I was reading a brilliant biography of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher by Charles Moore titled "Margaret Thatcher At Her Zenith: In London, Washington, and Moscow" just about the time our president was delivering his rhetorical serving of mush at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial in Hiroshima, Japan. There he was, calling for a "moral revolution" worldwide, which would rid the world of nuclear arms. He said: "We may not be able to eliminate mankind's capacity to do evil...But among those nations like my own that hold nuclear stockpiles, we must have the courage to escape the logic of fear and pursue a world without them." Incidentally, what will President Obama or his successor do with a nuclear-armed Iran, a nuclear-armed Iran that he so recently enabled?
In fact, as our president spoke I was probably reading Moore's chapter on glasnost and Lady Thatcher's dealings with Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev and her friend U.S. President Ronald Reagan. By the way, Thatcher and Reagan really were friends in the truest sense. They shared much in common and liked each other tremendously. I do not think any other pair of a British leader and American leader had such a warm friendship, not even Prime Minister Winston Churchill and President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Americans educated in the schools and universities of this great republic have been taught (or should I say propagandized) for over two decades that President Reagan was an intellectual lightweight and a warmonger. There is a lot of evidence cited. Through President Reagan's eight scary years in the White House, columnists at The New York Times and The Washington Post, along with mainstream media and the professoriate in general, regularly came up with endless evidence of how the president was building up our military and threatening nuclear warfare with the Soviets. It was a frightening time. As President Obama said in Hiroshima, "a moral revolution" was exigent.
Yet, Moore reminds readers that Thatcher was the hawk in dealings with the Soviets, and it was Reagan who tended toward dovishness. She believed that nuclear deterrence saved the world from an East-West military confrontation for 30 years, ever since the end of World War II. To her surprise, Reagan was uneasy with deterrence. He wanted, beginning as early as 1983, to try something new for moral and practical reasons. Thatcher viewed her friend as less hawkish than President Richard Nixon! It alarmed her. Reagan's answer was the Strategic Defense Initiative, then derided as "Star Wars" by the bien-pensants. Moore writes that one of Thatcher's aides reported that Thatcher found "the depth of Reagan's anti-nuclear sentiments...a very tricky issue for her to navigate" because she disagreed with him.
Nonetheless, the two Western leaders pursued negotiations with Gorbachev through the years. There were high points and low points. Yet, in the end, Thatcher and Reagan achieved peace with Russia, and, eventually, an end to the Soviet Union -- once baptized by the warmonger Reagan as "an evil empire." The peaceful conclusion of the Cold War came about not from the repetition of false pieties, but by applying pressure on the Soviet Union, and making it aware that its economy could not produce better weaponry than the West. Eventually, the evil empire peacefully evanesced.
President Obama's windy nonsense at Hiroshima last week was perfectly in keeping with the so-called liberals' legends about American politics. According to them, they have an endless yearning for peace and a ready instrumentality for peace -- in fine, endless negotiation, poetic words and grand visions, nothing less than a moral revolution. As for the liberals' opponents, the conservatives, they have an endless yearning for war, or at least risky bullying tactics. Ronald Reagan was a perfect example of the liberals' vision. Gratefully, their vision was flawed.
Ronald Reagan won the Cold War by driving the Russians into bankruptcy. Margaret Thatcher helped, and, come to think of it, the much-maligned Richard Nixon was pretty helpful, too.