“We win. They lose.” That’s how Ronald Reagan described his vision of the Cold War’s end. For eight years, he pushed and prodded the Soviet Union until it finally collapsed, 30 years ago this past December.
Reagan didn’t talk about parades, fireworks and brass bands in the aftermath of victory. He was, as a matter of fact, confident that freedom and liberty would prevail over the forces of darkness. Yet, by allowing the Cold War to conclude with a whimper rather than a bang, America and the other western powers allowed the crimes committed by the Soviets to go unpunished.
This was an error. The atrocities committed by the Soviets have been allowed to slip down the memory hole where, unlike those for which Nazi Germany is daily remembered, they have remained.
The anniversary of the Soviet Union’s collapse has passed largely unremembered and unremarked. A period of reassessment followed America’s victory in this fourth great crisis, producing a generation that neither knows nor cares why the values of the West needed to prevail over those that arose from the writings of Karl Marx.
Now the collectivists and the central planners are on the march once again. The Chinese Communists have begun another long march, this time toward global dominance. Will America respond, or will it allow them to succeed unchallenged?
The answer is uncertain. According to the Gallup Poll, “Americans remain much more positive toward capitalism than socialism, and their ratings of each have been largely stable over the past decade-plus.” That’s a hopeful sign but hardly reassuring that, as Abraham Lincoln said, “We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth.”
Evidence of our doubt abounds. Sen. Richard Blumenthal tried to avoid condemnation over his recent speech to a Connecticut Communist Party affiliate by explaining he didn’t understand to whom he was speaking. That may be true, but it’s hardly believable and would not have been a sufficient excuse if he’d spoken to a Neo-Nazi group.
Had the latter been true, the outrage would have left him isolated from his fellow Democrats. It might even have driven him from the Senate. But because Communism is somehow viewed as more benign than Nazism, he survives, despite men like Lenin, Stalin and Mao being responsible for the murder of at least 10 times as many people as Hitler.
In each of the major crises that occurred since America came into being, the founding fathers’ ideals have prevailed. Those who carried the banner of freedom prevailed in the War for Independence, the Civil War, World War II, and the Cold War — each of which could have brought the American experiment to an end had they concluded differently.
This is not an ephemeral matter. It is an existential consideration. The Soviet Union may be gone, but the threat posed by the Communists and collectivists remains. Will America have the wherewithal to continue to stand for what is right, or will we allow the nature of this nation that has long endured against all threats to be changed by those who don’t know or don’t care what this nation has meant and means to so much of the world? We would do well to consider now what our answer will be.