Madam Secretary

Clinton calls fall of Berlin Wall a ‘call to action’

Last night at a gala banquet in Berlin, Secretary Clinton received an Atlantic Council Freedom Award on behalf of the American people. Above, she holds the award while posing with former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, an Atlantic Council board member who introduced Clinton. In delivering the evening’s keynote address, Clinton said the festivities ...

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Hillary Clinton, Henry Kissinger, Nov. 8, 2009 | JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images Last night at a gala banquet in Berlin, Secretary Clinton received an Atlantic Council Freedom Award on behalf of the American people. Above, she holds the award while posing with former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, an Atlantic Council board member who introduced Clinton.

In delivering the evening’s keynote address, Clinton said the festivities surrounding the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall “should be a call to action, not just a commemoration of past actions. That call should spur us to continue our cooperation and to look for new ways that we can meet the challenges that freedom faces now.”

She went on to say:

We need to form an even stronger partnership to bring down the walls of the 21st century and to confront those who hide behind them: the suicide bombers, those who murder and maim girls whose only wish is to go to school, leaders who choose their own fortunes over the fortunes of their people.”

Very inspiring words indeed — calling for people to use the spirit that animated the wall’s fall to fight terrorism and authoritarian regimes. Hopefully it will move people to action, but Thomas Carothers, of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, is skeptical that Europeans will buy into the Bush-era “trope” of linking the Cold War and extremism. He told Agence France-Presse via e-mail:

Facing difficult pressures on Afghanistan, the Obama administration marked the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall by revving up a rhetorical trope that President Bush favored. … Europeans and others never found it very convincing under Bush. … I suspect they won’t like it much better now.”

But between Clinton’s star power and President Obama’s hope-oriented charisma, the new U.S. administration has an inspiring and influential presence that Bush never had. Sometimes you just need the right messenger for your message.

Photo: JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images

Preeti Aroon was copy chief at Foreign Policy from 2009 to 2016 and was an FP assistant editor from 2007 to 2009. Twitter: @pjaroonFP

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