June 07, 2004


Reagan won the Cold War, writes Dinesh D'Souza. But many disagree:

They insist that Soviet communism suffered from chronic economic problems and predictably lapsed, as Time magazine's Strobe Talbott put it, "not because of anything the outside world has done or not done . . . but because of defects and inadequacies at its core".

Defects and inadequacies that Talbott, among others, didn’t detect until after Reagan won the Cold War. No; wait. Sydney Morning Herald reader Catherine Craddock says no such thing ever happened:

Wearing cowboy boots and speaking in cliches no more brought an end to the Soviet Union than it will bring a "shining beacon of democracy to Iraq". History will deal with both fantasies.

Keep the dream alive, Catherine! One of Reagan’s finest gags -- "My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you I just signed legislation which outlaws Russia forever. The bombing begins in five minutes" -- is demeaned as a gaffe in The Age and an ill-timed joke by the SMH’s David Dale; it’s like we’re reliving the ‘80s all over again. “Living” isn’t a condition Australian blogger Niall Cook desires in his ideological opponents; lately the strange, Toyota-loving racist has wished death upon Prime Minister John Howard:

Enjoy your retirement, and may you exit this veil, soonest.

And of Reagan, he writes:

I cheer the passing of yet another failure of U.S. politics.

Odd fellow. A week or so ago Niall denounced local right-wing bloggers as "jigga-boos". I have no idea what he thinks the word means. Perhaps some African-Americans could inform him.

On a more human note, reader Brent has a prized Reagan photograph I’d like to see. Scan it, Brent!

Posted by Tim Blair at June 7, 2004 06:21 AM

This is vaguely reminiscent of that bit I read a while back (I think you posted it, Tim?) about how some scholarly panel wrote a book early in Reagan's term that there was no reason to believe the Soviet Union would collapse, that it was stable and strong and would go in indefinitely... But that 10 years later, they did *not* write a book entitled "Oops, we didn't know our asses from our elbows!"

It wasn't predictable, and nobody predicted it except Ronald Reagan. The idea seemed like absolute lunacy: The Soviet Union was The Enemy (TM) and would be there until we finally had a war that destroyed the world. Reagan was, however, right, and the conventional wisdom was wrong.

Historical revisionism is an amazing thing.

Posted by: Aaron at June 7, 2004 at 07:00 AM

"I believe that communism is another sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages even now are being written."

-Ronald Reagan, 1983.

A genuinely great leader of the free world.

Posted by: Ross at June 7, 2004 at 07:44 AM

Precisely the same meaning as the word, 'spook' Timmy, which is to say there's nothing precise about it. Better brush up on your colloquialisms

Posted by: Niall at June 7, 2004 at 07:56 AM

To be honest Niall, they don't come much more colloquial than me, and I have no idea what a "jigga-boo" is.

Posted by: Marty at June 7, 2004 at 08:05 AM

I can find only one definition for jigaboo "ethnic slur; offensive name for Black person". As far as I know, it's never meant anything else. It's a very precise word, and the fact that "spook" has many meaning doesn't change that.

Posted by: LauraB at June 7, 2004 at 08:10 AM

Calling someone "jigaboo" is like calling them "slitty-eyed" isn't it?

As in, "Here's Mopo, my jigaboo house-boy."

It's lucky Niall isn't one of those racist right-wingers.

Posted by: Quentin George at June 7, 2004 at 08:17 AM

I'll get right on it. It may take a day or two to get the picture but I'll do it. :)

Posted by: Brent at June 7, 2004 at 08:31 AM

Would it be terribly wrong of me to hope that Niall Cook's nose has an unfortunate meeting with the end of an Aboriginal person's fist? Oh yes, that would be wrong -- the Aboriginal person might get sore knuckles. I apologize to all the Australian Indigenous People of Aboriginality for my Right-Wing insensitivity!

Posted by: Andrea Harris at June 7, 2004 at 08:40 AM

They insist that Soviet communism suffered from chronic economic problems and predictably lapsed..

Of course they suffered chronic economic problems, they had a centrally planned economy. That said, Reagan stance on communism halted its growth, quicking its demise, and saving many lives.

Posted by: Frank Castle at June 7, 2004 at 08:42 AM

Meanwhile, the Little Minds™ over at DU have decided that President Reagan has been "on ice", and his death at this time, is a conspiracy by Bush, just to raise his all important poll numbers.

Gee, it's so obvious now.

Posted by: rinardman at June 7, 2004 at 08:47 AM

Oh, yeah. And the jigaboo reference by Niall Cook. He may think there's "nothing precise" about it, but here's some advice for him: if you ever find yourself in East St. Louis, Illinois on a warm Saturday night, you best not go around calling the local citizens "Hey, jigaboo!"

Posted by: rinardman at June 7, 2004 at 08:58 AM

Darn it, Rinardman, you ruined my dastardly plan to send Niall on an all-expenses-paid trip to Compton ("near Hollywood") with a suggestion that he address everyone there by said term, as it is an expression of endearment in that neighborhood!

Posted by: Andrea Harris at June 7, 2004 at 09:24 AM

Cook needs medical attention. Mark Latham - the "skanky-ho" hating, cabbie assaulting lunatic - may know a skrink who's able to help.

Then again...

Posted by: CurrencyLad at June 7, 2004 at 09:39 AM

Andrea, you're wicked :)

Oh BTW did Mr. Cook actually write ``may you exit this veil, soonest?'' Sounds like his mind was wandering...to his favorite Turkish belly dancer, perhaps.

Posted by: Annalucia at June 7, 2004 at 09:47 AM

It is at the least a confession of intellectual weakness by Talbott to dismiss something as having been “predictable” while having been a relevant subject expert who failed to predict it & who in fact worked on a contrary predictive assumption. Reagan predicted Soviet communism’s collapse, but, Strobe, why was Reagan right—was it for the right reasons? Reagan’s predictions of the Soviet Union’s collapse as one approaching ever the nearer were also based on an awareness of his own policies. In essence, Reagan told his people in the Administration to take it to the nth degree.

1: Saudi cooperation on keeping petroleum prices relatively low. The US’s getting Europe to keep the size of the Soviet oil pipeline from being larger. These two things kept the Soviets from making more money from petroleum.

2: Work in the US’s Strategic Defense Initiative (“Star Wars”), including a faked successful important test, helped convince the Soviet government that it would bankrupt itself trying to compete. US initiatives to keep the Soviet Union from making more money (see 1 above) were more nails in that coffin.

3: US support of Afghani rebels, which led to the USSR’s suffering failure which inflicted the USSR with its own “Vietnam syndrome”. The USSR was exposed as militarily unable to do what people had thought it could.

4: US-Vatican cooperation in helping the Polish solidarity movement. This was very significant. Involvement of the AFL-CIO under its old anti-communist leadership was also significant & was not only not publicly admitted but also covered up with disinformative Admistration policy that the AFL-CIO should not get involved.

5: Continuing of Carter’s human rights agenda in foreign policy, with a few differences. For instance, where Carter sent diplomats to Latin American generals to tell them not to stage coups, Reagan sent US military officials with a same or similar message. The embracing of the human rights agenda directly vis-à-vis the Soviets helped give hope to people in the Soviet Union & helped demoralize Soviet ideologues.

6. The US saw to it that pro-free-markets literature streamed into the Soviet Union. This further helped get intellectual things churning.

7. Reagan brought about an economic recovery in the US which proved that capitalism had not entered into a phase of collapse with combined high levels of interest, inflation, & unemployment. A surging US economy, a rebuilt US military, & general US confidence & pride, in combination with some of the above-mentioned things, boded ill to the Kremlin indeed.

The above is not supposed to be complete or to factor in every qualification. And yes, Gorbachev was a special factor, not the kind of leader whom people could have safely predicted would come to power. Reagan was alert to that too (Thatcher particularly alerted him). Gorbachev did help hasten the end. But sheer balderdash is the idea that the Soviet Union was not vulnerable or sensitive to what the US did or that Reagan did not alertly exploit those vulnerabilities. Reagan hastened & assured the collapse of Soviet communism. He didn’t bring the collapse about ex nihilo, rather he seized every opportunity & made sure of it.

Posted by: ForNow at June 7, 2004 at 10:35 AM

Sorry, Andrea. Good idea tho, in fact I think I would have contributed to his airfare, and would like to have followed him around with my video camera to record his "warm welcome" in the neighborhood! :)

Posted by: rinardman at June 7, 2004 at 10:42 AM

Count me in for contributing to Niall's airfare. I will not, however, contribute to the prodigious hospital bill he'd run up in a New York second.

Posted by: Harry at June 7, 2004 at 11:01 AM

Oops. I meant I wouldn't contribute to PAYING Niall's prodigious hospital bill. Must have been a Freudian slip.

Posted by: Harry at June 7, 2004 at 11:03 AM

I say we fly Niall into NYC by way of Newark, so he has to pass through the Port Authority terminal in Manhattan, he can get started demonstrating his linguistic prowess there...

And Andrea, I think you underestimate the Aboriginals: they're perfectly capable of using large sticks.

The notion that Reagan didn't "win" the Cold War is so revisionist nonsense of the first water. If Reagan's critics were so convinced that the Soviet Union was collapsing, why were they so eager to appease, er, practice detente with it? You don't accommodate a political or economic rival on its last legs. Every "authority" on the left and most on the right, American and European, was utterly convinced was an enduring threat for the forseeable future. To claim anything differently is deceit and hypocrisy.

Posted by: richard mcenroe at June 7, 2004 at 11:37 AM

We could tell Niall he meant "jingos", as in rabid nationalists, "by billy jingo!" but... nah, this is more fun this way...

Posted by: richard mcenroe at June 7, 2004 at 11:45 AM

Jigaboo: an insulting reference to black people, somewhat common in the U.S. South roughly 1950 to 1970.

From "jigger," an alliterative euphemism for "nigger," + "boo-baby," another insulting ref. to blacks based on the notion that at night one can only see their eyes, as with a ghost; connotations follow from the practice of Santera, also known as voudon, voodoo.

Yes, Saturday night in East Saint Louis would be a good place to have the word's usage and connotations, ah, explained in detail, and the lesson driven home. I could also nominate Deep Ellum in Dallas, which is a cheaper cab ride from the airport. Economy in all things...


Posted by: Ric at June 7, 2004 at 12:26 PM

I wonder what psychological condition allows unabashed racists like Niall to delude themselves into thinking that they're actually caring lefty-types?

Posted by: PW at June 7, 2004 at 12:31 PM

I like this line out of the unbiased SMH courtesy of Marian Wilkinason's front page article "he was voted in by only 27 per cent of Americans". Lets not mention:
a) that the average since 1960 is 28.6 per cent;
b) that Clinton only managed 24 per cent on both outings;
c) that Reagan was elected on 50.75 per cent of the vote in 1980 against Clinton's 43.0 per cent in 1992.

Posted by: Greg at June 7, 2004 at 12:57 PM

Let's see: Natan Sharansky (Nobel Prize winner), Lech Walesa and Solidarity (Nobel Prize winners), Vaclav Havel, Yelena Bonner and on and on...

All openly state that Reagan's actions - his speeches, his policies - were critical in the fall of Communism.

But the Left knows better. They know that Reagan had nothing to do with the collapse of the Soviet totalitarianism. It was gonna' fall on its own.

Which was why, of course, the West needed to negotiate with the USSR. Have people-to-people contacts and expanded trade. Needed to help the "doves" versus the "hardliners". Needed to eradicate the fear of the Soviets since they lost so much during WWII and had a history of being invaded.

Odd policies towards a ideology that was going to collapse on its own. No?


Posted by: SteveMG at June 7, 2004 at 02:41 PM

I'm surprised some Leftist ratbag (now THERE'S a redundancy!) hasn't whinged about how suspicious it is that Reagan's death has come just before the US Presidential election...

Posted by: Paul Johnson at June 7, 2004 at 03:41 PM

Paul, look above you in the comments. Indymedia is WAY ahead of you.

Posted by: Quentin George at June 7, 2004 at 03:57 PM

I haven't heard that term in at least a decade.

Niall needs to add the south side of Chicago to his tour.

Baltimore and Philly, too.

Posted by: Sandy P at June 7, 2004 at 04:00 PM


You are a piece of work. First you decide that the term "Jigaboo" has some innocuous connotation that allows you to rationalise its use to describe those of a conservative leaning.

Then you try to tell us that it's as harmless as the word "spook".

Why don't you open those links, and see what harmless, innocuous context the word "spook" is used in.

You are from another planet.

Posted by: Al Bundy at June 7, 2004 at 05:26 PM

If Niall thinks "Jigaboo" is so unthreatening, then perhaps he should walk through Harlem with a sandwich-board message: "I hate Jigaboos". Very Bruce Willis-like, but I'm sure the enraged "Jigaboos" will be very convinced by Niall's pleas that he was only referring to conservatives.

Posted by: Steve Edwards at June 7, 2004 at 05:39 PM

I last heard the term jiggaboo when I was in kindergarten (when Dwight Eisenhower was president). I cannot believe some idiot has resurrected that term.

Posted by: zzx375 at June 8, 2004 at 04:19 AM

What were Schlesinger, Samuelson, Galbraith, et al smoking back in the 80's?

Posted by: zzx375 at June 8, 2004 at 04:38 AM

Several weeks ago my husband was out looking for a new fishing spot here in Texas...he began talking to a British man and my husband mentioned it would be a good spot to come at night..The British guy said it wasn't a good idea, the 'spooks' use it at night..my husbands reply?? Oh good, my wife and kids will like it here. He lied of course, the kids and I are white, but he said it was fun to see the British guy blush and stutter..

Posted by: KellyW. at June 8, 2004 at 04:55 AM

"I wonder what psychological condition allows unabashed racists like Niall to delude themselves into thinking that they're actually caring lefty-types?"

PW, what caring lefty types?? Do you mean all of those academically pretentious bourgeois bashing, class antagonizing, business besmirching, white maligning, Jew baiting, Christian loathing, US and Western Civ detracting, opponent slandering, (feminist) man hating, religion scorning, military detesting, ethnic dujour supporting, UN and NGO corruption tolerating, developing world enviro-purism imposing, leftism-as-a-cool-style wearing, self-important "caring types"?


Posted by: c at June 8, 2004 at 11:11 AM