Reagan at Westminster: Foreshadowing the End of the Cold War

Reagan at Westminster: Foreshadowing the End of the Cold War

Reagan at Westminster: Foreshadowing the End of the Cold War

Reagan at Westminster: Foreshadowing the End of the Cold War

Synopsis

President Ronald Reagan's famous address to the Houses of Parliament is now considered--in its spirit if not in its actual words--to be the initial enunciation of his "Evil Empire" stance. In this important volume by two experienced rhetorical scholars, Robert C. Rowland and John M. Jones offer a historical-descriptive treatment that includes both rhetorical analysis and a narrative of the drafting of the speech. They consider Reagan's focus on "ultimate definition," "dialectical engagement," and other rhetorical tools in crafting and presenting the momentous address. They also note the irony of Reagan's use of Leon Trotsky's phrase "ash-heap of history" to predict the demise of Communism.
Rowland and Jones present three reasons for the importance of this speech. First, it offers new insights into President Reagan himself, through a view of his role in the drafting of the speech as well as the ideas it contains. Second, the speech is an act of rhetorical history, and its analysis helps recover a significant rhetorical artifact. Finally, the address ultimately expresses a rhetorical framework for the Cold War that systematically subverted the narrative, ideology, and values of Marxism.
Although initial response to the speech was tepid, Reagan considered it one of his most important addresses, and the hindsight afforded by the fall of Communism a decade later lends validation to that view, the authors suggest. Reagan at Westminster: Foreshadowing the End of the Cold War will highly commend itself to students and scholars of rhetoric, the Presidency, and political communication.

Excerpt

My Lord Chancellor, Mr. Speaker:

1. The journey of which this visit forms a part is a long one. Already it has taken me to two great cities of the West, Rome and Paris, and to the economic summit at Versailles. And there, once again, our sister democracies have proved that even in a time of severe economic strain, free peoples can work together freely and voluntarily to address problems as serious as inflation, unemployment, trade, and economic development in a spirit of cooperation and solidarity.

2. Other milestones lie ahead. Later this week, in Germany, we and our NATO allies will discuss measures for our joint defense and America’s latest initiatives for a more peaceful, secure world through arms reductions.

3. Each stop of this trip is important, but among them all, this moment occupies a special place in my heart and in the hearts of my countrymen—a moment of kinship and homecoming in these hallowed halls.

4. Speaking for all Americans, I want to say how very much at home we feel in your house. Every American would, because this is, as we have been so eloquently told, one of democracy’s shrines. Here the rights of free people and the processes of representation have been debated and refined.

5. It has been said that an institution is the lengthening shadow of a man. This institution is the lengthening shadow of all the men and women who have sat here and all those who have voted to send representatives here.

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