Reagan on the Soviet Union vs. Obama on Iran
Daniel Larison makes an excellent point against those critics on the right who feel that Obama’s rhetoric on the current Iranian revolt should be more reminiscient of Reagan’s comments to “tear down this wall” etc.
While we’re at it, let’s remember Reagan had leverage against the Soviets and the Polish government in 1981 because of all that dastardly detente, arms negotiations and the existence of trade relations with Poland. Thanks to thirty years of bankrupt Iran policy, we have very little leverage with the Iranian government, and this is a situation that the President’s critics would like to perpetuate indefinitely. If Obama’s choices are limited to remaining largely silent or saying something reckless, it is the result of thirty years of truly isolationist policy that the President’s critics have supported. Vilification, sanctions and hostility for decades have not made the regime more flexible, open or relaxed, but instead it has become even more inflexible, closed and repressive. Now we’re supposed to listen to the people who backed every failed policy towards Iran?
That’s exactly right. I’d also add that Reagan was more than willing to sit down and talk with the Soviets. Not to mention the fact that he actually signed arms reduction treaties. He also knew the wisdom of restraint when the times called for it. For example, when asked in 1988 if he still considered the Soviet Union to be an “evil empire”, Reagan said “No, I was talking about another time, another era.”
Of course, had he said something like that in today’s political climate, he’s be crucified by the right-wing blogosphere as feckless and a “surrender-monkey.”