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Reagan administration brought down the Berlin Wall....

 
 
Reply Mon 10 Sep, 2007 11:09 am
Confused .... I hear this all the time, especially lately, for whatever reason. Somebody just mentioned it during the General Petraeus hearing that i'm listening to on NPR right now.

Now I was there. The Cold War was the first 13 years of my life. I lived it. My father was in prison intermittently, being a part of the human rights movement. I know that the dissidents looked up to the USA...but..."brought down the Berlin Wall"?! How? I find that statement frankly somewhat insulting.

How do you see it? What was Reagan's contribution? I am absolutely uninterested in vitriolic conservative vs. liberal namecalling and insults and would greatly appreciate a merit based discussion. Thanks.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 6,772 • Replies: 71
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Ramafuchs
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 Sep, 2007 11:15 am
As far I know
He had requested with these words
" Corby.... tear down the Berlin wall"
Recently I was in Berlin and most of the Berliner are preoccupied to exist.
The actor cum political personality has no impact on Berliner, let alone the united Germans.
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dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 Sep, 2007 11:24 am
I suppose that in an economic sense Reagan did have some effect in that he simply overspent the USSR. From a politically polemic point I think he did virtually nothing re the wall.
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Walter Hinteler
 
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Reply Mon 10 Sep, 2007 12:30 pm
I think, it depends on the -national- point of view: here, in Germany, Kohl and Gorbachev are seen as the 'architects of the falling".

When you look at the timeline, it ws a following up of the removal of border restrictions betweeen Hungary and Austria, which led to the dramatic flight of thousands of GDR-citizens via Hungary, which then led to the "Peaceful Revolution" of late 1989 in the GDR.

It was the GDR people who actually brought the Berlin Wall down.

And quite a few helped them.


(I've been in 'East Berlin' shortly before the wall fall down - and in the GDR .... without passport then, just with my ID-card. [All the previous visits had to be made with a passport, and the GDR was normally a 'no-no-to-enter-country' = the GDR allowed only a few (West-)Germans to enter.])
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ossobuco
 
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Reply Mon 10 Sep, 2007 12:40 pm
Walter's description makes sense to me, but, then, I'm from California...
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dagmaraka
 
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Reply Mon 10 Sep, 2007 01:00 pm
From the economic perspective.... the overspending does not seem to me like Reagan's invention...it seem to have been among the primary elements of the Cold War all along, no?

Today, they told me on the radio that he was 'tough' and did not budge.... That's not how I remember it. I remember he met with and supported Gorbachev. I remember him as being far more conciliatory than his predecessors in the end. Where does this stance that he was tough and unbudging come from?

Excerpts from a review that pretty much sum up how I remember that era. (full text: http://www.brookings.edu/views/articles/talbott/20040801.htm)


[quote="Jack F. Matlock in "Reagan and Gorbachev"]Reagan himself went even farther. Asked at a press conference in Moscow in 1988, his last year in office, about the role he played in the great drama of the late 20th century, he described himself essentially as a supporting actor. ''Mr. Gorbachev,'' he said, ''deserves most of the credit, as the leader of this country.''[/quote]

Quote:
During his first term, Reagan denounced the pre-Gorbachev Soviet Union as an ''evil empire.'' ...Then, in 1985, soon after Reagan's second inauguration, the vigorous, 54-year-old Gorbachev ascended to the leadership. He wanted to demilitarize Soviet foreign policy so that he could divert resources to the Augean task of fixing a broken economy. Initially, he expected no help from Reagan, whom he regarded as "not simply a conservative, but a political 'dinosaur.'"...Reagan came quickly to recognize that Gorbachev's goals, far from being traditional, were downright revolutionary. He also saw that the transformation Gorbachev had in mind for his country would, if it came about, serve American interests.

As a result, without much fuss and without many of his supporters noticing, Reagan underwent a transformation of his own. The fire-breathing cold warrior set about trying, through intense, sustained personal engagement, to convince Gorbachev that the United States would not make him sorry for the course he had chosen."


Quote:


Anyway... From where I sit it seems that Reagan would have liked to bring the Berlin War down... but he couldn't do it from where he was. Gorbachev, who was still a Communist leader, however reformist, was NOT interested in bringing it down. The fall of the communist regimes one after another was not something he desired, although he influenced it far more than any other single person with glasnost and perestroika. I have been hearing about the "Reagan bringing the Berlin Wall down" a lot in the last one month. Why? What the heck? Was this always thought, or is it something new, and why has it crept out right now? How do you remember it and what do you think is going on right now that this is being dragged out?
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dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 Sep, 2007 01:04 pm
Walter Hinteler wrote:
I think, it depends on the -national- point of view: here, in Germany, Kohl and Gorbachev are seen as the 'architects of the falling".

When you look at the timeline, it ws a following up of the removal of border restrictions betweeen Hungary and Austria, which led to the dramatic flight of thousands of GDR-citizens via Hungary, which then led to the "Peaceful Revolution" of late 1989 in the GDR.

It was the GDR people who actually brought the Berlin Wall down.

And quite a few helped them.


(I've been in 'East Berlin' shortly before the wall fall down - and in the GDR .... without passport then, just with my ID-card. [All the previous visits had to be made with a passport, and the GDR was normally a 'no-no-to-enter-country' = the GDR allowed only a few (West-)Germans to enter.])


Of course. Though that would not have been possible without the official assurance from USSR in 1981 in Poland after the martial law that protests in the Soviet Block countries are internal affairs of these countries and Moscow will not interfere... and without the policies following after 1985. At least in East Germany. Poland and Hungary would probably have been on their way to liberalization anyway, but the USSR did have to "let them"...which is also not to be taken for granted.
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Walter Hinteler
 
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Reply Mon 10 Sep, 2007 01:10 pm
The day before Reagan made his speech and said those words "open the gate", tenthousands of West-Berliners were demonstrating for a peaceful reconciliation with the East.
We weren't on the (US) line of confrontation in those days, Reagon was for the most of us - in the West - just another symbol of the American cowboy. (Literally as well :wink: )
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parados
 
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Reply Mon 10 Sep, 2007 01:22 pm
I think Walter has hit the nail on the head. From the American point of view everything is a direct result of what we do. The world can't exist without us. We have done everything good and if it was bad then we didn't do it.

If you don't believe that then you must be a commie traitor or some kind of a multiculturalist.
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dagmaraka
 
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Reply Mon 10 Sep, 2007 01:34 pm
but but but.... it's so silly to state that even for the most devout American patriot. I am not denying Reagan his place in the process, but it was far more limited than is being suggested to people. I mean, it seems so.... arrogant to me. I hardly ever find anything personally insulting, but this hits far too close to home. It angers me when I hear it.
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parados
 
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Reply Mon 10 Sep, 2007 02:00 pm
What? You think an American would be arrogant? Why you little pip squeack. You should be on your knees in thanks that Reagan existed.
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dagmaraka
 
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Reply Mon 10 Sep, 2007 02:13 pm
Ha, I guess it's a good lesson. You hear people say American policies and statements are arrogant. You might rationally acknowledge it and agree (or not). But this I really "felt"...because it disregards my life experience. Ack, I get riled up just thinking about it.
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dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 Sep, 2007 07:20 pm
Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Janos Kadar (the leader of Hungary) all appear simultaneously at the pearly gates. Saint Peter tells them that they each will be granted one last wish before entering heaven.

Ronald Reagan says without hesitation, "I would like the Soviet Union to disappear from the face of the earth." They look down, and sure enough, the USSR vanishes.

Gorbachev said, "Well, then, I would like the same to happen to the USA." The United States disappears instantly.

Kadar looks down with a blissful smile. "Now that's done, I guess all I need is one last cup of coffee!"
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dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 Sep, 2007 07:32 pm
the widespreadedness of political jokes was one of the best side-products of communism. that's how communication was done. that part i miss. it just ain't the same anymore.

Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev and Todor Zhivkov (Bulgaria) are invited to visit God, who promises to answer one question from each guest.
Reagan asks,: "When will U.S. astronauts set foot on Mars?" God answers: "In 2023". Reagan starts weeping, and says: "What a pity that I won't be alive to see this."
Gorbachev asks: "When will Russian economy catch up with the U.S.?" God answers, "By 2060". Gorbachev also starts weeping because he won't be alive by this time.
Zhivkov asks: "When shall I die?" God starts weeping.
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littlek
 
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Reply Mon 10 Sep, 2007 07:33 pm
er......
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dagmaraka
 
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Reply Mon 10 Sep, 2007 07:38 pm
littlek wrote:
er......

hm?
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littlek
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 Sep, 2007 07:40 pm
I don't get them. The jokes.
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dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 Sep, 2007 07:42 pm
eh, guess you'd have to be there... to me they are still satisfying.
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dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 Sep, 2007 07:47 pm
maybe this one?

It seems that Reagan and Gorbachev arranged a competition to determine whose nation had the bravest troops. The two leaders arrived, at the designated hour, on a plateau in Finland high above the water. Each was accompanied by a battalion of crack troops, smartly uniformed. The leaders shook hands.

Reagan went first. He addressed his battalion of Marines:

"Private Jones! Front and center."

Private Jones saluted and briskly marched to the front of the ranks, facing his commander.

"Private Jones! March to the edge of the cliff."

Private Jones saluted and briskly marched to the very edge of the cliff.

"Private Jones! Jump!"

Jones just stood there, unmoving.

"Private Jones! I said jump!"

The man's knees started to shake, but he was otherwise motionless.

"Private Jones! This is your Commander-in-Chief. I ORDER YOU TO JUMP!!!" Private Jones wailed out: "I can't! I have a wife--and a family!"

The MPs arrived and escorted Jones away for court martial. Reagan backed off in disgrace. It was now Gorbachev's turn.

"Comrade Dmitrivich! Front and center."

Comrade Dmitrivich saluted and briskly marched to the front of the ranks, facing his commander.

"Comrade Dmitrivich! March to the edge of the cliff."

Dmitrivich saluted and briskly marched to the very edge of the cliff.

"Comrade Dmitrivich! Jump!"

Dmitrivich jumped off the cliff.

By some miracle, he is snagged on a branch and he lands on a crag some 50 feet below the top of the cliff. Dmitrivich is badly injured, but still alive and conscious. He is carried away on a stretcher.

As Dmitrivich is carried passed Private Jones, Jones cannot resist asking him:

"Dmitrivich! How could you do it? How could you jump?"

Dmitrivich answered: "I had to! I have a wife--and a family!"
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littlek
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 Sep, 2007 07:47 pm
So, in the first one, the Hungarian couldn't decide which he wanted to ask for God to erase, but since they erased each other, he went for his second choice - a cuppa?

And the second joke - the Bulgarian will never die? Will die too soon?> God doesn't want him around? What?
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