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Donald Johnson

"Reagan had ruled out any retaliation against terrorists that might get civilians killed. He called that, a shrugged-off acceptance of collateral damage, a form of terrorism itself."

That's nice if true, but you realize that it is totally inconsistent with his support for the contras, the Salvadoran military, and Jonas Savimbi, don't you? Add it all up and that's several hundred thousand dead civilians and not "collateral damage" either, but deliberate acts of terror. Reagan was a butcher. That he wasn't always a butcher is great--it means a slightly smaller bodycount--but it just demonstrates that even bad people aren't necessarily consistent in their badness.

The one good thing I would say about Reagan is that, unlike his rightwing allies, he recognized that Gorbachev sincerely wanted an end to the Cold War and it is very much to Reagan's credit that he jumped at the opportunity. It's in that sense that he ended the Cold War.

Lance

Donald, you're right about the inconsistency. And inconsistent seems too mild a word for what it was, a cognitive dissonance so profound it was delusional. Reagan blended reality and an idealized version of it in his head and that's not a trait you like to see in a President. Like I said, I didn't like the guy. The point I wanted t make with this post as just that all bravado about America needing to be tough all the time, with toughness defined as the willingness to kill without thought or compunction, is based on the myth that Reagan made America great and strong again and that he did it by being that kind of tough. He didn't and he wasn't, and it was good that he wasn't, because there'd have been even more dead by the end of his Presidency.

Mike Schilling

When all the usual suspects (Rumsfeld, Cheney, really a Who's Who of warmongering fools) were insisting that Gorbachev was a duplicitous KGB-trained apparatchik whose peaceful-seeming overtures were part of a fiendish plot to lull the old U S of A to sleep while the Soviets took over the world, Reagan had the sense to dismiss them and travel along with Gorbachev towards the end of the Cold War. For that he deserves all of our thanks.

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