When Americans and Soviets were comrades-in-arms
a Torgau proposal. especially if focused on introspectively commemorating and not triumphantly celebrating. Some allies and partners with World War II links could also be invited, as well as some of the former Soviet states. The main emphasis, however, should be Russia and the United States, whose soldiers shook hands together on that fateful, promising day 70 years ago.
Some will surely say that proposing any joint Russia-U.S. commemoration such as Torgau during this geopolitically contentious period would cast the United States and the West as appeasing supplicants and imply acquiescence to Russia’s continuing malign actions in Ukraine. I respectfully disagree. Participating in such a symbolic, commemorative event would not infer any easing of sanctions on Russia, or if the political decision is made, delay increased defensive support to hard-pressed and outgunned Ukraine. Reassurance for nervous, deserving regional allies must continue with defense-oriented exercises, such as Atlantic Resolve.
There will be almost no World War II veterans left from any side to meet for a 75th or 80th commemoration. Even with so little time left to organize, we should modestly commemorate the U.S.-Soviet link-up at Torgau for them and the memory of their peers. Ideally, military leaders from Russia and the United States should be present. However, as a minimum, our nations should provide the funding, travel and medics to help volunteering veterans, some barely ambulatory, to attend such a defining event in Germany. Time is short.
We should also do this to assure future generations that we did all we could to ease the world back from a deceptively dangerous spiral that potentially poses an existential threat to us all.