United States Secretary of State Alexander Haig took the offensive in West Berlin Sept. 13 and told West German demonstrators against American arms policy where they were wrong. It was the kind of fighting speech the Republicans have for months been prodding European leaders to lecture their peace protesters with.
It persuaded none of the estimated 50,000 demonstrators, who while not attending the Haig speech delivered to the West German press corp, were nonetheless shouting "go home Haig" in the streets of West Berlin during Haig's five-hour stay in the city. It probably did again persuade the already convinced older Berliners who remember the Western, particularly American, airlift of 1948 and American staunchness during the Berlin crisis.
For these older Berliners -- and for the West German government -- the heart of Haig's speech was the restatement of the American commitment to defend "Free Berlin".
For a Reagan administration that sees signs of increasing "neutralism," "pacifism," and "anti-Americanism" to Europe, however, the importance of Haig's speech lay elsewhere. It was a frontal challenge to the "double standard" of European protesters who demonstrate against American, but not Soviet, nuclear arms.
Haig rhetorically asked these people, "Where are the protest against such Soviet actions" as the occupation of Afghanistan, the backing of terror for self-styled "national liberation."