The Real Speeches that Won the Cold War
Here's the man who made the speeches that won the Cold War.
Today in The New York Times, William Taubman argues (in a piece titled "How a Speech Won the Cold War") that Nikita Kruschev's "secret speech" denouncing Stalin "began a process of unraveling it that culminated in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union." According to Taubman, this was a "great deed."
And maybe it was. But the speech didn't win the Cold War. By delegitimizing the roots of Communism, it may, perhaps, have created a necessary condition for the fall of the Iron Curtain . . . but not a sufficient one. After all, this was long before the spread of Soviet imperialism and triumphs in Vietnam and Cambodia, the invasion of Poland and Afghanistan, beacheads in Nicaragua and El Salvador (that's the western hemisphere, mind you!), and much, much more. Don't forget that under President Jimmy Carter, things were looking pretty good for the U.S.S.R.; Carter had, in fact, denounced America's "inordinate fear of Soviet Communism" and noted that Russia would "continue to push for communism throughout the world and to probe for possibilities for expansion of their system, which I think is a legitimate purpose for them." This was about two decades after the speech that Tauman is lionizing as the beginning of the end of the Cold War.
In fact, there is no one speech that won the Cold War. There were many -- delivered by an American hero. And everyone knows it -- like Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, author of the Gulag Archipelago, who told President Reagan, "I rejoice that the United States at last has a president such as you" (quoted in the May 27, 1991 edition of National Review). (For more, read Paul Kengor's God and Ronald Reagan.)
So even as Taubman celebrates the "great deed" of Kruschev denouncing Stalin, let's never forget: Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!. That's more like the speech that won the Cold War.