Feature

Germany: The debt we owe to Reagan

Mikhail Gorbachev was not the person responsible for the collapse of the Soviet Union&mdash;Ronald Reagan was, said Malte Lehming in <em>Der Tagesspiegel.</em>

Malte LehmingDer Tagesspiegel

“Gorbymania” is out of control, said Malte Lehming. As the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall approaches, Germans are gushing their gratitude to former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, crediting him with making possible the reunification of East and West Germany. But Gorby was not the person responsible for the collapse of the Soviet Union—Ronald Reagan was.

From the moment in 1982 he gave his famous “evil empire” speech, Reagan worked “clearly and farsightedly” to bring that empire down. He announced his Strategic Defense Initiative, the missile shield project known as Star Wars, expressly to panic the Soviets into pouring all their resources into weapons. In just a few years, the Soviets were brought “to the brink of economic ruin.” This argument is not merely a theory advanced by American conservatives. Among Russian historians, it is accepted fact. Even Gorbachev’s own foreign minister, Eduard Shevardnadze, recently admitted that it was Reagan’s arms race that bankrupted the Soviet Union and forced it to soften its stance toward the West.

“Only the Germans still haven’t gotten the message.” It’s time to give Reagan the respect he deserves.

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