Reagan Revisionism And Harwood Hackery

HarwoodJohn Harwood of the New York Times told us the following yesterday (in a column about how Repugs have realized, at long last, that they can’t merely chant the name of The Sainted Ronnie R any more and expect to reestablish themselves as a national party)…

It has been 20 years since Mr. Reagan’s plea to “tear down that wall” was answered by the fall of Communism.

As Will Bunch wrote in “Tear Down This Myth,” pages 25-26…

…did Ronald Reagan cause the wall to come down, the Soviet Union itself to crumble, and the Cold War to end?…the growing consensus among historians is that Reagan’s contributions, while positive, weren’t the definitive factor that America-centric commentators make them out to be. Madeleine Albright, the secretary of state under Bill Clinton, has insisted that attributing the end of the Cold War to Ronald Reagan is like attributing the sunrise to the rooster’s cackle.

Indeed, some experts believe that the 1987 speech wasn’t even aimed so much at people trapped behind the Iron Curtain as (Reagan’s) own critics at home – critics on the far right who believed that Reagan had grown conciliatory in his willingness to meet with (Soviet Premier Mikhail) Gorbachev and to consider significant arms reductions. In fact, when Reagan began his series of summits with Gorbachev in 1985, one American icon of the far right, former House speaker Newt Gingrich, went so far as to say their initial meeting could be “the most disastrous summit for the West since Adolf Hitler met with Chamberlain in 1938 in Munich” – and similar sentiments were voiced by conservatives throughout Reagan’s second term.

Baby Newton Leroy – wrong again.

Continuing…

James Mann, author in residence at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, wrote in a New York Times Op-Ed in June 2007 that the real intent of the “tear down this wall” speech was to provide a kind of political cover for Reagan while he was successfully negotiating a move toward the intermediate-range nuclear force, or INF, treaty with the Soviets. Mann was amazed at the interpretations of the speech by conservatives like Reagan-speechwriter-turned-California-congressman Dana Rohrabacher, who claims – without corroboration – that Gorbachev began looking for ways to take down the wall the day after the speech. Mann calls this “a triumphal storyline” that “runs counter to Mr. Reagan’s actual polices.” He noted that even George W. Bush’s future Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, in a 1990s paper co-authored with another GOP foreign policy expert, said the Berlin Wall speech is overrated, that there was no policy follow-up and “American diplomats did not consider the matter part of the real policy agenda.”

I think that trying to blow up this bit of mythology on Reagan will be at least as tough as trying to debunk the claim that former PA Governor Bob Casey, Sr. was not allowed to speak at the 1992 Democratic Convention because he was pro-life, or that Al Gore actually said that he invented the Internet.

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One Response to Reagan Revisionism And Harwood Hackery

  1. […] as Madeleine Albright, secretary of state to President Clinton, put it here, “attributing the end of the Cold War to Ronald Reagan is like attributing the sunrise to the […]

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