Skip to comments.Freedom's Team: How Reagan, Thatcher and John Paul II won the Cold War.
Posted on 06/06/2004 3:38:35 PM PDT by quidnunc
Ronald Reagan died just one day after President Bush bestowed the Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, on Pope John Paul II for his heroic efforts to topple communism. Those two men, together with Margaret Thatcher, deserve much of the credit for the West's success in the Cold War.
As the nation mourns Ronald Reagan we should also pause to reflect that in the space of 27 months between 1978 and 1981 three such extraordinary leaders each with the belief that evil must be confronted should have come to power. Together they changed the world.
Containment had been the cornerstone of U.S. policy towards the Soviet Union since George Kennan articulated it in 1947. Reagan decided to add an active effort to undermine the props supporting the Soviet empire. Former CIA director Robert Gates says that "Reagan, nearly alone, truly believed in 1981 that the Soviet system was vulnerable right then." In his famous speech to the British House of Commons in 1982 he stood with Mrs. Thatcher and declared, "It is the Soviet Union that runs against the tide of history by denying human freedom and human dignity to its citizens . The march of freedom and democracy will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash heap of history." Last year, President Bush openly emulated Reagan's approach when he also went to Britain last year to issue a challenge that free nations unite to eradicate terrorism.
Few like to recall the feelings of resignation or even despair that many in the West felt in the 1970s as countries from Angola to Nicaragua became Soviet proxies. Mrs. Thatcher says that the West was "slowly but surely losing" the Cold War, and she eagerly embraced Reagan's strategy to win it by becoming "his principal cheerleader" in NATO.
(Excerpt) Read more at opinionjournal.com ...
It also highlights what President Bush lacks - real allies.
Here's another take on the same subject from http://www.spiritdaily.com/reagan3.htm The article was posted the day before President Reagan died.
THE SPIRITUAL LESSON OF A PRESIDENT: NAMING EVIL OFTEN GIVES US POWER OVER IT
One of the most powerful lessons in spiritual warfare comes to us from none other than a former president.
The lesson is that naming evil -- citing it specifically, out loud, with courage -- often causes it to disappear.
This lesson came, of all places, in Orlando, Florida, at the Citrus Crown Ballroom of the Sheraton Twin Towers Hotel on March 8, 1983 at 3 p.m. -- the hour of mercy. Ronald Reagan was about to shock the world.
Standing at a podium there that March day, America's fortieth president was addressing the National Association of Evangelicals when he requested prayer "for the salvation of all those who live in that totalitarian darkness."
It was a pet cause of his: the tragedy of Communism. He was referring, of course, to the U.S.S.R. -- and he prayed "that they will discover the joy of knowing God."
Until they did, warned President Reagan, we had to beware of them -- for at the same time that they preached the supremacy of the state, declared its omnipotence over individual man, and predicted its eventual domination of all peoples on the earth, they formed what Reagan rightly and boldly called "the focus of evil in the modern world."
And could anyone doubt it? There are few better examples of evil -- the actual smoke of Satan -- than the former Soviet Union. It was a diabolic regime right up there with Hitler -- exceeded, perhaps, only by China. By the most conservative estimates, at least twenty million and perhaps as many as 65 million had been killed by Communists in the U.S.S.R. by the time of that speech. This didn't count the dozens of millions more killed by totalitarians in China.
Countless priests, nuns, ministers, and other faithful had been thrown into the notorious, hellish gulag or cruelly put to death -- in some cases nailed to walls.
It had been an empire that strapped its citizens into a straitjacket of atheism, treated its people as machines (or animals), fomented violence around the world -- and tried to expunge the very essence of love from humanity.
As Reagan pointed out, it wasn't a competing system; it wasn't just a different "philosophy." It was evil -- true evil -- and when President Reagan called it what it was, the dominoes started falling.
Rallying his fellow Christian soldiers, Reagan rebuked those who considered the two systems of free America and Soviet Communism equally at fault for the Cold War, saying that doing so was "to ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire."
There it was: the words "evil empire" -- soon to reverberate from the Ivy Towers in America to the collectives in Ukraine. The president had called it what it was. Soviet Communism was not equal to U.S. democracy. It was evil.
Reagan went on to cite a quote to the effect that Marxism-Leninism was "the second oldest faith, first proclaimed in the Garden of Eden with the words of temptation, 'Ye shall be as gods.'"
He was identifying the Soviet Communists with the serpent!
And the effect?
Decried at first by liberals as extremism, the words hit home with both Soviet politicians and its tyrannized citizenry. As author Paul Kengor points out in a fascinating new book, God and Ronald Reagan, when news of the speech spread, his words were "carved indelibly" and immediately into the Soviet consciousness.
It was if millions suddenly admitted what truly had been happening.
And soon, the Soviet Empire would be no more.
For Reagan's words, coupled with actions by the Vatican -- which was consecrating the world to the Immaculate Heart and backing Solidarity in Poland -- brought down one of history's most nefarious governments!
Take it from the Soviets themselves. As Kengor recounts, at one meeting between arms negotiators from the U.S. and Russia, the group began speculating on which straw had finally broken the bear's back, when a former senior general in the Red Army, a little flush with vodka, heatedly interrupted. "You know what caused the downfall of the Soviet Union?" he thundered, slamming his fist on the table. "You know what did? That speech about the evil empire! That's what did it. It was an evil empire. It was!"
The word "evil" had penetrated the Russian soul -- and within 24 hours, the reaction was spreading throughout Soviet society.
"Why did you in the West laugh at him?" asked Arkady Murashev, Moscow's police chief, of those, especially liberals, who were disdainful of the speech. "It's true!"
And so it was. And so it teaches us the lesson. When we name evil -- when we stop covering it up with psychological terms, when we stop glossing it over with intellectual terms, when we halt complicating a simple truth, and rationalizing bad behavior -- we suddenly have power over it. It lances a boil.
Is it time we do it in our own errant society?
It was soon after the speech that the Soviet Union began to crumble -- in a way that was nothing short of miraculous.
This society that had murdered nuns, that had pillaged entire regions, that had killed millions through deliberate famine, that had thrown priests in jail for decades -- for hearing a single Confession -- was at its end.
And so was the immediate threat of nuclear war.
Will it remain this way?
We can only pray. It isn't over yet.
But we have had the threat of Russia removed now for two decades.
"He called it an Evil Empire," admitted one U.S. liberal, Gary Wills, and overnight, "it evaporated."
How many divisions does the Pope have?Joseph Stalin
REAGAN won the 20th Century's Cold War
BUSH is winning the 21st Century's Freedom War
Excellent essay. Deserves its own page here.
It's a great read.
"Excellent essay. Deserves its own page here."
I agree - I posted it on Friday (Religion Forum)
Of course this was the day before President Reagan died.
So that's what that was.
An optimist believes similar coups have been counted in the Global War On Terror, the truth of which cannot yet be revealed.
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