If Americans did not see the Cold War as he did, a battle between good and evil, Reagan knew that they would indefinitely sacrifice neither the wealth of the nation nor the blood of its sons to sustain it.
That is in the character of Americans.
Jimmy Carter had sought to remove that moral dimension by declaring, "We have gotten over our inordinate fear of communism."
But with his "evil empire" speech, Reagan re-moralized the Cold War in what Natan Sharansky called "a moment of moral clarity."
Here we come to the heart of the matter as to why Americans want to stay out of any Ukrainian conflict. Americans not only see no vital U.S. interest, but also no moral dimension to this quarrel.
If, after all, it was a triumph of self-determination for Ukraine to secede from the Russian Federation, do not Russians in Crimea and Donetsk have the same right -- to secede from Kiev and go home to Russia?
If Georgians had a right to break free of the Russian Federation, do not Abkhazians and South Ossetians have a right to break free of Georgia?
Turnabout is fair play is an old American saying.
Op-ed writers bewail Vladimir Putin's threat to the "rules-based" world we have created. But under what rule did we bomb Serbia for 78 days to tear away Kosovo, the cradle province of the Serb people?
Perhaps some history is in order.
Compare how Putin brought about the secession and annexation of Crimea, without bloodshed but with popular approval, with how Sam Houston and friends brought about the secession of Texas from Mexico, and its annexation by the United States in 1845.
When the Mexicans tried to retrieve a disputed piece of their lost Texas territory, James K. Polk accused them of shedding American blood on American soil, had Congress declare war, sent Gen. Winfield Scott and a U.S. army to Mexico City, and annexed the entire northern half of Mexico, which is now the American Southwest and California.
Compared to the Jacksonian, James Polk, Vladimir Putin is Pierre Trudeau.
Even in Eastern Ukraine, it is hard to see a moral issue. For the Kiev regime is loudly denouncing as "terrorists" the Russians who are taking over city centers by using the exact same tactics the Maidan Square demonstrators used to seize Kiev.