Saturday, November 26, 2022

An evil empire came crashing down

Matthew Continetti, in "We Win and They Lose," reviews The Peacemaker: Ronald Reagan, the Cold War, and the World on the Brink:
"Some people say I’m very simplistic, but there’s a difference between being simplistic and simple,” Ronald Reagan told a visitor to his home in January 1977. “A lot of very complex things are very simple if you think them through.” A moment passed and Reagan continued: “Keeping that in mind, my theory of the Cold War is, we win and they lose. What do you think about that?” ....

Reagan’s confidence that the Cold War could be won made him unusual. At the time, both Republicans and Democrats believed that America was in decline. Communism was on the march in Afghanistan, Africa, Central America and the Caribbean. Then, in 1980, President Jimmy Carter seemed hapless and ineffectual after he failed to rescue U.S. hostages in Iran. The CIA mistakenly believed that the Soviet economy was growing. The policies of arms control and d├ętente —or direct negotiations—were ascendant. ....

...Reagan sought neither appeasement nor war with the Soviets, but rather their negotiated surrender. He believed that the integration of force with diplomacy would pressure the Soviet system on multiple fronts and drive the Communists to appoint a leader willing to make concessions. His defense buildup was as much about quality as quantity: Advanced weapons such as stealth aircraft and precision-guided missiles gave America a competitive edge over the sheer mass of the Soviet war machine.

Reagan also authorized huge military exercises to demonstrate U.S. capabilities and coordination with allies. He imposed export controls on technology that crippled Soviet innovation and growth. He aided anticommunist insurgencies. And his advocacy of religious liberty inspired dissidents behind the Iron Curtain. ....

As Mr. Inboden proceeds year by year through the 1980s, one is reminded of both Reagan’s courage and history’s contingency. Reagan’s dreams might not have become reality if he had succumbed to the assassin’s bullet in the spring of 1981, if he had let the air controllers keep their jobs that summer, if he had listened to Nixon and not appointed George Shultz secretary of state in 1982, if the crisis over the Soviet shootdown of a Korean passenger jet had turned into war in September 1983, or if the economy had failed to recover by November 1984. Reagan’s opponents said that his dogged support for human rights and missile defense was both counterproductive and a distraction from good relations with the Soviets. Rather than conform to the accepted interpretation of reality, he sought to establish new facts on the ground that favored the expansion of freedom. .... (more, probably behind a subscription wall)
Matthew Continetti, "We Win and They Lose," Wall Street Journal, Nov. 25, 2022.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated. I will gladly approve any comment that responds directly and politely to what has been posted.