« Working wonders | Main | Boehner: GOP to Declare War Over Earmarks »

20 years ago today

On this day in 1987, President Ronald Reagan addressed a teeming crowd at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, yards from communism's most enduring symbol, the Berlin Wall, and challenged Gorbachev basically to put up or shut up on his claims of a "new" Soviet policy.

"Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"


The story behind the speech, including the State Department's attempts to suppress it as "provocative," is reported by Scott Johnson at Power Line today. Courtesy of Scott as well, here's the money quote from the speech:



Comments (27)

Peter Robinson, Reagan's sp... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

Peter Robinson, Reagan's speech writer, was on Seattle's KVI for an interview this morning. Fascinating stuff!

I remember thinking how bombastic and taunting I thought this speech was, and how it was all going to lead us to the brink of nuclear annihilation.

Then again, I was 22 year-old ignorant, Bay Area liberal who knew it all and had no respect and utter disdain for Reagan. Those are emotions and views I deeply regret now--especially as I am in midst of reading his letters.

It seems that all the GOP h... (Below threshold)
BarneyG2000:

It seems that all the GOP has left these days is reminiscing about Reagan and blaming Clinton.

The coach (a Republican) said it best:
"I don't believe in living in the past. Living in the past is for cowards. If you live in the past, you die in the past." - Mike Ditka

"It seems that all the G... (Below threshold)
Stormin:

"It seems that all the GOP has left these days is reminiscing about Reagan and blaming Clinton."

It seems that all the Democrats has left these days is reminiscing about Clinton and blaming Bush.

Funny how that can get turned around isn't it.

Peter F.:<bloc... (Below threshold)

Peter F.:

Then again, I was 22 year-old ignorant, Bay Area liberal who knew it all and had no respect and utter disdain for Reagan. Those are emotions and views I deeply regret now--especially as I am in midst of reading his letters.

Don't be so hard on yourself - when I was 22, I worked for the Clinton '92 campaign! While I chastise myself for some of the stuff I advocated back then, I think the important thing is that you were open to reexamining your stand, and did so as your outlook changed. I worry about (and disdain) the people who never do that.

A couple questions for all ... (Below threshold)
Paul Hamilton:

A couple questions for all the Reagan-worshippers: What difference did this speech actually make? What new policy did it foreshadow?

Yes, it was a fine speech -- powerful words, well-delivered -- but that's all.

What difference did this... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

What difference did this speech actually make? What new policy did it foreshadow?....Yes, it was a fine speech -- powerful words, well-delivered -- but that's all.

Might as well say the same about Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address" or MLK's "I Have A Dream" speech.

What a pointless thing to say, Paul.

Yeah, what Paul said.... (Below threshold)
brainy435:

Yeah, what Paul said.

The speech certainly didn't fit Regans foreign policy at the time. He never stood up to Gorbechev to make him follow through with glasnost and perestroika.

It's not like they ever actually tore that wall down, after all.

Peter F.: So if that's tru... (Below threshold)
Paul Hamilton:

Peter F.: So if that's true, then *no* speech has any significance, and yet the right-wing blogosphere obviously thinks that it does mean something.

I believe that if any single person was responsible for for the end of Soviet influence in eastern Europe, it was Pope John Paul. When he appeared in Poland, it gave political legitimacy and impetus to the Solidarity movement, which continued to grow in both numbers and influence. And the freedom movement was not contained within the borders of Poland and soon the Soviets found they could no longer just crush dissent as they had in Czechoslovakia in 1968.

Yes, it was a fine speech -... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

Yes, it was a fine speech -- powerful words, well-delivered -- but that's all.
-------------------------------------------------
Compared that to the press conf by Harry Reid where he proclaimed the Iraq war is lost as soon as the terrorists blew up more women and children. It was just a press conf, rigth? Yea, it was a terrorist-aiding PR.

This speech encouraged the German people to bring down the Berlin wall, just like the "evil empire" put the Soviet Union on the PR defensive.

After 1960s, one cannot imagine a liberal deliver such a speech. One could expect liberals deliver surrender or excusing speech for the communists and the terrorists now.

Very uninteresting a stupid... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

Very uninteresting a stupid reading of the politics of the time Paul Ham. Read a little bit about what was going on behind the scenes. A hint is Reagan saying in 81 that the Soviet Union was an evil empire. Rewriting history does not make it true. ww

Paul H:<blockq... (Below threshold)

Paul H:

What difference did this speech actually make? What new policy did it foreshadow?

Yes, it was a fine speech -- powerful words, well-delivered -- but that's all.

JFK, thanks to a couple of pithy speeches, has enjoyed an almost Messianic reputation amongst Democrats due almost solely to quotes made during his tenure as President. Barack Obama also owes his Messianic persona to one speech, so obviously you're 'fine speech - so what' slam isn't the put-down you intend it to be.

Ronald Reagan may well have said his words at the right time and in the right place but, unlike so many politicians of either persuasion, the world knew that Reagan meant what he said. There was simply no question about whether or not he was prepared to match 'The Walk' to 'The Talk'.

/ Yes, I am using the word "Messianic" as it fits what I perceive to be your derisive comment about "Reagan Worshippers".

A couple questions for all ... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

A couple questions for all the Reagan-worshippers
-------------------------------------------------
A couple questions for all the Clinton-worshippers: Even this late why the liberals still support Clinton? Remember the liberal press used to adore Clinton for his natural ability to lie so smoothly!

Geez, can't you right winge... (Below threshold)
ChrisO:

Geez, can't you right wingers answer a simple question without trying to make it about Clinton?

And Stormin, really. "It seems that all the Democrats has left these days is reminiscing about Clinton and blaming Bush." I'm not crazy about everything the Dems are doing, but they did win both houses of Congress, and polls show that a solid majority of Americans identify themselves as Democrats or independents leaning Democratic. These trends will undoubtedly change, as they always do for both sides, but to claim that all the Dems have is reminiscing about Clinton is just a knee jerk reaction that makes no sense.

As for the speech, I believe that all of the puffed up pomp surrouinding Reagan's death has elevated that speech beyond all proportion. Any issues of policy aside, that speech did not grab the popular imagination the same way as the speeches Republicans like to compare it to. I'm willing to bet that before he died, a majority of Americans would have been hard pressed to remember that speech. MLK's "I Have A Dream," JFK's inaugural, I've seen the speech compared to both of those. Not even close.

The amazing thing about the... (Below threshold)
John F Not Kerry:

The amazing thing about the speech is how many of the bureaucrats at State and the NSA tried to get that line out of the speech. Words mean something. And as for that crap about Reagan not getting Gorby to fully implement glasnost and perestroika: What country ceased to exist 4 years after that speech? Anyone? Bueller?

"but to claim that all t... (Below threshold)
Stormin:

"but to claim that all the Dems have is reminiscing about Clinton is just a knee jerk reaction that makes no sense."

No more so than BarneyGoogle's original post claiming that all the GOP has...

Obviously my point sailed clear over your head.

These trends will undoubted... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

These trends will undoubtedly change, as they always do for both sides, but to claim that all the Dems have is reminiscing about Clinton is just a knee jerk reaction that makes no sense.
------------------------------------------------
Wonder why Hillary Clinton is leading the Dem field right now. Hey asked the hundreds of millions of Eastern Europeans about the effect of Reagan 's empire speech for example. You just confirmed my observation that you have to go back to the pre-1960s (eg. JFK) to find a dem that can deliver such a speech.

What do dems have these days? All they have is to tear down Reagan. What about their heros like Clinton, Carter, Michael Moore, Reid/Pelosi?

Surprised to find this from... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

Surprised to find this from the Time. Reagan put the Soviet Union on the defensive about their evil empire and liberals hated him for that. Even until this day liberals still tried to downplay it. No surprise. Just who liberals are.

http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1631828,00.html
The Speech That Brought Down a Wall

Stormin, your response didn... (Below threshold)
ChrisO:

Stormin, your response didn't sail over my head. I saw it for what it was: nonsensical. The Democratic Party happens to be in ascension right now. Unlike many of the triumphalists on the right, when my side is winning I don't think it's because the whole world became Democrats. But right now the party is more in favor with the electorate. That's just a fact.

As far as Democrats looking to Clinton as their last inspirational leader, give me a break. He was the last Democratic President. No party has a legendary leader who wasn't elected. By contrast, there have been 10 or so years of Republican Presidents since Reagan. And you still claim both parties are in the same boat?

Wild Willie: We'd consider... (Below threshold)
Paul Hamilton:

Wild Willie: We'd considered the Soviet Union an evil empire ever since the 20s. We took a brief time out during WW2 out of military necessity, but things went back to normal almost immediately. So, again, that was nothing new.

And, yes, there are elements in the Republican party who have raised Reagan to political sainthood, and undeservedly IMHO. If Iran-Contra had occurred under a Democratic administration, you guy would *still* be apoplectic about it.

But right now the party is ... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

But right now the party is more in favor with the electorate. That's just a fact.
--------------------------------------------------
A poll today shows that the Dem congress has the lowest approval in 10 years. Discount the poll if you want. The fact is that it only take 5 months for the liberals to put their culture of corruption fully in place

As far as Democrats looking to Clinton as their last inspirational leader, give me a break. He was the last Democratic President. No party has a legendary leader who wasn't elected. By contrast, there have been 10 or so years of Republican Presidents since Reagan. And you still claim both parties are in the same boat?
-------------------------------------------------
So who is the inspirational leader of the liberals/dems? Carter? Why is Hillary Clinton leading the Dem pres field right now?

Love America, you beat me t... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

Love America, you beat me to it. The dems numbers in the polls (which I never follow, but the dems use them as the Holy Grail) have Nancy P. at 32% approval. The leadership is sinking and in only 5 months. That has to be a record.

And Paul H. we might have called the Soviet Union an evil empire in the twenties, but never officially from a presidents mouth. Just admit it, you plain don't like Reagan because he was successful. Coming off Carter, he had a lot of work to do. Reagan got the old triple double when he came in: Inflation, Interests and unemployment. Reagan has a legacy. As will GW. Clinton had an easy ride but no legacy. Bush 41 also has no legacy. Thems the facts. ww

We'd considered the Sov... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

We'd considered the Soviet Union an evil empire ever since the 20s.

Who is this 'we' you speak of? I think there were darn few Liberals who would publically call them an evil empire back when Reagan was Prez.

Even today, it seems most of the anti-American demonstrations are chock full of Commie flags, Int'l ANSWER posters and other communist symbols.

We'd considered the Soviet ... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

We'd considered the Soviet Union an evil empire ever since the 20s.
------------------------------------------------
I expected better of Paul. But it seems that he is just another liberal spinner. The truth is that the left has been doing the propaganda work for the Soviet Union and its communist leaders since the 20s. That 's the truth.

Paul you do not know what y... (Below threshold)
Budahmon:

Paul you do not know what you are talking about. Like a typical liberal you have no facts only your feelings. One thing...American feelings did not win the "Cold War"...Ronald Reagan with Pope John Paul and Maggie Thatcher did win the Cold War..

You Said: "We'd considered the Soviet Union an evil empire ever since the 20s. We took a brief time out during WW2 out of military necessity, but things went back to normal almost immediately. So, again, that was nothing new. And, yes, there are elements in the Republican party who have raised Reagan to political sainthood, and undeservedly IMHO. If Iran-Contra had occurred under a Democratic administration, you guy would *still* be apoplectic about it."

NATIONAL SECURITY DECISION DIRECTIVES (NSDD)

Reagan signed the following into official US policy:

NSDD-32 US policy to neutralize Soviet power in Eastern Europe by providing support to dissidents.
NSDD-66 US policy to engage in economic war with the Soviet Union in order to bankrupt Soviet economy.
NSDD-75 US policy to attack Soviet weaknesses and rollback Soviet power/influence.

This led to the following:

 The second of the European natural gas pipe line, Reagan had foreign credits stopped from going to the Soviets.

Lost Soviet Revenue - $ 7 - 8 Billion per yr

 Invasion of Granada increased Cuban anxieties, thus Soviet Union had to increase military aid.

Lost Soviet Revenue - $ 3 Billion

 US started aiding counter insurgents in Soviet client/allies. Soviets had to increase military aid.

Lost Soviet Revenue - $ 8 Billion

 US had Saudi Arabia increase oil production, decreasing the cost of oil and decreasing Soviet Union revenue from oil.

Lost Soviet Revenue - $ 5 - 6 Billion

 US worked with Pope John Paul and Solidarity to undermine Polish Communist and Warsaw Pact. Soviet Union had to increase aid to Poland.

Lost Soviet Revenue - $ 1 Billion per yr

 Soviet Union had to increase military spending.

Lost Soviet Revenue - $ 15 - 20 Billion per yr

 Reagan stopped technology transfers to the Soviets due to Poland=s crackdown on dissidents.

Lost Soviet Revenue - $ 1 - 2 Billion per yr

Total estimated loss to the Soviet Union was approximately $ 40 Billion per year.

Game over ... The above was not normal US Policy.

Paul..It might be a good id... (Below threshold)
Budahmon:

Paul..It might be a good idea to read a book once in a while. I'd recommend Peter Schweizer's Victory or Reagan's Secret War. You might learn a few things..like who started and leaked Iran - Contra but was smart enough to stay out of the loop. You might even learn why he started it....but I doubt it. From Peter Schweizer's Victory:

"National Security Decision Directive 32 stated that it was US policy to neutralize Soviet power in eastern Europe. It outlined a number of principle objectives:

$ Covertly support underground movements in the region attempting to throw off communist rule.
$ Intensify psychological operations directed at the region, particularly radio broadcasts such as Voice of America and Radio Free Europe.
$ Seek through diplomacy and trade to wean away the regimes heavy reliance on Moscow (Soviets).

National Security Decision Directive 66 was the first shot in the economic war that bankrupt the Kremlin. It had three central elements:

$ ...gain concurrence of European allies that credits would not be extended to Moscow at better than market rates.
$ ...not allow access to Western high technology critical to sustaining the Soviet military and economy....
$ ...work with allies in a proactive way to develop alternative sources to ....Soviet gas in Europe.

National Security Decision Directive 75 declared that it was US strategy to attack the Soviet weaknesses and roll back Soviet power. Its working principles were:

! The United States does not accept the current Soviet sphere of influence beyond its borders, and the US will seek to roll it back.
! The United States will not contribute to enhancing the welfare of the Soviet economy and will do what it can to restrict any means that could serve that end, in particular the document mentioned technology, credits, and hard currency earned through energy exports.
! The United States will seek opportunities to roll back the level of Soviet influence overseas."

Peter Schweizer, Victory

By the way, this was not traditional American policy for the Soviet Union.


Willie: Reagan had a legac... (Below threshold)
Paul Hamilton:

Willie: Reagan had a legacy but not one that I consider a positive one.

LAI: What about the McCarthy witchhunts? I consider political reality, not just whatever words the president happens to speak. Clearly the time starting in the 50s were a period in our history which was defined by our treatment of the Soviets as our mortal enemy. I was a child during that time and I'm well aware of how they were depicted.

Budahmon: So we spent them into bankruptcy. While that is obviously better than armed conflict, especially in the nuclear age, it certainly doesn't equate to a moral affirmation. That came, instead, from groups like Solidarity which won over the hearts of people who for a couple generations had either supported communism, or who had been cowed into being silent about it. As the Warsaw Pact nations fell away, the Soviets became more and more isolated and eventually couldn't bear the costs of trying to maintain their grip with no support whatsoever from eastern Europe. But if you want to give St Ronnie all the credit, there's little I could do to disaffect you. I realize that's the mythology that's been built around him for a generation now.

It is one thing to parade a... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

It is one thing to parade and say you have solidarity, but without funding, behind the scenes assistance and maneuvering the the US it would not have been successful. If it was not for our assistance to Afghanistan against the Soviets, it would not have been successful. If it wasn't for us, Central America would be a Soviet puppet. Reagan and his administration had one huge world goal and that was the bringing down of the Soviet empire. Through laws, spendiing, directives, policies and covert/clandestine operations. 8 years of constant pressure on the Soviet regime. It proved to be their downfall.

Bringing out the McCarthy kannard is beneath you. He may have overstepped, but are you saying there were no communists infiltrated in our government? Again, I say you just plain don't like Reagan for his success. He is up there with FDR in most peoples opinions. ww




Advertisements









rightads.gif

beltwaybloggers.gif

insiderslogo.jpg

mba_blue.gif

Follow Wizbang

Follow Wizbang on FacebookFollow Wizbang on TwitterSubscribe to Wizbang feedWizbang Mobile

Contact

Send e-mail tips to us:

[email protected]

Fresh Links

Credits

Section Editor: Maggie Whitton

Editors: Jay Tea, Lorie Byrd, Kim Priestap, DJ Drummond, Michael Laprarie, Baron Von Ottomatic, Shawn Mallow, Rick, Dan Karipides, Michael Avitablile, Charlie Quidnunc, Steve Schippert

Emeritus: Paul, Mary Katherine Ham, Jim Addison, Alexander K. McClure, Cassy Fiano, Bill Jempty, John Stansbury, Rob Port

In Memorium: HughS

All original content copyright © 2003-2010 by Wizbang®, LLC. All rights reserved. Wizbang® is a registered service mark.

Powered by Movable Type Pro 4.361

Hosting by ServInt

Ratings on this site are powered by the Ajax Ratings Pro plugin for Movable Type.

Search on this site is powered by the FastSearch plugin for Movable Type.

Blogrolls on this site are powered by the MT-Blogroll.

Temporary site design is based on Cutline and Cutline for MT. Graphics by Apothegm Designs.

Author Login



Terms Of Service

DCMA Compliance Notice

Privacy Policy