web analytics
July 6, 2015 / 19 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


J.E. Dyer: Ronald Reagan, 1982 – “A Test of Wills and Ideas, a Trial of Spiritual Resolve”


President Reagan addressing British Parliament

President Reagan addressing British Parliament
Photo Credit: White House Photo, Courtesy Reagan Library

Thirty years ago, on 8 June 1982, President Ronald Reagan addressed the British House of Commons, giving a speech that has since become one of his most famous.  In it, he proclaimed that “the march of freedom and democracy … will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash heap of history, as it has left other tyrannies which stifle the freedom and muzzle the self-expression of the people.”

On this anniversary of that seminal speech, it’s worth taking a few minutes to review its quintessential Reaganisms.  Chief among them is his optimism – not a ditsy, foolish optimism, but a considered optimism about the biggest of things: the course of history and man’s future.

Equally important is his vision, which is part and parcel of the optimism.  Out of all of the Cold War’s premier analysts, Reagan was virtually the only one who foresaw the imminent end of Soviet communism, and who could utter this line in 1982:  “It may not be easy to see; but I believe we live now at a turning point.”  We were living at a turning point, and it was the one Reagan described in his next lines:

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.

“Democracy,” he said, “is proving itself to be a not at all fragile flower.”

A third and very important Reaganism is his willingness to identify evil and speak about it without demur.  The House of Commons speech mirrors in tone Reagan’s 4 March 1983 speech to the National Association of Evangelicals, in which he spoke this remarkable sentence:

[L]et us be aware that while [the Soviets] preach the supremacy of the state, declare its omnipotence over individual man, and predict its eventual domination of all peoples on the Earth, they are the focus of evil in the modern world.

Ideological statism is not a mere cultural alternative; it is absolutely evil.  Reagan had no doubt of what was right and wrong in this regard:  “It would be cultural condescension, or worse,” he said, “to say that any people prefer dictatorship to democracy.”

But Reagan’s refusal to gloss over evil never produced discouraging rhetoric.  It was always accompanied by a hard-nosed optimism about what was good in the Western culture of freedom and restraints on the state.  The contrast he invariably made, as in this speech, was between the power and effectiveness of human freedom, on the one hand, and the sclerotic, overstretched unsustainability of despotism on the other.  He knew, long before we began speaking of it today, that all attempts to put the people under harness and dictate to them the features of their lives end in oppression, poverty, and despair.

The political particulars of this next passage may have changed over time, but the underlying sense of it resonates today:

If history teaches anything, it teaches self-delusion in the face of unpleasant facts is folly. We see around us today the marks of our terrible dilemma–predictions of doomsday, antinuclear demonstrations, an arms race in which the West must, for its own protection, be an unwilling participant. At the same time we see totalitarian forces in the world who 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?

To both of those questions, Reagan’s answer was no.

Reagan’s address to the House of Commons

8 June 1982

We’re approaching the end of a bloody century plagued by a terrible political invention — totalitarianism. Optimism comes less easily today, not because democracy is less vigorous, but because 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 thirty 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.

About the Author: J.E. Dyer is a retired US Naval intelligence officer who served around the world, afloat and ashore, from 1983 to 2004.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “J.E. Dyer: Ronald Reagan, 1982 – “A Test of Wills and Ideas, a Trial of Spiritual Resolve””

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Russia Steps Up in U.S.-led Nuclear Talks with Iran
Latest Indepth Stories
President Obama

Sources say seemingly irreconcilable differences between the 2 main parties, Washington and Tehran.

Seder at the White House. The one without the kippa is President Obama.

Instead of accepting reality, the President is trying to hold on to an illusion.

peace in our time iran

Those who suggest further capitulation to Iran are wrongly harming the interests of the West.

Haneen Zoabi (L) and Basel Ghattas (R), Arab members of Israel's parliament, both participated in flotillas attempting to break Israel's legal naval blockade of the Gaza strip.

Few Arab Israelis found anything positive in the decision of its MKS to join any Gaza flotilla.

US Jews prefer to be like their non-Jewish liberal friends complaining about “settlements” and Bibi

New Israel Fund & its supporters must be countered; Israel’s in the midst of an unprecedented storm

PM Netanyahu this week identified ISIS and Iran as Israel’s primary threat. It is a planetary threat that carries the promise of peace.

Haym Solomon, overlooked hero of the Revolutionary War, was America’s “Funding Father.”

Latvia, July 4, 1941 they forced many Jews in the shul putting it on fire; everyone was burned alive

There’s blood on the reporters’ hands AND New Israel Fund for funding groups feeding lies to the UN

Respect & appreciation for our country is not only a civic value but an essential Jewish one as well

When words lose meaning, the world becomes an Orwellian dystopia; a veritable Tower of Babel

Israel, like the non-radical Islamic world. will be happy see the ISIS beheaded for once.

Kids shouldn’t have “uninstructed” Internet access, better to train them how to use it responsibly

What if years from now, IS were to control substantial territory? What world havoc would that wreak?

Rambam writes the verse’s double term refers to 2 messiahs: first King David; 2nd the final Mashiach

More Articles from J. E. Dyer
Iran Shahed, with stern decked out in Yemeni flags. Iranian flag flies from traditional position on center fantail.

Activists from US, France, Germany & from Iran’s media are aboard because the ship’s a cause célèbre

Pope Francis in Jerusalem on May 26. 2014.

“…the Pope did the exact opposite of what the media reported: he urged Abbas to change his ways.”

The world’s more vulnerable to predation, eruption, and chaos than it has been in at least 600 years

Iran stands unopposed by the “international community” and is racing to assert regional dominance.

The S-300 poses a major problem; Israel will have to get creative as to if, when & where it strikes

In the last weeks of the talks the US excluded every other delegation from negotiations with Iran.

Israel has never invoked the agreement, but Israel sources say that its importance lies in its very existence.

The Senate formed a bipartisan panel investigating money from the Obama adm. to an anti-Bibi group

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/j-e-dyer/j-e-dyer-ronald-reagan-1982-a-test-of-wills-and-ideas-a-trial-of-spiritual-resolve/2012/06/12/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: