Sunday, June 17, 2007

Mr Gorbachev, Tear Down This Wall


I'm reading the Reagan Diaries at the moment (a more appallingly edited book I have never read) so I was interested to read THIS article in this week's TIME Magazine about Reagan's speech in Berlin where he encouraged Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall". The writer of the article Romesh Ratnesar makes a fascinating case for this being the pivotal moment in the ending of the cold war. He says...

The Berlin speech came at a time when Reagan had embarked on a period of intense, sustained diploamcy, aimed not at winning the cold war but ending it. And that may provide guidance for how to deal with the challenges the world faces today.
He also quotes George Schultz, Reagan's Secretary of State in the article...

When you don't have ideas, your policies are flip-flopping all over the place. When you do have ideas, you have more consistency. And when you have the right ideas — then you can get somewhere.
Reagan had the right ideas. Which of today's politicians do?

15 comments:

canvas said...

Reagan had the right ideas??
Are you sure about that?
!

tapestry said...

Reagan was an anti-Bildeberger.

The EU liked the wall. It gave the world definition and made it easy to find an enemy to justify their own existence.

Without the Soviet empire, the EU empire looks a bit unnecessary. The world of highly centralised economic/military power blocs is outdated. The Constitution is the latest rather desperate attempt to deny that reality.

canvas said...

I think Clinton had the right ideas. Reagan was away with the fairies.

Anonymous said...

"Reagan had the right ideas" - He was a thick, unsuccessful has-been who was a puppet to his advisors and just read out speeches others had prepared for him. Remind you of anyone else ?

Plus ca change..

John A said...

Reagan had the right ideas?

Like Iran-Contra?
Like the Savings & Loan meltdown?

Anonymous said...

These comments are appalling. Reagan was instrumental in the Cold War remaining cold and being won. Can't get much better than that.

Votedave said...

I wouldn't say Reagan was unsuccessful, anonymous. He won two landslide victories in 1980 and 1984 and helped to end the Cold War. He was also charismatic, extremely popular with the American public and often came up with hilarious or inspriring one-liners like "Facts are stupid things." :)

He was a bit further to the right than me, though. He had a lot in common with Margaret Thatcher but was much more easy-going than her.

tory boys never grow up said...

I'm sorry but as a reading of history this just isn't tenable - the long term social and economic forces that made the collapse of the Soviet bloc inevitable were set in motion well before Reagan's speech - and even the short term movements leading to the dismantling of the Berlin Wall predate this speech - perestroika was started in Russia in 1985 and the movements which led to freedom in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and even Eastern Germany were well established.

Should remember that Reagan couldn't even recognise disarmament when it was being offered to him by Gorbachev.

Ross F said...

I'm sorry but as a reading of history this just isn't tenable - the long term social and economic forces that made the collapse of the Soviet bloc inevitable were set in motion well before Reagan's speech

The Soviet Union's collapse suddenly became 'inevitable' about ten minutes after it happened. Up until that point the fashionable left was sneering at the idea that Communism might be defeated. There is a wonderfully Gore Vidal piece written in about 1988 ridiculing 'Ronnie' for thinking that the Iron Curtain would come down.

Steve said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Iain Dale said...

Steve
I had to delete that last comment as the link was too long for the page. You can;t embed links into comments I am afraid. And incidentally, if you repost, George Schultz was not in the Reagan adminitration at the time of the Falklands. I think you means Casper Weinberger.

neil craig said...

I think it is generally accepted that Reagan wasn't to bright. However this actually reinforces the position that it is necessary to have good ideas & stand by them. He knew what he wanted, he had ideas about how to get it & they were largely right.

Having tried to be elected on a programme of economic growth by free market methods, not having blackouts when the wind isn't blowing & bringing the housing industry into the 20th century (21st comes later) I can attest that the British media is so structured as to never mention progressive (in the original 19th C meaning) ideas.

Ted Harvey said...

I think that Reagan was a malignant force that helped contribute to the the West's ultimate failure to 'help' the collapsing communist bloc into in turn 'helping' the West create a new progressive world order.

I suspect that Thatcher (who at the time could go safely traipsing about the streets of Moscow with adulating crowds, but not the streets of London) had a better grasp of what could have been done - but it was the single remaining superpower USA that was in the driving seat.

As for Reagan, was it not the case he was bereft of any ideas or real sense of where he was going, but that he was indeed the 'Great Communicator'.

The stuff about 'Shining city on a hill' and 'A new morning' might all be guff and tripe to me - but it sure got the message across and won elections by a landslide.

The Remittance Man said...

I've always thought Reagan's "Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall" was a far better soundbite than "Ich bin ein Berliner".

Simple, direct and impossible to (mis?)translate as "I am a small local delicacy".

Reagan might not have been the brightest light on the tree, but he wasn't dumb either. He (and I assume the team about him) developed a plan that could and did bring down the Soviet Union (playing to the West's strengths and the Sovs' weaknesses). Something no other administration had managed, or even realistically tried.

Admittedly he did have help, but then I doubt the lefties are ever going to forgive JP II and Mrs T either.

Harry said...

For Reagan's ideas (or whoever they belonged to) to work, it did need a Gorbachev on the other side.