Ronald Reagan, standing at the Brandenburg Gate, issued his famous challenge to Mikhail Gorbachev to "Tear down this wall!" The line was written by our friend Peter Robinson, who will speak tomorrow at the Reagan Ranch Center in Santa Barbara, California. Peter recalls that the State Department, the National Security Council and the President's chief of staff all thought the line was too provocative and wanted it removed from the speech. That conflict was emblematic; the truth was that the foreign policy establishment thought Reagan's whole policy of trying to win the Cold War was too provocative.
I've always believed this speech has been vastly overvalued by the conservatives who seem to think that, like Joshua's trumpet, this speech put the first cracks in the iron curtain. Compared to the "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech by Kennedy, it didn't really break any new ground. But nonetheless, it proved that when it came to delivering a knockout soundbite, Reagan had few equals.
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