August 1, 2014

YOU CAN'T OVERSTATE THE IMPORTANCE OF NOT PRETENDING THEY WERE OUR PEERS...:

How Ronald Reagan Won the Cold War : The president and the pope were men of hope. (GEORGE WEIGEL, 7/30/14, Aleteia)

As for his nuclear abolitionism, Reagan, according to his arms control director, Ken Adelman, was appalled by the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and hated the idea that an American president could wreak immeasurably greater destruction. Thus Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative, far from being the cockamamie "Stars Wars" scheme it was promptly dubbed by political adversaries and journalists stuck in the conventional thinking of the era, was the technological expression of the president's moral conviction that nuclear weapons were a grave danger that ought to be taken off-the-board in international public life.

A close examination of Reagan's pre-presidential texts, and the diaries he kept as president, reveal a man with a keen insight into the Soviet Union's vulnerability. Like John Paul II after June 1979, Ronald Reagan intuited that, for all his bluster, the Soviet emperor had far fewer clothes than conventional wisdom imagined. And, again like John Paul II, Reagan understood that the Soviet Union was ideologically vulnerable: that a steady, fact-based, morally-driven critique of communism's abominable human rights record would rattle the men in Moscow, expose cracks in the Soviet system, encourage brave dissidents to exploit those cracks, and hasten the end of what Reagan called, perhaps undiplomatically but certainly truthfully, an "Evil Empire."

What Reagan added to the mix was an understanding of the Soviet Union's economic vulnerability. And he was prepared to exploit that vulnerability by launching a full-throttle American defense expansion that he knew the Soviets, obliged to try to counter by their own doctrine, could not match, given their system's economic, technological, and bureaucratic incapacities. The Strategic Defense Initiative was, in a sense, the final straw here: by reason of his own system and its premises, Mikhail Gorbachev was unprepared to believe, much less accept, Reagan's offer to share any workable missile-defense system; yet Gorbachev knew the USSR could not compete successfully in a new arms race when it was already falling behind in the old one; checkmate. As Ken Adelman puts it a gripping new book, Reagan at Reykjavik: Forty-Eight Hours That Ended the Cold War, "SDI never worked as Reagan wished. It worked better."

Ronald Reagan understood, better than many churchmen, that the Cold War could be won on acceptable terms, rather than merely managed.


...or of the fact that a KGB director, who recognized that Reagan was correct, took the reins of state.
Posted by at August 1, 2014 4:21 PM
  
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