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Ronald Reagan and the Cold War?


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#1 John Simkin

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Posted 14 February 2005 - 07:19 PM

Chris, the primary credit for winning the Cold War belongs, IMO, to Ronald Reagan.

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In 1987 Mikhail Gorbachev met with Reagan and signed the Immediate Nuclear Forces (INF) abolition treaty. He also made it clear he would no longer interfere in the domestic policies of other countries in Eastern Europe and in 1989 announced the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan.

Aware that Gorbachev would not send in Soviet tanks there were demonstrations against communist governments throughout Eastern Europe. Over the next few months the communists were ousted from power in Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, and East Germany.

All these events took place while Reagan was president and has therefore got the credit for the fall of communism in Eastern Europe (he was far less successful in destroying it in China and Cuba).

However, it seems to me that it was Gorbachev rather than Reagan who brought an end to the Cold War. This is why the fall of communism only took place in Eastern Europe rather than in other parts of the world.

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#2 John Simkin

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Posted 14 February 2005 - 07:23 PM

One political commentator recently commented that “whereas Richard Nixon was blamed for everything, Ronald Reagan was blamed for nothing”. Even after he was caught lying over the Iran Contra affair. He was actually allowed to get away with the following comment: “A few months ago I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that’s true, but the facts and the evidence tell me it is not.”

What is charm? Scott Fitzgerald discusses it in some length in the Great Gatsby. According to Fitzgerald, Gatsby has charm because he helps other people feel good about themselves. As Erich Fromm explained in the Art of Loving, people love you because you help them love themselves. This is what Reagan did.

Like in his western movies, Reagan arrived on the scene at the right time to rescue the American public from the traumas and tragedies of the 1960s and 1970s. After the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, the Vietnam War, Watergate, etc. someone was needed to restore America’s confidence in itself. According to Newsweek Reagan was “America as it imagined itself to be.” Or as Fitzgerald says of Gatsby, he appeared to see you as you wanted to see yourself.

Others have used their charm to good effect (Franklin D. Roosevelt for example). However, I would argue that Reagan used his charm to sell the policies demanded by his rich backers (the Californian arms industry). Lyndon B. Johnson did the same for his backers (the oil and arms industry in Texas) but lacked the charm to carry it off.

Let us look dispassionately at his record:

(1) Reagan was a liberal member of the Democratic Party in his early years. This was partly because his father, who held left-wing views, had been unemployed until Roosevelt’s New Deal. Soon after becoming an actor he became active in the Screen Actors Guild. However, he took advantage of the House of Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) investigation into the Hollywood Motion Picture Industry during the late 1940s to reposition himself as a staunch Cold War warrior. As president of the Screen Actors Guild he used privileged information against liberal members of the union. He also at this point became a paid informant of the FBI throughout the period that became known as McCarthyism. As a result of the activities of people like Reagan over 300 were blacklisted from the entertainment industry.

(2) Reagan supported the Republican Party after the war but it was not until 1964 that he became a national political figure. This was as a result of a televised speech in support of Barry Goldwater. It did not help Goldwater win the election (seen by most people in America as a dangerous, right-wing extremist). However, it did convince members of the Californian arms industry that here was a man with the charm to sell right-wing extremism. He was approached about becoming the Republican Party candidate as Governor of California. With the help of a smear campaign against Pat Brown and promises of cutting taxes he won an easy victory.

As governor Reagan quickly established himself as one of the country's leading conservative political figures. This included dramatic budget cuts and a hiring freeze for state agencies. He also put up student fees and when they complained he sent state troopers to deal with their protest meetings.

Re-elected with 52 per cent of the vote in 1970, Reagan introduced a series of welfare reforms during his second term in office. This included tightening eligibility requirements for welfare aid and requiring the able to seek work rather than receiving benefits. However, the tax cuts never came, in fact, he presided over the largest tax increase any state had ever demanded in American history.

(3) During his campaign for president he promised a "patriotic crusade" to reduce the size and scope of government, to rebuild American military power and self-respect and to restore traditional values". This campaign was based on the ideas of Reagan’s pollster, Richard Wirthlin. His polls showed that events such as Vietnam and Watergate had “shattered traditional confidence in America”. Wirthlin argued that Reagan campaign needed to reflect this problem and to offer ways it could be overcome.

Although there was a federal deficit of over $100 billion, Reagan managed to persuade Congress in 1981 to pass a plan for a three-year reduction in income tax rates (a total of 25%). This was followed by cuts in domestic spending. During the 1980s Reagan's policy of reducing income taxes and federal domestic budgets became known as Reaganomics. These tax changes and the dramatic cuts in the welfare system widened the gap between rich and poor. It also caused a deep recession.

(4) Reagan was elected to power with a promise to reduce public spending and to bring an end to “big government”. He did neither. He increased public spending so much that by the time he left office the United states had a national debt of $3 trillion. Nor did he reduce “big government” he just made sure it worked for the benefit for the Military-Industrial Complex.

(5) Although Reagan made a lot of speeches against the spread of communism in Central America his record of achievement was extremely poor. Castro remained in power in Cuba. He proved incapable of curbing Nicaragua’s left-wing Sandinista regime. His only tangible success was in invading the tiny Caribbean island of Grenada.

(6) His policies in the Middle East and against terrorism was a disaster. He failed to prevent Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982. American forces also became involved until he was forced to retreat after a suicide bomb killed 241 marines. He also funded Saddam Hussein in Iraq. He also provided money for the Islamic fundamentalist government in Iran in order to gain the release of American hostages in the Lebanon. The profits of the deal were then used to supply weapons to the ant-Marxist Contra guerrillas fighting in Nicaragua. This was in defiance of declared government policy and of congressional directives. Reagan deserved to be impeached and only got away with it because the American public were not willing to sack another president after the trauma of getting rid of Richard Nixon.

#3 John Simkin

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Posted 14 February 2005 - 07:27 PM

A couple of interesting articles about Ronald Reagan. The first one is by William Pitt Rivers.

Ronald Reagan actively supported the regimes of the worst people ever to walk the earth. Names like Marcos, Duarte, Rios Mont and Duvalier reek of blood and corruption, yet were embraced by the Reagan administration with passionate intensity. The ground of many nations is salted with the bones of those murdered by brutal rulers who called Reagan a friend. Who can forget his support of those in South Africa who believed apartheid was the proper way to run a civilized society?

One dictator in particular looms large across our landscape. Saddam Hussein was a creation of Ronald Reagan. The Reagan administration supported the Hussein regime despite his incredible record of atrocity. The Reagan administration gave Hussein intelligence information which helped the Iraqi military use their chemical weapons on the battlefield against Iran to great effect. The deadly bacterial agents sent to Iraq during the Reagan administration are a laundry list of horrors.

The Reagan administration sent an emissary named Donald Rumsfeld to Iraq to shake Saddam Hussein's hand and assure him that, despite public American condemnation of the use of those chemical weapons, the Reagan administration still considered him a welcome friend and ally. This happened while the Reagan administration was selling weapons to Iran, a nation notorious for its support of international terrorism, in secret and in violation of scores of laws.

Another name on Ronald Reagan's roll call is that of Osama bin Laden. The Reagan administration believed it a bully idea to organize an army of Islamic fundamentalists in Afghanistan to fight the Soviet Union. bin Laden became the spiritual leader of this action. Throughout the entirety of Reagan's term, bin Laden and his people were armed, funded and trained by the United States. Reagan helped teach Osama bin Laden the lesson he lives by today, that it is possible to bring a superpower to its knees. bin Laden believes this because he has done it once before, thanks to the dedicated help of Ronald Reagan.

In 1998, two American embassies in Africa were blasted into rubble by Osama bin Laden, who used the Semtex sent to Afghanistan by the Reagan administration to do the job. In 2001, Osama bin Laden thrust a dagger into the heart of the United States, using men who became skilled at the art of terrorism with the help of Ronald Reagan. Today, there are 827 American soldiers and over 10,000 civilians who have died in the invasion and occupation of Iraq, a war that came to be because Reagan helped manufacture both Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.

How much of this can be truthfully laid at the feet of Ronald Reagan? It depends on who you ask. Those who worship Reagan see him as the man in charge, the man who defeated Soviet communism, the man whose vision and charisma made Americans feel good about themselves after Vietnam and the malaise of the 1970s. Those who despise Reagan see him as nothing more than a pitch-man for corporate raiders, the man who allowed greed to become a virtue, the man who smiled vapidly while allowing his officials to run the government for him.

http://www.truthout.org/docs

The second one is by Jonathan Steele:

Although Saddam was still a junior figure, it is a matter of record that the CIA station in Baghdad aided the coup which first brought the Ba'athists to power in 1963. But it was Reagan who, two decades later, turned US-Iraqi relations into a decisive wartime alliance. He sent a personal letter to Saddam Hussein in December 1983 offering help against Iran. The letter was hand-carried to Baghdad by Reagan's special envoy, Donald Rumsfeld.

Reagan liked several things about Saddam. A firm anti-communist, he had banned the party and executed or imprisoned thousands of its members. The Iraqi leader was also a bulwark against the mullahs in Tehran and a promising point of pressure against Syria and its Hizbullah clients in Lebanon who had just destroyed the US Marine compound in Beirut, killing over 200 Americans.

It is not surprising that the current international manoeuvring over Iraq is treated with suspicion grounded in that history. Iraqis regard their newly appointed government with scepticism. They see the difficulty France had at the United Nations in trying to persuade the Americans to allow Iraqis a veto over US offensives in places like Falluja. They note that Prime Minister Ayad Allawi did not even ask for a major Iraqi role until the French made it an issue. Iraqis remember that Allawi and his exile organisation, the Iraqi National Accord, were paid by the CIA.

Not just in Iraq but around the world, the hallmark of Reagan's presidency was anti-communist cynicism, masked by phoney rhetoric about freedom. In his first press conference as president he used quasi-biblical language to claim that Soviet leaders "reserve unto themselves the right to commit any crime, to lie, to cheat". It was one of the most extraordinary cases of the pot calling the kettle black. What could Saddam, let alone other Iraqis, have thought when it became known two years after Rumsfeld's first visit to Baghdad that Washington had secretly sold arms to the mullahs Iraq was fighting. Who had been lying and cheating?

In the name of anti-communism everything was possible. Reagan invaded Grenada on the false premise that US students who had been there safely for months were suddenly in danger. Reagan armed thugs to overthrow the government of Nicaragua, even after it won internationally certified free elections in 1984. He made the US an outlaw by rejecting the world court judgments against its blockade of Nicaragua's coast.

Reagan armed and trained Osama bin Laden and his followers in their Afghan jihad, and authorised the CIA to help to pay for the construction of the very tunnels in Tora Bora in which his one-time ally later successfully hid from US planes. On the grounds that Nelson Mandela's African National Congress was pro-communist, Reagan vetoed US congress bills putting sanctions on the apartheid regime the ANC was fighting.

[url="http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,1236211,00.html"]http://www.guardian....1236211,00.html

#4 Paul Smith (2)

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Posted 22 March 2005 - 03:20 AM

A couple of interesting articles about Ronald Reagan. The first one is by William Pitt Rivers.

Ronald Reagan actively supported the regimes of the worst people ever to walk the earth. Names like Marcos, Duarte, Rios Mont and Duvalier reek of blood and corruption, yet were embraced by the Reagan administration with passionate intensity. The ground of many nations is salted with the bones of those murdered by brutal rulers who called Reagan a friend. Who can forget his support of those in South Africa who believed apartheid was the proper way to run a civilized society?

One dictator in particular looms large across our landscape. Saddam Hussein was a creation of Ronald Reagan. The Reagan administration supported the Hussein regime despite his incredible record of atrocity. The Reagan administration gave Hussein intelligence information which helped the Iraqi military use their chemical weapons on the battlefield against Iran to great effect. The deadly bacterial agents sent to Iraq during the Reagan administration are a laundry list of horrors.

The Reagan administration sent an emissary named Donald Rumsfeld to Iraq to shake Saddam Hussein's hand and assure him that, despite public American condemnation of the use of those chemical weapons, the Reagan administration still considered him a welcome friend and ally. This happened while the Reagan administration was selling weapons to Iran, a nation notorious for its support of international terrorism, in secret and in violation of scores of laws.

Another name on Ronald Reagan's roll call is that of Osama bin Laden. The Reagan administration believed it a bully idea to organize an army of Islamic fundamentalists in Afghanistan to fight the Soviet Union. bin Laden became the spiritual leader of this action. Throughout the entirety of Reagan's term, bin Laden and his people were armed, funded and trained by the United States. Reagan helped teach Osama bin Laden the lesson he lives by today, that it is possible to bring a superpower to its knees. bin Laden believes this because he has done it once before, thanks to the dedicated help of Ronald Reagan.

In 1998, two American embassies in Africa were blasted into rubble by Osama bin Laden, who used the Semtex sent to Afghanistan by the Reagan administration to do the job. In 2001, Osama bin Laden thrust a dagger into the heart of the United States, using men who became skilled at the art of terrorism with the help of Ronald Reagan. Today, there are 827 American soldiers and over 10,000 civilians who have died in the invasion and occupation of Iraq, a war that came to be because Reagan helped manufacture both Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.

How much of this can be truthfully laid at the feet of Ronald Reagan? It depends on who you ask. Those who worship Reagan see him as the man in charge, the man who defeated Soviet communism, the man whose vision and charisma made Americans feel good about themselves after Vietnam and the malaise of the 1970s. Those who despise Reagan see him as nothing more than a pitch-man for corporate raiders, the man who allowed greed to become a virtue, the man who smiled vapidly while allowing his officials to run the government for him.

http://www.truthout.org/docs

The second one is by Jonathan Steele:

Although Saddam was still a junior figure, it is a matter of record that the CIA station in Baghdad aided the coup which first brought the Ba'athists to power in 1963. But it was Reagan who, two decades later, turned US-Iraqi relations into a decisive wartime alliance. He sent a personal letter to Saddam Hussein in December 1983 offering help against Iran. The letter was hand-carried to Baghdad by Reagan's special envoy, Donald Rumsfeld.

Reagan liked several things about Saddam. A firm anti-communist, he had banned the party and executed or imprisoned thousands of its members. The Iraqi leader was also a bulwark against the mullahs in Tehran and a promising point of pressure against Syria and its Hizbullah clients in Lebanon who had just destroyed the US Marine compound in Beirut, killing over 200 Americans.

It is not surprising that the current international manoeuvring over Iraq is treated with suspicion grounded in that history. Iraqis regard their newly appointed government with scepticism. They see the difficulty France had at the United Nations in trying to persuade the Americans to allow Iraqis a veto over US offensives in places like Falluja. They note that Prime Minister Ayad Allawi did not even ask for a major Iraqi role until the French made it an issue. Iraqis remember that Allawi and his exile organisation, the Iraqi National Accord, were paid by the CIA.

Not just in Iraq but around the world, the hallmark of Reagan's presidency was anti-communist cynicism, masked by phoney rhetoric about freedom. In his first press conference as president he used quasi-biblical language to claim that Soviet leaders "reserve unto themselves the right to commit any crime, to lie, to cheat". It was one of the most extraordinary cases of the pot calling the kettle black. What could Saddam, let alone other Iraqis, have thought when it became known two years after Rumsfeld's first visit to Baghdad that Washington had secretly sold arms to the mullahs Iraq was fighting. Who had been lying and cheating?

In the name of anti-communism everything was possible. Reagan invaded Grenada on the false premise that US students who had been there safely for months were suddenly in danger. Reagan armed thugs to overthrow the government of Nicaragua, even after it won internationally certified free elections in 1984. He made the US an outlaw by rejecting the world court judgments against its blockade of Nicaragua's coast.

Reagan armed and trained Osama bin Laden and his followers in their Afghan jihad, and authorised the CIA to help to pay for the construction of the very tunnels in Tora Bora in which his one-time ally later successfully hid from US planes. On the grounds that Nelson Mandela's African National Congress was pro-communist, Reagan vetoed US congress bills putting sanctions on the apartheid regime the ANC was fighting.

[url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,1236211,00.html]http://www.guardian....uthout.org/docs
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John you make a great argument and I am in total agreement with you. Unfortunately for many of my conservative countrymen hey will not admit that the problems facing the world today originate in the seedy underworld that Ronald Regan and George Bush created. The election of 1980 ad the Iranian Hostages were all conveniently held and released when Ronald Regan was sworn in as the President. For Regan nature saved him from the embarrassment that he deserved. His recent death has created a new wave of supporters that see him as the best American President ever. I can not see him as even a top ten percent. He was a big supporter of the Military industrial complex.

#5 Evan Burton

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Posted 25 March 2005 - 10:39 PM

I think that some credit must go to Regan for creating the climate that allowed Gorbachev to take the radical actions that he did.

#6 Al Carrier

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Posted 07 June 2005 - 06:34 AM

I think that some credit must go to Regan for creating the climate that allowed Gorbachev to take the radical actions that he did.

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I have to disagree some here with John that Regan had little success in curbing the Sandanista hold in Nicaragua. He financed terrorists such as Alarcon and brought in his own military terror specialists to disrupt the Sandanista Operations and inflict terror on the citizens of that country. It eventually brought it down. Now they are starving under their free form of government.

He did squeeze communisim out of the Soviet Union. And now they are starving.

We as a country are bent on Americanizing the world, and only take it half way. We assist in ridding regimes and communists governments that are not to our liking or workable, and then leave them to drown without an economy. Sound like Afghanistan? Our two options would be to finish the job and pour in billions into these countries and extend ourselves even farther than we already are with foreign aid, or let them be and live a co-existance. With what we are paying in foreign aid today to Americanize the world, we could send all of our children to college, free of charge. Hum, what is more appropriate?

Al

#7 Tim Carroll

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Posted 28 December 2005 - 03:58 AM

I think that some credit must go to Regan for creating the climate that allowed Gorbachev to take the radical actions that he did.

I have to disagree some here with John that Regan had little success in curbing the Sandanista hold in Nicaragua. He financed terrorists such as Alarcon and brought in his own military terror specialists to disrupt the Sandanista Operations and inflict terror on the citizens of that country. It eventually brought it down. Now they are starving under their free form of government. He did squeeze communisim out of the Soviet Union. And now they are starving. We as a country are bent on Americanizing the world, and only take it half way. We assist in ridding regimes and communists governments that are not to our liking or workable, and then leave them to drown without an economy. Sound like Afghanistan? Our two options would be to finish the job and pour in billions into these countries and extend ourselves even farther than we already are with foreign aid, or let them be and live a co-existance. With what we are paying in foreign aid today to Americanize the world, we could send all of our children to college, free of charge. Hum, what is more appropriate?

Thomas Paine would have never said: Live Free Or Starve. The rehabilitation of Reagan's image rivals the Kennedy assassination as a historical attrocity. Interestingly, Nixon described Reagan's tactic of bankrupting the Soviets as a way of winning the Cold War; he said that the Soviets had lost but that given the magnitude of debt, the U.S. had not won. In other words, Reagan not only bankrupted governments not to his liking, he almost did it to the U.S. as well. His military-industrial complex wet dream of Star Wars has never been taken off the table. He may leave American children starving yet.

Tim



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