Carl Scharberg: Uofficielle synsponkter: Ronald Reagan

Reagan, Ronald Wilson

F. 1911 D.2004
Amerikansk skuespiller, talsmand for General Electric og republikansk politiker. USAs præsident under den kolde krig i perioden 1980-1988.
Reagan's Passing
By: Juan Cole.
Reagan had an ability to project a kindly image, and was well liked personally by virtually everyone who knew him, apparently. But it always struck me that he was a mean man. I remember learning, in the late 1960s, of the impact Michael Harrington's The Other America had had on Johnson's War on Poverty. Harrington demonstrated that in the early 1960s there was still hunger in places like Appalachia, deriving from poverty. It was hard for middle class Americans to believe, and Lyndon Johnson, who represented many poor people himself, was galvanized to take action. Reagan's mania to abolish social security was of a piece with this kind of sentiment. In the early 20th century, the old were the poorest sector of the American population. The horrors of old age -- increasing sickness, loss of faculties, marginalization and ultimately death -- were in that era accompanied by fear of severe poverty. Social security turned that around. The elderly are no longer generally poverty-stricken. The government can do something significant to improve people's lives. Reagan, philosophically speaking, hated the idea of state-directed redistribution of societal wealth. (His practical policies often resulted in such redistribution de facto, usually that of tossing money to the already wealthy). So he wanted to abolish social security and throw us all back into poverty in old age.
Reagan hated any social arrangement that empowered the poor and the weak. He was a hired gun for big corporations in the late 1950s, when he went around arguing against unionization. Among his achievements in office was to break the air traffic controllers' union. It was not important in and of itself, but it was a symbol of his determination that the powerless would not be allowed to organize to get a better deal. He ruined a lot of lives.
Reagan hated environmentalism. His administration was not so mendacious as to deny the problems of increased ultraviolet radiation (from a depleted ozone layer) and global warming. His government suggested people wear sunglasses and hats in response. At one point Reagan suggested that trees cause pollution. He was not completely wrong (natural processes can cause pollution), but his purpose in making the statement seems to have been that we should therefore just accept lung cancer from bad city air, which was caused by automobiles and industry, not by trees.
Borte med blæsten parodi med Ronald Reagan og Margaret Thatcher, 1981Reagan's aggression led him to shape our world in most unfortunate ways. Although it would be an exaggeration to say that Ronald Reagan created al-Qaeda, it would not be a vast exaggeration. The Carter administration began the policy of supporting the radical Muslim holy warriors in Afghanistan, who were waging an insurgency against the Soviets after their invasion of that country. But Carter only threw a few tens of millions of dollars at them. By the mid-1980s, Reagan was giving the holy warriors half a billion dollars a year. His officials strong-armed the Saudis into matching the US contribution, so that Saudi Intelligence chief Faisal al-Turki turned to Osama Bin Laden to funnel the money to the Afghans. This sort of thing was certainly done in coordination with the Reagan administration. Even the Pakistanis thought that Reagan was a wild man, and balked at giving the holy warriors ever more powerful weapons. Reagan sent Orrin Hatch to Beijing to try to talk the Chinese into pressuring the Pakistanis to allow the holy warriors to receive stingers and other sophisticated ordnance. The Pakistanis ultimately relented, even though they knew there was a severe danger that the holy warriors would eventually morph into a security threat in their own right.
Reagan's officials so hated the Sandinista populists in Nicaragua that they shredded the constitution. Congress cut off money for the right-wing death squads fighting the Sandinistas. Reagan's people therefore needed funds to continue to run the right-wing insurgency. They came up with a complicated plan of stealing Pentagon equipment, shipping it to Khomeini in Iran, illegally taking payment from Iran for the weaponry, and then giving the money to the right-wing guerrillas in Central America. At the same time, they pressured Khomeini to get US hostages in Lebanon, taken by radical Shiites there, released. It was a criminal cartel inside the US government, and Reagan allowed it, either through collusion or inattention. It is not a shining legacy, to have helped Khomeini and then used the money he gave them to support highly unsavory forces in Central America. (Some of those forces were involved, after all, in killing left-wing nuns).
Did Reagan's Military Build-Up Really Lead to Victory in the Cold War?
By: Lawrence S. Wittner
Ronald Reagan poster.… Professor Kiron Skinner, co-editor of Reagan: A Life in Letters, repeats the familiar refrain of Republican triumphalists that Ronald Reagan's aggressive rhetoric and military policies improved Soviet-American relations and led to the end of the Cold War.
This fairy tale may warm the hearts of true believers in the efficacy of military buildups and wars, but it has little resemblance to reality.
In fact, Soviet-American relations went into a deep freeze until early 1985. Horrified by the Reagan administration's nuclear buildup and loose talk of nuclear war, the Soviet government ratcheted up its own military might. The new Soviet party leader, Yuri Andropov, concluded that "peace cannot be obtained from the imperialists by begging for it. It can be upheld only by relying on the invincible might of the Soviet armed forces." Responding to U.S. missile deployment in Western Europe in December 1983, the Kremlin broke off arms control negotiations, resumed the SS-20 nuclear missile deployment that it had previously halted, placed SS-23 nuclear missiles in East Germany and Czechoslovakia, and moved Soviet nuclear submarines closer to the coasts of the United States. In late 1984, the Kremlin incorporated a 45 percent increase in military spending into its next five-year plan.
Reagan's "evil empire" speech of March 1983 was widely noted in the Soviet Union , recalled Vladimir Slipchenko, then a member of the Soviet General Staff. "The military, the armed forces … used this," he added, "as a reason to begin a very intense preparation inside the military for a state of war." Furthermore, "we started to run huge strategic exercises. … These were the first military exercises in which we really tested our mobilization. We didn't just exercise the ground forces, but also the strategic arms." Therefore, "for the military, the period when we were called the evil empire was actually very good and useful, because we achieved a very high military readiness. … We also rehearsed the situation when a non-nuclear war might turn into a nuclear war."
Soviet leaders, terrified that the Reagan administration was preparing a nuclear first strike against their country, nearly launched a nuclear war. In November 1983, during NATO's Able Archer military exercises, the jittery Soviet government became convinced that, under cover of the exercises, a U.S. nuclear attack upon the Soviet Union was underway. Consequently, Soviet nuclear forces were alerted, command staffs reviewed their strike missions, and nuclear weapons were readied for action. "The world did not quite reach the edge of the nuclear abyss," recalled Oleg Gordievsky, a U.S. intelligence agent within the KGB. "But during Able Archer 83 it had … come frighteningly close."
Thus, as Anatoly Dobrynin, the longtime Soviet ambassador to the United States, recalled: "The impact of Reagan's hard-line policy … was exactly the opposite of the one intended by Washington. It strengthened those in the Politburo, the Central Committee, and the security apparatus who had been pressing for a mirror-image of Reagan's own policy."
In the period up to early 1985, it was Reagan who began a policy reversal. Reagan entered the White House as a fanatic foe of the Soviet Union and as a staunch opponent of every nuclear arms control and disarmament agreement negotiated by his Democratic and Republican predecessors. Not surprisingly, he and his entourage initially called for a massive nuclear buildup, and talked glibly of waging nuclear war. But, battered by antinuclear protests, frustrated by Congress, badgered by uneasy allies, and confronted by an obdurate Soviet leadership, Reagan softened his hard line. His administration opened arms control negotiations, championed a "zero option" for Euromissiles, compromised on strategic nuclear weapons, and observed the limits of the unratified SALT II treaty (which, previously, Reagan had condemned as "appeasement"). Starting in April 1982, Reagan began declaring publicly that "a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought." He added: "To those who protest ag ainst nuclear war, I can only say: `I'm with you!'"
As these last remarks indicate, Reagan was seriously rattled by popular agitation against the nuclear arms race. In October 1983, in the context of the massive protests against Euromissile deployment, he told his startled secretary of state: "If things get hotter and hotter and arms control remains an issue, maybe I should go see Andropov and propose eliminating all nuclear weapons." On January 16, 1984, he followed up on this idea. Over the objections of other administration officials, he delivered a remarkable public address, calling for peace with the Soviet Union and a nuclear-free world.
In short, in the period leading up to March 1985, Reagan and Soviet officials confronted each other eyeball-to-eyeball, and it was Reagan who repeatedly blinked.
Only in March 1985, with the advent of Mikhail Gorbachev, did Reagan find a Soviet leader ready to implement a program of peace and disarmament. Gorbachev, of course, differed from his immediate predecessors in that he came from the ranks of Soviet reformers, who favored peace and democratization. What is not as well known is that Gorbachev's ideas were profoundly influenced by the world nuclear disarmament movement. As he declared: "The new thinking took into account and absorbed the conclusions and demands of ... the public and the scientific community, of the movements of physicians, scientists, and ecologists, and of various antiwar organizations." Thus, Gorbachev and his circle were ready to reject the traditional "peace through strength" basis of Soviet (and American) foreign policy. In subsequent years, he and Reagan pushed past the obstacles erected by the hawks in both their countries to halt the nuclear arms race and end the Cold War.
If the contrasting version of these events -- the triumphalist version trumpeted by Professor Skinner -- is to hold water, surely there should be some evidence for it in Soviet sources. After all, the foundation of the triumphalist case is the idea that the Soviet Union surrendered when confronted with U.S. military "strength." But despite the numerous Soviet documents that have been declassified, the many statements that have been made by former Soviet officials, and the memoirs that have been written by former Soviet leaders, no evidence for the triumphalist contention has emerged.
Furthermore, former Soviet officials have repeatedly rejected it. Asked if a U.S. government hard line had forced the Soviet government to become more conciliatory, Aleksandr Yakovlev, one of Gorbachev's top foreign policy advisors, replied: "It played no role. None. I can tell you with the fullest responsibility." Arbatov, also a key Gorbachev foreign policy advisor, called the idea that a U.S. military buildup helped alter Soviet policy "absolute nonsense." Soviet changes, he said, "not only ripened inside the country but originated within it." Dobrynin did give the U.S. government some credit, but not for the efficacy of its military strength. "If Reagan "had not abandoned his hostile stance toward the Soviet Union ," recalled the Soviet diplomat, "Gorbachev would not have been able to launch his reforms and his `new thinking,'" but "would have been forced to continue the conservative foreign and domestic policies of his predecessors." When Gorbachev was asked about the triumphalist claim, made during the 1992 presidential campaign of George H.W. Bush, he replied simply: "I suppose these are necessary things in a campaign. But if this idea is serious, then it is a very big delusion."
Should we believe in illusions? For decades, U.S. government officials, historians, and the pundits told us that the Kennedy administration's military mobilization during the Cuban missile crisis led to its peaceful resolution. Then, suddenly, key U.S. officials revealed that the crisis had been overcome thanks to U.S. concessions. Now the hawks are again busy, pumping us up with triumphalist fantasies about the end of the Cold War. Should we not feel some skepticism about this process, particularly when -- as in the case of Professor Skinner -- it is openly employed to justify current U.S. foreign policy?

R.I.S.E. - Radio Internet Story Exchange
Ronald Reagan: A War Criminal's Legacy
Kellia Ramares Interviews Prof. Francis A. Boyle
Yesterday's Reaganites = Today's neocons:
Interview with Francis A. Boyle, Professor of International Law and human rights lawyer on Reaganite/Neocon war crimes & police state tactics.
This is a long interview with Prof. Francis A. Boyle of the University of Illinois School of Law at Urbana-Champaign. Boyle deconstructs the myth of Reagan as the man who brought down the Soviet Union.
Boyle also details Reagan's war crimes, and how many of yesterday's Reaganites are today's neocons, who are committing war crimes abroad and building a police state at home. Boyle analyzes the Reaganite/Neocon mind from a unique perspective: a progressive who was educated to be a neocon. He knows what makes them tick.

En af de film Reagan medvirkede i er soldaterfilmen, This Is the Army, fra 1943.
Se også: Forhenværende amerikanske præsidenter.


The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library
Ritzaus Bureau: Reagan gav Saddam medvind. I: Information, 06/11/2004.
Weisbrot, Mark: Reagans dystre arv. I: Information, 06/09/2004.
Wittner, Lawrence S.: The Surprising Effect of the Nuclear Freeze Movement on the Administration of Ronald Reagan.
Wittner, Lawrence S.: What Activists Can Learn from the Nuclear Freeze Movement.

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