Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan / Photo: Joe
Reagan: The Man Who Scared the Empire to Death
Created: 08.06.2004 16:54 MSK (GMT +3), Updated:
Georgy Bovt, editor-in-chief, Izvestia
It seems it is possible to make history without even paying
much heed to what you are doing, without even being aware of the
implications and without taking any pride in what has been achieved, as if
everything that happens does so naturally.
And yet, the late Ronald Reagan was the man to whom the Soviet Union owes
its demise, and Eastern Europe for the end of what it called “the Soviet
occupation” and its accession to quite a different Europe.
For a start, the Soviet people owe him for the introduction of a bastardized
version of the “prohibition act”, and then, after what seemed to be an
endless sequence of both major and minor problems and mishaps that befell
the empire, the emergence of the great reformer Boris Yeltsin, whose rule
brought about the advent of the great stabilizer Vladimir Putin and life as
we know it today.
Of course, Ronald Reagan was no Nostradamus and during the reign of Yuri
Andropov in the USSR could never have foreseen the advent of Vladimir Putin.
And yet there is something symbolic about the fact that Ronald Reagan died a
natural death at the age of 93 in his bed surrounded by his loved ones. He
died at a time when Vladimir Putin rules Russia, after the Russian president
had just been sworn in for his second term in office.
I am deeply convinced that none other than Ronald Reagan — the former
Hollywood actor who wiped out bandits and swindlers in the Wild West’s
outhouses, to paraphrase Putin, and did exactly the same with the
left-wingers and communists among his colleagues, who later became president
and whose mental faculties were openly derided by the best commentators both
in the Soviet Union and in the States — was the one who triggered all the
changes that befell the Soviet Union and, subsequently, Russia.
For the ’sovok’, as the Soviet people used to contemptuously refer to their
homeland, Reagan was a kind of American Ivan the Simpleton from Russian folk
tales, who either inadvertently or by some ingenious intent — God knows
which — pushed the first domino in a long row of dominoes, and the empire
collapsed, ushering in the changes. And all that happened because Ronald
Reagan was a very simple person who, in spite of his simplicity, was so
ingenious that he was destined to succeed in fulfilling his most complicated
“They are all dying on me,” he joked as the Soviet Union buried Chernenko,
the third decrepit Soviet ruler after Brezhnev and Andropov to die while
Reagan was in office.
He defeated and outwitted them all by inventing — especially for the old
Kremlin dotards — an exciting and terrifying fairy-tale, the horror story
entitled ’Star Wars’. They had almost all certainly watched George Lucas’s
’Star Wars’ at closed performances organized for them in great secrecy.
And the secrecy surrounding those screenings inevitably intensified the
impact of a film on those who were deemed by themselves as men of genius.
And since many others had not seen those films and had not known what was
going on in the Soviet leaders’ heads, the Kremlin movie-goers had no one to
The Kremlin dotards were scared of the prospect of Star Wars. The first time
they had really got scared was when they gunned down a South Korean jet
killing dozens of passengers on board. They seriously geared up for war with
the States then.
And upon hearing the horror tale about Star Wars they suddenly realized that
the country they ruled was underdeveloped both technologically and
militarily. So scared, in fact, they opted for the young Gorbachev. He came
to office, like all of his predecessors, with no clear-cut agenda and no
But to the Kremlin elders he seemed tough enough to modernize the country,
although the concept of modernization was somewhat unclear in their brains.
No one in this country, neither the people on the whole nor the
establishment sincerely sought radical changes or reforms. Gorbachev was not
the only one to have no plan of action. Nobody had a plan.
They daydreamed, harboring illusions and believing it was possible to
’improve’ the Communist Party, to build socialism with a human face; they
believed that the planned economy could be efficient provided the planning
was done more thoroughly; they believed the friendship between the brotherly
Soviet peoples would last forever, that eradicating alcoholism and boosting
labor productivity was possible by forcing a Russian worker to abstain from
drinking before two in the afternoon. And only today does everyone realize
how absurd all those ideas were!
After hearing too much about Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars tales, the Kremlin
geriatrics panicked. Today many of the steps taken then, in the mid-80s,
seem to some to be the first steps aimed at steering clear of the legacy of
But the real tragedy for the country is that by embarking on the road of
change our leaders were never guided by their own sincere convictions, or a
true awareness that something needed to be changed, that the Russian people
deserve a better, happier life. They did so because they were scared.
They were forced to take those steps, at first out of the fear that Reagan’s
West was stronger militarily, and then upon realizing they had lost the
historic race against another super-power that had proven to be more
powerful. Nonetheless, the Soviet leaders never felt guilty for what they
had done; no, they claimed they had done everything right, but the other
side was pushing harder and our allies had walked out on us.
They were scared to death! By Ronald Reagan. Now that the man is dead we
will have to wait for another Reagan to come and scare us into new, more or
less decisive changes. And that is the way we live — from one scare to
08.06.2004 14:02 MSK, MOSNEWS.COM
07.06.2004 13:14 MSK, MOSNEWS.COM