When Amer­i­cans and Sovi­ets were com­rades-in-arms

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary -

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.

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