Wednesday, June 23, 2004

# Posted 1:26 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

OXBLOG IN THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I've just published an article in the Weekly Standard on Reagan's legacy of promoting democracy worldwide. It begins as follows:
A ROMANTIC. A DREAMER. An optimist. A man of conviction. In the few short days since President Reagan left this world, both his admirers and his critics have settled on a short-list of character traits that are supposed to capture his essence. Yet neither Reagan's admirers nor his critics have begun to grapple with the most romantic and optimistic of the convictions that animated his foreign policy--one that still exerts an unparalleled influence on the conduct of American foreign relations. Whenever President Bush describes democracy as a universal aspiration, capable of flourishing even in the desert wastelands of the Middle East, it is Ronald Reagan's voice that he echoes.

In his historic address to the British Parliament at Westminster in the summer of 1982, Reagan foresaw the downfall of the Soviet empire. Much less noticed was his declaration that democracy promotion must serve as the moral and strategic foundation of American foreign policy. Reporters at the time portrayed Reagan's address as an anti-Communist broadside, all but ignoring its positive agenda of promoting human freedom and self-government.

The discussion of Reagan's legacy as an American statesman has focused almost exclusively on the degree to which his diplomacy was responsible for the end of the Cold War. Without intending to do so, participants on both sides of the debate have reinforced the notion that Reagan's legacy is one of tearing down, not one of building up. If so, then Reagan has nothing to teach us about the post-Cold War era.

Yet at Westminster, Reagan was careful...
The rest of the article is for subscribers only. But life will go on. Really, it will. In the meantine, why not take a look at Reagan's historic address at Westminster? Or perhaps at the 1986 State of the Union Address, in which Reagan memorably and controversially declared that
To those imprisoned in regimes held captive, to those beaten for daring to fight for freedom and democracy -- for their right to worship, to speak, to live, and to prosper in the family of free nations -- we say to you tonight: You are not alone, freedom fighters. America will support with moral and material assistance your right not just to fight and die for freedom but to fight and win freedom -- to win freedom in Afghanistan, in Angola, in Cambodia, and in Nicaragua. This is a great moral challenge for the entire free world.
If you still want more, you can find a list of Reagan's most important speeches right here. And if it's a speech from Reagan's first six years as President, you can find the full text here.
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