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Reagan had plenty to do with ending the Cold War

June 25, 2004

The commentary on Ronald Reagan in Monday's Herald-Mail by Daniel Sneider was the standard liberal attempt to discredit the presidency of Ronald Reagan.

Sneider claims to want to clear up a big myth about Reagan and the Cold War but he does so by creating an even bigger myth. Did this guy actually live through the Cold War?

His article is liberal spin at its worst. First Sneider sets up a non-existent "straw man." I didn't hear any one claim during the recent tributes to the former president that "Reagan single-handedly won the Cold War."

Who said, as the editorial title stated, "Reagan won the Cold War all by himself? It's a myth." Sneider obviously resented the attention and acclaim Reagan was receiving but in his annoyance about it, over-reacted and made things up that were never asserted.

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Then, he goes on to suggest that the Soviet Union collapsed due to "the doctrine of containment crafted at the dawn of the Cold War by diplomat George Kennan." Oh, really? Now let's see. How well did that doctrine of containment work? Not too well. In fact, it was a disaster. Under the spell of that doctrine, Soviet communism expanded into Southeast Asia, Africa, Cuba and Central America, and worked to destabilize many other countries around the world while continuing its stranglehold on Eastern Europe. The doctrine was a failure.

Apparently, Sneider forgot about the Reagan Doctrine. The left discredited it at the time. Now, they apparently want to ignore it, lest its success remind us of failed liberal foreign policy.

The Reagan Doctrine acknowledged the failures of containment and sought to turn the tide. The goal was not just to hold the line on communism, but roll it back.

Does anyone remember the near hysteria in the liberal media over Reagan's "evil empire" remarks?

Or the violent opposition in the streets of Europe and the apoplexy in the liberal press in America when we put short-range cruise missiles in place in Europe, directed at the Soviet Union?

Or how nuts the left went when Reagan would not yield on his Strategic Defense Initiative - which the left derided as "Star Wars" - when he met with Gorbachev at Helsinki? Reagan stuck it out despite big-time opposition and ridicule by his opponents.

Sneider didn't think these events were worth mentioning in his article. Not really important. I guess.

And pray tell, Mr. Sneider, how many other presidents went to Berlin and said, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" Now be honest, Mr. Sneider, did you cheer when Mr. Reagan said that? Did you really think it was going to happen so soon?

All that stuff in your column about the malaise and discontent of Soviet citizens during the 1980s is nice to know, but it had little to do with Soviet foreign policy. It took a lot more than disgruntled Soviets to win the Cold War.

There were many heroes in winning the Cold War. A Pope. A Polish trade union. A wonderful ally in Margaret Thatcher. So everyone will agree that Reagan didn't win the Cold War all by himself. But don't perpetuate a worse myth, Mr. Sneider - that Reagan didn't have that much to do with it and "containment" was going to win the Cold War anyway.

The outpouring of love and affection for the former president following his passing, even from the liberal media that despised him so while he was president, makes it evident that Ronald Reagan deserves more credit for being a truly great president than people like Sneider are willing to admit. Maybe he just needs to be reminded of what actually happened during the Cold War.

George Michael is a Big Pool resident who occasionally writes for The Herald-Mail.

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