Saturday, February 05, 2011

Reagan v. Gorbachev

It's been fashionable on the Left to argue that the end of the Soviet Union came about not because of Reagan, but Gorbachev. This would suit their version of the world that Reagan was either an amiable dunce and therefore incapable of bringing down the most powerful military empire in the world, or that America is so deeply flawed, that the world changed without any help or assistance from us. Delusion is so much fun, isn't it?
The truth is that there wouldn't have been a Gorbachev if there wasn't a Reagan. After the death of Brezhnev, the Soviets followed the usual Republican method of leadership selection by finding the oldest still breathing member who had loyally served. No one really remembers Kuznetsov, Andropov, Chernenko, Gromyko were the leaders in the interregnum of Brezhnev and Gorbachev. While all seemed to have the nasty habit of dropping to sleep at a meeting and never waking again, (God only know where their poor atheistic souls went to) Gorbachev was actually young enough to last more than a few weeks. But his world had already been preordained.
Gorbachev could do nothing but react, no matter how brilliant he may have been, at least according to our friends on the Left. But having to deal with the residue of the Afghanistan invasion, the inability to maintain military supremacy in the face of US qualitative improvements in their military and tactics was more than anyone could handle in the time allotted to him.
But I don't want to disparage Gorbachev for one thing. That is the death of the Soviet Union could have been a violent thrashing resulting in nuclear destruction. Instead, and I do give him credit, Gorbachev presided over the orderly dismantling of a force which had been designed, built and equipped to rampage from the Elbe to the English Channel in only two weeks. And they were never used.
So, while Gorbachev needs to get credit for preventing a disaster, the dismantling of the Soviet Union credit can only go to Ronald Reagan.

Happy 100th birthday Mr. President.


David Crisp said...

Many people deserve credit for the downfall of the Soviet Union: Gorbachev, Walesa in Poland, Havel in Czechoslovakia, the (gulp) Taliban in Afghanistan, millions of brave Eastern Europeans, and loyal Americans who served along the Iron Curtain and who, unlike modern so-called conservatives, willingly paid the high taxes necessary to maintain military strength in Europe and around the world for all those long years of the Cold War. And, yes, Reagan deserves credit, too, but I think even he would be embarrassed by the monumental misreading of history that seeks to give him sole credit.

Steve said...

We don't disagree David that there were many who contributed, but the posting was in regard to Dr. Dean and others who say that it was all Gorbachev. That's like the ant on a log floating down the river and thinking he's steering it.
But if you are old enough, you remember what the mood of the country was like when Carter was president versus afterwards. Reagan did change the nation's mood, which more than anything else, helped change the nation.

Hmm, might be a blog post in there.

David said...

I remember that time very well. I can't speak for the nation, but Reagan did not improve my mood. Carter wanted energy independence for the U.S.; Reagan had no interest. What a difference Carter might have made.