Tuesday, June 08, 2004

President Reagan

David Aaronovitch writes about Ronald Reagan in today’s Guardian (www.guardian.co.uk) in a way that sums up my thoughts and feelings about the man. Aaronovich reminds us of the Reagan wars against Communism that led to civil war, chaos and murder in Central America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Reagan supported the murderous Khmer Rouge because they had been driven from power by the Vietnamese, America’s long time enemy. Aaronovitch concludes:

The Reagan years were the years, perhaps, in which the cold war was won, and that is obviously good. He wasn't the missile-mad cowboy of cartoons, and those of us who thought otherwise were wrong. But the Reagan presidency of 1981-89 was also when the dragon's teeth of the present were sown. Reagan's legacy to the world may be the fallen wall, but it is also the third-world landmine.

Aaronovitch’s use of the landmine metaphor is especially telling, since all of these wars, notes, used landmines extensively. The land mines continue to kill and maim individuals just as the chaos and instability caused by those wars continue to injure entire populations. Remembering Ronald Reagan gives us an opportunity to understand the roots for many contemporary problems.

Reagan’s impact will be long remembered and are a testament to his skills as a communicator. Ronald Reagan proved that you didn’t have to know facts as long as you believeD. And Ronald Reagan believed, he was the sunny optimist who challenged the gloom and defeat of th 60's and 70's. Americans were willing to overlook his errors and gaffes, even to the point of ignoring the illegal shenanigans of Iran-Contra. He was most fortunate in that. Reagan was also fortunate in timing. His defense build-up pushed a teetering The Soviet Union’s economy was teetering toward collapse. Change was inevitable in the Soviet system, more a matter of time and manner, but Reagan’s challenge forced the issue. So, regardless of what he knew or did not know, he gets credit for knocking out the USSR. But as Aaronovitch notes, Reagan left some festering problems as well.