Iranian cry for freedom received with miserable inadequacy by the White House.
Barack Obama is no Ronald Reagan.
One need look no further than President Obama’s cautiously timid response to the demands of freedom from Iranians. Contrast this with Reagan’s response to similar demands from Poles in the 1980s and the miserable inadequacy of the Obama foreign policy is thrust into a stark and shameful relief.
When Reagan took office in January of 1981, Poland had been a Soviet satellite for almost four decades. The American foreign policy establishment had long since settled into an acceptance of moral equivalency between the United States and the Communists. The policy was acted out in a thousand different ways ranging from so-called “détente” (a relaxing of tensions) to a vast, arcane arms control process which over time had substituted the process itself instead of the unconditional victory of freedom as America’s chief foreign policy goal.
Reagan had campaigned on a completely different idea, a very old principle when dealing with an adversary. He phrased it this way to his first national security advisor, Richard Allen: “We win, they lose.” It was this goal that Reagan sought, and thus caused him to speak bluntly about America’s adversary in the Cold War. An “Evil Empire” is how he early-on famously described the Soviet Union, completely horrifying the Obama-like striped-pants set in the State Department and Establishment foreign policy circles. When the Soviet Ambassador made an early call on the new Reaganized State Department he was prevented from the cozy physical access to the building previous administrations had granted him. In times past he was driven into the basement garage and then rode a private elevator to the seventh floor, the location of the Secretary of State’s office. He was the only diplomat in all of Washington accorded this special privilege. The rest — some 150 ambassadors — had to be driven to the main entrance, walk through the State Department public lobby and take the public elevator. This practice ceased with the Soviet Ambassador’s very first visit to the newly Reaganized State Department.
Change was at hand, and the Ambassador — his limo driver forced to quite publicly back out of the garage and go around to the main entrance in full view of the press — was not happy.
One of the very first items that arose on Reagan’s watch was the rising demand for freedom from the Polish people. On January 21, his first full day in the Oval Office, word reached the White House that a young shipyard worker and union leader named Lech Walesa had informed the Communist government of Poland he had called a series of strikes in four Polish cities, beginning the next day. Within 24 hours hundreds of thousands of Poles in ten cities — not four — were publicly defying the Polish Communist dictator, General Wojciech Jaruzelski.
A fight for freedom was on — and Ronald Reagan had zero intention of standing on the sidelines.
“In my speeches and press conferences, I deliberately set out to say some frank things about the Russians, to let them know there were some new fellows in Washington who had a realistic view of what they were up to and weren’t going to let them keep it up.” At his very first press conference he answered a question about whether the Soviets could be trusted. “I said the answer to that question could be found in the writings of Soviet leaders: It had always been their philosophy that it was moral to lie or cheat…”
Liberals all over Washington paled. This, they insisted, was no way to conduct diplomacy. One just does not say these things in public. But Reagan had only just begun.
As Walesa and his fellow Poles demanded the most basic of human liberties, Moscow responded by sending troops on maneuvers along the Polish border, then installing a military government with instructions to stop Walesa in his tracks.
Distinctly unlike Obama’s reaction to the demonstrators filling the streets of Iran, Reagan looked at similar crowds in Poland and said the sight was “thrilling.” Said Reagan: “I wanted to be sure we did nothing to impede this process and everything we could to spur it along.”
And so he did. In a stiff note to Soviet boss Leonid Brezhnev, Reagan said that if the Russians kept up their thuggish response to Poland they “could forget any new nuclear arms agreement.” Gone too would be better trade relations, and in their place would be the “harshest possible economic sanctions” if they even thought of invading Poland as they had done with Czechoslovakia in 1968 or Hungary in 1956.
The Russians responded. In December, Reagan later recalled, without warning they shut down the Polish borders, shut off communications with the outside world, arrested Walesa and his fellow leaders of Solidarity (the union Walesa led), and imposed martial law.
Almost immediately Reagan was told the stunning news that the Polish Ambassador to the United States and his wife wished to defect. Hesitating not a second, Reagan made certain that American authorities got to the Ambassador before the KGB and “spirited him away to a safe place.” Reagan wrote this in his diary at the time:
I took a stand that this may be the last chance in our lifetime to see a change in the Soviet Empire’s colonial policy re Eastern Europe. We should take a stand and tell them unless and until martial law is lifted in Poland, the prisoners were released and negotiations resumed between Walesa and the Polish government, we would quarantine the Soviets and Poland with no trade or communications across their borders. Also tell our NATO allies and others to join us in such sanctions or risk an estrangement from us. A TV speech is in the works.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online