tv Ronald Reagan Symposium Panel 1 CSPAN August 13, 2015 2:45am-3:55am EDT
you american history tv in primetime on c-span3. tonight, a look at the major speeches of our nation's 40th president, ronald reagan. up next on american history tv, a panel discussion from regent university ronald reagan symposium. democratic revolution, challenges to fostering global freedom. it focuses on the speeches that defined president reagan's administration, including what became known as the evil empire speech and his 1987 west berlin mchale gorbachev to tear down this wall. this is an hour 10 minutes. >> good morning. welcome. i'm delighted you chose to join us for the 10th annual ronald
reagan similar pose pose yum on this cold winter morning. i serve as dean as here. i would like to introduce one of our senior leaders to greet you at this time and kick off this conference. he's a distinguished scholar and academic, served as dean of arts examine sciences, author and editor of five banks, and currently serves as the executive vice president for academic affairs here at the university. please help me in welcoming to the podium the doctor. [ applause ]. good morning. i want to thank you for the 10th annual ronald reagan symposium. this year's theme, the challenges of fostering global
freedom, connects to the university's mission and the distinctives of the robertson school of government. individual liberty, represented democracy and constitutional government. more importantly, this symposium should lead taos think about the grander theme of statesmanship embodied in one of the great presidents, ronald reagan. political issues come and go. statesmanship lives on in the minds of the people long after its physical embodiment creased so exist. it is a testament to that fact. thank you for attending this important event and thank you dean patterson for your leadership and helping us never to forget the giver. thank you. [ applause ]. we'll follow the program you have there. we will hear from three
panelists. and then a question and answer time. and a break. we'll follow the schedule as you have it. i'll moderate this panel. a former speech writer for three presidents, including service as president ronald reagan's director of speech writing. president reagan also nominated him to a term on the national council of the humanities. he has appeared in numerous venues, "the wall street journal", american enterprise, and "the new york times" our second speaker is mr. craig shirley, "new york times" best-selling author known for two critically acclaimed books on ronald reagan. "rendezvous with destiny" and "reagan's revolution, untold story of the campaign that started it all."
mr. shirleyy is the first reagan scholar at eureka college, former decorated contract agent with the central intelligence agency. welcome. our third member is kathleen k.t. macfarland, fox news. she helped in the nixon, ford, reagan administration, aide to henry kissinger, secretary of defense casper wine berger and later as principal, deputy assistant secretary of defense and pentagon spokesperson. in 1985, she received the defense department's highest award given to a civilian for her work in the reagan administration. she's a much sought after speaker and writer for her commentary on international affairs. ladies and gentlemen, coming to speak now is the honorable arum
basham. [ applause ]. good morning. i am very happy to be here in virginia for this occasion because i have a particular personal reason for remembering the westminster address that president reagan gave. i was director of speech writing at the time. and of course i was there. but something happened shortly after the speech where i was walking -- i had been to london before. i was showing a few people around. pastor shop that had all of these model soldiers. there were hundreds of them. one caught my eye. it's strange. but it caught my eye. a single figure. and i bought it. and i still have it. in fact, i have it right here. it was -- it turned out it was a figure of a member of baylor's
virginia continental. and i don't know. i didn't know why i was attracted to it. years later when someone traced the family tree i discovered that my great great great great -- and i forget. maybe there was one more -- grandfather had been a baylor. so this is a home coming to me for virginia at the same time as it is a commemoration for ronald reagan's westminster address where i accidentally bought my great great great great great grandfather. the whole point of the westminster address was a defining moment. speeches come and go. and you could arbitrarily assemble this -- any number of speeches. but westminster was a keystone
and arch that reagan gave amongst many others that define the cold war, defined how we felt the issues, the principles behind things. and that step by step led to the end of that cold war a at any rate. and the collapse of comp nymph, which very few people thought was going to happen. how did he do it? and how important were the words? i'll concentrate on the speeches. that is what i did. that is how i worked with him first of all, i will tell you what he didn't do. that is what other people sometimes do wrong when they are trying to exert american leadership globally. while i was working on my remarks for today, i happened to also be revealing two books that made me think more about what i had to say and reminded me of it. the first was a book about woodrow wilson and chief foreign
policy adviser. and as i read the book and wrote the review, some thoughts occurred to me which helped explain why woodrow wilson failed and why ronald reagan didn't. i'll just read a short excerpt. when it comes to presidents, the brightest are not necessarily the best. there are at least three other qualities that matter as much or more. the presidential greatness of men like washington, lincoln, fdr, and ronald reagan was due at least as much to these qualities as it was to raw intellect. and then there was woodrow wilson. a brilliant scholar with high ideas but temp rament alley and judgmentally sustained leadership at the presidential level. wilson was a prime example of a type all too familiar in public life, a self-proclaimed progressive. he doesn't really like people
very much. his conceit, his conviction that he was always the smartest guy in the room and his particular version of a presbyterian god had chosen him as a unique messenger. in fact, it's one thing to recognize god. it's another thing to think you're god. woodrow wilson had that problem. all of that rendered him unable to cope as part of the presidency. it was a problem that ronald reagan emphatically did not. i remember fdr referring to al smith as the hope warrior. i think ronald reagan was the
happy cold warrior. he fought the cold war but he was not a belligerent man. he was a man of strong principles with a moderate personality in the sense of -- he was close to people instead of being closed to people. which is why he was able to reach out to people politically. a whole new term spwerld the vocabulary, reagan tkpwrat, starting in the '80s. those are some of the things that made it possible for him to do the things that he did. the review just ran in the washington times a few days ago, tuesday. it was a book about abraham
lincoln. as i looked, and i know this is virginia. i'm not asking you -- it's too late to have to vote for or against abraham lincoln, so don't worry. but lincoln was a master of words. in fact, a titled the review "abraham lincoln k. a man of his words," with an s. as i will explain in a minute, he and ronald reagan and a few others was a president pore his words. he will be remembered for his words because of his gift for expressing his ideals was quite powerful. and i tried to -- well, i just started. as i was doing the review of the lincoln book, i started thinking more and more about ronald reagan. i think you'll see why. most presidents are defined by what happened while they were in office and what others write about them afterward. few paint annen during self
portrait in their own words. in the 20th century, only franklin roosevelt and ronald reagan imbedded themselves in history largely through their living words and images. fdr villa radio and film and ronald reagan with television as well. part of the reason is the positive impact of their words. fdr told us we had nothing to fear but fear itself. we overcame the great depression and liberated the real axis of evil. president reagan told mr. gorbachev to tear down that wall. great rhetoric matched by great eventsis remembered. otherwise, it's just words. only one 19th century president, american president, attained the same level of successes as a leader. and he had things in common with ronald reagan, which is why i
started thinking about that as i wrote this review. abraham lincoln -- well, basically he suppressed himself in a way that the vast majority of his fellow countrymen, without ever seeing him in person or seeing very often a photograph of him, without ever hearing his voice, he burned his image into their souls. they both came from modest backgrounds. ronald reagan became president at a time when you needed presidential speech writers because of the incredible number of speeches you have to get. legal pad, yellow sheet, handwritten with very few corrections would come out of whole short speeches or whole sections of speeches that ronald reagan had done himself. that is not true of many presidents, i know. the other thing is that abraham
lincoln, and i won't do a direct paraphrase or quote from the article. abraham lincoln is a man of modest preparation, very bright. he had to work very hard to get it at a modest, small, very good liberal arts college at a time when a bachelor's degree meant something. and at a time in fact, when you graduated from the sixth grade and you can spell better than i'm afraid many a ph.d. today. abraham lincoln also had something going for him that no politician has before. there was one book that he was raise odd in almost every american home at the time. and it was a book that besides its beautiful and inspiring message had beautiful and inspiring language. that was the king james bible. and if the gettysburg address
had begun with 87 years ago instead of four score and seven years ago, we might not even remember it. we wouldn't remember it with the same intensity. because there was a biblical imagery to it that gave it a a majesty and which was even more powerful in those days. and then he linked it four score and seven years ago, our forefathers. he linked it to his founding fathers. so he wasn't just talking about the north against the south at that moment. and then as he went through it and said now we are engaged in a great civil war, he linked it to the tragedy of the civil war. but he then reconnected it and tried to make people understand that as bad as it was, it wasn't being done for nothing. because he talked about the the forefathers and a rebirth of freedom, which was carrying it forward another step.
which is what america is all about. constantly moving forward with humane values, principles, honor. so that it ended, even though it was a dedicated of a solitary, awe inspiring and future looking note. that was a gift ronald reagan had in his speeches. and in westminster he defined the ideals and the values. he said in various other speeches too during the course of his career why we had to do this. why we had to do things that were very practical and material like the strategic defense initiative, which was ridiculed as star wars. and as one of the advisers i remember saying teddy kennedy thought he was being very clever
when he referred it to as star wars. that's one of the popular movies ever made, it has a happy ending, and the good guys win. and that's what happens. so it backfired. ronald reagan called the soviet empire an evil empire. i remember when people asked me why did he say that? well, because it isn't. haven't you noticed? it took a little fancy footwork. that expression was introduced at a -- what was a minor speech in the sense that it wasn't the state of the union or billed as a foreign policy speech. it was a speech of evangelicals in florida, orlando, with the result that presidential speeches, the drafts are always circulated to the secretary of state, defense, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. and one of their senior staffers is supposed to review them. but there are a lot of presidential speeches at any given time. that was sort of all the bottom
of the pile. a lot of people were like, oh, that is just some speech to broadcasters so that the initial draft with the wards evil empire in it didn't get spotted by them. and the observations didn't start pouring in until we already got a draft to the president. the guy that happened to be on duty the day that the draft went in fellow named slim kramer. he and i said there are going to be a lot of people upset about this word. but it's their job to find out, and i'm not going to tell them about it. and let the president see it. then you start getting the phone calls. as director of speech writing, once they have gone to the president, i had to keep track of things and the changes. so once it had gone to the president and came back out and he kept it in, if you got a call from a senior deputy from the secretary of state expressing, the secretary of state feels this needs to come out. well, i feel the secretary of state must tell the president this must come out because he
kept it in. and if the secretary of state wants to tell the president and can convince him, that's his job and more power to him. well, nobody did. reagan kept it in. it made history. of course he caught all sorts of criticism at home. they always said he was wrong. they always underestimated him. it was one of the best things he had going for him. it was brought home to me how much speeches like that meant. i had been a speech writer twice before for presidents. i loved doing it for reagan. i like doing my own writing. so i told him i'll not stay forever. so i quit near the first term. i was with a group of other writers and journalists and when we varsa, budapest, and east berlin. and the people i met there, this was just when the wall was coming down, when you could say
that ronald reagan's prophecy had been fulfilled. and the people on the other side of the curtain. i was over there with many of them said his words were more than words and this couldn't happen without him. and thank you very much. and my great great great great grandfather thing. [ applause ]. >> thank you, doctor, and thank you to the university. it's an honor and privilege to be here. i'm proud to be on the panel with k.t. speaking of this time of day reminds me of what ronald reagan once said about the collision of time and day and age. and when you speak. he quipped that the definition of middle aim is when we are
faced with temptations and you choose the one that will get you home in bed by 9:30. as a side note, i'm glad to tell you i just this week turned in the man script for "last act," which is the third book i have written on ronald reagan about his post-presidency. and contrary to popular belief, he didn't go back to california. he announced he had alzheimer's and then passed away. it took three years to complete. i was asked not too long ago about writing, was it profitable. is it books or op-eds or speeches. and i thought for a moment. the most profitable form of writing is ransom ones.
i'm also working on a book about reagan in the wilderness. it goes to the point of this conference here today. from 1976 to 1979, he went through a complete ideological makeover. and because reagan in this time ends up rejecting the containment and the policies which had dominated american policy towards the soviet union to the time of the famous long telegram in which he advised truman to contain the soviets. this has been our policy through 40 plus years. and he comes to believe in this time in the late 70s that the soviet union can actually be defeated. it earned an establishment who thought the soviet union and berlin wall were things of
permanence. henry kissinger equated the west with athens and the east of sparta. the president did sign over the objections of dick cheney, chief of staff at the time. and he said in 1979 he could support every republican running for president except ronald reagan. he also once said how did it ever occur to anyone he should be governor, much less president. 12 years later, after his election in 1992, he was given what turned out to be farewell remarks to the republican party at their convention in houston. he had made other speeches in 1993 and 1994. but this was his last speech to a national convention starting in 1960 when he was simply a private citizen and head of democrats for nixon. at this time, of course, in 1992, the soviet union had
already surrendered, collapsed. due to his misfortune, george bush did not make this event, the event of our lifetime. and the greatest struggle of our lifetime which billions were spent, national defenses raised, a president assassinated over, 30,000 american boys dying, cold war eruption. went nearly unremarked and no one noticed. this was in my opinion a great tragedy because the american people needed to be told that soviet communists lost and the south vietnam were not in vain. and moral right triumphed over moral evil. that's why reagan called it an evil empire. and he never backed away from it to the night he died.
he was understandable restrained yet it seemed to some he was itching to give the greatest speech of his lifetime. and i think most of us would agree it was a speech that franklin roosevelt or john kennedy, reagan could have given in their sleep. some ways later, reagan addressed the matter without embarrassing bush. and he did so at the houston convention, which is widely regarded as one of his greatest and yet overlooked. he was trying to stitch back together a divided republican party in 1992. i'm not going to do his -- i'm not going to try to reflect his voice but i will read what he said at the houston convention. "we stood tall and proclaimed communism was history, we never heard so much ridicule from our liberal friends. the only thing that got them more upset was two simple words, evil empire. but we knew then when the liberal democrat leaders just
couldn't figure out. the sky would not fall, america restorld their strength and resolve. the sky would not fall if an american president spoke the truth. the only thing that would fall is the berlin wall. he continued, i heard the other speakers at the convention saying we won the cold war. and i couldn't help wonder who did they exactly mean by we?" reagan knew. he always knew. going back to his days in hollywood when soviet agents, pro vac ters. but the soviets always had a political head established in the united states of america. soviet agents threatened to throw acid in his face in the '40s. and in the 1960s said they had a bowl at headquarters with reagan's head on it. he hired private security to
protect his wife and two children. a strike by a communist leaning union in 1946 shut down the studio where reagan was beginning to film "night on to night." he told congress, we man into a one man battalion, ronald reagan. it was later learned to be funded by moscow. two men tried to lay gasoline bombs and throw into their home where nancy and their son was sleeping. they slipped away in the darkness. to his everlasting congress when he testified on unamerican activities he didn't say aoe convicting communists in the united states. he said the united states is strong enough to tolerate all points of view as long as they were peaceful. that stood him out from robert taylor and other actors who were cooperating with huac.
but there is an irrefutable fact. in 1980, we were losing the cold war. by 1989, we were winning the cold war. as jeane kirkpatrick said about the san francisco democrats "from the fall of sigh gone in 1975 to january 1981, soviet influence expanded dramatically in laos, libyan, syria, madagascar, seychelles, nicaragua, grenada." not all were pro soviet and anti-american to be sure. there are many good anti-american democrats. but for whatever reason a number of democrats in the 1980s, call them fellow travelers or fifth
columnist or deconstructionist or pro srobg tours. or lennon's phrase useful idiots. these were the san francisco democrats to which kirkpatrick was referring. from lobbyist clark clifford to van hoffman, anthony lewis, robert dollic, many other liberals either spoke up for soviet communism or denounced reagan of consigning it to history. the soviets at the times called their policy i reversibility. soviet surveillance was everywhere. their embassy in washington was regarded a little more than a forward operating post for the kgb. even president carter, who i believe is a very good man, was simply in over his head. he never understood the presidency. pushed ahead with his beloved treaties with the soviets even after they invaded afghanistan.
and yet he still went on national television with barbara walters and suppressed astonishment that the soviets would do such a thing as invade another country. yet from the day reagan was elected, the soviets never gained one more inch and indeed rolled back soviet beginning in afghanistan and eventually the world. let's be clear here. the soviets gained ground against every american president from woodrow wilson to jimmy carter. gorbachev and the soviets did not end the cold war with reagan's help. they surrendered without debate. great news to tell a joke about gorbachev but illustrated a larger point. two guys standing in line. vodka story. they were there days on end. one says i'm sick of this. i'm sick of waiting around. i'm sick of all the shortages all the time.
i'm on going to go to the kremlin and shoot gorbachev. he left. a couple days later he came back. he said did you shoot gorbachev? and he said, no, that line was longer than this one. i think it illustrates the point he wanted to defeat the idea. he understood that the way to beat an idea is with a better idea. during the war, they produced silent russia and mission to moscow. see if you can watch them. further he wrote, that it was communism john patrick diggins, his political consciousness developed during the cold war. he also wrote communism was always on his mind. whether he was performing for the camera, dining out with his wife, writing letters to friends or later preparing to enter
american politics on the world stage. to say that reagan was preoccupied with the soviets during his term of office is an understatement. in the highly regarded book, they noted in the index that one time he simply had more important things in his mind. over the past few days, the letter to ortega, the communist dictator in nicaragua has been in the news. the details have not been discussed. it was signed by 10 members of congress. it seems like they always travel in packs of of 10. led my congressman jim wright it was shocking. it said dear commandante, military action against the people, our government of nicaragua. at the time newt gingrich called the document unbelievable. it was nothing more than a shreus taos salutation directly
interfering with ronald reagan's foreign policy. gingrich went on to the lehrer report with them. the letter uses friendly and prospects and goodwill and reduced press censorship. and i always thought, there was not supposed to be press sensorship. what was ground breaking in many ways about this letter was it was a direct contradiction of reagan's policy. and it didn't stop there. 1987, ortega negotiated with wright, by passing the administration to negotiate peace talks. so -- and even reagan, jim was a storm trooper. in the early days the a tkpapb
administration ted kennedy was nothing like his brother to the kremlin in exchange for him stopping reagan's defense buildup help defeat reagan's reelection. he said he would help him brush up on propaganda skills and introduce him to the american television networksment the only real threat to reagan are soviet relations. the dear commandante letter was going to nicaragua. there he used reagan of committing terrorism. george schultz was reagan's secretary of state at the time. and he attacked kerry and harp man as self-appointed adversaries to the regime. he called it mccarthyism. it was mildly humorous because
mccarthy was really not comp nymph and harkin seemed to be rooting for communism in nicaragua. they trafpld on the lmped on th tore it up. during the pro nuclear freeze movements the early days in the 1980s, they were being funded by moscow. at the 1977 conservative political action conference he told a crowd, when a conservative says a totalitarian communist is enemy of human freedom he is not theorizing. again, we quote kirkpatrick. so in 1980, the american people elected a very different president. entered the dismal period of retreat and decline.
the american people declared that the world we have the necessary energy and conviction to defend ourselves and we have a well with a deep commitment to peace. thank you. [ applause ]. thank you very much. it is a great honor to be here to talk about the westminster speech. because i think world history or american history, there is the before the westminster speech and there is the after westminster speech. the problem is when he gave it nobody got it. i want to ask, how many of you are of the cold war era? how many were alive and remember the cold war? okay. the cold war happened because after world war ii, the united states and the world looked at itself and said we have two super powers, united states, soviet union and nuclear weapons. how do we avoid using the nuclear weapons and how do we avoid the mistakes of the last
100 years? how do we avoid the slaughter of world war ii and world war ii. we the united states and the soviet union came up with a theory. we're not going to go to war with them. we know how that doesn't work out. we're going to contain them. we'll have a policy whereby we contain comp nymph within the soviet union. with time we will learn to live peacefully with each other. we're not going to go to war. we will accept 245 they will be around like us and we will find a way to peacefully exist. reagan turned it around. and he said my policy is really simple. we win, they lose. and then he said about a very specific ways to make that happen. for reagan it wasn't we will negotiate with the soviet union so they can continue. we are going to do a whole series of steps to target their
economy, target their ideology, target their allies. and we're going to take them down. so what he realized, though, is you don't do it on the battle field. you have to do it somehow not using weapons. and how did reagan come to that conclusion? he understood totalitarian systems, dictatorships, they suppress the very nature of human beings. they took all the fruits of your labor. they were going to decide who got them. they were going to make all the decisions. so natural human instinct, i'm going to work hard, create, innovate, take chances, do this for myself and my family. those were all suppressed. reagan understood ultimately a system like that would collapse from within. reagan's plan was to hurry it along a little bit. in the westminster speech he
gave a preview of all the policies he was going to conduct throughout his administration. he realized that the soviet union was contracting. the economy was contracting. just a few years before, gal breath, senior american economist had hailed the soviet union to say, oh, this is an economy that we should learn about central planning. they don't have any mistakes. it was thought the soviet economy, planned central avenue would be the way of the future. reagan understood that was not going to work and it would in fact, collapse. his thoughts at the time were quite revolutionary. they didn't sound revolutionary. his speeches sounded patriotic and wonderful. and the media dismissed it as naive. they didn't think he had a fundamental understanding. when reagan gave the westminster speech when aaron was writing it and the administration was collecting the thoughts, inside
the administration -- i was at the pentagon at the time. they were coming up with specific plans to target various aspects of the soviet economy and deposit. first it was -- reagan understood you target that economy. that economy contracted in the 30 years of the soviet union. reagan once said to my boss wine berger, can you believe a super power that can't feed its own people? that's where the soviet union was by 1980. they were having crop shortages, an economy that didn't work and devoting more and more of a percentage to their military building. at the same time he was giving this speech are the things he talked about in his speech. reagan in the westminster speech, which we will show here in a few minutes. he talked about polling. he talked about the right of workers to organize. he talked about the right of people to be free. he talked about the united
states military buildup. it was important for the united states to have a stronger military, unilateral military. he talked about nuclear weapons, the great threat that hung over the heads of everyone in the world. he talked about the need to reduce that. but most of all he talked about the soviet economy. he talked about the fact in the 30 years they had in power, they had their chance 30 years, they were as a declining economy, their economy was contracting. the national security memorandum internally and they were had he highly classified. but the gist of it was, go to america's allies and shore them up. reagan then traveled all over europe. he talked to the allies. he became great friends with margaret thatcher. he worked with the pope. it was to tell our allies, american leadership is back in charge, back leading. he also talked behind the iron curtain. not just the soviet union but
people in eastern europe. and he said, you don't have to live like this. you can change things. you can take things into your own hands. so he encouraged people like wale walesse. he gave a speech to the afl-cio. he probably took hands that aaron had written and scribbled over them. he said to the polish workers you have the right to organize and determine your own future. nobody really paid attention to that speech because reagan was shot shortly thereafter. the eastern pure pines and leswaleka. the soviet economy demanded on one thing, high oil prices. nobody was buying russian cars. nobody was buying russian watches.
nobody was buying russian things except oil and national gas. so he targeted that by realizing that if the price of oil would go down, the russian government would be bankrupt. so he encouraged the natural market forces to continue to get the price down. one of his favorite generals to saudi arabia and say keep pumping oil, push the price down. it went from $40 to $18 in nine months. they had crop failures. so then reagan did the final triumph which is to say star wars. i challenge you, soviet union, we are going to develop a defense and missile system that will destroy your nuclear weapons. if we develop it, we'll even give it to you. the soviet union realized at this point it was over. they couldn't feed their people. they were devoting a significant amount too military expenditures. even though we in the united states in you star wars plans was probably 20 years ago if we
could even get to there. but russians thought it would work. they realized they couldn't devote much of their economy to technology that they had no idea how to do. at that point the soviet union collapsed. reagan, when he gave the westminster speech, said i don't expect an instant transformation. it didn't take an instant. it took a decade. no one at the time thought it would ever happen. when it happened, and this is the part which i think is relevant to today's issues, vladimir tyutin was a young kgb officer. he saw what reagan had done and he devoted himself about reagan. he wrote his dissertation on reclaimed russian power. he knew reagan targeted oil prices and natural gas. putin was going to buildup the soviet, then russian economy, by high oil prices.
that's what he spent his career doing from the late 1990s to today. and he succeeded to a certain extent. he used high oil and natural gas prices to build up his military to, give subsid i dids to retirees. they squandered. they never built factories. who buys russian cars? who buys russian computers? nobody. they buy russian oil. natural gas to europe was the depe depe dependency putin wanted. that's why we are at that point we are at today. he looks at the same ideas that brought down the iron curtain and ended communism. and he sees them going country to country to country if eastern europe, ukraine today. and he knows if you don't squash it there, what happens in kiev
can happen in moscow. at the same time, i as an american look at where are we today? i think we're in a 1980 moment all over again. how many of you are millennials? fewer, but still. the millennials are not here in the auditorium. they're watching this online. but for the millennials, we old folks called warriors. we were not happy warriors in the reagan area. we changed the world. we had a leader who showed us how to do it and we all did it. and for the young millennials watch online, this is your 1980 momentment the world is hungry for leadership. we have lost our way. we think of moral equivalent seu of this system, that system. we're not. take a page out of reagan. when you listen to the reagan westminster speech, understand our system indeed is the greatest system in the world. why? because it unleashes human nature to do what human nature
does best. to succeed, to strive, to thrive. so i am so excited to be here to talk to you about my era, my cold war era as particularly exciting to do it. we're at one of those moments ago. i encourage all the cold warriors, talk to your grandchildren. tell them how you did it. and expect them to do it again. thank you. [ applause ]. >> that was a great panel. we have had a number of questions come in. so i would like to go right to it. the way that we will do this is i will ask a question and then we will direct it to one of the panel members. then if the other two want to chime in as well, that is okay. we have about 25 minutes for questions. our first question is from mindy asher, a student at sweet haven christian academy here locally. her question is about how we should consider whether or not
other countries are ready for democracy. she directed this to k.t., i think. how should we think about that? are thereer countries ready to democratize today. >> you would think it is in retreat. in the 1980s, 1990s, the iron curtain came down. eastern european countries became democracies. even russia briefly became sort of a democracy. we look at the world now and say, what happened to it all? there are dictatorships? totalitarian systems. we look at the middle east in particular and say can democracy even thrive, survive, or is it even possible in that part of the world. you know, i'm a glass -- look, i trained at m.i.t. and studied nuclear weapons. my job was to figure out how you would go wrong. i'm a glass half empty person, to be honest. i am a glass half full person
now. i think it's mostly full. why? because of the same things reagan understood about human nature. while we have been seeing a retreat of democracy throughout the world, what's happened in the united states is there is a couple of revolutions, economic revolutions mostly that are just about to happen. cheap energy. if you said to anybody in this room do you think you would be paying $1.50 for gas, people would have said you're nuts. it's going to be $5 a gallon. what's happened is american ingenuity, persistence, innovation and all those things that are great about america have now developed an energy resource we didn't think we had before. we certainly didn't think we had at these prices. that is going to be a significant change in the world. the same way high energy prices allow the soviet union prices allowed the soviet union and russia to survive, low energy surprises means on the part of the united states that we're going to thrive economically. in addition to that, there's
maybe let's say 12 technologies that are about to happen. how many of you have an iphone? the iphone didn't exist eight years ago. there are now about a dozen iphone-like technologies just ready to happen. it's going to be things like self-driving cars, robotic factories, 3d printing. it's going to be if -- i don't have a watch on right now, but i'm going to get one of those apple watches because that's going to be my doctor on my wrist who is going to do all sorts of things. telling me it's time to go up and it's not going to tell me -- it's going to measure my pulse from my heart rate to my medication. those old technology res inventsed here and available to the world in a short period of time. what that does, i think, is democracy thrive necessary a period of economic prosperity. and what is what is going to change the world. the world i'm looking at two, three, four, five years down the
road is a world where the economy is thriving again. america is back on its feet economically, politically, morally, psychologically and when that happens again, yeah, i think this democracy will no longer be in retreat. why? because the world, if i man looks at a strong horse and a weak horse, we're going to be a strong horse. time for us to be the strong horse again. >> gentlemen, do either of you want to chime in on this? >> just a quick note. democracy, it's not -- you don't get rid of all the evils that are against democracy by a simple shot of vaccination. things do have to evolve. and information, while in the short-term, makes it possible for an evil regime to saturate
and brainwash people. the same information technology, the way it's going now, means the truth is much, much harder to keep up. so that's on our side. but it's always a moral struggle, even in our own society as best as we are. there is back sliding. things can get worse. structures can weaken. it's a constant struggle. you always have to be trying to do the right thing and trying to bring out the best in systems and people, whether it's here or on the other side of the world. >> great. it depends on the day of the week i wake up as to whether the glass is half full or half empty. i think this morning i am a glass half empty. democracy is hard. dictatorships are easy. dictatorships, you contoll date power. it's a pretty easy proposition.
democracy is a very, very hard exercise as the world has shown and history has shown over the last several hundred years is that we've been able to maintain it. a lot of countries, a lot of the people have not been able to maintain it. i do agree that i think the technology is key, but i think also the simply the spread of knowledge. we're not -- the idea of democracy is not being promoted so much as more the idea of stability. and often, those two are in conflict because in order to achieve a stable world, you have to have a form of some type of scroll or dictatorship or something like that. obviously, we try -- if that doesn't work, i go back to what reagan talked about is that a revolution without -- he said basic it it was to spread the idea of democracy, to spread the
idea of free market opportunity, to spread the idea of knowledge, that is where it gets difficult. i think it's possible in the future, but it's not going to be an easy proposition. >> thanks. here is a question, what do you think should be the strategy to return to cold war conditions in eastern europe and at the same time support a democratic choice of the people of ukraine? and that's open to the panel. >> can i just jump right in? >> please. >> because i was in ukraine last year and right after they had their election. a number of the people who are in the ukraine government right now, my feeling is to go back to always using reagan as a guide. people are willing to fight for their own freedom. we don't fight for them. we can't give it to them. if they're willing to fight for it, i think we should help them. the debate today is should we arm ukraine? yeah, i think we should arm ukraine. not fight for us, but let them
fight for themselves. the way we brought down the iron curtain, there's a can you feel wonderful picture that stick necessary my mind with the reagan era, there's a coal mining town in russia or the soviet union, they had a television set with rabbit ears and there were 30 or 40 coal miners around and they were watching "dallas" which was a tv drama at the time where everybody had big hair, big cars, big jewels. and i later met a eastern european leader and i said, what is the moment for you? he said, oh, when we all got a television and we watched "dallas." i said why? he said, well, you know, before that, we would compare our lives and what we had in our lives to when our parents had and what we have is better than what our parents had. but once we saw dallas, we compared ourselves not with our parents, but with you and we
wanted what you had. i think the technology revolution today is not the tv with the rabbit ears, but it's the internet. and it's tear down these walls. so the real way we can foster democracy is to go to all the countries which happen to be our -- happen to be dictatorships. i would say when ronald reagan said, mr. gorbechav, tear down this wall, i would say mr. putin, mr. baghdady, tear down that cyber wall to see how the rest of the world goes. once you unleash that, people take their destiny into their own hands every time. >> some years ago when it