- Created: Saturday, 16 May 2009 17:59
- Written by Jimmy German
'Ronald Reagan – Madman, imbecile and bum’ 
On 5 June 2004, former US president Ronald Wilson Reagan died aged 93 years. George W Bush has evoked Reagan’s name consistently during his time in power and the media coverage of this death brought out paeans of praise from Democrat and Republican alike as well as from old allies like Britain’s Margaret Thatcher.
Reagan’s eight years in office represented one of the most bloody periods in the history of the western hemisphere as his administration funnelled weapons, money and other aid to right wing death-squads in Latin America. More than 70,000 died in El Salvador, 50,000 in Nicaragua and 100,000 in Guatemala. He called these terrorists ‘freedom fighters’ and described them as ‘our brothers, these freedom fighters and we owe them our help. They are the moral equivalent of our founding fathers’.
Reagan tripled US debt to three trillion dollars in his Cold War arms race with the Soviet Union. At the same time, he created an extra two million homeless in the US by cutting the budget of the Department of Housing. On 5 August 1981, Reagan fired 11,359 striking air traffic controllers and smashed their union PATCO. The irony was that PATCO had been one of the few unions to support Reagan against Carter in the presidential election nine months earlier. Under Reagan, the top tax rate dropped from 70% to 28% in seven years. His financial policies became known as Reaganomics.
HIV-AIDS became a widespread epidemic in the US during his presidency, helped along by Reagan’s socially conservative, Christian fundamentalist approach which saw the disease as inflicted by God to punish the immoral.
In 1983, Reagan ordered the US marines to invade the British Caribbean colony of Grenada. The reasons Reagan gave for this unprovoked attack, which resulted in the deaths of 40 Grenadan soldiers and more than a dozen Cuban aid workers, in an interview in the New York Times on 27 September 1983, were lies. He said Cuba was building an airport at Port Salines capable of handling warplanes including Soviet long-range bombers. The truth was it was a project funded by Britain and the EU and the main contractor was British. It had no facilities for fuel or armoured munitions dumps or hardened bays for parked warplanes. The 9,000-foot runway was exactly the same length as the one in Barbados, necessary for flights fully laden with tourists.
He claimed the Marines found warehouses stacked to the ceiling with arms and ammunition to supply terrorists. The truth: 190 crates of assorted small arms. Some were modern Soviet-made arms, but most had been left behind by the British Army and were World War Two vintage. One crate contained Marlin 0.30 calibre carbines made in 1870. So no weapons of mass destruction there either.
During the Iran-Iraq war Reagan supported both regimes at various times, trying covertly to maintain a balance of power. The major scandal of his administration was the Iran Contra affair. National Security Advisor John Poindexter and Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North hatched an elaborate plot to sell arms to Iran and give the profits to the anti-democratic Contras in Nicaragua. Both actions were contrary to Acts of Congress. Reagan got away with it because his subordinates took the blame. This led to Reagan being nicknamed ‘the Teflon president’.
Reagan’s anti communism was first manifest when he was president of the Screen Actor’s Guild (SAG) from 1947 to 1952 and again in 1959 to 1960. He took part in the McCarthy witch-hunt against leftists in Hollywood, testifying against SAG’s members and his friends. He was an FBI spy with the codename T10.
When the socialist Polish government suppressed the counter-revolutionary Solidarnosc in 1981, Reagan imposed sanctions on Poland. He revived the B1 bomber programme, began production of the MX Peacekeeper missile and oversaw deployment of the Pershing 2 missile in Germany, despite protest by the German people. Reagan was a Cold War warrior who made that war often times hot. To circumvent the Anti- Ballistic Missile Treaty, he proposed the Star Wars programme and also deployed Cruise missiles in Britain.
Many of the problems facing our world today have their roots in the Reagan years. It was Reagan who armed the Mujahideen war lords and fundamentalists in Afghanistan in their war against the socialist government. This paved the way for the Taliban and Al Qaida. It was Reagan and Donald Rumsfeld who armed Saddam Hussein with mustard gas and Tabun nerve agent. According to the LA Times, Saddam’s forces used US-built Bell 214ST helicopters to bomb the Kurdish villages with nerve gas in 1988.
This planet is a better place without Ronald Wilson Reagan. Unfortunately, there are still a lot more like him. Bad actors and bad Presidents alike.
1. This is how Fidel Castro described Reagan in response to a verbal attack on Cuba, Nicaragua,Libya, Iran and North Korea in July 1985
FRFI 180 August / September 2004