The Young American; the Foreign Policy Legacy of Reagan

Article excerpt


Hard as it is to say goodbye to a beloved president, the celebration of the life of Ronald Wilson Reagan, taking place in the days after his death on June 5, has been overwhelming. Ronald Reagan is remembered as not just a great leader, but also as a truly gentle spirit, someone who cared deeply about the people he was elected to serve.

Asked by a reporter prior to his election in 1980 if he thought Americans would vote for him, Mr. Reagan said, "Would you laugh if I told you that I think, maybe, they see themselves, and that I am one of them? I've never been able to detach myself or think that I, somehow, am part form them." He was right. Americans elected him in landslide elections.

In many ways, this is also the strength of our current president, George W. Bush, who in his presidency has faced challenges similar in magnitude and seriousness to those of Ronald Reagan. Both presidents have bedeviled pollsters and the Eastern liberal media, men of faith and principles. Speaking directly to the American people has been their most important asset, Mr. Reagan hailing from California, Mr. Bush from Texas. And both of course, have benefited greatly from being consistently underestimated by their opponents.

We now contemplate Ronald Reagan's place in history, as the president who led the West to victory in the Cold War. Lady Thatcher stated in a tribute to Ronald Reagan after he left office: "President Reagan has achieved the most difficult of all political tasks: changing attitudes and perceptions about what is possible. From the strong fortress of his convictions, he set out to enlarge freedom the world over at a time when freedom was in retreat."

The question is today whether his legacy continues and whether it translates into tangible lessons for American foreign policy. There is no doubt it does. Ronald Reagan came to office with one overriding goal in mind, rolling back the advances of the Soviet Union, which he was not content simply to contain but to consign to "the ash heap of history." It was nothing less than a revolutionary thought, after decades when containment had been the U.S. doctrine toward the Soviet Union, and it was deeply moral in its foundation.

Ronald Reagan believed in the rights of people everywhere to be free. …