HERE'S what the Los Angeles Times had to say, on its...

Salmagundi

March 27, 1995

HERE'S what the Los Angeles Times had to say, on its editorial page, about the president's VE Day decision:

"After much political soul-searching, President Clinton has made the right choices about how he will observe the 50th anniversary of the Allied victory over Nazism in Europe.

"He could have stayed home and attended several among the numerous solemn celebrations of VE Day. He could have gone to Britain to share the day with America's closest World War II ally, or to France to commemorate the beginning of the liberation of Western Europe. Finally, and most controversially, he could have gone to Russia, without whose enormous sacrifices Hitler's Germany could not have been defeated.

"Clinton's decision, properly, is to preside over ceremonies in Arlington National Cemetery on May 8, the day the Western Allies observe VE Day, and then fly to Moscow for Russia's observance, which occurs on May 9. The trip will also take Clinton to Kiev, capital of Ukraine, where wartime destruction was vast. This was decided only after Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin signaled that the military rites in Moscow will be largely retrospective, saluting the veterans of what Russians call the Great Patriotic War. Contemporary military symbolism is to be played down. That at least lessens the awkwardness of Clinton's sharing the reviewing stand with Yeltsin at a time when Russia's army may still be fighting to crush the Chechnyan independence movement.

"Yeltsin lobbied hard for the Clinton trip, hoping it would be taken as evidence of continuing support for his presidency from the key world power. But it's not Yeltsin's political future that should have been the decider; looming far larger is the continuing development of U.S.-Russia relations. The erratic Yeltsin, with a shrinking power base, in all probability is a transition figure. Russia, with all its promise, problems, uncertainties and inescapable place in Europe, will continue to demand the attention of American policy-makers for a long time to come. A show of respect by the leader of the United States for what Russia and Ukraine suffered so terribly in World War II will not be forgotten by the 200 million people of those countries."

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