A Tale of Two Presidents | The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
A Tale of Two Presidents
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If you have a few moments, watch or read Obama’s statement on the events in Iran yesterday, and then read this transcript of Ronald Reagan’s 1982 radio address on the Polish Solidarity movement.

An excerpt from Obama’s statement:

Obviously all of us have been watching the news from Iran.  And I want to start off by being very clear that it is up to Iranians to make decisions about who Iran’s leaders will be; that we respect Iranian sovereignty and want to avoid the United States being the issue inside of Iran, which sometimes the United States can be a handy political football — or discussions with the United States.

Having said all that, I am deeply troubled by the violence that I’ve been seeing on television.  I think that the democratic process — free speech, the ability of people to peacefully dissent — all those are universal values and need to be respected.  And whenever I see violence perpetrated on people who are peacefully dissenting, and whenever the American people see that, I think they’re, rightfully, troubled.

My understanding is, is that the Iranian government says that they are going to look into irregularities that have taken place.  We weren’t on the ground, we did not have observers there, we did not have international observers on hand, so I can’t state definitively one way or another what happened with respect to the election.  But what I can say is that there appears to be a sense on the part of people who were so hopeful and so engaged and so committed to democracy who now feel betrayed.  And I think it’s important that, moving forward, whatever investigations take place are done in a way that is not resulting in bloodshed and is not resulting in people being stifled in expressing their views.

And here’s Reagan:

Yes, I know Poland is a faraway country in Eastern Europe. Still, this action is a matter of profound concern to all the American people and to the free world….

The Polish military leaders and their Soviet backers have shown that they will continue to trample upon the hopes and aspirations of the majority of the Polish people. America cannot stand idly by in the face of these latest threats of repression and acts of repression by the Polish Government.

I am, therefore, today directing steps to bring about the suspension of Poland’s most-favored-nation-tariff status as quickly as possible. This will increase the tariffs on Polish manufactured goods exported to the United States and thus reduce the quantities of these goods which have been imported in the past.

The Polish regime should understand that we’re prepared to take further steps as a result of this further repression in Poland. We are also consulting urgently with our allies on steps we might take jointly in response to this latest outrage. While taking these steps, I want to make clear, as I have in the past, that they are not directed against the Polish people….

Surely, it must be clear to all that until Warsaw’s military authorities move to restore Solidarity to its rightful and hard-won place in Polish society, Poland will continue to be plagued by bitterness, alienation, instability, and stagnation.

Someone has said that when anyone is denied freedom, then freedom for everyone is threatened. The struggle in the world today for the hearts and minds of mankind is based on one simple question: Is man born to be free, or slave? In country after country, people have long known the answer to that question. We are free by divine right. We are the masters of our fate, and we create governments for our convenience. Those who would have it otherwise commit a crime and a sin against God and man….

I join with my countrymen, including millions of Americans whose roots are in Poland, in praying for an early return to a path of moderation and personal freedom in Poland.

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