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Subject: The roles of Reagan and Gorbachev in ending the Cold War
Big Bad Pariah    7/29/2004 5:28:49 AM
The Myth of the Gipper Reagan Didn't End the Cold War By WILLIAM BLUM Ronald Reagan's biggest crimes were the bloody military actions to suppress social and political change in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Afghanistan, but I'd like to deal here with the media's gushing about Reagan's supposed role in ending the cold war. In actuality, he prolonged it. Here is something I wrote for my book Killing Hope. It has become conventional wisdom that it was the relentlessly tough anti-communist policies of the Reagan Administration, with its heated-up arms race, that led to the collapse and reformation of the Soviet Union and its satellites. American history books may have already begun to chisel this thesis into marble. The Tories in Great Britain say that Margaret Thatcher and her unflinching policies contributed to the miracle as well. The East Germans were believers too. When Ronald Reagan visited East Berlin, the people there cheered him and thanked him "for his role in liberating the East". Even many leftist analysts, particularly those of a conspiracy bent, are believers. But this view is not universally held; nor should it be. Long the leading Soviet expert on the United States, Georgi Arbatov, head of the Moscow-based Institute for the Study of the U.S.A. and Canada, wrote his memoirs in 1992. A Los Angeles Times book review by Robert Scheer summed up a portion of it: "Arbatov understood all too well the failings of Soviet totalitarianism in comparison to the economy and politics of the West. It is clear from this candid and nuanced memoir that the movement for change had been developing steadily inside the highest corridors of power ever since the death of Stalin. Arbatov not only provides considerable evidence for the controversial notion that this change would have come about without foreign pressure, he insists that the U.S. military buildup during the Reagan years actually impeded this development." George F. Kennan agrees. The former US ambassador to the Soviet Union, and father of the theory of "containment" of the same country, asserts that "the suggestion that any United States administration had the power to influence decisively the course of a tremendous domestic political upheaval in another great country on another side of the globe is simply childish." He contends that the extreme militarization of American policy strengthened hard-liners in the Soviet Union. "Thus the general effect of Cold War extremism was to delay rather than hasten the great change that overtook the Soviet Union." Though the arms-race spending undoubtedly damaged the fabric of the Soviet civilian economy and society even more than it did in the United States, this had been going on for 40 years by the time Mikhail Gorbachev came to power without the slightest hint of impending doom. Gorbachev's close adviser, Aleksandr Yakovlev, when asked whether the Reagan administration's higher military spending, combined with its "Evil Empire" rhetoric, forced the Soviet Union into a more conciliatory position, responded: "It played no role. None. I can tell you that with the fullest responsibility. Gorbachev and I were ready for changes in our policy regardless of whether the American president was Reagan, or Kennedy, or someone even more liberal. It was clear that our military spending was enormous and we had to reduce it." Understandably, some Russians might be reluctant to admit that they were forced to make revolutionary changes by their arch enemy, to admit that they lost the Cold War. However, on this question we don't have to rely on the opinion of any individual, Russian or American. We merely have to look at the historical facts. From the late 1940s to around the mid-1960s, it was an American policy objective to instigate the downfall of the Soviet government as well as several Eastern European regimes. Many hundreds of Russian exiles were organized, trained and equipped by the CIA, then sneaked back into their homeland to set up espionage rings, to stir up armed political struggle, and to carry out acts of assassination and sabotage, such as derailing trains, wrecking bridges, damaging arms factories and power plants, and so on. The Soviet government, which captured many of these men, was of course fully aware of who was behind all this. Compared to this policy, that of the Reagan administration could be categorized as one of virtual capitulation. Yet what were the fruits of this ultra-tough anti-communist policy? Repeated serious confrontations between the United States and the Soviet Union in Berlin, Cuba and elsewhere, the Soviet interventions into Hungary and Czechoslovakia, creation of the Warsaw Pact (in direct reaction to NATO), no glasnost, no perestroika, only pervasive suspicion, cynicism and hostility on both sides. It turned out that the Russians were human after all -- they responded to toughness with toughness. And the corollary: there was for many years a clo
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displacedjim    RE:The roles of Reagan and Gorbachev in ending the Cold War   7/29/2004 10:20:45 AM
Yeah, just like how America wasn't responsible for Japan's downfall in 1945; in fact, America's toughness in 1940-1941 forced Japan to respond with toughness, and when we melted those two Japanese cities, why, it was actually the Emperor who had already decided that enough was enough and it was time to end the war but he couldn't do it sooner because that belligerent FDR kept hounding Japan with his militarist shows of force. Our heartless warmongering actually prolonged WWII! I mean, it's self-evident that the USSR from 1923 right on up to 1990 was a friend to all peace-loving peoples everywhere, and the CCCP was just one big huggable teddy bear. They were forced to react in Mother Rodina's self-defense by the imperialist running dogs of American Capitalism, no less. Obviously we should have realized the Central Committee were all really pacifist counter-revolutionaries looking to leap at the first available chance to gleefully cast off their communist shackles, and all that Lenin-worship and those marathon salute-sessions during Red Square parades were a relucant facade forced upon themselves and the world by America's unreasonable intransigence. Mea culpa! Mea culpa! We're all just greedy bourgeois pigs! "However, on this question we don't have to rely on the opinion of any individual, Russian or American. We merely have to look at the historical facts." Really, and which edition of your history books should we look in? Are we talking about any unpersons that have been edited out of later versions? "Many hundreds of Russian exiles were organized, trained and equipped by the CIA, then sneaked back into their homeland to set up espionage rings, to stir up armed political struggle, and to carry out acts of assassination and sabotage, such as derailing trains, wrecking bridges, damaging arms factories and power plants, and so on." Blame Goldstein! Goldstein and his followers did it! Traitor! Murderer! Gee, too bad your whole rotten house of cards collapsed. If you get hungry, try eating some of your 40,000 tanks rusting away someplace out east. Maybe you can cook your meal on top of the next reactor to overheat in one of the 50 nuclear submarines slowly settling down at their moorings, after the local power company cuts electricity to the naval base for failure to pay the last six months utility bills. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! Displacedjim
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Big Bad Pariah    RE:The roles of Reagan and Gorbachev in ending the Cold War   7/29/2004 1:20:10 PM
Have you finished your angry little rant now? I'm still having trouble believing somebody could seriously compare WW2 to the Cold War. Its unfortunate that you seem to be living in a neo-conservative fantasy land where Ronald "I don't recall" Reagan was a saint who fought the "evil empire" by using scary rhetoric about Star Wars. Are you saying that Reagan's policies encouraged nationalism in the Soviet republics? (Even though the man was clearly daft and not even the CIA saw the collapse of USSR coming). Hell, did Reagan also secretly instigate the power struggle between Boris Yeltsin and Gorbachev that caused the Soviet republics to revolt? If you're not too busy reading Richard Perle's latest book, may I suggest you read "The End of the Soviet Empire: The Triumph of the Nations" by Hélène Carrère d'Encausse (yes, an evil frog!). You can find it at if nessecary. I'm sure it will help you understand the factors and causes that led to the collapse of the USSR.
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displacedjim    RE:The roles of Reagan and Gorbachev in ending the Cold War   7/30/2004 12:08:08 PM
Oh, I'm not angry, I'm elated. One of the best things to happen to mankind in the 20th century was the collapse of that very evil empire, the USSR--one of the most evil empires in the history of man. What I'm having trouble believing is that anyone could believe that the Soviets were merely reacting to America's belligerence and forced into militarism in the Cold War era as a defensive reaction. I'm most definitely not a neo-conservative; I'm a paleo-conservative, and I thank God for granting me enough wisdom to understand why I should be. Yes, Ronald Reagan was the closest thing to a saint that the White House has seen in many, many years, and he did fight the Evil Empire by using--among other tactics--scary rhetoric about Star Wars. It certainly seemed to scare the commies in the Kremlin wwell enough. Once again, thank God. I've never said Ronald Reagan or America/Americans fled through Hungary or finally convinced Honnicker (sp?) to open the Berlin Wall (and I was at Checkpoint Charlie with my wife and two daughters the second night it was open, when all the Trabants and Ladas really started coming through--what a glorious sight!), or climbed on top of those T-80s (or whichever models they were) in Red Square and waved Russian flags in 1990. It took a lot of brave, liberty-seeking common people to bring about that amazing change, and it's an inspiration to anyone who hopes for restoring sovereignty to the people and taking authority back from oppressive, over-controlling collectivist government wherever it may be found. That the fall of the USSR was inevitable was probably true, and that it would require the action of the Russian people to accomplish it is axiomatic. I'm sure the Gipper believed that moreso than I, and probably moreso than you, too. He was always optimistic about the nature and future of man in the struggle against tyranny; moreso than I, I admit. That it would have happened *sooner* if it weren't for American defense spending is highly implausible, and I remain incredulous. Reading a book by Richard Perle is an activity that is extrodinarily unlikely to ever rise far enough up my list of priorities to make the cut-off of time available for reading anything. About the last thing I'm interested in reading (other than to learn more about the unfolding strategy for this war that has been dreamed of for years) is something by some globalist/elitest/Empire-loving liberal. Thanks for the tip, but I'm unlikely to read Helene's book either. Displacedjim
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