Friday, June 12, 2015

This day in History: Ronald Reagan in a speech in Berlin says, "Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down This Wall"!

On June 12, 1987, President Ronald Reagan made his famous speech saying, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."  Liberals thought Reagan a dangerous man for such a provocative statement. We had lived with a policy of mutual assured destruction, containment, and coexistence for so long that to actually  advocate a victory over Communism was almost heresy. All of the academics and liberal politicians and most opinion makers thought we must do nothing to agitate the Soviets and to upset the balance of power.  They were comfortable with Communist tyranny ruling half the world. They did not want us giving hope and inspiration to those behind the iron curtain.

Reagan had had the goal of defeating Communism ever since entering public life. He made his "Evil Empire" speech in March 1983 in which he Communism is "the focus of evil in the modern world." He opposed a nuclear freeze and was determined to gain a military advantage over the Soviets. He stated his goal was not to live in peace with Communism but to defeat it. Along with Pope John Paul and Britain's Margaret Thatcher, the growing Democracy movement in Poland was encouraged and Communists rule throughout the world was condemned and a new atmosphere created in which Communist rule was viewed as the evil if was. There was no more moral equivalency arguments and fear of offending Communist sensibilities.

On November 9, 1989, recognizing the reality of what was happening in neighboring Poland, East Germany changed policy and allowed citizens of East Germany to visit West Germany and West Berlin for the first time since 1961. In celebration, crowds of East Germans crossed and climbed onto the hated wall, joined by West Germans on the other side. Over the next few weeks, euphoric people and souvenir hunters chipped away parts of the wall. Shortly thereafter the East German government began to remove most of what was left of the wall.

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