I was reading a brilliant biography of Lady Thatcher by Charles Moore entitled Margaret Thatcher: At Her Zenith: In London, Washington, and Moscow just about the time that our President was delivering his rhetorical serving of mush at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. There he was calling for a “moral revolution” worldwide, which would rid the world of nuclear arms. He said: “We may not eliminate mankind’s capacity to do evil. But among those nations like my own that hold nuclear stockpiles, we must have the courage to escape the logic of fear and pursue a world without them.” Incidentally, what will Mr. Obama or his successor do with a nuclear-armed Iran, a nuclear-armed Iran that Mr. Obama so recently enabled?
In fact, as our President spoke I was probably reading Moore’s chapter on glasnost and Mrs. Thatcher’s dealings with Mikhail Gorbachev and her friend Ronald Reagan. By the way, Prime Minister Thatcher and President Reagan really were friends in the truest sense. They shared much in common and liked each other tremendously. I do not think that any other pair of British and American leaders had such a warm friendship, not even Prime Minister Winston Churchill and President Franklin Roosevelt.
Americans educated in the schools and universities of this great republic have been taught (or should I say propagandized) for over two decades that President Reagan was an intellectual lightweight and a warmonger. There is a lot of evidence cited. Through President Reagan’s eight scary years in the White House columnists at the New York Times and the Washington Post, along with mainstream media and the professoriate in general, regularly came up with endless evidence of how the President was building up our military and threatening nuclear warfare with the Soviets. It was a frightening time. As President Obama said at Hiroshima, “a moral revolution” was exigent.
Yet Moore reminds readers that it was Thatcher who was the hawk in dealings with the Soviets, and it was Reagan who tended toward dovishness. She believed that nuclear deterrence had saved the world from an East-West military confrontation for thirty years, ever since the end of World War II. To her surprise, President Reagan was uneasy with deterrence. He wanted, beginning as early as 1983, to try something new for moral and practical reasons. She viewed her friend as less hawkish than President Richard Nixon! It alarmed her. President Reagan’s answer was the Strategic Defense Initiative, then derided as Star Wars by the bien-pensants. Moore writes that one of Mrs. Thatcher’s aides reported that Mrs. Thatcher found “the depth of Reagan’s anti-nuclear sentiments… a very tricky issue for her to navigate” because she disagreed with him.
Nonetheless, the two Western leaders pursued negotiations with Gorbachev through the years. There were high points and low points. Yet in the end Mrs. Thatcher and Mr. Reagan got peace with Russia and eventually an end to the Soviet Union — once baptized by the warmonger Reagan as “the evil empire.” The peaceful conclusion of the Cold War came about not from the repetition of false pieties but by applying pressure on the Soviet Union, making it aware that its economy could not produce better weaponry than the West. Eventually the evil empire peacefully evanesced.
President Obama’s windy nonsense at Hiroshima last week was perfectly in keeping with the so-called Liberals’ legends about American politics. According to them, they have an endless yearning for peace and the ready instrumentality for peace, in fine: endless negotiation, poetic words, grand visions — nothing less than a moral revolution. As for the Liberals’ opponents, the conservatives, they have an endless yearning for war or at least risky bullying tactics. Ronald Reagan was a perfect example of the Liberals’ vision. Gratefully their vision was flawed.
Ronald Reagan won the Cold War by driving the Russians into bankruptcy. Margaret Thatcher helped, and come to think of it the much-maligned Richard Nixon was pretty helpful too.
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