- The Washington Times - Friday, August 18, 2000

Ten years ago this month, a spectacular article titled "The Anti-Cold War Brigade" appeared in Commentary, the prestigious intellectual monthly, which exposed the intellectual fatuity of leading American academics and political analysts about President Reagan, communism and the Soviet Union.

The August 1990 essay by Arch Puddington, presently vice president for research at Freedom House, is of particular importance to review on the eve of the first presidential campaign of the 21st century. It is important to do so because the same people who were so abysmally wrong about Ronald Reagan's policies toward the one-time Soviet Union are now supporting the Gore-Lieberman campaign. And the same people who were so right about Mr. Reagan's policies toward the one-time Soviet Union are now supporters or advisers of the Bush-Cheney campaign. Let the debate revolve around this issue: Who is to be trusted with American foreign policy in the decades ahead?

If history can escape from the clutches of tendentious American historians, then the Reagan administration will be denominated as the most successful in world history because it won a war, albeit cold, without bloodshed and global catastrophe. As Michael Howard has written, "The policy of the West has been ultimately vindicated, not only by our victory, but by the fact that the War remained Cold; and that we are alive to tell the tale."

How was such a victory achieved? Because Mr. Reagan surrounded himself with advisers and officeholders like George Shultz, Elliot Abrams and the three Richards Allen, Perle and Pipes who believed, with Mr. Reagan, that the Cold War could be won without bloodshed, and democracy and freedom saved from Soviet imperialism. Had the people Mr. Puddington listed in the Anti-Cold War Brigade been in power in Congress and the White House, there probably would still be a Soviet Union.

"What came to be known as the Reagan Doctrine," wrote Mr. Puddington, "emerged as one of the great successes of American foreign policy, stemming Soviet gains in he Third World and ultimately rolling back Communist influence everywhere save in such hidebound regimes as Cuba and North Korea."

Who were some of the members of the Anti-Cold War Brigade? Alphabetically: Richard Barnet, Stephen F. Cohen, John K. Galbraith, Raymond L. Garthoff, Stanley Hoffmann, George Kennan, George McGovern, David Riesman, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Ronald Steel and Strobe Talbott. (Out of respect for the dead I will omit the anti-Cold War absurdities propounded as gospel by J. William Fulbright and Averell Harriman.)

Mr. Talbott, now deputy secretary of state, was in his earlier incarnation an editor of Time. He canonized Mikhail Gorbachev on the magazine cover as "Man of the Decade." The Reagan doctrine had nothing to do with the Soviet collapse, he argued, that, in fact the doctrine was counterproductive. He is a Gore-Lieberman supporter.

Mr. McGovern, the 1972 Democratic presidential candidate, was "something of an enthusiast for Third World communism," wrote Mr. Puddington, "identifying in the leaders of Vietnamese communism and in Fidel Castro qualities akin to those found in America's Founding Fathers." He blamed the Cold War on the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan. A Gore-Lieberman supporter.

Mr. Garthoff, a Brookings Institution senior fellow no less, returned from a 1983 visit to the Soviet Union with a report that the Kremlin had all but abandoned hope of improving relations with the United States. He predicted that "we must soon expect to see off our coasts Soviet submarines and perhaps surface ships armed with nuclear-tipped cruise missiles pilotless drones that can strike our territory." A Gore-Lieberman supporter.

After a 1982 visit to the Soviet Union, Mr. Schlesinger wrote that "those in the U.S. who think the Soviet Union is on the verge of economic and social collapse, ready with one small push to go over the brink, are … only kidding themselves." A Gore-Lieberman supporter.

Probably the most inaccurate of all anti-Reagan commentators about the Cold War was Mr. Cohen. He used Soviet statistics to paint glowing pictures of Leonid Brezhnev's Russia, statistics that were later shown by Russian archives to be false. He peddled stories about the Soviet Union's "remarkable stability." A year before Mr. Gorbachev came to power, Mr. Cohen predicted that because of Reagan policies the world now faced "the prospect of a Soviet leadership devoted to Cold War and no longer believing in detente." A Gore-Lieberman supporter.

Had the prescriptions of the Anti-Cold War Brigade prevailed, wrote Mr. Puddington, "the Cold War would most certainly still be on, and the collapse of Communist totalitarianism would have been delayed instead of being hastened, as in fact it was by the policy of containment pursued under Reagan, to the immense benefit of everyone in the world."

Arnold Beichman, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, is a columnist for The Washington Times.

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