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Meanwhile Over In Moscow

President Trump recently tweeted that relations with Russia are at an all-time low, as in response to congressionally imposed sanctions against Russia, President Vladimir Putin ordered 755 American diplomatic staff out of Russia and announced what CNN called “a rash of other measures against Washington's missions.”

If one were to believe the establishment media the United States and NATO should be massing troops on an eastern front stretching from Tallin in Estonia to Mariupol on Ukraine’s Taganrog Gulf in preparation for a hot Reagan Gorbachev statueconfrontation with Russia.

My how times have changed.

This is practically the exact opposite of the situation that faced President Ronald Reagan and the last President of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, as the establishment media, Democrats and establishment Republicans were constantly accusing Reagan of being a warmonger, who was pushing the world toward nuclear war, while they hectored him to do almost anything to deescalate tensions with the Russians and their allies in the east.

Reagan, to his great credit, largely ignored those follies and pursued his wise strategy of engaging and pressuring the Soviets at the same time.

This "dialogue based on mutual respect" formed the basis of all of President Reagan’s relations with Moscow, even as Reagan began to see his goal of defeating Communism and the Soviet Union coming to fruition at the close of his term.

As Robert Zapesochny writing for the American Conservative reminded us recently:

Too many Republicans only remember Ronald Reagan’s first term when he doubled the defense budget and called the Soviet Union an “Evil Empire.” They forget that Reagan’s foreign policy of “Peace Through Strength” was only a means to an end—negotiations and peace. Washington is incredibly stronger militarily than Moscow. Russia’s only real defense is its nuclear weapons. We should use our strength for constructive engagement, rather than pushing Russia to extremes, including trying to bring Ukraine into NATO. Most Americans do not support Washington’s “deep state,” which seems to want more military confrontations. Indeed, Trump won the election partly because of his promise to moderate conflict with Russia.

Zapesochony is right, contrary to what appear to be the goals of today’s Washington establishment, the operative word in Reagan’s philosophy was “Peace” with “Strength” being a means to that end.

The evidence that Reagan’s philosophy bore fruit, not just in the collapse of the Soviet Union, but in the way that Reagan was perceived in the former Soviet Union, which was on display recently in Moscow when a statue of Presidents Reagan and Gorbachev was unveiled.

Unfortunately, Mr. Zapesochony reports that various Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials attended the ceremony, but that no representatives from the U.S. Embassy were there – although they had been invited. All the Russian TV channels, the BBC, the VOA, and others covered the event.

The idea for the statue came about in 2016, when Zapesochony spoke with Edward Lozansky, a former dissident who now lives in Moscow and Washington. They agreed that there should be a statue of Reagan and Gorbachev in Moscow in the hope that U.S. and Russian relations could be improved.

As President of the American University of Moscow, Lozansky is very well connected in Moscow. Mainly through his efforts in both the United States and Russia, the project moved forward, including with help from Reagan’s former Attorney General Ed Meese and from Jon Utley’s Freda Utley Foundation, which was a donor towards the statue.

The statue was created by world renowned sculptor Alexander Bourganov. Among the speakers at the dedication was retired U.S. Army Col. Charles Heberle, President of Rotary International, an organization with 80 Rotary clubs in Russian cities. Heberle commented:

Times were very different during the 1980s, from what we are celebrating today. I had a very different and unique job. It gave me a clear perspective of the extreme dangers we all faced then which these two men successfully stopped. For seven years I was a watch chief in the Pentagon operations center for the nuclear war exercises. These exercises were highly realistic and deadly serious. When the fate of your country is at stake there is no margin for error. Just let me say from personal experience that the world in those days was a hair’s breadth away from the death of about half the human race. And the decisions that would lead to such a catastrophic event had to be made under extreme stress and made very quickly—not a safe situation in which to make clear decisions no matter how much you practice it.

These two great men saw the need to back down from this extremely dangerous situation. They deserve this recognition and I hope we will put up a similar statue in Washington, DC. The world owes them both a great debt. Since then for various reasons things have gotten off track and we find ourselves spiraling back into the same situation. This is crazy. None of these various reasons is any excuse to go back to those extremely dangerous times. We all must now move forward together to achieve the great work these men started.

Zapesochony reports that Heberle further explained that Rotary International organizes “all types of exchanges between our two peoples to increase our understanding of each other at the people to people level…. We must do everything in our power to increase our mutual understanding and avoid going back to the past.”

Indeed.

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