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Reagan and the Ukraine Crisis

The National Review editors make a typically nonsensical claim about the Ukraine crisis:

This conflict, however, is one that will determine whether the West’s victory in the long-fought Cold War remains standing [bold mine-DL]. So it should be firmly stated that anyone who thinks Ronald Reagan’s main historical achievement is not worth defending, even at some risk, cannot sensibly call himself a Reaganite.

The first part of this isn’t true, so the second is irrelevant. The U.S. and its allies prevailed in the Cold War thanks to the collapse of communism in eastern Europe and the dissolution of the USSR. No matter what happens between Russia and Ukraine in the months and years to come, neither of these things will be undone. More to the point, neither is in any danger of being undone, because there is no chance that communism is coming back anywhere in Europe, and there is no chance that the USSR will be restored. Whatever else is at stake in the Ukraine crisis, “the West’s victory in the long-fought Cold War” is not at stake. Those that are trying to pretend that the West’s Cold War success is in danger of being repealed are engaged in the worst sort of alarmism in order to push for more confrontational policies that won’t help anyone and could commit the U.S. to a needlessly dangerous course.

It is a very tired partisan argument that Reagan won the Cold War, but even if we take this as a given it wouldn’t tell us anything useful about what position conservatives should take on U.S. policy toward Ukraine and Russia today. If being a “Reaganite” now requires favoring a hard-line response to the Ukraine crisis, at least half of Republicans today would not qualify for the label. More than that are probably tired of the pathetic ideological policing on display in the editorial.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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