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The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

Bruges Group Blog

Spearheading the intellectual battle against the EU. And for new thinking in international affairs.

"Tear Down This Wall": How Reagan Changed the World


Today marks 34 years since one of the most memorable and historic speeches ever made by a US President, and one that changed the course of history, it is of course when President Reagan stood in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin and told General Secretary Gorbachev to "tear down this wall". Now as we face today's challenges, our leaders should be channelling their inner Ronald Reagan in search for not just freedom and liberty but also for two other values which the 40th President held in high regard, peace and love.

Unfortunately, the current 'leader of the free world' does not come even close to the Gipper and I'm not talking about his communication, let's face it very few could even dream of coming close to Reagan in that field. I mean in general, his policies and globalist dream of international corporation taxes is one of the most fundamentally damaging and elitist policies one could ever cook up.

As Reagan championed free trade, family values, social conservatism and low taxes, President Biden champions the opposite and intends to slap a new global levy on corporations which the G7 nations are set to follow suit, this would be a grave mistake in my opinion. It will be almost universally hailed as a triumph: in reality it is, on balance, a flawed deal that could hamper Britain's long-term ability to compete and would cartelise the global economy at a time when electorates, post-Brexit, want to take back control.

It was 34 years ago that President Reagan stood in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on the West side. There, straight from the heart, he spoke of liberty and freedom, he spoke against the oppressive Soviet regime – and he gave hope to millions behind the Iron Curtain. But the most famous line of that speech, etched into every conservative's heart, came just under ten minutes in, when he addressed Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev directly.

"General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalisation: come here to this gate… Mr Gorbachev, open this gate… Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall."

Just two years after the President had dared Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall", the Cold War was declared over. Another two years after that, the wall did finally fall – and so did the Soviet Union.

Reagan had a unique way of relating to the public and, throughout his eight years in the White House, he acted on his morals and principles rather than out of ego or the thin pursuit of ephemeral popularity. Not only did he convince the American people to support his programme twice, in the 1980 and '84 general elections, he managed to persuade Gorbachev to slowly decrease the amount of arms held by both sides and proceed with a plan of perestroika. Perhaps one of the greatest sadnesses of modern politics is the recent resurgence of Communist ideas, resurrected by young, left-wing activists in the West who have never experienced Communism's horrors – and don't recall the immense ideological battle to defeat it.

Ronald Reagan made the case for freedom, liberty and peace better than any world leader, not just of his day, but possibly of all time. His message of hope gave hope to so many living under oppressive regimes around the globe and, although the Soviet Union didn't fall until his successor (and Vice President) George H.W. Bush was in the Oval Office, it was undoubtedly the Great Communicator himself who precipitated its decline.

However, President Reagan couldn't have done it alone and he very much credits the support and warmth he received from other leaders in defeating the Soviet Union and a generation of Communism. The obvious ally was of course British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, which again now shows the need for not so much a globalist response to rebuilding after the pandemic but a special relationship like that of the 1980s which champions free trade, traditional and mutual family values as well as liberty and freedom of our people, after all as Thatcher once said, "There is no such thing as freedom unless there is economic freedom".

However, perhaps one of the key figures in defeating Communism alongside Reagan who isn't always given the credit he deserves is of course Karol Józef Wojtyła, better known as Pope John Paul II. The Vatican's vehement anti-Communist stance in the 1980s and beyond may have due to the upbringing of JPII, born in Poland in 1920, he knew exactly what the horrors of Communism amounted to and made it one of his greatest priorities to support Reagan in his crusade against the authoritarian state.

The story of the three leaders is told superbly by the ever fantastic John O'Sullivan in his book 'A Pope, a President and a Prime Minister'.

However, I do want to end this on a high note and also want to use this as a chance to commemorate the life of Ronald Reagan who sadly passed away on 5th June 2003 at the age of 93 following a long battle with Alzheimer's disease, and I cannot think of a better way than sharing one of my favourite Reagan jokes about the Soviet Union. Very few politicians could use wit, humour and charm to completely obliterate opponents with such grace but he wasn't nicknamed 'The Great Communicator' for no reason; from one of the greatest take downs in debate history against Walter Mondale in 1984 to making light of his assassination attempt when a balloon popped, he was certainly one of a kind!

"There's two fellas having a discussion about their systems of government, an American guy and a Russian guy. The American fella says, 'If I don't like how something is being done, i can go to the White House, to the Oval Office, pound on the President's desk and say 'Mr President, I don't like the way you're running our country!' so the Russian fella says, 'I can do that' and the American says, 'You can?' and he says, 'Yeah, I can go to the Kremlin, up to the General Secretary's Office, pound on his desk and say 'Mr General Secretary, I don't like the way President Reagan is running his country!"

With credit to Free Market Conservatives

Watch the full speech here:

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