Book Review: “The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism”
By Larry Meyers, Utah Standard News
Author Paul Kengor has written a scholarly, yet enjoyable, history of President Reagan’s battle against Communism in “The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism.” The book’s title comes from Reagan’s own frequent references to the battle against communism being a “crusade” for free enterprise and liberty.
In the early chapters, Kengor details how Reagan’s opposition to communism actually began during his Hollywood years when Reagan, as president of the Screen Actors Guild, battled communists for control of the union.
After his movie career ended, Reagan toured the country, speaking out, on the radio and in person, in favor of free enterprise and liberty and against communism. Elected Governor of California, Reagan continued his firm opposition to the Red Menace in the 1960s.
As a presidential candidate, Reagan criticized both Ford and Carter for not taking a stronger stand against the Soviet Union. Upon becoming President in 1981, Reagan immediately began to formulate policies designed to undermine the Soviets.
Reagan’s key policies included support for the anti-communist workers union, Solidarity, in Poland, opposition to the gas pipeline that was being built to bring natural gas from the USSR to Western Europe, a crackdown on technology exports to the Soviet Union, starting the Strategic Defense Initiative anti-missile research program, and arming the mujahadeen in Afghanistan. These policies inspired hope in the captive nations of Eastern Europe, cost the USSR billions in revenue, and led to historic nuclear arms reductions treaties.
One of the most intriguing chapters is Kengor’s look at the relationship between Reagan and Pope John Paul II. The President and the Pope met at the Vatican shortly after both had been wounded by assassins and each expressed his belief that he had been preserved by God in order to carry out a great work. Following the meeting, Reagan shared US intelligence information with the Vatican and worked together will the Pope in the battled against communism.
Though the fall of communism did not occur until after Reagan’s terms had ended, the author concludes that Reagan deserves the credit for the demise of the Soviet “evil empire.”
The book is an inspirational reminder of the need to stand strong against those who seek to destroy the Constitution and our American liberties. I am among those who believe that communism is not dead—it has instead re-branded itself and found a home in other international movements, such as the extreme environmental and human rights movement, and in the United Nations. Like Reagan, let each of us be fearless in opposing these modern threats to our freedoms.
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