Reagan understood that the "evil empire" of the 20th century could not be accommodated but had to be defeated. He was right, and his detractors were famously wrong.
While the Bush administration's provision of humanitarian aid to Iran is the right and moral thing to do - and might, in fact, further encourage young reformers in the country - the old and hard-line religious leadership still dominates. Iranian radio, controlled by the mullahs, continues to spew anti-American venom.
What might hasten "regime change" in Iran and elsewhere in the region is a proposal contained in a "manual for victory" written by Richard Perle, a Defense Department strategist and an architect in the war on terrorism, and David Frum, a former Bush speechwriter. Part of a new book, "An End to Evil: Strategies for Victory in the War on Terror," the document calls for regime change in Syria and Iran and a Cuba-style blockade of North Korea backed by planning for a preemptive strike on its nuclear sites. The manifesto also calls for Saudi Arabia and France to be treated not as allies but as rivals and possibly enemies.
The United States has two options. It can fail to follow through on its initial blow in Iraq, thus empowering and encouraging America's enemies everywhere, or it can deal a knockout blow to terrorism by finishing the job.
As we saw with the Soviet Union, resolve is often enough to achieve American objectives. As long as American diplomats think humanitarian aid and political niceties by people dressed in Western business clothes will lessen the threat against us, we will continue to be threatened.
It is to be hoped the administration knows these things. "Peace Through Strength" worked as more than a slogan against the Soviet Union. It will work again with members of the "axis of evil."
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
TOWNHALL DAILY: Be the first to read Cal Thomas' column. Sign up today and receive Townhall.com daily lineup delivered each morning to your inbox.