By: Jim Meyers
With Monday marking the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Ronald Reagan’s son Michael tells Newsmax that his father was deeply troubled by the wall from the night it was first erected. Michael Reagan also said President Barack Obama’s decision not to attend the anniversary ceremonies in Berlin is “sad,” but “completely consistent” with Obama. On June 12, 1987, President Reagan delivered a rousing speech near the Berlin Wall in which he challenged the leader of the Soviet Union: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Less than 2 1/2 years later, on Nov. 9, 1989, the wall came down. Newsmax.TV’s Ashley Martella asked Michael Reagan — president of the Reagan Legacy Foundation — if his father really believed, when he made the speech, that the wall would soon be dismantled.
“This is something he wanted from the early 1960s,” Reagan responded. “In a debate with Bobby Kennedy he said, ‘Why don’t you have your brother tear down that wall?’ That was in 1962. In a 1964 speech he talked about freedom for all those people behind the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain.
“This is something that concerned him to his bone from the time that wall went up on the night of August 12, 1961.
“That wall began to go up at 1 a.m. the morning of the 13th, and by the time you would have woken up on the morning of the 13th, the barbed wire, the guns and the dogs would have been there.
“The communists had hired every single mason in Germany to come to Berlin — they didn’t even know why — to begin building that Berlin Wall. Yes, my dad wanted that to come down, wanted to put communism on the ash heap of history.
“And he was the only one — aside from Peter Robinson, who wrote the speech with my dad — the only one in … the government that thought that line, ‘Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,’ should even be in that speech.”
Martella asked Reagan if he thinks it is odd that Obama, as president of the United States, is declining to attend the anniversary ceremonies.
“I don’t find it odd. I find it completely consistent with Barack Obama, how he uplifts the enemies of freedom and pushes those who yearn to be free away as if there’s something terribly wrong with us,” Reagan said.
Former President George H.W. Bush, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Mikhail Gorbachev and other prominent world figures are expected to be in Berlin to mark the anniversary, “but it is sad that the president of the United States doesn’t deem it that important for him to be there,” Reagan declared.
“But it does not surprise me that he doesn’t really uplift the United States of America. He only goes overseas to point fingers across the ocean and blame George Bush for everything.”
Asked about the significance of the Berlin Wall’s demise, Reagan said: “That people have forgotten. The significance is that it happened two decades ago, and here’s the problem: Young people in that part of the world are now being led to believe that America put up the Berlin Wall to keep the communists out of the American sector.
“This is what happens with education when there is no education. You have a group of people in the Eastern Bloc who don’t know how they became free, and you have young people in America who don’t know how to stay free.
“Hence I formed the Reagan Legacy Foundation a couple of years ago to support the young men and women who serve on the USS Ronald Reagan with scholarships for ongoing education.
“We’ve expanded it now in the last year, and for the first time my father will be honored in Berlin. We are doing it through my foundation by putting a Reagan room in the Checkpoint Charlie museum that overlooks Checkpoint Charlie. It tells the story of those people who escaped, those people who died trying to escape.”
President Reagan was a staunch supporter of the Strategic Defense Initiative, the so-called “Star Wars” missile defense system, and it’s widely accepted that the SDI helped bring down the Soviet Union because it could not compete economically with a system to match or overcome it.
Noting that, Martella asked if Obama’s decision to pull the plug on a planned missile shield in Eastern Europe is an attempt to “appease” the Russians.
“It is an attempt to appease the Russians,” Reagan stated flatly.
“The SDI, Star Wars, brought the communist regime and the Soviet Union to their knees. This is the one thing at Reykjavik that Gorbachev wanted my father to give up in order to sign the treaties on nuclear weapons, and my father said no.”
Reagan met with Gorbachev in Reykjavik, Iceland, in Oct. 1986. The meeting collapsed, but progress was made and the U.S. and Soviet Union agreed to an arms-control treaty the following year.
Michael Reagan told Newsmax about “the only reason” his father wanted to become president.
“He told me back in 1976 he was tired of United States presidents always kowtowing to the Soviet bloc, that every time we would get together, the Soviet bloc would always ask the American president to give up something to get along with them.
“He said he wanted to be the first president to sit down with the secretary-general of the Soviet Union, and when he was told what he would have to give up to get along with them, he said, ‘I want to be the first president, Michael, to get up from the table, walk around to the other side of it, lean over and whisper in their ear “nyet.”‘
“He did that in Reykjavik with Mikhail Gorbachev. The president we have today is saying yes, yes, yes, what can I do for you, like somehow kowtowing to the Russians is going to make them friendly.”
Reagan said his father would have been “very disappointed” that Obama was terminating the missile shield, adding: “He’s trying to be friends with our enemies. He’s not being friends with our friends.”
Reagan said more information about his foundation is available at the Web site reaganlegacyfoundation.org.