Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Margaret Thatcher, Even in Death, Divides World Opinion; MARGARET THATCHER; 1925-2013

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Margaret Thatcher, Even in Death, Divides World Opinion; MARGARET THATCHER; 1925-2013

Article excerpt

Margaret Thatcher had a clear vision and a blunt way of expressing it, and for 11 years as British prime minister, she wasn't afraid to dispense tart advice to successive U.S. presidents, among others.

"This is not the time to go wobbly, George," she told then- President George Bush after Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990.

It was vintage Thatcher, a message that was made possible by her cultivation of close relations with Bush and, before him, Ronald Reagan, in part to shore up her image in Britain and in Europe as the embodiment of what was then a special U.S.-British relationship.

Thatcher, who died Monday at age 87, was a towering figure in modern European politics, and her legacy shows the outsize impact that a middle power can have on world affairs if led by a smart, determined and gutsy person in this case a grocer's daughter who became the first woman to lead a major Western power.

She had a special talent for spotting trends predicting the demise of communist rule, which actually happened while she was in office and talent, such as when she identified Mikhail Gorbachev as a promising future leader of the Soviet Communist Party. "I like Mr. Gorbachev. This is a man I can do business with," she said.

And though she despised communism with a passion, she delighted in being called the "Iron Lady," the epithet given her by the Soviet Army newspaper Red Star in 1976, before she was prime minister. She quickly took it on as her own, telling parliamentary constituents a week later that she was proud to wear a "Red Star" evening gown and serve as "the Iron Lady of the Western world."

Her trademark was to state her principles and adhere to them.

Flags at Buckingham Palace, Parliament and across the United Kingdom were lowered to half-staff Monday. Buckingham Palace said Queen Elizabeth II would send a private message of sympathy to the Thatcher family. Government officials began preparations for a London funeral with military honors at St. Paul's Cathedral next week, followed by a private cremation.

In Washington, President Barack Obama said many Americans "will never forget her standing shoulder to shoulder with President (Ronald) Reagan, reminding the world that we are not simply carried along by the currents of history. We can shape them with moral conviction, unyielding courage and iron will."

Many leaders lauded Thatcher for her steely determination to modernize Britain's industrial landscape, even at the cost of strikes and riots, and to stand beside the United States as the West triumphed in the Cold War versus the Soviet Union. …

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