Tuesday, June 08, 2004

So long, Mr. President

So long, Mr. President

Ronald Reagan was the greatest President of the 20th century. His vocal opposition to communism and the Soviet Empire ended in the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the end of the Cold War in which one super power could wage nuclear war against another. As Margaret Thatcher said, he headed off World War III without firing a shot.

"How do you tell a Communist?" Reagan asked in 1987. "Well, it's someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It's someone who understands Marx and Lenin."

I'm proud to have been part of his military buildup in the 80's that ended the Cold War and defeated the Communist Empire. I worked at Martin Marietta from 1981-1993. President Reagan served from 1981 to 1989. I supported the computer labs that worked on projects such as the development of new Pershing missiles, Tomahawk cruise missiles, and even the Strategic Defense Initiative (called 'Star Wars' by the media), which was a plan to create a defensive shield from incoming nuclear missiles, essentially rendering their entire missile program useless. Oh, how they howled at that one.

On the home front, by lowering taxes he created the biggest economic expansion in America's history. And he proved that it's not big deficits that will ruin this country. It is big spending. Even today, the libs howl about the deficit and President Bush's tax cut (a paltry 3% cut), yet they say little about runaway spending being the problem.

Ronald Reagan believed solutions were to be found by the people, not the government. Freedom and liberty were paramount, not servitude (through high taxes) and Socialism (forced re-distribution of wealth).

"You and I are told we must choose between a left or right, but I suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down. Up to man's age-old dream -- the maximum of individual freedom consistent with order -- or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. Regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would sacrifice freedom for security have embarked on this downward path. Plutarch warned, "The real destroyer of the liberties of the people is he who spreads among them bounties, donations and benefits."

-- Ronald Reagan -October 27, 1964

Although George W. Bush may come close (Kerry is not even in the running), we will likely not see another President in my lifetime like Ronald Reagan, who held to the ideals and the spirit of the Founding Fathers, and who was willing to take action to preserve and to protect those ideals in a rapidly changing world.

"Some may try and tell us that this is the end of an era. But what they overlook is that in America every day is a new beginning, and every sunset is merely the latest milestone on a voyage that never ends. For this is the land that has never become, but is always in the act of becoming. Emerson was right: America is the Land of Tomorrows." -- Ronald Reagan

There's not a shed of doubt in my mind that my life, your life and the lives of tens of millions of others around the world is better thanks to Ronald Reagan. Except for the successful effort in Desert Storm to oust Saddam from Kuwait, George Bush Senior was a largely ineffective one-term president which, along with the Presidential run by Ross Perot in 1992, put Clinton in the driver's seat. Clinton coasted through, and claims credit for, the largest economic expansion in the history of the world. But it was all due to the Reagan policies put into place in the 80's.

Never let anyone re-write history for you. I've lived it. I know. I know what the 80's were like under Jimmy Carter, and then under Ronald Reagan. Believe me I'll take Reagan's policies every time.

So long, Mr. President. And Thank You. You will be missed. But your dream will be fulfilled. America will continue on its path of greatness. Its goal of personal freedom, liberty forall and the spirit of what the Founders called The Pursuit of Happiness will live on. As long as we never forget great Americans like you, Mr.President.


In the end, he outwitted them all

June 8, 2004


In summer 1987 I was invited to a dinner party while vacationing in Rome. The other guests, some American, some European, were mainly diplomats and international civil servants. Before long the conversation had veered round to Ronald Reagan. Those present were almost all either hostile or contemptuous toward him -- "an amiable dimwit . . . sleepwalking through crises . . . out-of-control deficits . . . reckless warmonger . . . prisoner of his own prejudices . . . waging an unwinnable arms race with the Soviets . . .'' And so on and so forth.

Before long, largely because I was then working in Margaret Thatcher's Downing Street, I found myself cast as chief counsel for the defense. Patiently I responded by pointing out that Reaganomics had led to ''the longest peacetime economic expansion in U.S. history.'' That was dismissed as the calm before the Slump.

But it was a defense of Reagan's foreign policy that aroused the most derisive and bitter opposition. The Soviet empire, I was told, was stable and increasingly prosperous. Reagan's ''confrontational'' approach was doomed to fail while risking a nuclear war. His arms buildup, including ''Star Wars,'' would bankrupt America before it even inconvenienced the Soviets.

Only one other person seemed unsure of these verities. He sat looking more and more uncomfortable as the other guests hooted at the claim that Reagan's economic, military and ideological competition with the Soviets was undermining their power in Europe. Eventually, he intervened with obvious reluctance: ''Well, I don't think much of Reagan either. But I have just come back from a tour of Eastern Europe. And everyone there says exactly what our Downing Street friend is saying. They all think Reagan is a hero and a great statesman. And they predict he will bring down the Soviet Union.''

For a moment it was The Perfect Squelch. The guests went quiet. And then the rationalizations, tentative at first but growing in confidence as one followed another, began to pour forth: ''Yes, doubtless some East Europeans did believe such things . . . that was understandable since they had only very limited information about the West . . . they had an exaggerated view of Reagan because the Kremlin's attacks had exaggerated his importance. . . the East's growing prosperity would gradually erase such discontent . . . Gorbachev's reforms would soon undercut Reagan . . . yes, Gorbachev offered real hope.''

Even at the time, these dismissals of Reagan and Reaganism should have struck well-informed people as transparently false. Only one year previously, dissident intellectuals from every East European country, inspired by Reagan, had signed a joint declaration calling for freedom and independence. It was an unprecedented act of defiance against Moscow.

In Poland a Western academic visitor was told the following joke: The Polish Communist Party is launching a recruitment drive -- with valuable prizes. If you recruit one person to join the party, you win a two-week vacation in New York. If you get five people to join, you are allowed to resign from the party yourself. And if you bring in 10 new recruits, you get a certificate stating that you had never been a member of it. What is even more significant is that the man telling the joke was a senior member of the Polish Politburo. By summer 1987 the signs of communist decay were all around -- and two years later they would bring the entire empire crashing down.

Reagan sensed all this. He could repeat anti-communist jokes by the bushel -- and he knew that jokes in a totalitarian society were the only permissible form of truth-telling.

Yet these sophisticated diplomats in Rome could not see what was in front of their noses. They were ''amiable dimwits . . . sleepwalking through crises.'' No -- that's not quite right. They were the ''prisoners of their own prejudices.'' In their case the prejudice that animated them was anti-anti-communism, which transformed itself effortlessly into anti-Reaganism. They did not want to believe that communism was both oppressive and declining since that would have made their policies of appeasement needless and shameful. They did not want Reagan to be right since that would mean they had been outsmarted by a dimwit and an icon to the great unwashed.

And they seized on Gorbachev as a way of denying Reagan or the West any credit for the liberation of half a continent -- not grasping, of course, that Gorbachev's reforms were made necessary by Reagan's ruthless military and economic competition. (In shorthand, without Reagan, no Gorbachev.)

My dinner party companions were not alone in these opinions. They were merely voicing the conventional wisdom of the foreign policy establishments, the political class, and the media elites on both sides of the Atlantic. Some in those circles went a great deal farther than merely sneering at Reagan. Vladimir Bukovsky, the great anti-Soviet dissident, later discovered in the archives of the Soviet Communist Party that a delegation of German social democrats had appealed to the Kremlin to crack down on Eastern Europe on the grounds that a Soviet collapse would weaken the left everywhere. (A false prediction, alas.)

Reagan did not stand entirely alone against these chic appeasers. Even an abbreviated list of his allies would have to include the pope, Margaret Thatcher, Helmut Kohl, some politicians whose staunch role is unappreciated outside their own countries such as Italy's Francesco Cossiga, dissidents of great courage such as Vaclav Havel and Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Western sovietologists like Robert Conquest and Richard Pipes, and the enslaved peoples of the Soviet bloc.

But Reagan was the leader of the free world. His leadership of this freedom coalition made all the difference. It meant that the power of the United States stood behind the striking shipbuilders of Gdansk, the ''velvet revolutionaries'' of Charter 88, and brave individuals like Andrei Sakharov in the very shadow of the Kremlin. And that ultimately enabled them to win.

In what will remain his best epitaph, Lady Thatcher said: ''President Reagan won the Cold War without firing a shot.'' He did so because he knew that the people on the other side of the barricades were his friends -- and ours. The diplomats have been calling him a lucky dimwit ever since.




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The Heritage Foundation remembers Ronald Reagan


The Heritage Foundation
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RealClear Politics
has links to some of Ronald Reagan's greatest speeches.

Tributes:  George
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Columns:  Peggy
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God bless Ronald Reagan... an
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Here are some of Ronald Reagan's most famous speeches... from the
Great Communicator

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The successful
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Tribute To Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan never doubted the American
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A Call to Greatness: Will We Answer?Today, our nation again is
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The Greatness of Ronaldus Magnus

THE source for Reagan speeches, video, and information...details>


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