TCS Daily

What Would Reagan Do with Today's Terror Threats?

By Gordon Cucullu - June 11, 2004 12:00 AM

God has more sense than we do. He steers things in ways that we don't always understand. It seems that God must have had a reason to keep Ronald Reagan alive until 2004.

Because now, more than at any time in the last twenty years, we need the presence of this giant of a man, this charismatic leader who had vision unlike any American president of the second half of the 20th century. Through his passing we recall his vision, leadership and force of personality at a critical time when our compass seems to be spinning wildly and we need firm direction. Reagan's spirit, words and philosophy will guide us.

When Ronald Reagan came to office he found an America in doldrums, beset with worries about our role in the world and fretting about lost ability to influence our destiny. Many were depressed by internal conflict over the Vietnam War, the Nixon scandals, sky-high inflation, debt, oil shortages, and an endless series of international failures. Pundits predicted that America's time in the sun had passed.

Ronald Reagan would have none of this. More than any of his predecessors, Reagan was certain of where he stood and was confident in that stance. He did not require constant polling, focus groups or media reports: he had a moral core of values upon which he relied completely. He based his values on a solid Christian foundation with an unswerving belief that the Founding Fathers had created in America a bastion of freedom and liberty unparalleled in the world. Furthermore, he believed that liberty was a gift that America was responsible for sharing with the less fortunate in the world.

He won the Cold War without a nuclear exchange - a potential catastrophe we had lived under since 1948. He tore down the Berlin Wall and liberated a people frozen into the rock-hard tyranny of the Soviet Bloc of Eastern Europe. A bright morning dawned over Europe.

He had consummate faith in the ability of human beings of all races, religions and nations to live free and unfettered under leaders of their own selection. He proved his point by helping countries reach these goals despite an avalanche of criticism from the self-anointed elites who presumed to know better. He wove stories, told jokes, issued directives and firmly moved Asia and Latin America toward democracy.

He brought Ferdinand Marcos down in the Philippines opening up the island nation to free elections. He pressured Chun Doo Hwan the South Korean authoritarian ruler to step down and trust his people to select their leaders. In the dirty, 'unwinnable' battlefields of El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala, he insisted that corrupt, oppressive regimes -- communist or authoritarian -- be replaced by democracies. And they were. By freeing the tiny island nation of Grenada from communist rule, expelling the Cubans and keeping the Soviets out of a Latin American base, he restored America's faith in judicious use of military power in time of need.

So what would Reagan think, looking at today's world beset with terrorist threats? We can never say with certainty, but one thing would be clear: he would be proud of George W. Bush, a president more in line with the Reagan mold of clarity of purpose and moral vision than any who served since the Gipper. Reagan would have been appalled by the attacks of 9-11 and would have immediately mobilized American and allied resources to counterattack.

Would Reagan have taken the war to Afghanistan and Iraq? Undoubtedly. With his ability to see far beyond the limited horizons of most of us he probably would already be thinking of ways to liberate Iran and Syria and to replace the corrupt, venal rulers of Saudi Arabia with a legitimate, representative government. He would begin to turn wheels which would grind inexorably toward the ultimate replacement of the Kim Jong Il dictatorship in North Korea.

Reagan's first choice of a faithful ally would be the United Kingdom. He would want to stand shoulder to shoulder with the UK. Naturally he would try to bring others, especially in the democratic world, into his alliance. When some whom he thought should have come but refused, because of political corruption or moral cowardice, Reagan would have shrugged and accepted the fact that strong leaders must pursue their vision of the proper course, not take counsel from those frozen in fear. He would be courageous, persistent, thick-skinned against carping criticism, and remain focused on what he knew what right. He would lead!

He continued to lead even to the end. On Nov. 5, 1994, when he became aware that he was stricken with Alzheimer's disease, Reagan sat and hand-wrote a note to the American people. In that note he said, "I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life. I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead."

He has passed that torch to us, to the succeeding generation. He is charging us with carrying out the vision of America as the bright, shining beacon on the hill. We have a strong leader, George W. Bush, and we know that our path is going to be painful, long and difficult. But we will persist because America continues to produce men and women with vision who are dedicated to bringing America and the world into the bright dawn of freedom and democracy.

May God bless America, and may God welcome the immortal soul of Ronald Reagan into His bosom.


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