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Time: Reagan Didn’t End The Cold War

Once again we get the same old song from the erstwhile news magazine, Time:


Why the Wall Came Down

By Romesh Ratnesar

Monday, Nov. 09, 2009

The fall of the Berlin wall caught the world by surprise. For months, East Germany’s beleaguered communist rulers had tried in vain to silence a growing opposition movement and stem the tide of people pouring out of the country. On the night of Nov. 9, 1989, an East German official held a press conference to announce new government travel policies but inadvertently announced that crossings to the West would be opened "without delay." Within hours, thousands of East Berliners began lining up at checkpoints near the Wall. At first the border guards tried to check passports, but they quickly realized it was futile. The masses surged through. Many of them ran. Crowds of West Berliners waited on the other side, hugging strangers and popping champagne. The scenes were stunning. By the fall of 1989 cracks in the communist bloc had started to emerge. But few people imagined the Berlin Wall would disappear anytime soon.

Ronald Reagan did. "I didn’t know when it would come, but I have to tell you, I’m an eternal optimist," the former President said in an interview with ABC’s Sam Donaldson that night. "I believed in all my heart it was in the future." Two years earlier, Reagan had addressed a crowd of some 20,000 near Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate and challenged Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Wall…

And yet 20 years later, Reagan’s role in bringing about the fall of the Berlin Wall and the peaceful end of the Cold War remains exaggerated, manipulated and misunderstood. To many of his conservative admirers, the challenge to Gorbachev in Berlin epitomized the toughness that made Reagan great: by refusing to compromise his core principles, he defeated communism and won the Cold War. But the truth is that Reagan was more adaptable, politically shrewd and open to compromise than either his champions or his critics prefer to admit. He may have called the Soviet Union an "evil empire," but he was not above negotiating with it. While others saw the enmity between the superpowers as immutable, he insisted that change was possible. And though today he is revered by foreign policy hawks, Reagan’s greatest successes were achieved not through the use of force but by persuasion, dialogue and diplomacy.

Reagan loathed the Berlin Wall. "It’s a wall that never should have been built," he often said…

But despite his abhorrence for the Wall and the totalitarian system it symbolized, Reagan was even more mindful of the consequences of military confrontation with the Soviets. "A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought," he said in 1983. During the early years of his presidency, Reagan privately sought to open dialogue with the leaders of the U.S.S.R. but made no headway. With Gorbachev’s arrival in 1985, Reagan found a partner who could help in his quest to end the arms race–and ultimately abolish nuclear weapons

By the time Reagan went to Berlin in 1987, he and Gorbachev had developed enough trust to gamble on change. In the weeks leading up to the speech, several Administration officials lobbied to have the "tear down this Wall" line removed, arguing that it was unrealistic, unpresidential and potentially embarrassing to Gorbachev. But Reagan and his speechwriters insisted on keeping it in. To the President, the line was an invitation as much as a challenge: calling on Gorbachev to tear down the Wall might actually inspire him to do it. "If he took down the Wall," Reagan told an aide after returning from Berlin, "he’d win the Nobel Prize."

Reagan was right. (In 1990, Gorbachev not only won the Nobel but was named TIME’s Man of the Decade.) Neither Gorbachev nor Reagan was directly responsible for the fall of the Wall; rather, it collapsed from its own weight. But Reagan’s speech presciently identified Berlin as the proving ground of Gorbachev’s intentions to open up the communist bloc. If Gorbachev truly sought peace and liberalization, Reagan said in Berlin, then he should let the Wall come down. In the end, Gorbachev did, and the rest of the Iron Curtain followed. Allowing democracy to spread through Eastern Europe in 1989 was Gorbachev’s greatest accomplishment; in this drama, Reagan was the supporting actor. Nevertheless, as Sean Wilentz, a liberal historian, wrote in 2008, Reagan’s "success in helping to finally end the Cold War is one of the greatest achievements by any President of the United States–and arguably the greatest single achievement since 1945."

What lessons can the current President learn from that achievement? Even if Barack Obama tries to make peace with the mullahs of Iran or with insurgents in Afghanistan, as Reagan did with the U.S.S.R., there’s no guarantee he’ll succeed. The threats facing America cannot be willed away. Defusing them will ultimately require the mix of firm resolve and patient diplomacy practiced by successful American statesmen throughout the Cold War. Reagan’s gift was his ability to speak candidly about the realities of the age while still presenting, and working toward, an optimistic vision of the future. He sensed when the right risk might be rewarded. Obama’s challenge now is to do the same.

We realize it is largely a waste of time to mock Time magazine, since few people read it any more.

But this article is all too typical of the revisionism that we get from our media masters 24 hours a day – and especially on historic anniversaries.

Who are we supposed to believe? Time magazine or our lying memories? (The author, Mr. Ratnesar was 14 years old when the Berlin Wall came down.)

The "risk" that President Reagan took was to revitalize America’s military strength, put money into the Strategic Defense Initiative, install missiles in Europe and to confront an ‘evil empire’ an ‘evil empire.’

If he was trying to “make peace” it was a peace through strength.

This article turns Mr. Reagan’s actions completely upside down.

Of course the writer has to do so because he wants Obama to do the precise opposite of what Reagan actually did.

He wants to encourage Mr. Obama to surrender our country’s interests in Afghanistan and Iran – and everywhere else in the world, for that matter.

As if Mr. Obama needs any encouragement.

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, November 9th, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

11 Responses to “Time: Reagan Didn’t End The Cold War”

  1. BillK says:

    Ah yes, the “Gorbachev would have brought down the wall even if Reagan had never been elected” argument.

    This when we have had numerous ex-Soviet officials admitting that the reason SDI helped accelerate the Soviet Union’s demise is because they were absolutely convinced that Reagan would be willing to wage a nuclear war if it came right down to it.

    The liberals’ revisionist history regarding the Cold War and Reagan is, IMHO, every bit as offensive as the work of “revisionists” to deny the Holocaust occurred.

  2. And during the 1980s, Rep. Charlie Wilson single handedly waged a secret war and defeated the Soviets in Afghanistan.

    Hey. This liberal, community-based, revisionist reality game is deceptively fun!
    .

  3. Reality Bytes says:

    Compared Clinton who didn’t inhale & Obama who wasn’t a Muslim. Seems to me Reagan’s way ahead.

    • GL0120 says:

      I totally agree with you RB; Conservatives like Reagan, take credit for their actions while liberals reflexively deny everything!

  4. proreason says:

    What good is it to be a liberal if you can’t make stuff up?

    • GL0120 says:

      Being a liberal is like writing for the Weekly World News; since you have absolutely no restrictions (such as truth) on what you say or write, the job’s so much simpler!
      You have to admit, writing articles like Aliens Impregnated My Wife or Reagan Did Not End the Cold War, are so much simpler to write if you don’t allow facts to get in your way.
      Time Magazine – Weekly World News, no real difference!

  5. beautyofreason says:

    The left must rewrite history because reality leaves them much to be desired.

    Jeremiah Wright did it.
    (Everything wrong with the world is caused by white people)

    Hugo Chavez did it.
    (Latin America is the constant, continuing victim of white people and Western countries)

    Ahmadinejad did it.
    (Everything bad in the Middle East is caused by Israel)

    Who are we to argue with the choice of liberal journalists?
    Newspapers are like fashion magazines these days. Some airbrushing here, a Photoshop tweak there – any small deception or obscurity to draw the reader toward certain predetermined conclusions on the left.

  6. Right of the People says:

    Has anybody read a junior high or high school history text published in the last 10 years? According to the one I just saw published by McMillan white men had nothing to do with founding our country, inventing anything useful and any other significant event in our nation’s history. All this was done by minorities of course. The homeboys back at Lexington and Concord told them British honkies to get the f**k out then they kicked their lily white asses back to England.

    This is just more of the same. I thought only the Soviets and Cubans rewrote history to match the latest party line. No wonder our children have no sense of pride in their country.

  7. catie says:

    How very sad. Reagan is a hero. Obama is a zero.

  8. Denali520 says:

    Reagan wasn’t perfect it turns out. Who is? He was however the greatest President of The United States in my lifetime (62 years) and no one else, no one, is even close.

  9. AmericanIPA says:

    Gorbachev won the Cold War like Lee won the Civil War.

    Note to inexperienced “writers” such as the one giving us the lowdown in this article: The surrendering army aren’t the winners. The army they surrender to are.


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