One of my themes, in this Reagan centennial year, has been just how radical Reagan was, or was viewed, when he was president — especially at the beginning. You weren’t supposed to talk about “winning” the Cold War; you were supposed to talk about peaceful coexistence. Those who talked about “winning” were deluded at best, dangerous at worst. And when a U.S. president talked about “winning” — that was recklessly, criminally dangerous.
In today’s Impromptus, I do some quoting from a piece I wrote about Condoleezza Rice, in 1999. Let me quote a little more, here in the Corner:
Of Ronald Reagan, she says, “His great strength was that he had a couple of clear principles that he held to assiduously.” American power was good; Soviet power was bad; the one had to be enhanced, the other diminished. “I’ve said to people in the press sometimes, ‘Your problem with Reagan was that, he was so clear, you couldn’t reinterpret him.’” Rice concedes that when Reagan delivered his electric “totalitarian evil” speech before the British Parliament in 1982, “even I thought, ‘Oh, that’s incredibly undiplomatic, and I hope it doesn’t provoke an incident.’ And you know what? He was absolutely right. And most important, the Soviets knew he was right — that they were going to wind up on the ash heap of history. That’s what we owe him.”