Chapter 16 - Reagan’s Freedom Strategy: Key Freedom Speeches, Public Diplomacy, Supporting Anti-Communist Resistance

said, while he didn’t realize it at the time, he knows now that in that moment God had touched his forehead with his finger. And later he wrote, “For in this century, within the next decades, will be decided for generations whether all mankind is to become Communist, whether the whole world is to become communist, whether the whole world is to become free, or whether in the struggle civilization as we know it is to be completely destroyed or completely changed. It is our fate to live upon that turning point in history.” We’ve already come a long way together. Thank you for all you’ve done for me, for the common values we cherish. Join me in a new effort, a new crusade.17

Westminster Address: Marxism-Leninism on the “Ash Heap of History”—June 1982. Reagan’s Address to the British Parliament, also known as his Westminster speech of June 8, 1982, is a “must read” key document on the Cold War and Reagan’s winning freedom strategy to push for the collapse of a totalitarian and crisis-ridden Marxist-Leninist ideology and society. Reagan spoke in the presence of his special friend, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, in Great Britain, a nation Reagan described as “the cradle of self-government,” crucial in shaping America’s best traditions of liberty and law. Reagan also indicates that he was going on to visit the German cities of Bonn and Berlin “where there stands a grim symbol of power untamed, . . . the Berlin Wall, that dreadful gray gash across the city, . . . the fitting signature of the regime that built it.” Next on his trip would be Communist Poland “at the center of European civilization . . . unreconciled to oppression.” His declared goal was to support the spirit and infrastructure of democracy, a goal he further institutionalized through the National Endowment for Democracy he established in conjunction with his Westminster speech. Speech excerpts follow:

[No Totalitarians Can Risk Free Elections, None are Legitimate] We’re approaching the end of a bloody century plagued by a terrible political invention—totalitarianism. . . . Democracy’s enemies have refined their instruments of repression. Yet optimism is in order, because day by day democracy is proving itself to be a not-at-all fragile flower. From Stettin on the Baltic to Varna on the Black Sea, the regimes planted by totalitarianism have had more than 30 years to establish their legitimacy. But none—not one regime—has yet been able to risk free elections. Regimes planted by bayonets do not take root. . . .

[Unprecedented Nuclear Threats] There are threats now to our freedom, indeed to our very existence, that other generations could never even have imagined. There is first the threat of [nuclear] global war . . . if not the extinction of mankind, then the end of civilization as we know it. . . . At the same time there is a threat posed to human freedom by the enormous power of the modern state. History teaches the dangers of government that overreaches: political control taking precedence over free economic growth, secret police, mindless bureaucracy—all combining to stifle individual excellence and personal freedom. . . . All of us are united: our abhorrence of dictatorship in all its forms, but most particularly totalitarianism and the terrible inhumanities it has caused in our time: the great purge, Auschwitz and Dachau, the Gulag, and Cambodia. . . . It was not the democracies that invaded Afghanistan or suppressed Polish Solidarity or used chemical and toxin warfare in Afghanistan and Southeast Asia. . . .

[Cold War Choice against Accommodation to Totalitarian Evil] We see totalitarian forces in the world seek subversion and conflict around the globe to further their barbarous assault on the human spirit. What, then is our course? Must civilization perish in a hail of fiery atoms. Must freedom wither in a quiet deadening accommodation with totalitarian evil? . . . our mission today: to preserve freedom as well as peace.

[A Turning Point and Revolutionary Crisis of Marxism-Leninism—The Soviets against the Tide of History] It may not be easy to see; but I believe we live now at a turning point. In an ironic sense Karl Marx was right. We are witnessing today a great revolutionary crisis—a crisis where the demands of the economic order are conflicting directly with those of the political order. But the crisis is happening not in the free, non-Marxist West, but in the home of Marxism-Leninism, the Soviet Union. It is the Soviet Union that runs against the tide of history by denying human freedom and human dignity to its citizens. It also is in deep economic difficulty. The rate of growth in the national product has been steadily declining since the 1950s and is less than half of what it was then. The dimensions of this failure are astounding. . . . Over-centralized, with little or no incentives, year after year the Soviet system pours its best resources into the making of instruments of destruction. . . . What we see here is a political structure that no longer corresponds to its economic base, a society where productive forces are hampered by political ones.

[The Decay of the Soviet Experiment] The decay of the Soviet experiment should come as no surprise to us. Wherever the comparisons have been made between free and closed societies—West Germany and East Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia, Malaysia and Vietnam—it is the democratic countries that are prosperous

[Book pg. 381]