As we celebrate the 17th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, it is instructive to compare the activities of Ronald Reagan’s foes with the handiwork of President Bush’s foes on the War on Terror. Both faced large opposition to their muscular foreign policies from the left.
Interestingly, Reagan’s detractors worked hand-in-hand with the Soviets to discredit the President’s foreign policy, according to the recently released, groundbreaking book, “Crusader.”
In “Crusader,” author and Grove City College Professor Paul Kengor reveals a KGB letter written during the Cold War, which exposes Sen. Edward Kennedy’s offer to help Soviet leaders. Kennedy offered assistance in formulating a public relations campaign to counter President Reagan’s anti-Communist efforts and hurt his presidency.
According to Kengor, a letter dated May 14, 1983, was sent from the head of the KGB, Viktor Chebrikov, to Yuri Andropov, who was at the time general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party.
In the letter, Chebrikov discusses his interpretation of Kennedy’s offer. U.S. Sen. John Tunney traveled to Moscow on behalf of Kennedy to negotiate the partnership with Andropov and other communist leaders.
After President Reagan left office, Tunney acknowledged that he played the role of intermediary, not only for Kennedy but for other U.S. senators, writes Kengor. Moreover, Tunney told the London Times that he had made 15 separate trips to Moscow.
Similarly, the left has made an all out public relations campaign to discredit America’s efforts in the War on Terror. Actor Sean Penn and movie producer Michael Moore are just two of the parade of Hollywood elites who have visited Iraq to undermine our efforts.
A Google search of the phrase “failed policy in Iraq” turned up more than 10 million references on the Internet. Many of these references were from the speeches and websites of those on the left.
Some on the left suggest that our current action in Iraq was motivated by Bush to take revenge on Saddam Hussein for the planned assassination attempt on his father. They insinuate that Bush does not have a strong core belief system guiding his policies.
Ronald Reagan faced similar criticism. Liberal scholars portray Reagan as merely a lucky actor who showed up on the scene as communism struggled to make the transition to the information age. These are many of the same scholars that, during the Reagan years, actually saw a bright future for the totalitarian policies of the Soviet system. For instance in 1981, John Kenneth Galbraith is quoted in the New Yorker magazine, saying, “The Soviet Economy has made great national progress in recent years.”
However, Kengor’s book documents Reagan’s lifelong struggle against communism. The comprehensive view provided by Kengor allows the reader to fully appreciate the historic quote from Margaret Thatcher when she said of Reagan: “He defeated communism and brought down the Berlin Wall without firing a shot.”
This summer Professor Kengor spent a week at the Young America’s Foundation Reagan Ranch Center in Santa Barbara, Calif., sharing his ideas with a group of the brightest young minds from across the country. Our team heard and discussed Kengor’s findings with him in detail at that time.
What emerged from this discussion and Kengor’s work is a picture of a servant leader. Ronald Reagan was never motivated by ego or desire for high office. He was motivated by ideas and the desire to help people. He had a clear vision of how Soviet totalitarian ideas imprisoned a nation and doomed it to inevitable decline.
Reagan was famous for taking his policies that were unpopular with the news media and intellectual elites directly to the American people. President Bush, while not as eloquent as Reagan, is still emulating part of Reagan’s strategy. As the Chicago Tribune recently reported, “President Bush is defiantly embracing the issue that has made him both unpopular and a possible liability … unyielding support for the war in Iraq.”
Bush will achieve the same success in the War on Terror that Reagan eventually had in dealing with the Communist bloc. Freedom has and will triumph over the short sighted pacifism of the left.