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Remembering Reagan - Richard Pipes

Richard Pipes

Served on Reagan's National Security Council.

The outstanding quality of President Reagan to my mind was his inner serenity: he was a man who had come to terms with himself and the world around him, as well as his awesome responsibilities. He divided the latter into two distinct categories: things that mattered and those that did not matter. In the former category he placed the security and prestige of the United States, reducing the role of government in the lives of ordinary Americans, and, last but not least, ridding the world of the communist scourge. He was less interested in how these objectives were attained, provided that there was no war. I found in my dealings with him on Soviet Russia that he was, in some respects, naïve for he could not understand that the Soviet leaders actually wanted their people to be poor and oppressed be abuse their power and privilege rested on this condition. He thought they simply followed a false ideology and that if he showed them how to make their people free and prosperous they would follow his advice. The misconception was rooted in his kindness and humanness. It took some persuasion to convince him how things really stood: and he embraced this truth in sorrow.

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