Monday, November 3, 2008
Sunday, November 2, 2008
The broadcast, which is available throughout Africa, Asia, Australia, the Americas, the Middle East and Persian Gulf, will air at approximately 4:15pm EST/21:15 GMT. It also is available online at: Al Jazeera television.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Johns argues that recent polls, including one conducted by Associated Press this past week, show the race between John McCain and Barack Obama tightening and that American voters, including those in critical swing states, continue to harbor major reservations about Obama's political ideology and qualifications for the presidency.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
The broadcast, which will air from 01:00 GMT to 02:00 GMT (8pm EDT to 9pm EDT), is available in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, the Americas, the Middle East, the Persian Gulf and elsewhere. It also will be available at Al Jazeera's online site and through other global media outlets.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Republican strategist and conservative writer Michael Johns, a former White House speechwriter and Heritage Foundation policy analyst, will discuss the 2008 Presidential election in two global interviews later today, Wednesday October 8th. In these two interviews, Johns will discuss recent poll results that show Republican nominee John McCain falling behind and the steps that McCain can take in the coming four weeks to make up ground in critical swing states and prevail in the November 4th election.
Johns will appear on Sirius Satellite's Indie Talk (Channel 110), hosted by Sirius's Joe Salzone, from 5:30pm EDT/2:30pm PDT to 6pm EDT/3pm PDT and then later in his weekly appearance on The Warren Michaels show from 8pm EDT/5pm PDT to 9pm EDT/6pm PDT. Both programs are available globally, and The Warren Michaels show can be heard both live and by archived replay at The Warren Michaels show.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
With some of America's largest and most prestigious financial institutions undergoing a threatening liquidity meltdown, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama has not hesitated to seize the opportunity to exploit the situation for political gain. Despite being the second largest recipient of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac political donations in the entire United States Congress, he is brazenly and hypocritically railing against the very Washington lobbyists who have poured money into his campaign in an effort to buy his influence. This despite the fact that, just a year ago, Obama pledged that he would take no private funding for this election, a promise the major media have never felt too obligated to hold him to.
Obama's political demagoguery and contradictions come at a critical moment. Yesterday, in the largest governmental bailout in American corporate history, the Federal Reserve Board announced that it would lend American International Group, the 18th largest corporation in the world, $85 billion in exchange for a 79.9 percent equity stake in the company. In all probability, this massive infusion of federal funds is just a stop gap measure as the company likely now seeks to liquidate itself in an effort to fend off bankruptcy.
For Obama, the whole mess is not a time for national unity; it is, rather, great political fodder. This morning, in an effort to extract political gain from the situation, he issued a statement, which said in part:
"The fact that we have reached a point where the Federal Reserve felt it had to take this unprecedented step with the American Insurance Group is the final verdict on the failed economic philosophy of the last eight years."
American Insurance Group? For $85 billion, Obama and his big government, tax and spend economic advisers apparently don't fret too much over the details in an effort to make their partisan jabs. One wonders if that $85 billion United States Treasury check would even cash had Obama's Treasury Secretary made it out incorrectly to one "American Insurance Group."
After the glaring error was pointed out, the Obama campaign quietly issued a corrected statement. And to be fair, in the frantic nature of a presidential campaign, one should be forgiving to the inevitable misstatements that will occur when some of the world's most aggressive journalists are following one's every move through a taxing schedule that often includes up to half a dozen campaign appearances in multiple states in one day.
But what is troubling about the Obama misstatement is that, despite his rhetoric of bringing a new bipartisanship to Washington, he has been as quick as any political candidate in recent memory to exploit and distort any and all statements made by his Republican rival and his surrogates. When former U.S. Senator Phil Gramm, the Texas Republican, told The Washington Times this past July 9 that "We have become a nation of whiners. You just hear this constant whining, complaining about a loss of American competitiveness, America is in decline," the Obama camp did not cease exploiting the statement until Gramm, one the brighter economic minds of our nation, was ultimately forced to reliquish his role as an advisor to Republican presidential nominee John McCain.
As recently as yesterday in Colorado, Obama was still quoting Gramm in a twisted effort to suggest that the McCain campaign is somehow out of touch with the economic challenges of ordinary Americans.
Then, this past Monday, amidst AIG and Lehman Brothers' liquidity meltdown, McCain quite properly and understandably sought to reassure Americans, stating accurately that the "fundamentals of our economy are strong." But within hours, Obama was distorting this statement too, suggesting that it somehow implied that McCain did not grasp the magnitude of two major American financial institutions confronting bankruptcy, or that he somehow felt that there did not exist major challenges in the current American economy.
Such is the hypocrisy that has guided the Obama campaign from the beginning. Promise to run a campaign with no private financing in an effort to present a candidacy of independence from the Washington establishment, and then quietly reject that promise and actively seek mammoth corporate, political action committee, 527 group, and other private donations. Rail against unnamed Washington lobbyists for corrupting the American financial system with sub-prime mortgage loans, while simultaneously championing a regulatory mandate that American financial institutions be required to make these loans. Demand an expeditious removal of American troops from Iraq, and then privately instruct Iraqi leaders--in probable violation of the Logan Act--to cease negotiating such withdraws with the Bush administration and to wait for the next administration. Run on a campaign of "change" and then anoint one of Washington's most entrenched liberal partisans as a running mate.
In citing an $85 billion federal loan to the "American Insurance Group," Obama should be reminded that his promises of bipartisanship should be matched with some basic political civility and respect. McCain properly rejects Obama's big government redistribution schemes as the solution to our economic woes. Nothing in that rejection suggests, as Obama has been inclined to say, that "John McCain just doesn't get it." And Obama opponents should operate similarly on an assumption that an error on a campaign statement, even one as glaring as Obama's was this morning, is not enough to suggest that the Obama camp does not have a grasp of the complexities of the current crisis. We need look no further than his policy proposals to know that.
In remarks yesterday in Golden, Colorado, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama passed around plenty of blame for America's unfolding banking crisis: He blamed American corporations. He blamed Washington lobbyists. And he even blamed Republican presidential candidate John McCain.
But the core of political blame for America's banking crisis, conservative writer Michael Johns argues, lies with a Democratic-led Congress that actually mandated much of the very sub-standard mortgage lending that is now setting off a snowballing liquidity crisis at some of America's largest financial institutions. Meanwhile, Johns says, Congress and Washington regulators failed in their responsibility to ensure appropriate regulatory oversight of high-risk leveraged borrowing that now threatens the solvency of these financial institutions.
In seeking to assign political blame for this crisis, and especially in assigning the blame wrongly, Johns says that Obama has revealed the hypocrisy of his pledge to work in bipartisan ways, which he has rarely done throughout his political career and is not doing now. While pointing blame in politically convenient directions, Obama also has been an advocate of many of the exact policies that created this crisis, and is now proposing even worse policy prescriptions that could deepen it even further.
"I've spent my career taking on lobbyists and their money, and I’ve won," Obama said yesterday in Colorado. In reality, however, the exact opposite is true: Among all 535 members of the United States Congress, only U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd, the Connecticut Democrat, has taken more in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac campaign contributions since 1989, and Obama has only been in the Senate since January 2005.
The reality: Obama has welcomed close connections with the precise lobbyists and corporations he now contends that he has been "taking on." And as Obama has set about seeking and receiving this support, he has brazenly and shamelessly violated his September 2007 pledge to forego private funding in this year's Presidential election.
In his weekly interview with The Warren Michaels show this evening from 9pm EDT/6pm PDT to 10:30pm EDT/7:30pm PDT, Johns will discuss the origins and policy remedies to the crisis currently confronting American financial institutions. The broadcast is available globally, both live and by archived replay, at: The Warren Michaels show.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Republican strategist and conservative writer Michael Johns, a former White House speechwriter and Heritage Foundation policy analyst, will discuss the United States Presidential election and other current events in his weekly appearance on The Warren Michaels show this Wednesday September 10, 2008, from 9pm EDT/6pm PDT to 10:30pm EDT/7:30pm PDT. This broadcast is available globally, both live and by archived replay, at: The Warren Michaels show.
Monday, September 1, 2008
- Monday September 1, 2008: "The Republican Message, 2008," Grizzly Groundswell Network with Stephanie Davis, 8pm EDT/5pm PDT to 9pm EDT/6pm EDT. This show is available live and by archived replay at: Grizzly Groundswell Radio Network.
- Monday September 1, 2008: "The Republican Agenda for Health Care Reform," Bio-Med, 9pm EDT/6pm PDT to 9:45pm EDT/6:45pm PDT. This show is available live and by archived replay at: Bio-Med Radio.
- Tuesday September 2, 2008: "The Republican Message, 2008," The Halls of Valhalla (live from Republican National Convention), 8pm EDT/5pm PDT to 10pm EDT/8pm PDT. This show is available live and by archived replay at: The Halls of Valhalla.
- Wednesday September 3, 2008: "The Republican Message, 2008," Heading Right Radio, 8pm EDT/5pm PDT to 9pm EDT/6pm PDT. This show is available live and by archived replay at: Heading Right Radio. The show's press release on Michael's appearance is available here: "Former White House Speechwriter Michael Johns Provides Americans Inside View of Washington Politics."
- Wednesday September 3, 2008: "Presidential Campaign, 2008," The Warren Michaels show, BlogTalkRadio, 9pm EDT/6pm PDT to 10:30pm EDT/7:30pm PDT. This show is available live and by archived replay at: The Warren Michaels show, September 3, 2008 episode.
- Thursday September 4, 2008: "The Republican Message, 2008," Grizzly Groundswell Network with Stephanie Davis, 8pm EDT/5pm PDT to 10pm EDT/7pm PDT. This show is available live and by archived replay at: Grizzly Groundswell Radio Network.
- Friday September 5, 2008: "The Republican Message, 2008," The Wanda Fay show (Christian religious program), 2am EDT/11pm PDT to 3am EDT/midnight PDT. This show is available live and by archived replay at: The Wanda Fay show.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
On the other hand, the health care plan of presumptive Republican Presidential nominee John McCain, Johns said, will greatly expand consumer engagement and competitive market forces in health care, leading to enhancements in the quality of care, access to care, and a reduction of overall health care costs.
Johns, a former White House speechwriter and Heritage Foundation policy analyst, will discuss his support for McCain's health care plan prior to Obama's acceptance speech this evening, from 7:30pm EDT/4:30pm PDT to 9pm EDT/6pm PDT on The Warren Michaels show. The broadcast can be heard globally, both live and through archived replay, at: The Warren Michaels show, August 28, 2008 broadcast.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Presumptive Republican Presidential nominee John McCain is widely expected to announce his Vice Presidential running mate this Friday, August 29, 2008, in Dayton, Ohio.
Sirius's "Me and Vinnie" show is hosted by Vinnie Politan, a former New Jersey prosecutor and Court TV host and reporter.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Johns said that presumptive Republican Presidential nominee John McCain's health care proposals, released April 29, 2008, represent a comprehensive and thoughtful health care plan worthy of broad political support.
Johns will discuss the current state of American health care and remedies to it, along with latest developments in Russia's ongoing aggression in Georgia, during his weekly appearance on The Warren Michaels show this evening, August 20, 2008, from 7:30pm EDT/4:30pm PDT to 9pm EDT/6pm PDT. The show, which is broadcast live and by replay in most nations of the world, can be heard at: The Warren Michaels show, August 20, 2008 broadcast.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Most concerning in Russia's recent aggression, Johns says, is that it appears to represent a return to the expansionist and militarily aggressive tactics that characterized Moscow's foreign policy during the Cold War, and that Russia likely views its current aggression in Georgia as a test case for whether such regional aggression will be resisted or tolerated by the United States and its allies. As with Georgia, which has proven an ally of the United States and western democracies in recent years, Moscow has developed a cantankerous relationship with Ukraine, another democratic ally of the United States that borders Russia. This past spring, for instance, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin threatened to "dismember" the Ukranian peninsula of Crimea.
Johns will discuss his support for President George W. Bush's response earlier today to Russia's regional aggression, along with other current events topics, this evening, August 13, 2008, from 9pm EDT/6pm PDT to 10:30pm EDT/7:30pm PDT, during his weekly appearance on BlogTalkRadio's The Warren Michaels show. The broadcast is available live and by replay in most nations of the world at: The Warren Michaels show, August 13, 2008 broadcast.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Conservative writer and Republican strategist Michael Johns, a former White House speechwriter and Heritage Foundation policy analyst, argues that this latest act of timidity by the liberal Congressional leadership is not an isolated incident but part of an ongoing pattern of their failure to address the most pressing challenges confronting the country. In addition to their refusal to adopt a comprehensive energy bill prior to adjourning last week, the liberal Congressional leadership has failed to address America's pressing need for tax relief, comprehensive health care reform, and defense of our porous southern border with Mexico. This liberal Congressional leadership also has been equivocal in the global war on terror and support for American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, which has sent dangerously mixed global messages about whether or not America is committed to victory in these conflicts.
Johns will discuss these and other public policy topics this evening, August 6, 2008, from 9pm EDT/6pm PDT to 10:30pm EDT/7:30pm PDT, on The Warren Michaels show on BlogTalkRadio, one of the world's largest online radio stations. The broadcast will be available live throughout the United States and most nations of the world, and a replay of it will be available following its conclusion. Both the live show and its replay can be heard online at: The Warren Michaels show, August 6, 2008 broadcast.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Johns will discuss this topic and the state of American patriotism generally this evening, July 31, 2008, from 10:30pm EDT/7:30pm PDT until midnight EDT/9pm PDT on The Warren Michaels Show on BlogTalkRadio, one of the world's largest online radio stations. The broadcast will be available live throughout the United States and most nations of the world, and a replay of it will be available following its conclusion. Both the live show and its replay can be heard online at: The Warren Michaels show, July 31, 2008 broadcast.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
The Legacy of Tony Snow, the Case for John McCain, and Why Conservatives Will Win the Battle of Ideas
In an interview with BlogTalkRadio's Patriot Action with Wyatt and Matt, Johns discusses Snow's positive legacy, the case for John McCain in this November's U.S. Presidential election, and how conservatives are bringing constructive solutions to the most pressing public policy challenges confronting the nation. An archived recording of the July 17, 2008 interview is now available globally at: Patriot Action with Wyatt and Matt, July 17, 2008 broadcast.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Johns will discuss his thesis that conservative policy ideas are beginning to gain momentum in the battle of ideas because they are thoughtful, detailed and proven remedies to the various challenges confronting the nation. Conservatives, he argues, are offering bold and promising solutions in the global war on terror, the mounting energy crisis, excessive governmental taxation and regulation in the American economy, the crisis in American public education, the need for expanded choice and access in American health care, and other urgent policy priorities.
Johns has said that he believes that, over the past several weeks, the American electorate is beginning to awaken to the fact that the most thoughtful solutions to America's policy challenges are coming from conservatives. He has further said that he believes this September's Republican National Convention will further highlight the dynamism of these solutions and the fact that it is only a liberal stronghold on the U.S. Congressional leadership that is prohibiting many of these initiatives from being rapidly enacted.
Johns has 20 years of industry, governmental and public policy experience, having served in the White House, the United States Senate, and for the former Governor of New Jersey and one of the world's premiere public policy research institutes. He has written on public policy issues for The Wall Street Journal, The Christian Science Monitor, National Review, Policy Review and other publications and has discussed these topics on CNBC, C-SPAN, Fox Morning News, PBS, and other television and radio media. He also is the author of an influential conservative public policy blog.
Further information on the show is available at Patriot Action's July 16, 2008 video and print press release on the show.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Replays of Johns' interview with the Grizzly Groundswell Network on Blog Talk Radio are available globally for replay from the 61.30 to 120 minute mark of the network's June 30, 2008 show, available at:
In the interview, Johns challenges the conventional wisdom that Mexico's illegal aliens in the U.S. are only filling jobs that Americans do not want, stating that nearly half of them--10.5 million of the 21.6 million illegal Mexicans in this nation--are illegally filling skilled jobs that almost certainly would be appealing to Americans at a time when unemployment is standing at 5.5 percent nationally. Johns stated further that the failure of the U.S. to seal its southern border from illegals represents one of the greatest ongoing security threats to the nation at a time when the U.S. continues to be embroiled in a global conflict against al-Qaeda and Islamic extremism.
Johns stated that the 21.6 million illegal Mexican aliens in the U.S. are ill-serving the U.S. economy, costing the nation approximately $397 billion annually in education, health care and other social services. Meanwhile, Johns says, Mexican illegals are returning large sums of their earnings--approximately $33 billion annually to Mexico and $283 billion annually to all of Latin America. He also said that the U.S. has spent approximately $1.5 billion since 2001 in costs associated with the incarceration of approximately 370,000 illegal aliens in the U.S.
As President of Phoenix's Coalition for a Conservative Majority (CCM), Johns and his organization are actively supporting two Arizona ballot initiatives that would strengthen the state's illegal immigration enforcement capabilities by empowering Arizona's law enforcement officials to enforce federal immigration laws and make the state's criminal trespass statutes applicable to illegal aliens in the state. The deadline for the submission of signatures for these two ballot initiatives is this Thursday, July 3, 2008.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Michael Johns to Appear Today on Sirius Satellite, Speaks Optimistically of State of Conservatism in Blog and Podcast Interviews
Also this week, Johns provided an extensive interview to Arizona's most widely-read political blog, Sonoran Alliance, and the June 23, 2008 episode of the recently-launched Grizzly Groundswell, a global podcast. In both interviews, Johns argues that, despite significant and understandable voter angst, American conservatism is providing thoughtful policy solutions to the vast challenges confronting the nation, including the global war against Islamic extremism, American economic challenges, the mounting global petroleum shortage, and others.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Connerly, a leading advocate for the removal of gender and racial preferences in hiring and university admission processes, is nationally recognized for his successful leadership behind California's Proposition 209, a successful statewide ballot initiative which, in 1996, amended California's state constitution to prohibit gender and racial-based considerations in California's public hiring. He also helped lead a similarly successful amendment to Michigan's state constitution in 2006.
In addition to his appearance tomorrow evening in Scottsdale, Arizona, Johns will appear on Sirius Satellite's "Blog Bunker" show at 5pm EDT on Tuesday June 17, 2008 to discuss the national Presidential election and related topics. Hosted by Sirius's Joe Salzone, the show is available globally on the satellite channel's Indie Talk Station 110.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Given as part of a May 15, 2008 speech in Columbus, Ohio, McCain spelled out specific goals for the first term of his Presidency, including, in foreign affairs, substantial progress in the war against al-Qaeda and other terrorist elements in Afghanistan and Iraq and ending Sudan's bloody ethnic genocide in Darfur. At home, goals included expanding economic growth and access to quality health care, reforming America's complex and punitive tax system, eliminating Washington's wasteful earmark and other spending, significantly reducing American dependence on foreign petroleum, vastly improving the quality of American education and other important national objectives.
Johns will also address mounting speculation over selection of a Republican Vice Presidential running mate, which purportedly includes a short list of roughly 20 names. McCain has stated that he expects to announce his running mate selection before the Republican National Convention convenes on September 1, 2008 in Minneapolis.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Johns will discuss the nation's urgent need for pro-growth economic policies, including business, gasoline and personal tax relief, targeted assistance for holders of non-conventional mortgages, Medicare and Social Security reform, ending reckless Congressional earmark spending, expanding job retraining opportunities, and other policies that can help place the nation's economy back on a growth track.
In addition to hosting a daily morning radio show on Sirius Satellite's Indie Talk station, Ron Silver is an accomplished actor known for his television roles in West Wing, Law & Order, and Chicago Hope and his film roles in Ali, Reversal of Fortune, Blue Steel, Timecop, and others. A long-time Democrat, Silver left the party following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and has since been generally supportive of President George W. Bush's efforts in the global war on terror. Silver also authors a widely-read blog dedicated largely to public policy topics.
Thursday, April 3, 2008
Friday, March 7, 2008
It can be said that modern conservatism knows only two times. There was the time before him and there was the time after him, and those two times could not be more contrasting. In this stark contrast lies his larger-than-life legacy, and let there be no mistake: It is a legacy that will endure the ages.
As word of William F. Buckley, Jr.'s passing reached his many students, admirers and colleagues late last week, it seemed each had an account (some grand, some small) of how this intellectual giant memorably impacted and touched their lives, their vision, and their work. In the aggregate, they tell the story of a man whose immense collective qualities--genius, boldness, industriousness, persuasiveness, and (perhaps least appreciated) kindness and generosity--were without equal in modern American public life. Even in death, Buckley is bringing conservatives together more effectually than many conservative leaders are doing in life. It should surprise no one. To have had the good fortune to have brushed upon Buckley during this life was to leave impressed, inspired, and reinvigorated in the purpose-driven life that he lived admirably and which he cultivated in a whole generation of conservatives who, now in his absence, carry forward his torch.
It may be said too often of the recently deceased, but it must be said emphatically of Buckley: We will not likely see his type again.
So diverse and ultimately immense were Buckley's accomplishments that it becomes dangerously easy to shortchange the vastness of his ultimate legacy. During the 82 years that God granted him to us, he was described as the most prolific conservative writer of modern times. No doubt. From the early 1950s until a few weeks ago, Buckley's writings eloquently challenged liberalism's false promises at every step and defined the intellectual and political alternative that was and still is contemporary conservatism. His books (35 non-fiction, 12 in the Blackford Oakes novel series, and another eight of fiction), his National Review columns and commentary (beginning with the magazine's 1955 founding and continuing through early this year), and his syndicated column (published since 1962 in over 300 U.S. and global newspapers) represent nothing short of a library of modern conservative thought. In these writings lies not just Buckley's persuasive case for conservative policies and principles but one of the best depictions of conservatism's evolution from a nascent ideology to the most consequential intellectual and political force of modern times. What a literary treasure he has left us.
But Buckley's impact is not constrained to his role as the most prolific conservative author and writer of our times. His role in the ultimate ascent of conservatism as a national and even global political force is less broadly recognized but equally undeniable and important. The conservative revolution may have materialized nationally with Ronald Reagan's 1980 election, but that electoral victory was the result of over two decades of work in the trenches, pre-dating even Barry Goldwater's unsuccessful 1964 challenge against Lyndon Johnson. What existed before Buckley was an ineffectual group (one cannot even really call it a political movement) of self-described conservatives whose relevance was largely negligible. Before Buckley, modern conservatism had no refined policy agenda (and if one existed at all, it would likely have been equated with Robert Taft's dangerous isolationism at a moment when the global threat of communism was amassing). Conservatism then also had zero skill in communicating to, and connecting with, the hearts and minds of the American people. Add those two things up, and it's not surprising that conservatives, pre-Buckley, also failed in the electoral process.
It was Buckley who, in 1960, quickly looked at this "movement," and changed it forever. One of his first steps, the founding of Young Americans for Freedom (YAF), formed the foundation that ultimately propelled Goldwater's candidacy. On September 11, 1960, conservatives gathered in Buckley's hometown of Sharon, Connecticut, where conservative author M. Stanton Evans, one of the first and greatest Buckley proteges, with input from Annette Kirk (wife of the late Russell Kirk), drafted the "Sharon Statement." It is not an overstatement that it may well be one of the most important documents on the American purpose and conservative vision since the Declaration of Independence itself.
"In this time of moral and political crises," the Sharon Document began, "it is the responsibility of the youth of America to affirm certain eternal truths." It immediately and appropriately referenced the fact that it was only God's gift of free will that permits man's "rights to be free from the restrictions of arbitrary force." It followed with an unhesitating and accurate reference to the fact that political freedom, without economic freedom, cannot long endure. It defined the Constitutionally protected freedoms and national security interests that were incumbent on the American government to protect (including, if necessary, by military force). Consistent with this, it boldly called for victory over, not coexistence with, global communism, stating "that the forces of international Communism are, at present, the greatest single threat to these liberties" and "that the United States should stress victory over, rather than coexistence with, this menace." Invigorated at Sharon, conservatives left that conference with a clear cut vision of who and what they were and who and what they opposed. Modern conservatism was born.
As the years progressed, it was this Sharon-inspired movement that challenged the emerging opposition to the U.S. effort to help defend South Vietnam during the Vietnam War, urging intervention against North Vietnam's aggression not just in the defense of South Vietnam but also in resisting North Vietnam's destabilization efforts in neighboring Cambodia and Laos. While accepting many of the objectives of Johnson's "Great Society," the movement simultaneously and staunchly denounced the extraordinary expansion of federal government that Johnson used to achieve them. In 1964, it was this movement that urged and then supported Goldwater's national candidacy. While unsuccessful electorally, it did succeed in giving birth to Reagan's monumental speech, "A Time for Choosing," which was hugely and transparently influenced by the Sharon Statement's position on the importance of defending economic liberty. In this nationally-televised endorsement of Goldwater, Reagan said: "The founding fathers knew a government can't control the economy without controlling people. And they knew when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose. So we have come to a time for choosing."
Reagan's persuasive case for Goldwater was made too late to salvage the Arizona Senator's Presidential candidacy, but it was this speech that gave birth to Reagan as a national political force. It was again Buckley and his allies that, following "A Time for Choosing," led conservatism forward, championing Reagan as Goldwater's conservative heir, first in his daring but unsuccessful 1976 challenge of Gerald Ford and then in his ultimately revolutionary 1980 victory. At each step, Buckley led these political advancements while carefully ensuring conservatism was kept on course and did not sacrifice its enduring principles in the name of political expediency. Buckley's was always a long-term plan and a long-term vision, which makes it unsurprising that his will be a long-term legacy.
Still, to describe Buckley as the most prolific and politically consequential conservative of our time does not capture the totality of his contributions to American democracy. The reason is this: Even if one rejects every conservative idea that Buckley embraced and carefully and eloquently articulated in his six decades of public life--the importance of connectivity between God and democratic peoples, the correlation between free markets and economic growth, and the case for resisting and defeating (not merely containing) totalitarian threats--it was Buckley who recreated intellectual and political choice in America. As the conservative columnist Mona Charen observed in The Washington Post last week, before Buckley, the liberal intellectual Lionel Trilling was able to state without challenge that conservatism did not really have any ideas. It had, Trilling wrote in The Liberal Imagination, merely "irritable mental gestures." When he died in 1975, Trilling probably still viewed conservatism in a similarly inconsequential light, but that's only because he never lived to see the fruition of the revolution that Buckley brought us. With steady progress, those gestures that Trilling observed in 1949 turned to concepts, those concepts turned to ideas, those ideas turned to policies, and those policies, embraced fearlessly by a new generation of conservatives impacted at every turn by Buckley, ultimately transformed a political and ideological movement, then a nation, and finally the world.
But it's equally important to remember that Buckley gave us conservatism as a choice, not as a guaranteed destination. That work falls to this and subsequent generations, and it is a job that, truth be told, will never be complete. Remembering one of his earliest Buckley-inspired influences, the conservative leader Bill Kristol recalled in The New York Times a few days ago that he proudly wore a lapel pin at his New York City high school in 1970. "Don't let THEM immanentize the Eschaton,” it said, summarizing the philosophy of the early National Review contributor Eric Voegelin. "THEM," of course, referred to those who sought (and still seek) to create and enforce, outside of God and through government, an ideologically-inspired utopian social order here on Earth.
Tragically, while we fought THEM (Marx, Lenin and his successors, and Hitler) necessarily and successfully in World War II and then again (under Buckley's urging and inspiration) in the Cold War, it may be easy to conclude that it is a victory fully won. I believe Buckley would urge restraint in such a conviction, especially when, in our own nation, Americans still pack indoor stadiums, some apparently fainting in awe, at the false promises of liberalism's allure, now conveyed in a junior Senator's promises to confiscate the income of one group of Americans and send it through the federal Treasury to others, while simultaneously leading America's retreat in the global war on terror and "daring" to engage without condition those remaining totalitarians in Pyongyang, Tehran, Havana and elsewhere who will use America's diplomatic engagement with them to validate their suppression of human liberties at home and to send a global signal that the best way to earn America's attention is to hate it. Sadly, even after Buckley, there exist some Americans who actually view such a course of false promises as a "brave" one. Message: The Eschaton is still being immanetized.
All of these grand battles, some under way right now and some yet to be fought, will now be waged by a seasoned generation of American conservative warriors educated and trained on Buckley's watch and in his tradition. This conservative generation is a centerpiece of Buckley's ultimate enduring legacy. It is a legacy, however, that is not restricted to what he accomplished in this world, but also in how he handled himself while doing it. As Charen accurately observed last week: "It was always Bill who rushed to get a chair for the person left standing. It was always Bill who reached to fill your glass. It was always Bill who volunteered to give you a lift wherever you were going, insisting it was on his way."
As he bravely and victoriously faced down the most dangerous ideological threats and temptations of his time, William F. Buckley, Jr., it should be remembered, always did it with a smile. In that smile was an eternal optimism that he held in the grand potential of the unleashed human spirit. As we honor his giant and enduring legacy, it is an optimism that must carry us forward. We now walk this road in Buckley's physical absence. But he has paved it well with the promises of the purpose-driven life amidst freedom and liberty, and a broadly-accepted and educated wisdom that permits us--and calls us--to defend both.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Michael will discuss the 2008 Presidential primary and general elections, the current state of the global war against Islamic terrorism in Iraq and elsewhere, the challenges confronting American health care and solutions to them, and why expanded American economic growth through market-driven policies, not massive federal income redistribution schemes, is the key to strengthening America at home and abroad. He says that the outcome of the 2008 Presidential election will prove a defining moment for the nation.
A New Jersey-based health care executive, Michael has over 20 years of global public policy and national political experience, having served as a White House speechwriter to former President George H. W. Bush, a senior aide to a United States Senator and Governor, and a policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation. Michael has appeared on PBS, CNBC, C-SPAN, Fox News, and other networks and has written for The Wall Street Journal, The Christian Science Monitor, National Review, Policy Review, and other publications. He currently authors one of the most widely-read conservative public policy blogs on the World Wide Web, available at:
A supporter of Republican Presidential candidate John McCain, Michael's analysis can be heard globally from the New York City studios of Sirius Satellite this Tuesday February 26, from 5pm to 6pm EST (10pm to 11pm GMT), on Sirius's INDIE Talk Channel 110.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
If there exists one visional depiction of the Cold War's end, it is still a Eurocentric one, November 9, 1989, the day East Berliners joined with those of the city's West in celebration of the Berlin Wall's demise. Three weeks earlier, on October 19, 1989, Stalinist East German dictator Erich Honecker, facing mass internal opposition, was forced from power when the Kremlin, overwhelmed with comparable resistance on many fronts, for the first time refused to provide the East German dictatorship with the political or military cover it had come to expect in its Cold War defense of the regime's totalitarian reign over the East German people. Many East Germans began fleeing the nation without resistance into Czechoslovakia, which itself soon underwent its own liberating, anti-communist and now famous "Velvet Revolution."
At some point during the day of November 9, 1989, a public affairs aide to Honecker's successor, holding the almost hysterically superannuated title of "Minister of Propaganda," was predictably asked when East Germans could begin leaving the country in other ways, including to West Germany through the Wall's crossing points. "As far as I know, effective immediately, right now," came the Minister's response. With that reply ended the predominant physical symbol representing the separation of, and conflict between, freedom and totalitarianism--the very essence of the Cold War. Hammers were taken to that Wall over a series of days and nights, celebrations convened, and, importantly, not one East German stood to defend that beacon of isolation, brutality, and autocracy. East met West, freedom prevailed, the Cold War was won.
It's a tidy, inspiring, important, and truthful series of events. But it does not even closely tell the full, vastly more complex story of the West's Cold War victory, which was a truly global conflict, not just a European one. During the Wall's 28-year existence, some 125 brave East Germans were killed trying to leap or otherwise cross the Wall to freedom in the West. Yet, the Cold War took many more than 125 lives; in the name of its perverse, unnatural ideology of governmental control and manipulation of man, communism itself took the lives of some 100 million people during the 20th century, and most of those lives were not lost in Europe. And while two anti-communist U.S. Presidents wisely chose the Wall to highlight the stakes in the epic Cold War conflict, and the military strength of NATO almost certainly held the Soviets from a potentially apocalyptic, expansionist conflict with Western Europe, it is a probable thesis that the most important initiatives to end the Cold War were actually fought and won outside of Europe, and--let there be no mistake--they were American-led.
Somewhat disturbingly, this has not been a story widely told or broadly understood since the West's victory in the Cold War. Nor, when it has been told, has it been told particularly well.
Encouragingly, such an effort partially emerges in Universal Pictures' recently-released film, Charlie Wilson's War, based on real events and a book of the same name by former CBS foreign correspondent George Crile. In its effort to tell a hugely serious story, it predictably includes enough comedic relief for mass appeal. But it is the thesis of this film--that there exists an undeniable correlation between the ultimate victory of the United States-supported resistance in Afghanistan, known as the mujahideen, in their war against the Soviet Union's invasion and occupation of Afghanistan--that makes this film a hugely important leap in greater understanding of the truth behind the late 20th century American-led effort, under Ronald Reagan's Presidency, to win the Cold War, liberate millions, and usher in the great hope of peace and freedom that exists in our current post-Cold War world.
It may now be fading from the memory of many Americans, but looking at the world in January 1981, when the Reagan Presidency began, it would be a laughable premise to suggest that the West was actually winning the Cold War. In fact, during Carter's Presidency, over a dozen nations fell into the Soviet orbit, sometimes--as was the case in Iran and Nicaragua--at Carter's unwitting behest as he withdrew critical U.S. support from strong American allies under the auspices of these governments' human rights violations, only to see worse violations emerge under two regimes hostile to the U.S., as was the case in the emergence of the Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran and the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. In the name of "human rights," the Carter administration toppled two allied governments, brought to power two egregious human rights violators, and helped develop two new enemies of our nation.
Importantly, however, as Reagan astutely recognized, in nearly all of these Soviet-supported totalitarian states that comprised the Soviet Union's global sphere of influence, spanning through Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, there was almost nowhere that these totalitarian regimes were not also facing internal opposition from the people they were suppressing. Charlie Wilson's War tells the story of one of the most important of these struggles, Afghanistan, where, as part of overall Soviet aggression and on Carter's watch, the Soviet Union sent over 100,000 troops to invade and occupy Afghanistan in 1979. Quite understandably, it was not a national development well taken by the Afghan people. While fractionalized, thousands of Afghans, known as the mujahideen, rose to oppose the Soviet occupation, and this opposition to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan quickly and properly drew U.S. support.
Who led this brave effort to aid a resistance force which, de facto, was fighting the Cold War for us? One of those people was U.S. Congressman Charlie Wilson (played in the film by Tom Hanks), a southern Texas Democrat who, before his intervention in support of the mujahideen, was perhaps best known as a fun-loving bachelor who was not going to let his stuffy Congressional position interfere with his having a good time. Urged on by one of his romantic interests, Houston socialite Joanne Herring (played by Julia Roberts), who urges Wilson to intervene on the mujahideen's behalf, Wilson quickly discovers that the Carter administration's efforts in support of the mujahideen had been disturbingly restricted to a handful of low-level Central Intelligence Agency operatives, led by one very committed CIA officer named Gust Avrakotos, a Pennsylvania-born operative who, upon his 2005 death, The Washington Post called a "blue collar James Bond" who ultimately "ran the largest covert operation in the agency's history." In Charlie Wilson's War, Wilson asks Avrakotos who in Carter's CIA was running the vast and important effort to aid the mujahideen. "Me and three other guys," Avrakotos replies.
Wilson also learns another disturbing fact: that the official Carter policy, described to Wilson during a visit to the U.S. embassy in Pakistan, was to ensure that the U.S. was not seen as intervening in the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in any way that would be perceived as inflaming macro-level U.S.-Soviet relations.
As the film correctly depicts, Wilson experienced surprising success in his somewhat rogue effort to substantially increase covert CIA-channeled U.S. aid to the mujahideen, and the results were ultimately nothing short of remarkable, with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan turning into Moscow's Vietnam. The mujahideen proved hugely heroic fighters. With the aid of U.S.-supplied Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, Soviet MIG and other fighter jets were routinely shot from the sky. Charlie Wilson's War tells this story and, in so doing, provides a fairly new and important context on what was undeniably one of the single greatest contributing factors to the ultimate collapse of global communism. Afghanistan, quite simply, proved for the first time that, with determination and support, the Soviet Union's conquests were reversible. The global significance of this message surely ranks among the most important of the 20th century.
Of course, Afghanistan, important as it proved, was just one of many global Cold War conflicts of the late 20th century. And Charlie Wilson, who does deserve credit for his determination in support of the mujahideen, was just one man. To place this film in some larger context in an understanding of the Soviet empire's ultimate collapse, however, other critical facts cannot be overlooked:
First, the world owes a great debt to many historical global leaders who helped contain Soviet advances and who articulated the threat to freedom imposed by Soviet aggression in the post-World War II era. It must start with Winston Churchill, who, in his famed "Iron Curtain" speech in 1946, awakened the world to this new struggle, saying: "From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an Iron Curtain has descended across the continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe, Warsaw, Berlin, Praque, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia, all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere." Successive U.S. Presidents from Harry Truman at least through Richard Nixon, and the Congresses during those administrations, admirably understood that the Cold War was a battle for the future of the world and that holding Soviet advances at bay--what was known as "containment"--was essential to the West's freedom and security.
Second, when the Reagan administration arrived in Washington in 1981, hugely important and still underrated historical figures in this administration, including then-CIA Director William J. Casey, United Nations Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick, and Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger (sadly, all now deceased) quickly recognized the fact that the Soviet Union's advances since World War II and especially under the Carter administration represented, as Churchill described early Nazi Germany, "a gathering storm." But these great leaders also understood something else. These global advances of totalitarianism were reversible. Reagan saw it too; he spoke with great persuasion (and, at least at first, with limited political support) to the promise of aiding these resistance movements and the possibility of a new dawn in the world. He was smart and brave enough to ask, as no leader before him really did, "what if?" What if the U.S. moved beyond the mere containment of Soviet advances to a rollback of these advances? What if such a U.S. policy could lead to these regimes falling to the hands of people in these nations? What if the cost of the Soviet Union's global aggression ultimately became so taxing that it impacted the very fabric that allowed this entire unnatural empire to exist at all?
The policy that emerged from all of this, articulated by Reagan and known as the Reagan Doctrine, for the first time in the history of American foreign policy stated that wherever people being suppressed by Soviet-supported communist governments were willing to rise against these governments, the U.S. stood ready to assist them and to work for their victory. How brave was this? Consider, for instance, that Reagan articulated this policy openly and persuasively at a time when Soviet nuclear weapons were pointed at American cities and a Soviet military force of some 13 million men were trained and available to defend the Soviet advances that Reagan was convinced could be reversed.
The result of it all now comprises the greatest still largely untold story of modern history: When movements arose in Angola (UNITA), Nicaragua (the contras), and other nations, these movements, like the mujahideen in Afghanistan, enjoyed the benefit of Reagan's full support, even as a hugely politically-charged Democrat-controlled Congress at that time sought to reign in and end Reagan's efforts. But that did not stop Reagan. Addressing CPAC in 1988, a few days after Democrats had shot down the administration's proposed support for the Nicaraguan contras, Reagan said: "Let me make this pledge to you tonight: we're not giving up on those who are fighting for their freedom, and they aren't giving up either...get ready, the curtain hasn't fallen." Reagan's vision and resilience kept these freedom fighters alive when a Democrat-run Congress was consistently looking for ways to undermine and halt the effort. The result was that when that curtain ultimately did fall, a few years later, it fell on the totality of the 74-year standing Soviet empire.
The Reagan Doctrine was not merely opposed politically by the vast majority of Democrats. Their opposition could not have been more indignant or rooted in a perceived moral imperative. As Reagan sought Congressional approval for U.S. aid to the contras, for instance, then Speaker of the House of Representatives Jim Wright, the Texas Democrat, didn't just lead fellow Democrats in attempts to defeat the measure legislatively. He also led fellow Democrats on a mission to Nicaragua, where they posed, smiling, for pictures with Nicaragua's then Soviet and Cuban-supported dictator Daniel Ortega. On foreign soil, they denounced Reagan's efforts to aid the contras as reckless, and later represented that Reagan's policy represented an oversimplification of the Soviet Union's global intentions. Not a few American liberals went even further to argue that the Reagan Doctrine was an open invitation to nuclear war.
Under this background, every vote on aid to UNITA, the contras, and other resistance movements was a huge political ordeal, with the vast majority of Congressional Democrats seeking to defeat the measures. Sometimes they won. But more often, because of extraordinary efforts made by Reagan to verbalize the importance of the policy, and the leadership of many Congressional Republicans who had the vision to fight for it, they lost.
While Wilson was one, many other Congressional names, most Republicans, deserve a rightful place as part of the Reagan army who fought for this critical support, including some who did so despite a lack of solid political support for it in their own districts: Congressmen Dan Burton (R-IN), Jim Courter (R-NJ), Newt Gingrich (R-GA), Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Jack Kemp (R-NY), Don Ritter (R-PA), E. Clay Shaw (R-FL), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Bob Walker (R-PA), Senators Steve Symms (R-ID), Don Nickles (R-OK), Malcolm Wallop (R-WY), and dozens of others. Sadly, history has not yet properly recorded the role of these brave elected U.S. leaders, many of whom sacrificed political popularity to fight these battles and who articulated the case for this important doctrine that ultimately ended the Soviet empire.
The doctrine also succeeded because others had the vision to lay the intellectual foundation for it, including the Heritage Foundation, which made the case for the doctrine on both a macro and micro level and correctly identified the Reagan era as perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to end the Cold War in freedom's favor. Other advocates included Jack Wheeler, a Ph.D. adventure traveler who was one of the first to notice the opportunity associated with the Reagan Doctrine, relentless Reagan Doctrine advocates Frank Gaffney and Howard Phillips (both former federal government officials), who also saw the promise, and the editorial pages of The Wall Street Journal and Washington Times, which were nearly alone among print media in supporting it. Along with Wilson, former Reagan speechwriter Dana Rohrabacher, now a California Republican Congressman, was among the first to speak of the strategic and moral imperative for U.S. aid to the mujahideen. Each of these people and organizations overlooked liberal ridicule because they saw--and stood by--the promise for a new world where a totalitarian superpower did not represent an ongoing threat to the freedom and very lives of man.
Regrettably, you will hear none of these names or organizations cited in Charlie Wilson's War. But let there be no mistake: the efforts of these great Americans and organizations ultimately made the West's Cold War victory possible.
The decision to resist Soviet aggression in these regions was hugely contentious, with the vast majority of Democrats (aside from Charlie Wilson and a handful of others) on the other side of this debate. Had these votes gone the other way, with these resistance movements being denied the assistance they needed to resist Soviet aggression, there is no doubt that their plight would have been vastly different. Like the Hungarian revolt of 1956 and the Prague Spring of 1968, they would have been crushed by the same totalitarian Soviet aggression that successfully suppressed such resistance at home and abroad hundreds of times throughout the 20th century. The Soviets certainly tried their best in Afghanistan. Soviet forces indiscriminately bombed civilians. They blew the hands off children with explosives designed to look like toys. They torched entire caves of scared civilians. What was the human cost of the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan? Some two million civilians were killed, and five million more fled the Soviet occupation. If there exists any modern example of "scorched earth" military tactics and institutionalized evil in practice, it can be found in what Soviet troops did in Afghanistan from 1979 until 1989.
This is what the Reagan effort resisted, and it worked. With U.S. support being the single most important determinant, former Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev ultimately labeled his nation's occupation of Afghanistan and decade-long effort to exterminate the mujahideen a "bleeding wound." Yes, it was a bleeding wound. It was a bleeding wound because the Reagan army bravely stood against that Soviet occupation and consciously made it one, not just in Afghanistan but in almost every non-European nation where the Soviets sought to impose their will on people. It is late 20th century resistance that won the Cold War, and it is Reagan and the Reagan army that made that resistance against a ruthless global superpower possible.
Third, as most Americans will recall, the ultimate retreat of the Soviet army from Afghanistan should have opened a promising future for the newly-freed nation, but it was not exactly followed by the emergence of liberal democracy. Unable to maintain a consensus for some continued nation-building following the Soviets' nine-year occupation, as advocated by most of the Reagan army of mujahideen supporters, the Taliban ultimately arose to fill the power vacuum left by the Soviets, making Afghanistan the breeding ground for al-Qaeda training and leading to what has become this nation's current conflict against global terrorism. Does there not exist a contemporary lesson in this? It seems impossible, if we are a nation given to learning even history's most recent lessons, not to see that U.S. post-Saddam engagement in Iraq, costly as it has been, is rooted in not making a similar mistake to the one made in Afghanistan. Had the U.S. committed just several years to help Afghanistan and its people rebuild following its 1989 liberation, what might be the state of this world today? But U.S. neglect of post-occupation Afghanistan, especially under the Clinton administration, invited a worst possible outcome, which ultimately arrived on September 11, 2001.
A final, important point: Just as the importance and ultimate success of the Reagan Doctrine (and its associated, modern-day lesson of the importance of resiliency in our current global conflict against Islamofascism) have escaped many Americans and their leaders, there may be no more outrageously inaccurate thesis held than the one that suggests that U.S. support for the mujahideen during the Reagan years somehow benefited today's al-Qaeda. It did not, and this thesis ranks right there in its absurdity with the one that charges U.S. complicity in the September 11 attacks. Such convictions are not merely historical misinterpretations; they represent an apparent unwillingness to recognize that, in this world, there will almost always exist dangerous nations and movements that resent and seek to challenge and undermine American democracy and American interests.
The fact is that we did not first discover al-Qaeda on September 11, 2001. Yes, elements of what ultimately became al-Qaeda were there in Afghanistan during this critical Cold War conflict, and, yes, they too, for their own reasons, opposed the Soviet occupation of the nation. Having the benefit of fairly extensive involvement in some of the efforts to secure U.S. assistance for the Reagan Doctrine efforts, however, I well remember the passionate discussions in the Reagan administration and among all Congressional and U.S. supporters of the mujahideen over ensuring that U.S. support was restricted to our primary allies in the Afghan effort. And that goal was achieved. Chief among these was another great and largely unsung hero in the Reagan Doctrine's ultimate success, Ahmad Shah Massoud, who earned the warranted nickname "the Lion of Panjshir," and who was assassinated by al-Qaeda agents in what perhaps should have been a foretelling sign, on September 9, 2001, two days prior to the September 11 attacks.
There also existed at this time a very clear recognition among those of us close to, and supportive of, the Afghan resistance that a movement was emerging, then known as Maktab al-Khidamat (often simply referred to by the acronym "MAK"), that was comprised of non-Afghan Arabs. They began arriving in Afghanistan roughly five years following the Soviet invasion from other Arab nations to join in resistance of the Soviet occupation. It was not a large force, but it was a highly dangerous one, including Saudi-born Osama bin Laden (who initially supported MAK financially and later helped establish an Afghan base camp for it), Ayman al-Zawahiri, and other figures now comprising current al-Qaeda leadership.
Supporters of the mujahideen at that time were well aware of MAK's existence and the danger it represented. And while there was concern around Pakistan's intelligence agency, known as the ISI, which was heavily engaged in the distribution of U.S. support to the mujahideen, and there was sometimes frustration with the ISI's bureaucracy and inefficiency, the U.S. never aided MAK and, in fact, almost certainly took important steps to neutralize it. In fact, one of bin Laden's closest MAK associates at that time, Abdullah Yusuf Azzam, who was then viewed as a threat as great as any MAK member, was assassinated in a November 1989 land mine attack in Peshawar, Pakistan. The forces behind that land mine were never formally identified and no party took responsibility, but it is widely perceived that this was one of numerous Reagan-era attempts to minimize the nucleus of the toxic forces that ultimately became al-Qaeda. If not, suffice to say there were no expressions of remorse from any official U.S. governmental bodies.
So let this fact be settled now: The rise of al-Qaeda, while largely attributable to the Clinton administration's eight-year neglect of Afghanistan, during which the Taliban and al-Qaeda, with free reign, established an Afghanistan training presence, U.S. engagement in the war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan did nothing to strengthen bin Laden or any other al-Qaeda force. Rather, the defeat of the Red Army in that conflict stands as one of the great successes of U.S. engagement in the world, sending a hugely important global signal to the Soviets and the world that the future did not belong to Moscow's totalitarian aspirations. The future belonged to those who resisted it. This change of current is at the heart of the West's Cold War victory.
All Americans should take 100 minutes from their schedule to catch this grand story, as told in Charlie Wilson's War. The intricate details of the Cold War's end will not be fully gleaned from the film, but maybe that's okay. It is still a constructive contribution because it is one of the first mass-appeal efforts to reflect the most important lesson of America's Cold War victory: that the Reagan-led effort to support freedom fighters resisting Soviet oppression led successfully to the first major military defeat of the Soviet Union and, with deference to East Germany's former Minister of Propaganda, whose spontaneous words blew open the Berlin Wall, sending the Red Army packing from Afghanistan proved one of the single most important contributing factors in one of history's most profoundly positive and important developments.