Reagan was a man for his time and place

Published 7:43 pm Thursday, June 17, 2004

By Staff
Arthur McLean
When you see how history plays out, you see that sometimes, things just had to happen the way they did, or the future beyond would have turned out very differently.
For instance, would a divided post Civil War America have been strong enough to liberate Europe in World War I and World War II? Had we not liberated Europe in World War II, would we have had the scientists who helped us put a man on the moon?
In this light, you begin to realize that Ronald Reagan was the only president we could have had in the 1980s.
Russian nuclear missiles scared a lot of people. Many of the things Reagan proposed scared them even more.
Even during a depressed economy, Reagan put the spurs to military spending. He was a staunch supporter, rescuer and initiator of a huge array of projects from the B-1 bomber to the MX missile, the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, an expanded naval fleet and the Strategic Defense Initiative or "Star Wars."
With the thankful exception of the MX, our military forces today have used the fruits of all of those projects in overthrowing the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and liberating the people of Iraq from a cruel and terrible dictator.
We engaged the enemy in two different theaters and won swift military victories with an unprecedented low number of American casualties.
And, we were able to do it without fear of drawing the Soviet army into our operations and creating a larger conflict.
Two of the initiatives Reagan was most criticized for, but he most believed in, proved to be vital in our efforts today to secure this country from the new threat of terrorism on our shores: something Reagan probably couldn't have imagined during his years as president.
Our high tech military is using ideas and tactics made possible by America's advanced weapons research. SDI fueled a lot of crazy ideas, but it propelled the state of technology in this country well ahead of anyone else.
The Soviets knew they couldn't keep up with American spending on such a project, but how could they not try if Reagan were to be so adamant? Reagan refused to give in to his critics at home and to negotiating pressure from abroad. He refused to appease the Soviets at the bargaining table. Russia's already failing economy crumbled under the weight of its military spending.
The once mighty red menace has now nearly come full circle to become a partner with the U.S. in some arenas.
I believe none of this would have happened had someone else been president at that time. Reagan's ideas and beliefs in these areas, I think, proved to be the right ones, and put America in a position of strength today. Without this particular president at this particular time, one can only wonder what might have been.
Arthur McLean is the Editor of the Atmore Advance.

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