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Berlin On My Mind

My Creators Syndicate column for this week is primarily about the Russian invasion of Georgia. Before I started writing it on Thursday, I had another approach in mind, to argue that the Russian conduct was not justified by the NATO military action against Serbia and support of independence for Kosovo. But as events unfolded, I took another approach.

Usually when I write a column, I have a pretty clear idea of the points I am going to make. But when I began this one, I did not think of tying together the different events I was writing about as echoes of Berlin. That just came to me as I was writing. It took me about 45 minutes to write the column, and I didn't do much in the way of editing. The spelling of Georgian President Saakashvili's first name changed from "Mikhail" in my draft to "Mikheil" in the Creators Syndicate release. Perhaps that's the favored Georgia spelling; I'll have to look that up.

This is not the first time I've compared current events to the Berlin airlift. A July column, inspired by Andrei Cherny's The Candy Bombers: The Untold Story of the Berlin Airlift and America's Finest Hour, compared George W. Bush's determination to persevere in Iraq with Harry Truman's decision to stay in Berlin when the Soviets cut off land access--in both cases against the advice of military and civilian leaders inside the government and out. Cherny's book is a terrific read and has helped me to understand current developments better than I had.

By Michael Barone