GLEN COVE, NY — The victory of the West in the
Cold War was an accomplishment of the American people, Prime Minister
Margaret Thatcher, the Venerable John Paul II, and above all, Ronald
Reagan. George H. W. Bush was President when the Berlin Wall was torn
down and the Red flag was lowered over the Kremlin for the last time,
but these were the fruits of Reagan’s
policies. Bush did not waver from his predecessor’s policies
because he knew that, if he did, Baroness Thatcher would be on the
Reagan’s string of victories began with a small one, the liberation
of the island of Grenada. It was America’s first military success
since Vietnam, and it had a positive effect on the country’s
morale. It also helped Reagan get the funding that was sorely needed
to rebuild America’s armed forces.
Reagan’s next success was the liberation of Panama from the
communists. He faced serious opposition by the Democratic Left, but
he got it done.
Reagan was a superb and experienced negotiator. He never made the
first concession, and he never conceded more than he got. The Soviets
learned this the hard way, when he walked away from the table during
the first negotiations with them at Reykjavik, despite some progress.
He never gave the Soviets the one thing they wanted most -- continuation
of the policy of mutually assured destruction. Although he was hampered
by a myopic and immoral treaty prohibiting the construction of missiles
designed to intercept missiles, he began work on alternative defenses
against Soviet missiles. Members of the American Left were horrified
at Reagan’s position because they knew that the Soviets could
not keep up with us in a new arms race and that American dominance
would replace mutually assured destruction.
Reagan was not afraid of the truth. Despite the reluctance of the
members of the American Left to call the Soviets “evil,” Reagan
did so with great success. Over the objections of his speechwriters,
he called on the Soviets to tear down the Berlin Wall and open the
gates in the Iron Curtain. He knew far better what could be accomplished
than did his speechwriters.
When Reagan became President in 1981, virtually no one in the media
believed that the West would ever win the Cold War or that communism
would cease to enslave the Soviet bloc. When he left office in 1989,
a free Poland was imminent and the Soviets were preparing to release
their captive nations.
Some say that Reagan’s accomplishments were simply the natural
consequences of Truman’s policy of containment. Containment,
however, was a progressively greater failure in each administration
from Eisenhower to Carter. Victory in the Cold War was Reagan’s
accomplishment, and it was the result of abandoning the timidity of
Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and Carter.
The Venerable John Paul II certainly helped Reagan’s policies.
Truman and Eisenhower held office during the pontificate of the Venerable
Pius XII, the most anticommunist Pope ever with the possible exception
of the Venerable John Paul II, a victim of communism himself. Neither
Truman nor Eisenhower took advantage of what this ally could offer
because neither of them really set their sights on victory.
Prime Minister Thatcher was a valuable Reagan ally as well. Eisenhower,
in contrast, destroyed the administration of Anthony Eden in Great
Reagan had the support of the American people but not of the press.
Popular support was critical to his success. The American people also
rallied to Douglas MacArthur and would have fully supported Eisenhower
if he had sought victory over, rather than coexistence with, communism.
Reagan was not just some President who had the good luck to be in
office when communism crumbled. He was the architect of the crumble.
Reagan had ideals from which he never deviated, and he had an excellent
grasp of how to advance those ideals in the real world. He had a vision
of a world without the evil Soviet Empire. The six presidents before
him, who lacked these ideals and vision, doomed the world to the decades
of the Cold War. Reagan ended the War through complete victory, and
the world must be forever grateful to him for that.
The Confederate Lawyer column is copyright © 2010
by Charles G. Mills and the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation, www.fgfBooks.com.
All rights reserved.
Charles G. Mills is the Judge Advocate or general counsel for the
New York State American Legion. He has forty years of experience in
many trial and appellate courts and has published several articles
about the law.
See his biographical sketch and additional columns here.
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