President Barack Obama went to Europe this week and spoke out as leader of the free world. The term “free world” is not used much these days, especially since the collapse of the Soviet Union. But in the days of Soviet tyranny, it was a rallying cry for the West against the threat emanating from Moscow.
That threat was real, as few in Western Europe or the U.S. doubted at the time. In June 1948, the U.S. and British governments began the Berlin Airlift in order to counter the Soviet blockade of the German capital. The airlift was an enormous success, forcing the Soviets to end the blockade in May 1949. But the writing was on the wall, and later that year, NATO was created to counter the ominous threat of countless Soviet divisions. The alliance was so successful that we still have it.
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