Ron Asmus, Freedom Fighter

America and democrats the world over lost a great freedom fighter this weekend. Ron Asmus was a star of the Clinton administration.  He probably deserves more credit than any single American for the historic enlargement of NATO to include the nations of Eastern and Central Europe after their liberation from Soviet imperialism.  His devotion to the cause of the peoples of that region was widely recognized and appreciated.  Among those who yearned to join what we used to call the West, Ron was their greatest and most tireless champion.  He deeply believed in the dream of a “Europe whole and free,” and he lived his life in pursuit of its accomplishment.

Later, Ron became a great defender of the people of Georgia, brutally and deliberately invaded by the Soviet Union’s successor.  While both Americans and Europeans, embarrassed by their inaction in the face of that aggression, turned to blaming the victim, Ron, already ill, devoted himself to keeping the record straight.  His book, “A Little War That Shook the World,” stands as a model of scholarship informed by passion and empathy for a small country that became the casualty of the ambition of one great power and the callous timidity of the democracies.

In short, Ron spent his life fighting for the freedom of others, and he continued to fight at a time when it became less fashionable in some circles.  No one who had suffered under oppression ever had to wonder which side Ron was on, which is why so many turned to him for help when they were in need.

Ron was a committed servant of this country both in office and out.  He was also a loving, devoted father and husband.  We will miss him terribly as a person, and we will miss him as a leader of a cause that is always short of leaders.