Victory Denied: America Won the Cold War

By Beichman, Arnold | VFW Magazine, December 2001 | Go to article overview
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Victory Denied: America Won the Cold War


Beichman, Arnold, VFW Magazine


America should be marking a monumental milestone on Dec. 25--the 10th anniversary of the extinction of Communist tyranny in East Europe. But if the past is an accurate guide, America's Cold War veterans best not expect congratulations for a job well done. The following guest editorial laments this lack of recognition.

On June 3, 1999, Texas Sen. Phil Gramm did something exemplary. He introduced to the Defense Department authorization bill an amendment calling for a 10th anniversary celebration of democracy's victory in the Cold War-the epic struggle against Soviet imperialism.

The amendment's dominant theme was, specifically, to recognize -and honor the veterans who had contributed mightily to this victory. And why not celebrate that triumph, won without a "hot" war, and do honor to the brave victors in uniform?

The Soviet Union had collapsed into 16 countries and had hesitantly embarked on a democratic path. Meanwhile, the U.S. emerged as the world's sole super power. Shouldn't such an amendment have passed unanimously?

After all, the Cold War was not an obscure conflict in some foreign land. The Cold War was as much a "just war" as World War II.

Some recognition, even at this late date, was surely due the Americans in the armed forces who were ready to fight if Cold War push had come to hot war shove.

'LONGEST STRUGGLE FOR FREEDOM'

As the Gramm amendment pointed out, the Cold War "was the longest and most costly struggle for democracy and freedom in the history of mankind.'

And then came this fact, too often forgotten except by the loved ones left behind: "Tens of thousands of United States soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen and Coast Guardsmen paid the ultimate price during the Cold War in order to preserve the freedoms and liberties enjoyed in democratic countries." (This. number, of course, includes the 94,794 American dead of Korea and Vietnam.)

The amendment, which designated Nov. 9, 1999-the 10th anniversary of the day the Berlin Wall was razed-as "Victory in the Cold War Day." It also provided for a Cold War Victory Medal for every American veteran who served on active duty during that struggle.

It was an attempt to make up for a shameful failure to recognize this historic achievement. A crusade that began with President Truman and was completed by President Reagan, the West's triumph was made possible by our armed forces.

Here was a stunning political and military victory in which freedom triumphed over a Communist dictatorship claiming it was marching with history, and that in time it would "bury" us.

Indeed, for fanatical Communists, wrote Stanford University professor Michael McFaul in the Washington Post, the "mission was total destruction of the United States, its allies and its way of life" Only GIs manning the ramparts prevented this scenario and saved the lives of millions by stemming communism's spread.

VANISHED AMENDMENT

So what happened to Gramm's initiative? A remarkable disappearing act, that's what happened. Somewhere in the hidden pigeonholes of Congress lies the Gramm amendment. It's unmourned, except by those who had hoped this great victory would not only pay tribute to our fighting men and women, but also would be suitably enshrined in the nation's history books.

But not only did the Gramm amendment disappear from sight, so has the Cold War triumph itself, thanks to elitist academics on campus and purveyors of popular culture like CNN.

CNN's "brain-washing" 24-part, $15 million documentary on the Cold War was primarily directed at the nation's schoolchildren. Its theme was that America and the U.S.S.R. behaved like two equally demented gorillas threatening the world with a nuclear-tipped Armageddon.

If the Cold War victory is something to be ashamed of, then obviously there is no need to create a medal. That would smack of "triumphalism;' a no-no in politically correct circles.

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