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Jewish World Review Nov. 29, 1999 /20 Kislev, 5760

Linda Chavez

Linda Chavez
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Bubba still can't help himself

http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- He just can't help himself. When Bill Clinton steps foot on foreign soil, he feels an urgent need to apologize for America's past 'misdeeds.' He's apologized for America's role in the slave trade on visits to Africa, for supporting right-wing dictators in Latin America, for failing to stop genocide in Rwanda and Bosnia (both of which occurred on his watch), among others. His most recent attack of remorse came last week on a trip to Greece. In response to Molotov-cocktail-throwing protesters who took to the streets of Athens during his visit, President Clinton blamed America for the rioters' anti-Americanism. If demonstrators don't like the United States, it must be something we did. "Blame America first" could be this president's motto.

Referring to the military junta that ruled Greece from 1967 to 1974, President Clinton declared, "The United States allowed its interests in prosecuting the Cold War to prevail over its interests -- I should say, its obligation -- to support democracy, which was, after all, the cause for which we fought the Cold War." Thank goodness the Cold War was over before this man took office. We would never have won it had Bill Clinton been in charge.

Bill Clinton's statements reveal a great deal about his own views on the Cold War. Like many of his generation, he seems to believe there was a dichotomy between fighting communism and supporting democracy. This view led thousands of young Americans to support the 'national liberation movements' of Mao Tse-Tung in China, Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam, Che Guevara in Latin America, and later, Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, and dozens of other 'liberationists' in Asia, Latin America and Africa.

Thankfully, U.S. presidents from Harry Truman to Ronald Reagan (with the exception of Jimmy Carter, who learned this lesson too late) understood that supporting democracy meant fighting communism. And Greece played a pivotal role in the fight against communism after World War II.

By 1947, the Soviet Union already occupied Eastern Europe and was supporting communist guerrilla movements in both Greece and Turkey. Had President Truman not intervened to send $400 million in aid to the two countries, they, too, might have fallen to the communists. Greece communists fought a bitter civil war in which 80,000 people were killed. Moreover, nearly 30,000 Greek children, ages 3 to 14 years old, were forcibly rounded up by communist soldiers and sent to Yugoslavia, Albania, and Bulgaria, from which many never returned. And even after the communist guerrillas were defeated in Greece and the Greek communist party outlawed, communism remained a real threat to Greece and the region. Indeed, the right-wing military coup in 1967 was precipitated by fear among a group of colonels that leftist military officers in the Greek army, who had powerful allies in the left-leaning Papandreou government, were about to launch their own takeover.

Against this backdrop, the United States' failure to intervene when the group of military officers seized power is certainly understandable. What exactly Bill Clinton would have done differently from his Democrat predecessor President Lyndon Johnson, he doesn't say. His implication seems to be that the United States somehow aided the junta in taking over -- a Left-wing conspiracy theory made popular by the film "Z," by Greek director Costa-Gavras. The historical record shows no evidence of this, however. What's more, the United States actually decreased its military aid to Greece during the period of military dictatorship.

Demeaning the United States' role in fighting communism may make President Clinton popular on the Left, but it indicates that he has yet to understand the real lesson of the Cold War. As bad as conditions were under right-wing dictators from Greece to Chile, nothing compares to the history of repression under communist governments. Communism is responsible for the loss of some 100 million lives in this century. And while communist governments fell in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, communists remain in control in China, Cuba, Laos, North Korea and Vietnam.

Maybe Bill Clinton's next apology ought to be the people living in those countries for doing too little during his presidency to support democracy there.


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