Wednesday, March 19, 2008
On this day:

Mikhail Gorbachev: No longer a "closet believer"

This (and this) provides a whole new perspective on the role Mikhail Gorbachev played in the collapse of the Soviet Union and the fall of Communism.

One obvious question is this: "What did Reagan know, and when did he know it?"

Here's an interesting aside, courtesy of Peter Robinson at NRO:
Whenever Ronald Reagan would mention his suspicion that Mikhail Gorbachev was a secret believer, everyone on the White House staff would scoff, thinking the president naive. When I had the opportunity to speak to Gorbachev a couple of years ago, however, I found myself concluding that Reagan had been onto something after all. Why, I asked, had Gorbachev refrained from putting down the revolution of 1989, just as Khrushchev had put down the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and Brezhnev had put down the Prague Spring of 1968? "Because of something I shared with Ronald Reagan," Gorbachev replied. "Christian morality."
So, Reagan was right all along. Again.

This really makes you wonder. Reagan and Gorbachev held several private meetings with each other over the years. We know that President Reagan brought up the issue of religious freedom in the former Soviet Union on numerous occasions. Is it possible that in the course of their discussions that Gorbachev actually told Reagan that he was a Christian?

During his presidency, Reagan often repeated an old Russian proverb: "Doveryai, no proveryai", "trust, but verify," citing it as a fundamental rule for dealing with the Soviets. So, how was it that an old cold warrior like Reagan came to be so trusting of a "Godless Communist" like Mr. Gorbachev? Many of Reagan's closest friends - conservatives who despised Communism as much as he did - were perplexed at Reagan's seeming naivete in his arms control negotiations with Gorbachev. They accused him of selling out America's interests - not to mention his own principles - in what they viewed as a far-too-warm embrace of the Soviet leader. As Dinesh D'Souza wrote back in 1997:
During Reagan's second term, when he supported Gorbachev's reform efforts and pursued arms-reduction agreements with him, many conservatives denounced his apparent change of heart. "Ignorant and pathetic" was the way Charles Krauthammer viewed Reagan's behavior. William F. Buckley Jr. urged Reagan to reconsider his positive assessment of the Gorbachev regime: "To greet it as if it were no longer evil is on the order of changing our entire position toward Adolf Hitler." George Will mourned that "Reagan has accelerated the moral disarmament of the West by elevating wishful thinking to the status of political philosophy."
So, what did President Reagan know and when did he know it? Could the foundation of trust between the two most powerful leaders in the world have been built upon their shared Christian faith?

One was able to proclaim his faith publicly. The other could only hope that one day he and his countrymen would be allowed to do the same. Did that hope help bring the Cold War to its end? Just asking.