Pat Buchanan

Reagan would not be rattling sabers over Crimea or Ukraine.

When Gen. Jaruzelski's regime smashed Solidarity on Moscow's orders, Reagan refused to put Warsaw in default on its debts. But he did deny Moscow the U.S. technology to build its Yamal pipeline to Europe.

Given Europe's dependency today on Russian gas, a wise decision.

When the Soviets deployed triple-warhead intermediate-range missiles in Eastern Europe, the SS-20, Reagan countered with nuclear-armed Pershing II and cruise missiles in Western Europe.

Only when Gorbachev agreed to take down all the SS-20s, did Reagan agree to bring the Pershings and cruise missiles home.

When Gadhafi blew up a Berlin discotheque full of U.S. soldiers in retaliation for the Sixth Fleet's downing of two Libyan warplanes, Reagan sent F-111s in a reprisal raid that almost killed Gadhafi.

Ronald Reagan believed in the measured response.

He hated nuclear weapons, "those god-awful things," he used to say, and seized on the idea of a missile defense, SDI. And while he was ready to trade down offensive missiles, when Gorbachev at Reykjavik demanded he throw the Strategic Defense Initiative into the pot, Reagan got up and walked out.

Would Reagan go into Syria? Almost surely not.

On the last day of his presidency, he told aides the worst mistake he made was putting U.S. Marines into Lebanon, where 241 Americans perished in the terror bombing of the Beirut barracks.

He had no problem working with flawed regimes, as long as they stood with us in the cause that would decide the fate of mankind.

The East-West struggle was the top priority with Ronald Reagan, which is one reason he vetoed sanctions on South Africa.

Whatever her sins, Pretoria was on our side in the main event.

But while Reagan would not challenge Moscow militarily in Central Europe, he provided weapons to anti-Communist guerrillas and freedom fighters in Afghanistan, Angola and Nicaragua to bleed and break the Soviet Empire at its periphery and make them pay the same price we paid in Vietnam.

Reagan was an anti-Communist to his core, having fought them in the Screen Actors Guild in the 1940s. But he was never anti-Russian, and wanted always to keep the channels open. He ended his presidency as he had hoped, being cheered while strolling through Red Square with Mikhail Gorbachev.

Ronald Reagan never wanted to be a war president, and there were no wars on Reagan's watch. None. The Gipper was no neocon.


Pat Buchanan

Pat Buchanan is a founding editor of The American Conservative magazine, and the author of many books including State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America .
 
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