Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What Would Ronald Reagan Have Done?

Clark S. Judge, of the Washington Writers' Group, has published a timely piece at Hugh Hewitt's blog entitled "Egypt: What Would Ronald Reagan Do?" He contrasts the Obama administration's vacillating support for Hosni Mubarak with how Ronald Reagan insisted on treating another former dictator and erstwhile ally, Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines:
The Philippines is a good case study and the Reagan diaries are a good source. In the diaries, the president wrote two telling notes about crisis in the multi-island nation.

In one note, with demonstrators marching daily against strongman Ferdinand Marcos and the Reagan’s national security council unanimous that Marcos must leave office, Reagan reports telling his advisors that he does not want the U.S. friendly dictator treated shabbily. He does not want a repeat of the way the U.S. treated the Shah of Iran when that regime fell late in President Jimmy Carter’s term.

In fact, the United States ended up providing Marcos and his wife Imelda (a target of popular protest herself) with a house in Hawaii and transit there when Marcos decided that his political standing had deteriorated beyond recovery.

In other words, Reagan opened a back door out of which Marcos could escape with his dignity as in tact as it could be under the circumstance and where he and his entourage could be safe while they decided on where to set up permanent residency.
But President Reagan did not stop there. As Clark Judge goes on to explain, he also sent a clear signal to Marcos that his departure would have to be without any resort to thugs or violence:
In his second diary note on the Philippines demonstrations, Reagan reports telling his staff that any public statement he makes on the situation must include the message that if Marcos resorts to violence, Reagan would be “powerless” to stop a cut off of U.S. funding to the regime.

Note the phrasing. The president did not slap down an ultimatum. He simply reported on a political reality and his ability to respond. So, again, he did not tell Marcos what to do. He did not humiliate the falling leader. In fact, by saying he would be powerless, he positioned the United States in a way that made it acceptable to both parties as a sympathetic and realistic mediator, one who nevertheless favored democratic reform when it could be achieved.
The contrast between then and now could hardly be greater, as the article points out. This is why I cannot understand those who supported Obama's campaign on the ground that he and Joe Biden were "more experienced" than the Republican candidates. For more than two years now, we have been paying the price of their rank inexperience with crucial matters of foreign policy. And the trouble is, their naïveté shows -- and it shows at what is absolutely the worst possible time.

To clinch this point, be sure to go watch the documentary Iranium while you can still do so free online. The movie is very much to the point, and very, very disturbing. (It also shows that not even Ronald Reagan grasped fully what was at stake.) Using rare footage of Iran's rulers speaking to their followers, it unmasks once and for all their aim to achieve worldwide domination for a radical brand of Islam, and documents step by step their progress toward that goal to date. Send the link to your friends: this is one movie not to miss!

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