by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
A forgotten aspect of Ronald Reagan’s presidency: He wanted to abolish nuclear weapons.
Advancing that cause was one of the main goals of his presidency. Reagan was an anti-nuclear activist from the beginning of the nuclear age: Long before he entered politics formally, and almost 20 years before he left the Democratic Party for the GOP, Reagan planned to lead an anti-nuclear campaign in Hollywood but was prevented from doing so by his studio, Warner Brothers. This was December of 1945 — only four months after Hiroshima. Reagan was part of the anti-nuclear cause from the very beginning.
As Paul Lettow wrote in 2006:
“Reagan, contrary to his image as a champion of the bomb, was a nuclear abolitionist. This is not a mere historical curiosity. Abolishing nuclear weapons was one of Reagan’s fundamental goals for his presidency. His desire to rid the world of nuclear weapons underpinned much of what he did as President in terms of his Cold War policy. In many ways it is difficult to understand Reagan’s presidency without taking into account his anti-nuclearism. But thus far that aspect of Reagan has been largely overlooked.” …
… Unhappily, only half the job got done: The Soviet Union was defeated, but its nuclear weapons remained, and remain. As Vladimir Putin engages in nuclear blackmail — and that is precisely what he is doing at this moment — Reagan’s vision and his strategy remain surprisingly relevant. Putin’s Russia has different specific weaknesses than Gorbachev’s Russia did, but it will prove economically unsustainable — if the free world resolves to make it so. Putin is almost 70 years old, and he has enemies. There will be a post-Putin era.
The people who scoff at “Zombie Reaganism” are not paying attention to the news.