Archive for June, 2004

Ronald Reagan truly iconic of American presidency

Tuesday, June 8th, 2004

This past weekend, we lost one of the greatest defenders of liberty and freedom the world has ever known. Former president Ronald Wilson Reagan passed away after suffering from Alzheimer’s for more than a decade. He was 93.

There is so much to say about Reagan and his accomplishments that no single column (nor a single book) could ever do him justice. He was, without a doubt, the greatest president of the Twentieth Century.

George Will said in his latest column, “One measure of a leader’s greatness is this: By the time he dies the dangers that summoned him to greatness have been so thoroughly defeated, in no small measure by what he did, it is difficult to recall the magnitude of those dangers, or of his achievements.” This is certainly true of President Reagan. Today, just over fifteen years after he left office, Americans no longer fear communism. The Berlin Wall is long gone. The “Evil Empire” is history. Eastern Europe is free of the dreaded Iron Curtain. If not for the actions of Reagan, we might still be embroiled in the Cold War today.

In 1981, when Reagan became president, the world was a very different place. The Soviet Union had invaded Afghanistan, and had eyes on Nicaragua. 52 Americans were being held hostage in Tehran, Iran (they were released the day Reagan was sworn in). The American public was in a malaise due to fuel rationing and a poor economy. Reagan found huge challenges ahead, but he met them all head on.

Reagan understood that government was the problem, not the solution. “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help,”’ Reagan said in 1986. His tax cuts created an era of prosperity that lasted for years. As a young man, he had once pondered taking a high paying job, but decided against it when he realized that he would have to pay almost 90% of what he made to the government. From this experience, he realized that high taxation gave individuals an incentive not to work.

Reagan’s critics have argued that the national deficit exploded under him, and they are correct that it did grow. To blame Reagan for this would be unfair. Democrats controlled the House during his entire tenure as president, and blocked many of the cuts he wished to make. We can only imagine how much might have been accomplished had Reagan had Republicans in control of both houses of Congress.
On the international arena, Regan made a change. Prior to him, most agreed that the Soviet Union should simply be contained, and that the U.S, and the U.S.S.R. should coexist. Reagan saw the flaws of the communist system, and believed it could be defeated. He knew the Soviet economy was already pressed to meet its needs, and that if he drew them into an arms race, they could never win. So that’s exactly what he did. Liberals howled, claiming he was trying to start World War III. Reagan was undeterred, and continued ahead with his plan.

Reagan walked out of the Reykjavik Summit in Iceland because he knew that the Strategic Defense Initiative (“Star Wars,” as it was disparagingly referred to in the media) was necessary. He offered to share it with Gorbachev, but Gorbachev knew it was the beginning of the end.

Reagan took another courageous step in 1987, when he told Gorbachev to “tear down this wall” in Berlin. Again, his critics went crazy, claiming he was being overly aggressive. Even some of his staff opposed including the famous line. No one believed that the wall would soon fall. But that is exactly what happened two years later. Four years later, the Soviet Union would also fall.

One would think that a man who liberated almost an entire continent would be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, but it never happened. The prize instead goes to people like Yassir Arafat and Jimmy Carter. But Reagan didn’t care who got the credit, so long as the work got done.

At the 1992 Republican National Convention, Reagan said “…whatever else history may say about me when I’m gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears, to your confidence rather than your doubts. My dream is that you will travel the road ahead with liberty’s lamp guiding your steps and opportunity’s arm steadying the way.”

Mission accomplished, President Reagan.

Ronald Wilson Reagan, 1911-2004

Sunday, June 6th, 2004

I am saddened by the passing of President Ronald Reagan. Without a doubt, he was the greatest president of the 20th century. The world will miss this great defender of freedom.

The Bias Over Iraq

Tuesday, June 1st, 2004

This week’s column..

The situation in Iraq has deteriorated in the eyes of many, due largely to the abuses that occurred at Abu Ghraib prison at the hands of a few kinky GIs. What happened at the prison is inexcusable, and those responsible should be tried, and, if convicted, punished. And guess what? Those responsible are being tried, and, if convicted, will be punished.

In light of this, one might wonder why there is so much media attention given to the story. After all, the military was already working toward rectifying (no pun intended) the situation before the pictures from Abu Ghraib ever hit the airwaves. Yet we’ve now seen those photos approximately 354,712 times. Isn’t it time to move on? There was a problem, and now it has been corrected. No one was killed, or even seriously harmed. Since constantly stressing the story does nothing but hurt America abroad and accomplishes nothing constructive, it seems there is no valid reason to keep harping on it.

Of course, we all know I’m being naïve. There is plenty to gain by harping on the events for liberal politicians. Former Vice-President Al Gore recently came a bit unglued, and called President Bush a traitor, and, in his best impersonation of disgraced evangelist Jimmy Swaggert, called on a number of Bush administration officials to resign. Ted Kennedy argued that Saddam’s torture chambers have reopened under new management. Such rhetoric is harmful to America, but is par the course in even-numbered years.

While the media has been exposing us to soft core porn, it has ignored or downplayed a number of other newsworthy stories. The most obvious, of course, being the tragic death of Nicholas Berg, the young man brutally beheaded by Islamic militants on video. If anyone wondered why we must prevail in Iraq and win the war on terror, this video provides the answer. Yet it has received nowhere nearly as much attention as the abuses at Abu Ghraib. Sen. Zell Miller (D-GA) put it best, “Those who are wringing their hands and shouting so loudly for ‘heads to roll’ over [the prison abuse at Abu Ghraib] seem to have conveniently overlooked the fact that someone’s head has rolled – that of another innocent American brutally murdered by terrorists. Why is it that there’s more indignation over a photo of a prisoner with underwear on his head than over the video of a young American with no head at all?”

Something else we have heard little about is the fact that weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq. For months, anti-war pundits wondered where the WMDs had gone, implying President Bush lied about their existence. Now some have been found. On May 17, a roadside bomb exploded in Iraq that contained sarin nerve agent, clearly a WMD. This would appear to be quite a news story, but again, it has been mostly ignored.

Finally, the most under reported story in recent memory has been the Iraq Oil-for-Food debacle. This was a program corrupt to the core, as Iraqi records indicate. A congressional committee is currently investigating the situation, which involves high ranking UN officials, including the son of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, UN Under-Secretary General Benon V. Sevan, several corporations, and high ranking officials in a number of nations, including France and Britain.

The regime of Saddam Hussein murdered about 300,000 people, and killed over a million in wars it started. The Oil-for-Food program was designed to help feed the starving civilians of Iraq. Yet it appears Saddam had UN officials bribed, and instead of feeding the innocent Iraqis, Saddam continued to build up his military. Meanwhile, high-ranking officials simply looked the other way. Any fair minded individual would have to conclude this is a much bigger story than some Iraqi thug with underwear on his head, since it involves numerous organizations, as well as the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians. So why isn’t it being covered more thoroughly?

All of these facts seem to indicate there are many here in America who either do not wish to win the war on terror, or at least are more interested in scoring political points. Perhaps they don’t understand how crucial it is that we emerge victorious, or they simply don’t care. In terms of results, it doesn’t matter. If we fail in Iraq, it doesn’t just hurt Bush. It hurts America. Everyone, including those who opposed regime change in Baghdad, should understand this reality. Sadly, the idea of politics ending at the water’s edge is long out of date. This may help Democrats in the short term. But in the long term, it will hurt all Americans.

All pundits and politicians should keep this in mind.