Monday, September 29, 2014

Comparing Obama To Reagan


Who Had It Easier, Reagan Or Obama? -- Thomas Friedman, New York Times

OVER the past few weeks I’ve been reading Ken Adelman’s fascinating history “Reagan at Reykjavik: Forty-Eight Hours That Ended the Cold War.” Adelman, who led Reagan’s arms control agency, was an adviser at Reagan’s 1986 Iceland summit meeting with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. Using some newly declassified documents, Adelman fills out the extraordinary dialogue between the two leaders that set in motion a dramatic cut in nuclear arms.

You learn a lot about Reagan’s leadership in the book. For me, the most impressive thing was not Reagan’s attachment to his “Star Wars” strategic defense initiative, which is overrated in ending the Cold War. What is most impressive about Reagan is that he grasped that Gorbachev was a radically different kind of Soviet leader — one with whom he could make history — long before his intelligence community did. That made a big difference.

These days there is a lot of “if-only-Obama-could-lead-like-Reagan” talk by conservatives. I’ll leave it to historians to figure out years from now who was the better president. But what I’d argue is this: In several critical areas, Reagan had a much easier world to lead in than Obama does now.

Read more ....

Update: Tom Friedman says Reagan had it easy compared to Obama -- Thomas Lifson, American Thinker

My Comment: Let us see .... when President Reagan came to power there was double digit unemployment, double digit interest rates, an inflation rate in double digits, the height of the Cold War, the real threat of massive nuclear war, the collapse of U.S. influence in the world, million plus peace marches in Europe, Afghanistan, Lebanon civil war, etc. .... you get the picture. But according to Thomas Friedman .... Reagan had a much easier world to lead in than Obama does now.

Hmmmm .... I have my doubts.

But what specifically hit me about this post is Thomas Friedman's assertion that Islamic radicals are a far more difficult foe than what the Soviets were?!?!?!!? Being one who grew up on the Soviet side .... I can state without any hesitation that Mr. Friedman has no idea what he is talking about. But this is the whole point of Mr. Friedman's post .... tear down a great man to build up someone who is not .... and hope that no one pays any attention.


Unknown said...

I can't help but think you're missing Friedman's point. It's pretty early on in the article that he addresses precisely the objection you added as your comment: radical Islam is a fragmented ideology with no clear leader, and none of the people trying to become that leader are the sort that can be negotiated with. What Reagan did right was the correct blend of negotiating and facing down the Soviets, but what would that get someone with the same skill today? Who is there to even negotiate with? Obama will never get to meet Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, so even if he has the same personality-reading skill Reagan did, it's useless. And even if he could make a deal with IS (who, unlike the decaying Soviets are still on the rise) they could never coexist with all the other nations in the Middle East.

I can accept arguing that Reagan didn't have it "easier" per se. The stakes were much higher, the opponent larger and more sophisticated. But he definitely had it much simpler. There was Us, and there was Them, and it was a zero sum game. These days it's us, and them, and those other ones, and the third guys who hate the first two, and the fourth group that likes one of the first three that we like but hates us, and that fifth bunch who hate us but might hate the guys we hate even more than us, and trying to keep score requires first figuring out what "winning" would even look like.

Unknown said...

"the collapse of U.S. influence in
the world"

Angola & Mozambique were Soviet client states. Some people thought that there would be Soviet client states from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indian Ocean.

Ethiopia and Somalia were client states. Their sea bases could threaten the Sea Lines of communication (SLOC) carrying oil

Nicaragua had fallen.

Southeast Asia was Red except for Thailand, Burma and Malaysia.

Afghanistan had fallen and maybe Pakistan could be next.

John Kerry was marching in Nuclear Freeze marches which were suported by the USSR

It really looked very bleak.

Thomas Friedman is a ridiculous know-nothing shrill to whom some politicians and the MSM listen.