Archive for September, 2016


I recently came across this video on Facebook and was impressed, both emotionally and for its somber content. It was inspiring to me. For this impact I decided to repost it, and as I did I thanked the friend who had first posted it to his page. It is based on Ronald Reagan’s [perhaps] most famous speech, A Time for Choosing.

In response to my posting, another friend commented, “It is awesome, in the true sense of the word, to watch our military, in all its glory. Unfortunately, Reagan was playing to people’s fears of a Cold War that was mostly in our heads as a nation. It cost a fortune to arm our country against a nation that in the end was falling apart. Fear is still the m.o. for some Americans. I wish we could move beyond the fear and use our might for positive and optimistic pursuits.”

Here is my response:

By the same token, we could say [in retrospect] that Germany’s path under Hitler was [ultimately] not sustainable (20/20 hindsight); one could have reasoned that in both cases the world could have waited them out. Stalin’s Soviet Union killed at least 20 million people (some estimates approach 60 million), and with their post-war expansion including the Berlin blockade, their aggressive missile program (ours, too – how could it have not happened?) then their strategic missiles in Cuba – that trend line, especially in light of WW2, was not a positive one.

Flughafen Tempelhof wird geschlossen

Fear mongering? The Berlin Wall was actually built, and not by US – and consider the lives – and countries, economies, futures, freedoms, choices, opportunities – all torn apart when it was built. Consider the people – East German people – killed trying to escape their own country because of it. This defined the earliest hours of the Cold War. And we (the US) neither did it nor caused it. Should we have waited out evil to fall on its own? It was a “cold” war, after all; there was no real shooting, after all, right? (not that any of us, safe at home, so well protected in the continental US knew of. . .). From that view, we did in fact wait it out – for about 28 years. And it was Reagan, years after his speech in the video, who issued the challenge – and not with a military weapon, but with words: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”


How can we truly, accurately predict the future? All indicators told the world where the USSR was going. Consider how Adlai Stevenson (Democrat) confronted the Soviet ambassador in the UN Security Council. Think of the experience that so many came out of – including Reagan: the end of World War II, the late 40’s with the rapidly expanding Soviet sphere and their blockade of Berlin and intended permanent partition of Germany, the missile era and Sputnik of the 1950’s and the Cuban Missile Crisis and Berlin Wall of the early 1960’s.

Even still, there is a FB group that seeks to discredit and delegitimize Reagan; there they promote the denigration, even hatred of him. There are many who will always believe he was a bad person, with ulterior, selfish, evil-intended motives working secretly (or not so secretly) in support of the so-called military–industrial complex, so-called by President Eisenhower (Republican). Imagine if the US did nothing in response and Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Carter, Ford and Reagan all stated instead we would watch and wait?


And why might Reagan (then recently-former Democrat) have “fear mongered”? For what purpose or gain? Is it ultimately the truth to say he believed and acted with il- if not evil, ulterior intent? Did he intend to manipulate his hearers for an ultimate evil? I do not believe it. If anyone does believe it, they might as well argue that ultimately he was even morally wrong to speak of the United States as a “Shining City Upon A Hill”.

Consider the success of the Reykjavík Summit in Iceland, negotiating with and facing down Gorbachev and the Soviets, not with arms, but with rationale, resolve and right (yes, perhaps some – many – would argue against the points “success” and “right”, but how would those detractors have proposed it to have been done?). That meeting and its ultimate results were a very long time coming, and in relative peace, without a shot fired.


Consider the year during which the referenced speech in the video was made (1964). Think of where Reagan and his contemporaries came from – and they were hardly alone. Would anyone argue that he or his contemporaries’ views were completely without foundation? That is an absurdity. Can any of us really in full and complete knowledge now declare our defense measures and efforts to contain if not put down communism were a waste of money? How would someone possibly qualify and quantify that indisputably? Consider the implications of such Monday morning quarterbacking some sixty and seventy years in retrospect.


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We do not need a military, including soldiers trained for hand-to-hand combat, fighter jets, rifles or armed ships of any kind for positive and optimistic pursuit. Positive and optimistic pursuits call for knowledgeable and capable people, cargo ships and transport planes. There is no useful purpose to a military being seen in all its glory for the sake of its glory. It is meant to deter or stop a bad thing from happening. Is it to be argued deterrence is unnecessary? That war is never to be necessary? And what if there were never any preparations for the what if?

And let’s not forget – the US provides those very military ships and planes – and people – for positive and optimistic pursuits constantly, world-wide, and more than any other country – saving lives, delivering food and medicine, hope and relief, and blankets and shelter and water and water filtration systems and tools and doctors and nurses and dentists and ditch diggers, electricians and bulldozer drivers and carpenters.

Maybe, ultimately, it should be argued that no weapons of any kind should ever be produced by anyone, anywhere. A world like that would truly be optimistic. It would be Utopia…but sadly, tragically, unrealistic.


My take on Reagan’s speech, A Time for Choosing, is that while it may seem like fear mongering and over-the-top melodrama to some, it demonstrates what standing on principle actually sounds like. It describes what strength for the sake of liberty requires. It declares what true leadership and hope – like a shining city on a hill – for a hurting, threatened and uncertain world looks like. We’re just not used to it.

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More fascinating – and disturbing – videos about The Berlin Wall:



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