Gorbachev on who won…
Gorbachev on who won or lost the Cold War:

But if he had warm, appreciative words for Reagan, Gorbachev brusquely dismissed the suggestion that Reagan had intimidated either him or the Soviet Union, or forced them to make concessions. Was it accurate to say that Reagan won the Cold War? “That’s not serious,” Gorbachev said, using the same words several times. “I think we all lost the Cold War, particularly the Soviet Union. We each lost $10 trillion,” he said, referring to the money Russians and Americans spent on an arms race that lasted more than four decades. “We only won when the Cold War ended.”

By that logic, we all lost World War II, until it ended. Sorry, I don’t see it that way. The cost of lives in World War II was worth it to beat back tyranny, and it was worth it every step of the way. In a cause that is right, every right step taken is a little “win” that can lead to the final, big “win”. And in in winning World War II, we lost far, far more human life than we did in the Cold War. Yeah, it was a lot of money, but it was mostly just money we lost. Each step towards the defeat of the Soviet Union was one of many little “wins”.

But here’s a guy who believes this as well, a gentleman who was a part of many of those little “wins” that brought down the Soviet Unions; a gentleman named Lech Walesa.

Poles fought for their freedom for so many years that they hold in special esteem those who backed them in their struggle. Support was the test of friendship. President Reagan was such a friend. His policy of aiding democratic movements in Central and Eastern Europe in the dark days of the Cold War meant a lot to us. We knew he believed in a few simple principles such as human rights, democracy and civil society. He was someone who was convinced that the citizen is not for the state, but vice-versa, and that freedom is an innate right.

In the Europe of the 1980s, Ronald Reagan presented a vision. For us in Central and Eastern Europe, that meant freedom from the Soviets. Mr. Reagan was no ostrich who hoped that problems might just go away. He thought that problems are there to be faced. This is exactly what he did.

I have often been asked in the United States to sign the poster that many Americans consider very significant. Prepared for the first almost-free parliamentary elections in Poland in 1989, the poster shows Gary Cooper as the lonely sheriff in the American Western, “High Noon.” Under the headline “At High Noon” runs the red Solidarity banner and the date–June 4, 1989–of the poll. It was a simple but effective gimmick that, at the time, was misunderstood by the Communists. They, in fact, tried to ridicule the freedom movement in Poland as an invention of the “Wild” West, especially the U.S.

But the poster had the opposite impact: Cowboys in Western clothes had become a powerful symbol for Poles. Cowboys fight for justice, fight against evil, and fight for freedom, both physical and spiritual. Solidarity trounced the Communists in that election, paving the way for a democratic government in Poland. It is always so touching when people bring this poster up to me to autograph it. They have cherished it for so many years and it has become the emblem of the battle that we all fought together.

Was that election a “loss” because the Cold War hadn’t ended yet? No, not in the slightest. Of the many “wins” along the way, that was one of the bigger ones that helped seal the big “win”. Reducing the Cold War by simply bemoaning the spending of money is, to an extreme, glossing over the real issues of freedom vs. oppression. But, of course, that’s the only way Gorbachev can possibly put the U.S. and the Soviet Union on any sort of moral equivalence; they both spent a lot of money. The left tries to do this all the time; drawing moral equivalences between Israel attacking Palestinian military targets and Palestinians blowing up civilian buses, or between the tragic civilian casualties of the Iraq war with the overwhelming evil of Saddam’s hundreds of thousands dead and tortured. There was no moral equivalence between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, between freedom and oppression, nor between, as Walesa notes in his article, the cowboy and Communism.

Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this rhetoric!

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