Reagan and the Titans of World Peace

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), July 10, 2011 | Go to article overview

Reagan and the Titans of World Peace


Byline: William REES-MOGG

In most generations of human history, mankind has had to survive a revolution, that is, a global shift in the balance of power. Some of the revolutions have been bloody, but others, such as the English Revolution of 1688, have been notably bloodless.

Some revolutions have enlarged the area of liberty, while others have been followed by authoritarian regimes. Some have reflected changes in economic conditions and others different ideologies or differences in religion.

One never knows what the outcome will be. The end result of the English Civil War of 1642 and the 1688 Revolution was the establishment of the liberal constitution under which the United Kingdom has been governed for the past three centuries.

Britain only became fully democratic in 1929, when all women were able to vote. The other British revolution, the American War of Independence (from 1775 to 1783), was also democratic. This revolution was not complete until slavery was brought to an end. Civil rights were only established in the Sixties.

Other revolutions have had much darker outcomes. The French Revolution was triggered by the fall of the Bastille on July 14, 1789. It began with hopes of a democratic constitution on the English model, but it passed rapidly to the Terror of the early 1790s and to the wars and tyranny of Napoleon.

The Russian Revolution started in 1917 as a democratic uprising but reached the stage of Stalin's flowering paranoia in the Thirties. Only one of the great European revolutions was evil from the start; that was the Nazi revolution of 1933 and it ended in the Holocaust.

If a nation chooses the revolutionary path it can end up with power passing to someone as mild as Queen Anne, as honourable as George Washington, as tyrannical as Napoleon or as murderous as Stalin, Hitler and Chairman Mao Tse-Tung. You cannot predict what you will get; revolutions swallow their own children. Revolution is a high-risk business, with the historic odds against the revolutionaries achieving what they originally hoped. Last Monday, a statue of former United States President Ronald Reagan - a hero of the anti-Marxist counter-revolution - was unveiled in Grosvenor Square, London. He was one of the four statesmen who brought the Cold War to an end in 1991, and thereby brought to its conclusion the Russian Revolution, after 70 years.

There were three other major figures who shared the credit for having set free Russia and the Warsaw Pact countries of Europe.

When Reagan took office in 1981, he was underrated, particularly in Europe, yet he was one of the four leaders who produced the greatest and most benign counterrevolution of modern history. …

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