Skip to comments.Reaganís Useful Idiot
Posted on 06/08/2004 2:56:07 AM PDT by Cincinatus
The Washington Post reports tributes to Reagan's "willingness to cooperate with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in reducing the threat from nuclear weapons." Notice the phrase, "willingness to cooperate." The New York Times headlined Mikhail Gorbachev's Monday op-ed, "A President Who Listened." Not A President Who Led, but A President Who Listened.
Reagan was a giant in the company of dwarves. Yet the dwarves are still deluded, still convinced their "sophistication" is superior to his "simplicity." Casting about for words of faux praise, they end up patronizing Reagan. They can't quite bring themselves to admit that he was right and they were wrong -- that the clear-eyed conservatism they despised in him won the Cold War.
The New York Times editorialized that Reagan was "fortunate" that a visionary like Gorbachev appeared on the scene to walk the world toward peace. "He was fortunate to have as his counterpart Mikhail Gorbachev, a Soviet leader ready to acknowledge his society's failings and interested in reducing international tensions," the Times wrote.
Gorbachev's op-ed was equally nauseating. It might as well have been headlined, "A President Who Listened To Me." Gorbachev allows himself a moment of self-congratulation, "Of course, the new Soviet leadership could have continued the old ways." This is like a thief patting himself on the back for giving up theft.
Gorbachev took a "new path," because Reagan had successfully blocked off the old one. Even in this encomium to Reagan, Gorbachev can't resist one last burst of resentment at Reagan for his "evil empire" truth-telling. Gorbachev writes of Reagan's "confrontational rhetoric toward the Soviet Union, and more than rhetoric -- by a number of actions that caused concern both in our country and among many people throughout the world."
If Gorbachev still smarts over Reagan's accurate assessment of the "evil empire, "that's because Gorbachev was part of it. When Gorbachev dies, will newspapers like the Times -- which praise Reagan in between plenty of hedges and qualifications -- offer similar qualifications in obits about Gorbachev? Will they record, for example, that he supported persecuting the kulaks?
Before it was fashionable to treat Gorbachev as an oracle of bottomless moral authority, press accounts would acknowledge that he had been a Stalinist (When that was de rigueur in the Soviet Union, he penned essays on the glories of Stalinism) and a supporter of Lenin's "one step forward, two steps back" doctrine. As a party hack on the rise, Gorbachev had no problem implementing ruthless Communist policies (such as ousting from schools children whose parents had committed ideological sins). Back in the 1980s Time magazine quoted a Soviet who remembered Gorbachev explaining to him the importance of "brute force, which alone secured working discipline on the working farms." Even when Gorbachev was supposedly on his new path, he was pining for the old one. "In politics and ideology, we are seeking to revive the spirit of Leninism," Gorbachev wrote in Perestroika. As Baltic nationalists remember, Gorbachev didn't want the evil empire to break up. He sought to preserve it aggressively, sending off checks to thuggish Soviet client states until the treasury ran dry.
As a disciple of Lenin, Gorbachev should remember Lenin's phrase, "useful idiots." Lenin, had he witnessed the demise of Communism, would have called Gorbachev Reagan's useful idiot. Contrary to Gorbachev's patronizing -- in his second term, writes Gorbachev, Reagan "emphasized a different set of goals. I think he understood that it is the peacemakers, above all, who earn a place in history" -- Reagan gently pulled a frightened Gorbachev toward peace. Reagan's gentility was a function of his strength. He didn't mind letting Gorbachev wallow in his own vanity and delusion if that made it easier to end the Cold War and dismember the Soviet Union.
Historians won't pay much attention to Gorbachev's self-justifying remembrances. But they will record Reagan's "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall." The irony of Reagan never caring about who got the credit is that history will heap it on him while ignoring those who did.
What a terrific article! It certainly puts a lot of the public comments about this great man in their proper perspective.
I have been wondering about something since he passed on. What if Reagan had not won the election against Jimmy Carter in 1980? How would the course of American and world history have been changed? For me, it is a sobering, almost terrifying, thought. So many forget how he was viewed in his term of office - hardly as the giant that so many of us have come to understand him to be. As the article points out, there are many to this day who cannot bring themselves to acknowledge his achievements.
People forget Gorbachev was APPOINTED AFTER Reagan BECAUSE of Reagan.
Remember the Charm Offensive of Gorbachev? It was supposed to counter Reagan's inroads to Europe.
Gorbachev was supposed to be a "I am a Reagan too." He was a commie then, and is a commie now. (just now he does in with the environmentalists instead of the USSR.)
> The irony of Reagan never caring about who got the credit is that history will heap it on him while ignoring those who did.
Reagan is one president who did not have to search for a legacy. He earned one the old-fashioned way.
What if Reagan had not won the election against Jimmy Carter in 1980? How would the course of American and world history have been changed? For me, it is a sobering, almost terrifying, thought.That is a sobering thought.
Here's another one:
What if Reagan had won the 1976 nomination and gone on to win the presidency in that year, instead of 1976.
Is it possible there would have been no Iranian revolution? That's an intriguing possibility.
On the other hand, is it possible that without having to live through the slime and the mud of the Carter years, the American people wouldn't have backed Reagan's economic revolution?
I feel certain that Reagan still would have "torn down that wall" and sent the soviets to the "ash can of history". But we'll never know. Interesting speculation.
This one's a keeper. Bookmarked.
In those days you had Jimmy Carter "fearing" the future because of that character that replaced him. The list of like minded Democrats could go on all day. Yet you also had Republicans that agreed with the Democrats. This list included such luminaries as Kissinger, Nixon and even George Will (in observing US Soviet relations under Reagan).
When comparing giants and dwarves, think about what occupied Reagan's time. He set an agenda regarding foreign and domestic issues that mad the 1980's a watershed on the world stage. To a great extent Bush (H.W.) benefitted.
Look at the issues that occupied the time of the next 2 term guy. I recall some period of time when he decided it was important to protect the American people from telemarketers. Now, that's something to get historians all in a flutter.
What do you expect from people whose ideology trumps human decency.
I am still amazed at the self-delusion/idiotcy of the libs. They will never understand President Reagan and what he accomplished, and certainly will never willingly give him any credit in accomplishing it.
"Yet you also had Republicans that agreed with the Democrats. This list .... George Will"
and it goes on today. I can't read his articles on Iraq. They are invariably pessimistic.
"Reagan was a giant in the company of dwarves."
I saw George Schultz, President Reagan's first Secretary of State, interviewed on Fox News last night. He told about how at Reijkevik (sp?) Gorbachov opened the summit by offering a whole list of concessions the first day. Reagan and Schultz were surprised and delighted. Then the second day, Mr. Gorbachov revealed what those concessions were conditional upon - the US dropping SDI. President Reagan and Mr. Schultz left the summit with nothing concrete to show for it. The political pressure on him must have been enormous. However, history has shown that he made the right decision. Amazing story.
Outstanding article. Thanks for posting it.
"The military buildup that Carter did begin would have been half hearted and aimed only at defense of the homeland."
I saw President Bush, the elder, interviewed over the weekend. He was asked how the Reagan military buildup had affected the Gulf War. His response was that it was enormously significant. He stated that the loss of life on our side would have been significantly higher had it not been for that.
And I remember the NY Times and the Washington Post and TIME screaming at Reagan for his "failure". It would be great to bring those moldy oldie editorials out of the stacks and confront the lefties with just how WRONG they were all the time when dealing with Pres. Reagan. You can bet the minute he's buried on Friday, they will begin trying to cover their a**es and rewrite the legacy of that hero of freedom. That's when every patriot needs to fight back with the truth. A good place to begin is in the high school and college textbooks given to our future leaders. Not one dime of tax-payer-funds should be given to history instruction that omits or distorts Pres. Reagan's record of accomplishment!
I stopped reading George Will, too. I have no time for doom-and-gloomers.
The could have do so if only Ronald Reagan had not pushed them to the precipice and forced them to acknowledge the futility of such an idea! Reagan was the giant, Gorby was the dwarf! Deluded Liliputians!
It's almost a certainty.
Have the appeasers at the New York Times ever written a word about the gulags yet?
And not just George H.W. Bush, but most ironically of all, Beelzebubba. If not for the accomplishments of Reagan's foreign policy in forcing the end of the Cold War, America would have never elected a draft-dodging, peace-marching "co-president" with basically no interest in a strong defense. I'm not blaming Reagan for this by any means, just pointing out one of life's great ironies.
Henry Lee II
"Leftists are crazed and violent people,
with the blood of millions on their hands.
"If not for the accomplishments of Reagan's foreign policy in forcing the end of the Cold War....."
Your post started me wondering .... what if Reagan had not won the Cold War and the arms race had continued throughout the 90s ..... I wonder if the exceptional economic expansion that President Clinton took credit for would have materialized to the extent that it did.
My theory is that all of the prosperity we've enjoyed from the mid-80s through the present is in one way or another connected to Reagan's tax cuts AND the end of the Cold War.