Saturday, July 19, 2014
Like a Reagan cowboy
After the recent shooting down of passenger flight MH17 with around 300 dead by Ukrainian separatists and/or the Russian military, Sinclair Davidson posts Ronald Reagan's speech on passenger flight KAL 007 after it was shot down by the USSR military in 1983, later calling it "forceful and inspiring". This is an echo of similar posts at Hot Air, RedState and Fox News comparing Reagan's strong words with the cautious early reaction of Barack Obama, which already has the tabloids incensed.
As usual, the right is ignoring the facts in favour of a partisan narrative. As Crooks & Liars details and the Monkey Cage blog at the WaPo annotates, Reagan's reaction was rated at the time by the right wing media as inadequate and weak, gadding about on horseback on vacation in Hawaii for days while the bodies of the American victims were still warm. In fact, Reagan eventually did nothing except continue his previous policy of economic opposition to the USSR without direct military engagement, which is pretty much what Obama has been doing against Russia in the wake of Vladimir Putin's annexation of Crimea.
It is refreshing to see such a debate go on without reference to domino theory, which has been thoroughly discredited since it failed to predict the encroachment of communism in the 1980s. There has also been a lot of sighing from the American left about the preponderance of Dubbya-era reprobates in the media talking up re-engagement in Iraq and/or the Crimea. I am as sanguine about that as I am about the IPA's ubiquity on the ABC: these are free countries, they're allowed to have a voice, and we're allowed to laugh at them.
Reagan may have been a lot of things, but one thing he was right about was how to fight an empire: economically, with any military troops on the ground to be confined to smaller proxy battlegrounds. Obama learned that lesson, and he's already putting the Reagan playbook into practice by squeezing Putin with sanctions, using the tragedy to further pressure the EU to join the US in applying sanctions. As is only proper.