Vanity Fair has published excerpts from Ronald Reagan’s diaries, which were edited together by historian Douglas Brinkley and due out later this month. Others have pointed out some of his comments about Michael Jackson (“I was surprised at how shy he is”) and Al Haig ( “It’s amazing how sound he can be on complex international matters but how utterly paranoid with regard to the people he must work with.”) I’ve yet to read all of the excerpts, but a few parts especially interested me.
Reagan’s reaction to Israel’s boming of Osarak:
Sun. June 7 • Got word of Israeli bombing of Iraq-nuclear reactor. I swear I believe Armageddon is near.
Returned to W.H. at 3 p.m. More word on bombing. P.M. Begin informed us after the fact.
Tues. June 9 • Ended day with an N.S.C. meeting re the bombing of Iraq. P.M. Begin insists the plant was preparing to produce nuclear weapons for use on Israel. If he waited ’til the French shipment of “hot” uranium arrived he couldn’t order the bombing because of the radiation that would be loosed over Baghdad.
I can understand his fear but feel he took wrong option. He should have told us & the French, we could have done something to remove the threat.
However we are not turning on Israel-that would be an invitation for the Arabs to attack. It’s time to raise H-l world wide for a settlement of the “middle-east” problem. What has happened is the result of fear & suspicion on both sides. We need a real push for a solid peace.
Given my recent research, I was also intrigued by some of Reagan’s thoughts after the 1983 Marine baracks bombing in Beirut:
Sat. Oct. 22 & Sun. Oct. 23 • About 2:30 in the morning awakened again: This time with the tragic news that more than 100 Marines in Beirut had been killed by a car bomb driven by a suicide driver who drove the truck right into the H.Q. building & blew up with it. All our plans changed-we arranged to depart the cottage [in Augusta, Georgia] at 6:30 a.m. & go back to Wash. Of course by this time it was Sun. Oct. 23. I’ve spent the day in meetings on this & Grenada. We’re going to go on with the invasion. Tonite our men are staging a landing to gather intelligence. If everything is O.K., tomorrow night is D. day-well actually it will be early morning Tues. Meanwhile Gen. Kelley (Marines) is leaving for Lebanon. We all believe Iranians did this bombing just as they did with our embassy last April.
Mon. Oct. 24 • Opened with NSC brf. on Lebanon & Grenada. Lebanon gets worse as the death toll climbs. More bodies are found & more critically wounded die…
Phoned Tip [O’Neill, Speaker of the House] & Howard [Baker, Senate majority leader] to express hope they’d stay firm on keeping the Marines in Lebanon-both said yes.