Reviews of Reagan’s Presidency
Re “It Was Reagan Who Tore Down That Wall,” Opinion, Nov. 7: Oh, please. Dinesh D’Souza’s Reagan adulation goes way too far. In reality, it was the peoples of Eastern Europe whose persistent pressure on their governments forced them into opening toward the West. To suggest that President Reagan was the “true” originator of Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev’s glasnost and perestroika is utterly absurd.
As D’Souza himself writes, Reagan turned 180 degrees to support Gorbachev long after glasnost and perestroika had been established. Reagan’s “Star Wars” brinkmanship might just as well have pushed the Soviets into a Stalinist-style arms race. Only remotely did Reagan have anything to do with the breaching of the Berlin Wall, in that the need to keep up with this rogue superpower forced the Eastern Bloc countries to divert even more of their resources into their military sectors, thus feeding the discontent of their peoples.
Professor of history
UC Santa Barbara
Reagan will go down in history as one of our greatest presidents. His steadfastness in standing up to “the evil empire” freed millions of people from the shackles of communism. He ended the Cold War and made peace with the Soviet Union by saying, “trust, but verify” in regard to the nuclear weapons supplies of both countries. He gave us comfort and hope when we lost seven astronauts in the space shuttle Challenger tragedy in 1986, saying that “sometimes, when we reach for the stars, we fall short. But we must pick ourselves up again and press on despite the pain.”
Reagan was a moral, caring and kind man who was respected by friend and foe. His legacy is that he inspired us to become involved and he made this world a safer, better place.
D’Souza may be correct by giving Reagan the credit for winning the war against the Soviets. He would be more believable if he also gave Reagan his share of blame for Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. It was Reagan who sent Donald Rumsfeld to Hussein to enlist his aid in our struggle against Iran and who then supplied Hussein and likewise Bin Laden to fight against the Soviet Union. This policy was then carried on by George H.W. Bush and Dick Cheney, even after Hussein killed his own people, and their refusal to aid the people of Iraq when they rose up against Hussein is responsible for the problems we face today.