Freedom isn't free


The man walks in to thunderous applause, makes his way across the stage, working the room with his famous smile. This is an old-school welcome, it's been a while. It takes a European audience to really appreciate the Black President. It takes an American man to remind Europe of what it really stands for.

He comes on strong, talking about the architectures of peace and international order like some old wise tutor gently admonishing the inattentive pupils. Remember the trenches of Flanders and the rubble of Berlin, he asks softly. Imagine how impossible this Union of today once seemed to your ancestors and be equal to its task, his tone is now firm, almost defiant. Know that you have inspired the world.

President Obama came to Brussels to speak about a contest of ideas.

The invasion of Crimea means a lot of important things, but none is more pressing than the Western bluff that it has called. The old ways are all up in the young century's face now, disdainful, tap dancing to their own tune while Europe drags its feet to the slow tempo of continental democracy. Putin knows how to find a weak spot, he's a trained field agent. Obama is also a very knowledgeable gentleman. He looks at very secret and very dark documents every day. He is well aware that the Eurocrats need to be nudged into budgetary action if The Alliance is to keep any of its former might.

Up on the stage, the Nobel Peace Prize is still eloquent. He speaks directly to the Union's young people, hoping that the old will get the message. You may downsize the government, you may cut down on social benefits. You can even act like you believe in diplomatic efforts. When the geopolitical chips are down, now as ever, nothing is truly promised unless you can back it up with some actual firepower.

Democracy is expensive. Freedom isn't free.