News Release

Reagan’s Foreign Policies: Beyond the Myths


President of TransAfrica Forum, Fletcher said today: “Reagan had this ability to project warmth and compassion while implementing incredibly draconian foreign and domestic policies. One example of this was his stubborn resistance to sanctions against the apartheid regime of South Africa.”
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Director of the American Friends Service Committee’s Peace and Economic Security Program and the author of the book The Deadly Connection: Nuclear War and U.S. Intervention, Gerson said today: “The idea that Reagan won the Cold War by increasing the military pressure on the Soviet Union is one of the great myths that much government policy continues to be based on…. In both the Reagan and current administrations, the vast increases in U.S. military spending reduced the security of U.S. people, both in terms of increased military threats to the U.S. and in greatly reduced social services and environmental protections…. In both cases the first-strike warfare commitments made the world more dangerous. The Soviets responded to Reagan with a ‘launch on warning’ policy, whereby Soviet missiles would be automatically launched on the first warning of a possible U.S. nuclear attack. This left humanity hanging in the balance of political miscalculations and technological glitches.”
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Editor of the book Terrorism: Theirs & Ours (interviews with Eqbal Ahmad), which features on its cover a photo of a meeting between Ronald Reagan and Afghan Mujahideen in the Oval Office, Barsamian said today: “During the Reagan administration, the U.S. organized and financed some of the most reactionary elements in Afghanistan which soon thereafter morphed into the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. You could draw an oblique line from the Reagan administration’s policies to 9-11…. During the Iran-Iraq war Reagan sent Donald Rumsfeld, special Middle East envoy, to Baghdad to meet with Saddam Hussein. Shortly after shaking hands with the Iraqi dictator the U.S. renewed diplomatic relations and extended military and economic aid to Baghdad. U.S. support for Iraq was decisive in the war continuing until 1988. During the height of Saddam’s worst atrocities Reagan said nothing. Throughout his presidency Reagan supported Israel’s annexationist policies. His role in the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and subsequent occupation has barely been commented on…. War crimes by U.S. allies such as Iraq and Israel were not a problem for the Great Communicator.”
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Goodman, a former CIA analyst, is a senior fellow for intelligence reform at the Center for International Policy. Referring to U.S. policy in Central America, he said today: “Crimes were committed in the 1980s. People who perpetrated these crimes were pardoned by the first Bush administration. Elliott Abrams was pardoned — now he’s a senior adviser for the Mideast at the National Security Council. John Poindexter was pardoned and he was brought back by this administration. John Negroponte was involved in the cover-up of crimes in Honduras, and he’s been approved to be ambassador to Iraq….” Goodman wrote the new book Bush League Diplomacy: How the Neo-Conservatives are Putting the World at Risk.
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Liteky served as a chaplain during the Vietnam War and was awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor. He said today: “I renounced my Congressional Medal of Honor — I laid it at the apex of the Vietnam Wall — when I came to the realization of how destructive our Central American policy was in the 1980s. We were supporting one of the most brutal armies in El Salvador and one of the most brutal counter-revolutionary armies in Nicaragua, the Contras — which Reagan illegally armed.”
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Executive director of Peace Action, Martin said today: “Ronald Reagan, that ardent Cold Warrior who oversaw a huge nuclear buildup, came to understand the folly of the arms race (in no small part because of the huge anti-nuclear protests in this country and in Europe) and acknowledged, ‘A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.’ President Bush and his Congressional allies would do well to heed Reagan’s words and give up their pursuit of new, more ‘usable’ types of nuclear weapons, such as the ‘bunker buster’ and ‘mini-nukes,’ which are being voted on this week in the Senate…. Far from hastening the end of the Cold War, many observers, include leading Soviet analysts, claim Reagan’s hard-line policies prolonged it. Gorbachev and other reformers were ready to move forward with glasnost and perestroika more quickly than they were able to, because Reagan’s tough-guy rhetoric strengthened the hand of old-school communists in the Soviet Union.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167