Reagan administration brought down the Berlin Wall....

Reply Wed 12 Sep, 2007 04:52 pm
georgeob1 wrote:
There is a bit of revisionist history afoot here.

I think the revisionism is primarily on the part of those who assert things like:

Jim wrote:
Reagan/Thatcher freed Eastern Europe and dismantled the Soviet Union.

Baldimo wrote:
Russia fell and Regan was the reason.

Timberlandko wrote:
Had Reagan NOT been as forceful and adamant as he was, the Soviet Union likely would have plodded on for a few decades, possibly even devolving into something rather like contemporary North Korea.

All of the above statements manage to completely ignore

1) the role that Gorbachev (and the fellow reform communists he helped in power in Eastern Europe) played in setting off the events. Events that, considering the far-progressed rot within the system they were facing (most of which predated those few preceding Reagan years), they would have surely set off had someone else been US President as well.

2) the role that East European and Russian dissidents played over many years in eroding and undermining the system from within, and that the courageous protestors of 1988-1989 subsequently played on the streets to force through a revolution rather than some controlled transition.
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Reply Wed 12 Sep, 2007 05:02 pm
Why was Gorbachev appointed? Well, Chernenko died, he was next in the line. At that time he was certainly no visionary leader with a revolutionary agenda. He was an aparatchik who rose through the ranks. His later policies surprised the Soviet leadership more than anyone else (well, Czechoslovak nomenklatura was pretty pissed about them, too)

I found this article interesting. It is from 1986. Far from objective, rather a piece of propaganda itself, but perhaps it gives a taste of how Gorbachev was seen in the U.S. at least initially :


Two important aspects of the Soviet system under General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev surfaced during the recent 27th Congress of the Soviet Communist Party: 1) the General Secretary has successfully planted his own appointees throughout the Soviet Party and government bureaucracy; and 2) the system remains fiercely resistant to change basic documents adopted by the Congress (the new Party Program, the new Party Statutes, and the economic plans for the years 1986-1990 and up to the year 2000) all indicate no fundamental changes in those policies that have brought economic stagnation, demoralization, and repression at home and the export of the brutal Soviet social system abroad need for speeding economic growth, he showed no interest in reforming the Soviet centrally planned economy.
...rolling back the Soviet Empire is an appropriate goal; the U.S. thus must support anticommunist freedom fighters in Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, and Nicaragua; and the U.S. must affirm its commitment to human rights for all, including inhabitants of the Soviet bloc.
But several days before the Congress, when asked by a French communist journalist about the "residue" of Stalinism in the Soviet Union Gorbachev responded: "Stalinism is a concept invented by the enemies of communism. in order to smear the Soviet Union." This is an explicit and unambiguous reaffirmation of a continuity between Stalin's political system and Gorbachev's. Denouncing the Stalinist heritage, Gorbachev apparently realizes (as Khrushchev did not is tantamount to denouncing the political system over which he presides.

Another clear signal is that, in preparation for the Congress Gorbachev appointed Aleksandr Aksyonov to head the Soviet Committee for Radio and Television. Aksyonov is the KGB officer who organized the suppression of the Solidarity free trade union movement when he was the Soviet Ambassador to Poland from 1983 to 1985 2 Vstrecha v TsK KPSS Pravda, March 15, 1986 3. Pravda; February 8, 1986 3- KGB in the Forefront The new Party Program lauds the KGB and the Armed Forces together as the main guarantors of the regime's stability the Congress, Gorbachev praised the KGB. Viktor Chebrikov, the KGB boss whom Gorbachev promoted to the Politburo, vowed in his Congress speech to eradicate the human rights movement in the Soviet Union.

Further, Gorbachev vowed to prevent ''opening up the Soviet Union to Western ideas and to prevent visitors from the West from I'abysing the hospitality of the Soviets by spreading noncommunist ideas In hi8 speech at Reinforcement of Personal Power The Party Congress demonstrated Gorbachev's great success at staffing the Party and government machinery with his own people loyalists now occupy the pinnacles of6power in the Politburo and Secretariat of the Central Committee. New faces, of course, do not necessarily mean new ideas and policies.
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Reply Wed 12 Sep, 2007 05:49 pm
And here's Reagan timeline, for good measure (source: NPR)

Nov. 13, 1979
Reagan announces his candidacy for president. After winning the party's nomination, he chooses George Bush as his running mate. The platform calls for "a new consensus with all those across the land who share a community of values embodied in these words: family, work, neighborhood, peace, and freedom."

Nov. 4, 1980
Reagan is elected president in a landslide victory over incumbent Jimmy Carter.
Reagans wave at inaugural parade

Ronald and Nancy Reagan wave at inaugural parade in 1981.
Photo: Reagan Presidential Library

Jan. 20, 1981
Reagan is sworn in as the 40th president of the United States. On the same day, Iran releases the 52 remaining hostages who had been held at the U.S. embassy in Tehran for 444 days.

March 30, 1981
Reagan is shot in the chest upon leaving a Washington hotel but makes a full recovery after surgery. Three other people, including Reagan press secretary James Brady, are wounded in the assassination attempt. John Hinckley Jr. is charged but found not guilty by reason of insanity.

April 28, 1981
Reagan appears before Congress for the first time since the assassination attempt. He receives a hero's welcome and overwhelming support for his economic package, which includes cuts in social programs and taxes, and increases in defense spending.

July 29, 1981
Congress passes Reagan's tax bill. Instead of a 30% tax cut over three years, Reagan accepts 25%.

Aug. 3, 1981
Air traffic controllers go on strike. Reagan gives them 48 hours to get back to work, and fires those who refuse.
audio Listen to Reagan's threat to fire the controllers.

September 1981
Reagan appoints Sandra Day O'Connor as the first female justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Oct. 18, 1981
Reagan concedes that the United States is in "a slight recession" but predicts recovery by the spring.

Nov. 10, 1981
Budget Director David Stockman charges that the 5% economic growth rate that the administration had assumed was a "rosy scenario," and pans "supply side" economics as a way to benefit the rich.

June 8, 1982
In a speech to the British House of Commons, Reagan predicts "the march of freedom and democracy...will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash heap of history ..."
audio Listen to an excerpt of Reagan's remarks on the Soviet Union.

Fall 1982
The nation sinks into its worst recession since the Great Depression. Reagan fears budget deficits as high as $200 billion. On Nov. 1, more than 9 million Americans are officially unemployed.
Reagan meets with Congress

Reagan during a 1983 meeting with members of Congress.
Photo: Reagan Presidential Library

Jan. 31, 1983
Reagan submits his fiscal 1984 budget to Congress. The recession, tax cuts and increased defense outlays are blamed for a projected $189 billion budget gap. Reagan vows to "stay the course," rejecting advice to raise taxes or cut defense.

March 8, 1983
In a speech to the National Association of Evangelicals, Reagan warns against ignoring "the aggressive impulses of an evil empire," the U.S.S.R.
audio Listen to a highlight of Reagan's comments on the "evil empire".

March 23, 1983
Reagan unveils his proposal for a Strategic Defense Initiative, later dubbed "Star Wars," in a national speech: "I call upon the scientific community in our country, those who gave us nuclear weapons, to turn their great talents now to the cause of mankind and world peace, to give us the means of rendering these nuclear weapons impotent and obsolete."
audio Listen to a key portion of Reagan's SDI speech.

Sept. 1, 1983
A Soviet fighter downs Korean Air Lines flight (KAL 007), killing all 269 people aboard, including 61 Americans. Reagan denounces it as a "crime against humanity."

Oct. 23, 1983
A suicide truck bomber crashes into the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 241 members of the peacekeeping force.

Oct. 25, 1983
U.S. troops invade Grenada to oust Marxists who had overthrown the government, and to protect U.S. medical students on the Caribbean island.

Jan. 16, 1984
Reagan calls for a return to arms talks with the U.S.S.R.

May 9, 1984
In a televised speech, Reagan urges helping the Contra "freedom fighters" in Nicaragua.

June 6, 1984
Reagan gives an emotional speech in Normandy, France, commemorating the 40th anniversary of D-Day.

July 19, 1984
Walter Mondale accepts the Democratic presidential nomination and promises to raise taxes.

Aug. 11, 1984
While checking a microphone prior to a radio broadcast, Reagan jokes: "...I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes."
audio Listen to Reagan's comment on Russia.

Oct. 7, 1984
In a debate with Mondale, Reagan's poor performance raises the "age issue."

Oct. 10, 1984
Congress outlaws funding for military aid to the Nicaragua Contras.

Oct. 21, 1984
In his second debate with Mondale, Reagan quips: "I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience."

Nov. 4, 1984
Reagan defeats Mondale in landslide. Reagan carries 49 states -- 525 electoral votes to Mondale's 10, and 59% of the popular vote.

Jan. 20, 1985
Reagan, 73, begins a second term, making him the oldest president ever to be sworn in.
audio Listen to Reagan deliver his second inaugural address.

June 1985
TWA Flight 847 from Athens is hijacked by terrorists. The pilot is forced to fly to Beirut, where hijackers beat and kill a Navy diver. The plane is flown to Algiers, then back to Beirut again. Most passengers are released; 39 are held captive in Lebanon. Reagan vows that the U.S. will never give in to terrorists' demands. The remaining hostages are freed after 17 days.

July 13, 1985
Reagan undergoes surgery for colon cancer and is released from the hospital a week later.

Nov. 19, 1985
Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev hold a "fireside" summit in Geneva. The leaders disagree on the Strategic Defense Initiative but pledge to meet again and seek a 50% cut in nuclear arms.

Jan. 17, 1986
Reagan undergoes surgery for polyps on his colon.

Jan. 28, 1986
The U.S. space shuttle Challenger explodes shortly after liftoff, killing all on board -- six astronauts and teacher Christa McAuliffe, the first civilian to go into space.

April 14, 1986
Reagan orders air strikes against Libya in retaliation for the bombing of a West Berlin disco in which two U.S. servicemen were killed and more than 200 people were injured.

Oct. 11, 1986
A Reagan-Gorbachev arms summit in Reykjavik, Iceland, ends without agreement after a rift over SDI.

Nov. 13, 1986
Reagan admits sending some defensive weapons and spare parts to Iran but denies it was part of an arms-for-hostages deal.
audio Listen to Reagan's denial of a deal.

Nov. 25, 1986
National Security Adviser John Poindexter resigns and national security aide Col. Oliver North is fired in the widening Iran-Contra affair. In a press conference, Attorney General Edwin Meese announces that $10-$30 million of profits from the sale of U.S. arms to Iran had been diverted to the Nicaraguan Contras.

Feb. 26, 1987
The Tower Commission report on Iran-Contra concludes that Reagan's passive management style allowed his staff to mislead him about the trade of arms to Iran for hostages held in Lebanon and to pursue a secret war against the Nicaraguan government.

Feb. 27, 1987
Reagan yields to pressure from his advisers (including wife Nancy) to fire Chief of Staff Donald Regan.

March 4, 1987
Reagan acknowledges a "mistake" in the Iran-Contra affair.
audio Listen to Reagan's remarks on Iran-Contra.

June 12, 1987
In a speech at Berlin's Brandenberg Gate, Reagan demands Gorbachev "tear down this wall."
audio Listen to the highlight of Reagan's Berlin Wall speech.
Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan sign INF treaty

Mikhail Gorbachev, Ronald Reagan sign a nuclear arms treaty at the White House in 1987.
Photo: Reagan Presidential Library

December 1987
In a Washington summit, Reagan and Gorbachev sign Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty to eliminate 4% of the superpowers' nuclear arsenals. It is the first U.S.-Soviet treaty to provide for destruction of nuclear weapons and to provide for on-site monitoring of the destruction.

March 16, 1988
Oliver North, John Poindexter, and two others are indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiring to defraud the U.S. government by secretly providing funds and supplies to the Contras.

April 14, 1988
The Soviet Union agrees to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.

May 5, 1988
In his memoir For the Record, Donald Regan reveals that Nancy Reagan relied on an astrologer to set the dates for her husband's public appearances.

May 27, 1988
The Senate ratifies the INF treaty, the first arms-control agreement since 1972's Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT I) to receive Senate approval.

Nov. 8, 1988
Vice President George Bush defeats Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis to become the 41st president of the United States.

Jan. 11, 1989
Reagan gives his farewell address to the nation, in which he says the so-called Reagan revolution "made a difference."
audio Hear Reagan's farewell address.

Jan. 20, 1989
George Bush is inaugurated. Reagan leaves the White House with the highest approval rating of any president since FDR. Reagan retires to California, travels, meets with various world leaders, and gives public speeches in support of charitable organizations, Republican candidates and causes.

September 1989
Reagan undergoes surgery to remove fluid on his brain attributed to an incident a few months earlier in which he was knocked off a horse in Mexico.

November 1989
The Berlin Wall comes down, allowing free movement between East and West Germany.

February 1990
Reagan gives videotaped testimony in the Iran-Contra trial of former aide John Poindexter.

December 1991
The Soviet Union is formally dissolved.

Nov. 5, 1994
Reagan discloses in a letter that he has Alzheimer's disease. "I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life," he writes. "I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead." Read Reagan's letter.

January 2001
Reagan undergoes surgery for broken hip he suffers in a fall at his Bel Air, Calif., home.

Aug. 8, 2001
Maureen Reagan, Reagan's oldest daughter, dies at 60 after a long struggle with cancer.

June 5, 2004
Ronald Reagan dies in California at the age of 93.

Sources: Reagan Presidential Library, PBS's The American Experience, PBS Online
0 Replies
Reply Wed 12 Sep, 2007 05:50 pm
Where to begin? First nimh ---

I don't espouse the statements you cited, except perhaps for that of the late Timberlandko. I think I was pretty clear about that in my post.
Timberlandko wrote:

Had Reagan NOT been as forceful and adamant as he was, the Soviet Union likely would have plodded on for a few decades, possibly even devolving into something rather like contemporary North Korea.

I'm not so sure about the North Korea bit - the USSR had likely passed the point of a return even to Stalinism by 1982.

It would be interesting for me to hear your theory about what brought about the rather sudden collapse of the Soviet Empire after such a long period of domination in its territory.

I fully agree that the role of dissenters both in the USSR and the Eastern European satellite countries played an important role in the demise of the empire. However, there had been dissenters before, under Gomulka in Poland, Nagy in Hungary and Dubcheck in then Czechoslovakia. All attempted to preserve the mantle of Leninism - to avoid a theological confrontation with the Soviets and perhaps because the illusions of socialism were not yet obvious to all -, but all sought to remove or reduce the political and economic restrictions imposed by the system and introduce some nationalist distinctions within their borders. All failed because a then self-confident Soviet Union did not hesitate to use the political and military force at its disposal to preserve the established order. By the 1980s the situation was different - both within the Soviet Union and in the world around it. The legitimacy of its political promise had suffered a serious collapse, and the belief of its own leadership in its ability to bully the West was sorely weakened.

Reagan's policies did not do all of that - there were many other factors as well. However they were indeed an important and very significant component.

It is evidently fashionable now to paint the illusion that the United States was tilting windmills throughout the Cold War and that the final evolution of the Soviet system was a necessary outcome, fully forseen by wiser and more reasonable heads in Canada and Europe. The collapse of the Soviet Empire in the late 1990s was neither inevitable nor forseen by self-appointed intellectuals in Europe, Canada or even the U.S. Indeed as late as 1970 there were still advocates of Soviet socialism, as the inevitable outcome of the political evolution of the West, to be found among them.
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Reply Wed 12 Sep, 2007 06:22 pm

It is evidently fashionable now to paint the illusion that the United States was tilting windmills throughout the Cold War and that the final evolution of the Soviet system was a necessary outcome, fully forseen by wiser and more reasonable heads in Canada and Europe.

i haven't encountered that view often, in fact i can't recall anybody i know who would think that. and i haven't seen any of it on this thread. so far everybody seems to be in agreement on reagan's important contribution to the process of the collapse of communism in eastern europe.
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Reply Wed 12 Sep, 2007 06:27 pm
dagmaraka wrote:
It is evidently fashionable now to paint the illusion that the United States was tilting windmills throughout the Cold War and that the final evolution of the Soviet system was a necessary outcome, fully forseen by wiser and more reasonable heads in Canada and Europe.

i haven't encountered that view often, in fact i can't recall anybody i know who would think that. and i haven't seen any of it on this thread.

Echo that. A straw man of a particular wild variety there.

Apparently, if one says that it's ludicrous to claim that Reagan single-handedly liberated Eastern Europe, one must be saying that he played no role at all. Or something. Rolling Eyes

So much for what was actually said in the lengthy posts of Dag and reposts of mine..
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Reply Wed 12 Sep, 2007 06:48 pm
Or mine for that matter. However, I believe they were more accurate than those to which you refer.
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Reply Wed 12 Sep, 2007 07:15 pm
more accurate? you are saying the same thing we are saying Laughing
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Reply Wed 12 Sep, 2007 07:38 pm
george is uncomfortable because I catapulted my dead mother into this discussion.
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Reply Wed 12 Sep, 2007 08:04 pm
Well, it ain't that silly that an American president could wave the old sword around and knock things over in a far-away country. They have a long habit of it.

But it seems to me that there were a lot of people pulling with ropes on a big domino, and when they all started to pull in the same direction (which is to say, out of the cold war), it fell over and knocked a few other dominos down, too. It's amazing what can happen when the heavies in the world actually work together on something.

Which isn't something I see happening in the immediate future.
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Reply Wed 12 Sep, 2007 10:31 pm
My recollection of things is that Andropov the head of the KGB was mindful of the progress the western states were making and wanted to refashion the Soviet Union and so he set up Gorbachev as the next leader. Gorby's Perestroika was his Achilles Heel as the free press was destabilizing the rigid Soviet system by providing information to its populace which had always prior to Perestroika been spoon fed Pravda News.
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Reply Thu 13 Sep, 2007 12:52 pm
george wrote :

I believe they were more accurate than those to which you refer.

MORE ACCURATE , is that similar to : MORE pregnant , more UNTRUTHFUL , more whatever Laughing Question
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