What Reagan Would Say About Putin

Ronald Reagan said:

This is the “evil empire” speech that was so often quoted as defining my attitude toward the Soviets. At the time it was portrayed as some kind of know-nothing, archconservative statement that could only drive the Soviets to further heights of paranoia and insecurity.

For too long our leaders were unable to describe the Soviet Union as it actually was. The keepers of our foreign-policy knowledge – in other words, most liberal foreign-affairs scholars, the State Department, and various columnists – found it illiberal and provocative to be so honest. I’ve always believed, however, that it’s important to define differences, because there are choices and decisions to be made in life and history.

The Soviet system over the years has purposely starved, murdered, and brutalized its own people. Millions were killed; it’s all right there in the history books. It put other citizens it disagreed with into psychiatric hospitals, sometimes drugging them into oblivion. Is the system that allowed this not evil? Then why shouldn’t we say so? Even the Soviets themselves are now admitting to annihilating their own people during Stalin’s era.

I could not in good conscience today call the Soviet Union an evil empire. As I write this, the Soviets have just conducted the most democratic elections since their revolution. Remarkable things are happening under Mikhail Gorbachev.

In addition to taking a hard line on the morality of the Soviet Union, this speech also outlines my opinions on a number of other moral issues.

If Ronald Reagan were alive today, I believe he would say that Putin has undone all of Mikhail Gorbachev’s positive changes, and Putin has returned Russia to its Lenin/Stalin/Khrushchev/Brezhnev ways.

The full text of Reagan’s speech, along with audio recordings, can be found here.

The explanatory quote shown above can be found here.

Reagan’s words are as relevant today as they were 25 years ago.

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2 Responses to What Reagan Would Say About Putin

  1. R says:

    I don’t think so. Russia does not have a Stalinist government, a communist government or anything of the sort. There’s no official atheism – what this is is Russia standing up for its interests. The real problem here is that after 1991 some people decided that this is the chance for the US to rule the world – the Policy Planning Guidance FY 1994-99 identified the ex-USSR as the biggest threat, that is, should Russia be able to revive itself with alliances with these republics, then this could interfere with the plan to rule the world. The answer thus would be to ring Russia with anti-Russian outposts, to divide it from its neighbours, to isolate it. This is why there was the war in Georgia – it’s because the US leaders want to rule the world.

  2. R,
    Thanks for you comment. It’s interesting to get the Russian perspective first-hand.

    You can believe what you want, but I agree with what Ronald Reagan said:

    During my first press conference as president, in answer to a direct question, I pointed out that, as good Marxist-Leninists, the Soviet leaders have openly and publicly declared that the only morality they recognize is that which will further their cause, which is world revolution. I think I should point out I was only quoting Lenin, their guiding spirit, who said in 1920 that they repudiate all morality that proceeds from supernatural ideas — that’s their name for religion — or ideas that are outside class conceptions. Morality is entirely subordinate to the interests of class war. And everything is moral that is necessary for the annihilation of the old, exploiting social order and for uniting the proletariat.

    Well, I think the refusal of many influential people to accept this elementary fact of Soviet doctrine illustrates a historical reluctance to see totalitarian powers for what they are. We saw this phenomenon in the 1930s. We see it too often today.

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