Biden’s D-Day Visit May Mark The End Of An American Era

The new world for which the greatest generation sacrificed in the bloody surf of the Normandy beaches is fading into history along with the last of the old soldiers.

The 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings observed by President Joe Biden in France Thursday will likely be the last major decennial commemoration attended by significant numbers of veterans. Even a 19-year-old who stormed ashore in the biggest amphibious operation in history would soon be 100.

This year’s memorial ceremony represents far more than a poignant farewell to surviving comrades of more than 150,000 allied troops who forged a beachhead for the liberation of Europe from Adolf Hitler’s Nazis.

Presidents, prime ministers and monarchs from NATO nations are gathering at a paradoxical moment. They are unusually united but experiencing growing dread. The alliance has a new sense of mission in opposing another war started by a tyrant bent on territorial expansion — this time in Ukraine. But at no point since June 6, 1944, has the unshakable US leadership of the West and support for internationalist values been so in question. Democracy is facing its sternest test in generations from far-right populism on the march on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Geopolitical empires like Russia and China are, meanwhile, resurgent and threatening to obliterate the global system dominated by Western values that has prevailed since World War II.

European nations already rattled by presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s constant attacks on NATO in his first term were further rocked by his recent comment that he’d let Russia do “whatever the hell they want” with allies that he regarded as failing to “pay their bills” on defense spending. The comment weakened the foundational NATO creed of mutual self-defense without which the alliance has no meaning. Some of Trump’s ex-advisers have warned that he might try to exit the alliance if he wins a second term in November. Even if Biden wins, there are growing indications that Americans’ willingness to maintain the security guarantees — even to former enemies like Germany and Japan that bought 80 years of peace — may be waning.

Trump’s “America First” philosophy has taken deep root in the Republican Party that once prided itself on winning the Cold War. Some GOP figures led by the ex-president now appear to have more empathy for Russian President Vladimir Putin than liberal European democracies that the United States rebuilt after World War II. And the monthslong delay in funding Biden’s most recent aid package for Ukraine raised doubts that Washington will always stand up for democracy in Europe and against aggression by autocrats.

Read more here from CNN.