12. Presidents Day Blog. Finally
12. Presidents Day Blog. Finally
5. Ronald Reagan -- "...tear down this wall!"
-- Ronald Reagan
In August of 1961 the Berlin Wall was erected in order to stop the tide of refugees fleeing the economically stagnant communist controlled East Berlin to the more prosperous capitalist West Berlin. This wall became the iconic symbol of the "Cold War" between the East and the West, the Prison walls so to speak. On June 26, 1963, President John F. Kennedy delivered an historic speech in Rudolph Wilde Square in Berlin to a million cheering West Berliners. In the midst of the Cold War he declared, “There are many people in the world who really don’t understand, or say they don’t, what is the great issue between the free world and the communist world. Let them come to Berlin.” President Kennedy, identifying with the citizens of Berlin in their quest for freedom and to be reunited with their families in East Berlin, said, “Ich bin ein Berliner.” (“I am a Berliner”). However the "Wall" remained standing.
18 years later, Ronald Reagan became president of the United States in 1981 and implemented the historic doctrine of "Peace Through Strength" for the USA. He wanted to seek the establishment of a lasting world peace. He said "that war comes not when the forces of freedom are strong, but when they are week, that is when tyrants are tempted." Peace is made by the fact of strength, economic, military and strategic. He built up the economy through cutting taxes that allowed free enterprise to flourish. He built up the military so the USA could handle any world crisis. He built up the strategic forces so that no other country would dare attack the USA without fear of total annihilation. These actions made Reagan very unpopular with many people throughout the world, for these people thought Reagan's programs would hasten a nuclear war with the Soviet Union. Reagan shrugged off his detractors and stuck by what he believed was the right course for America. America did grow stronger economically, militarily and strategically from Reagan's programs. While the Soviet Union tried to keep up with the USA, the communist model could not compete with the free market model and their system started to break down. This was the beginning of the end for the Soviet Union.
24 years after JFK's speech in Berlin President Ronald Reagan delivered his speech at the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin on June 12, 1987. His comments were to the people of West Berlin, but audible on the East side of the Berlin Wall. Part of Reagan's intended audience was none other than Mikhail Gorbachev: "There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" Two years later, in November 1989, East Germans issued a decree for the wall to be opened, allowing people to travel freely into West Berlin. The wall was torn down altogether by the end of 1990 upon the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe and in Soviet Russia itself, marking the end of the Cold War. Ronald Reagan's Peace Through Strength strategy worked.