one.” Just like the nonsense in Jerusalem the other day.

    This guy has no shame. But my, what a sad reflection on an intellectually lazy public that they buy this garbage. Of course, they buy the Enquirer, watch The View and worry daily about Brad and Angelina too.