Saturday, July 17, 2010
(Don't) Blame Reagan
1983: The Brink of Apocalypse chronicles the story of what is considered to have nearly become a full-out nuclear war between the Soviet Union and the United States. It lays the blame for the near-war at the feet of Ronald Reagan, the Strategic Defense Initiative and NATO's operation Able Archer (a war game exercise involving signal squads in West Germany).
The time has long come for contemporary liberals to stop letting the Soviet Union off of the hook for incidents such as the one chronicled in the film.
First off, if the Soviet Union really had enjoyed the kind of advantage described in the film -- it didn't, as the Soviet defense sector quickly proved to be unsustainable -- then the development of the SDI was actually entirely justified.
Soviet fears about a decapitation attack be damned. The United States had -- and still has -- every right to take any means necessary to protect themselves from nuclear weapons.
The nuclear threat once posed by the Soviet Union no longer exists, and so SDI is no longer justified -- which is why George W Bush's decision to resume development of the missile shield was actually unjustified.
Moreover, one should remember that while the United States maintained a policy of first use of nuclear weapons, they did not maintain a policy of first strike. Conversely, the Soviet Union maintained a policy of first strike, if not first use of nuclear weapons.
Moreover, the ancient complaint about Reagan's "evil empire" speech has become entirely passe. 80s-era Soviet officials may be as outraged about the speeches as they like, but they should have long ago been called to account for the oppressive nature of the USSR, and they'd have difficulty convincing anyone from then-Czechoslovakia or Hungary that the Soviet Union's foreign policy was not aggressive.
Moreover, the Soviet gunning down of a Korean airliner (ironically, flight 007) demonstrated a certain recklessness in Soviet defense policy.
It's time for the soft-on-communism portion of the left to stop offering the same old weak excuses for Soviet Communism, and stop casting the figer of blame at Ronald Reagan for cold war near-misses.