Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/351/5818

From The Socialist newspaper, 12 June 2004

Ronald Reagan:

A Rabid Cold War Warrior

IF YOU believe the eulogies from Margaret Thatcher, Mikhail Gorbachev, the Pope and Tony Blair, then Ronald Reagan, who died last week, was 'a man of peace, of vision, a freedom fighter who liberated the 'communist' world, and a friend of Britain'.

In reality, the former two-term US president - who starred alongside a chimpanzee in the 1951 film Bedtime for Bonzo - was a rabid, cold war warrior and a servant of the capitalists, who through his 'voodoo economics' of the 1980s enriched themselves at the expense of the working class.

Here's a potted history of the counter-revolutionary.

Anti-trade union

IN 1980, before his election, Reagan wrote to the air traffic controllers' union PATCO saying how much he looked forward to working with the union.

In 1981 the union took strike action. Air traffic had risen by 20% between 1978-81 without any increase in staffing or equipment. Now president, Reagan responded by sacking the entire 11,000 members of PATCO and its leaders were hauled off to jail, literally in chains.

Reaganomics

EMULATING MARGARET Thatcher's 'monetarist' or 'supply side' economics Reagan's administration set about destroying welfare, job security and the trade unions, to boost the profits of big business. Like Thatcher, Reagan used high interest rates to engineer an economic recession and create an army of unemployed in order to squeeze wage rates.

Between 1979-82 the real average weekly wage fell by 8%, which didn't recover for five years. By 1982, 44% of new work contracts resulted in wage freezes or wage cuts. In the same year welfare spending was slashed by 24%. Some 2.3 million manufacturing jobs disappeared for good. Homelessness soared as did the prison population.

Reagan argued that by making the capitalists even wealthier, through deregulating financial markets and slashing top rates of income tax, this wealth would 'trickle-down' to the working class who too would benefit.

By 1987 Reagan had delivered the richest 1% of the population a net tax saving of 25% creating 5,000 new millionaires, while the poorest tenth of workers saw 20% more of their incomes swallowed in taxes.

In fact his presidency saw a massive transfer of wealth from the poorest to the richest in society. At the same time, booming stock markets created a new breed of swindlers epitomised by Wall Street dealer Ivan Boesky and junk bond king Michael Milken. These crooks, who were lionised by Reagan, ended the 1980s in jail convicted of insider dealing, fraud and racketeering. The decade also ended with a collapse in share prices around the world.

Reagan had boasted of reducing federal government spending. However, by undertaking a massive re-arming of the American military, as part of US imperialism's attempts to reinforce its global superiority, the federal deficit more than doubled from $73 billion in 1980 to $155 billion in 1989.

The US national debt also rocketed skywards as a result of the expansion of credit and underwriting $1 trillion collapse of the savings and loans (building societies) industry which resulted from government deregulation.

Foreign policy

HAVING ARMED to its teeth the US military to face down the "evil empire" of the Soviet Union, Reagan's administration embarked on a new round of global 'muscle flexing'. His first port of call was the Lebanon. Under the guise of a multinational peacekeeping force US marines, backed by warships, moved into Beirut. Reagan admitted that the invasion was "central to our credibility on a world scale".

Moreover, the US military intervened in support of Israel who had earlier invaded the country and the right-wing phalange militia of Gemayal who were fighting the Russian-backed Syrian army, the PLO and the various Muslim militias. The invasion incurred the hatred of many Lebanese, and a suicide bomber blew apart US marines HQ, killing 241.

In October 1983 Reagan pulled the troops out and in a parting gesture allowed the world war two battleship New Jersey to blitz populated areas outside Beirut. The ship's captain said: "I hope we have made some impact on bringing peace to Lebanon."

Next was the tragi-comic invasion of the Caribbean island of Grenada in late 1983. This served the US administration as useful distraction to the deaths of the marines in the Lebanon.

It was also intended to show any radical/nationalist movements in the neo-colonial world that the US wouldn't tolerate them.

Irangate

BUT THE bigger target in the US's 'backyard' was the left-leaning Sandinista government in Nicaragua. The Sandinistas had come to power in 1979 after a lengthy guerrilla struggle and a general strike movement in the capital, Managua, which had ousted the former US-backed dictator of Samoza.

Direct military support for the US-backed Contra guerrillas fighting the Sandinistas was banned by the US Congress. To circumvent this ban Reagan got CIA director George Bush senior, who sent colonel Oliver North, to secretly sell arms to Iran (a "terrorist nation") in 1985 and then traded them for hostages held in the Lebanon by pro-Iranian militias. They used the profits to supply the contras with arms. This scam was unearthed and became known as Irangate, echoing Richard Nixon's Watergate scandal.

The subsequent congressional inquiry into Irangate dragged on for years and cost $35 million. In 1993, the final report concluded that Reagan and Bush senior were fully aware of the scam. Neither were prosecuted.

Champion of the 'free world'?

ABOVE ALL, Reagan is praised by right-wing politicians and media as the man who single-handedly destroyed the "evil empire" of the Soviet Union.

That claim is nonsense. The decades-long contradiction between the socialised economy of the USSR and its control by a bureaucratic caste of party and state officials had already produced a sclerotic state. Nonetheless, an unintentional consequence of Reagan's 'star wars' rearmament programme overstretched the resources of the Soviet military to keep pace, hastening the USSR's decline.

The collapse of the Soviet Union and its eastern bloc allies occurred at the same time as the Reagan stock market boom went bust, pitching the US economy into a new downturn. Ironically, the collapse of Stalinism further reinforced the false prophets of "turbo-charged capitalism" who repeated many of the disasters of Reagonomics in the 1990s.

 

 

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 12 June 2004:

'Pay Us A Living Wage'

NUT general secretary election candidate says 'Stop The Pensions Robbery'

Socialist Party Election Successes


Socialist Party workplace news

How We Won Our Tribunal Case

A Summer Of Discontent?

PCS Members Fight Low Pay


International socialist news and analysis

Iraq's Sovereignty Sham

Eyewitness In Iraq

100,000 March Against Bush And Berlusconi

Chile's Workers Battle Against Neo-Liberalism

New Workers' Party Founded In Brazil

Obituary - Rotimi Ewebiyi (1963-2004)

Ronald Reagan: A Rabid Cold War Warrior


 

Home   |   The Socialist 12 June 2004   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Ronald Reagan:

triangleNews in brief

War:

triangleA world in crisis, ripe for revolution

triangleCaerphilly Socialist Party: Are we heading for an era of war?

triangleComprehensive account of bloody conflict

triangleKurdish referendum declared illegal

US:

triangleTrump's incendiary Jerusalem statement reignites Israeli-Palestinian conflict

triangleThem & Us

triangleRetail sector crunch: nationalise to save jobs

Lebanon:

triangleShimon Peres - a wolf in sheep's clothing

triangleInternational news in brief

Soviet:

triangleRussia, October 1917: When workers took power

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

14/12/17

Waltham Forest

Stop the rotten redevelopment plan, demand residents

13/12/17

London

Six months on - still no justice for Grenfell

13/12/17

Fracking

Movement growing against fracking giant Ineos

13/12/17

Devon

Totnes MP uses coffin controversy to distract from brutal NHS cuts

13/12/17

Miners

Tory plan to hold dinner at coal mining museum defeated

13/12/17

Bradford

Bradford campaign to save children's services launched

13/12/17

South London

South London health bosses' cover-up

13/12/17

Blacklisting

Unite day of action against blacklisting

13/12/17

Brighton

Brighton victory

13/12/17

Newham

Newham anti-academies strikes

13/12/17

Tamil Solidarity

Tamil Solidarity and Refugee Rights activists meeting

12/12/17

Woolwich

Support the Crossrail Woolwich walkout

7/12/17

Blacklisting

Unite protest against blacklisting

7/12/17

RMT

Anti-DOO lobby of Liverpool's transport committee

6/12/17

Donald Trump

Mobilise to stop bigoted billionaire Donald Trump's state visit to Britain

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle14 Dec Stop the rotten redevelopment plan, demand residents

triangle13 Dec Six months on - still no justice for Grenfell

triangle13 Dec Movement growing against fracking giant Ineos

triangle13 Dec Totnes MP uses coffin controversy to distract from brutal NHS cuts

triangle13 Dec Trump's incendiary Jerusalem statement reignites Israeli-Palestinian...

triangle13 Dec Labour 'purge' furore really just democracy

EU parliament, Strasbourg

triangle13 Dec Brexit deal no solution to Tory rifts

More ...

triangle18 Dec Leeds Socialist Party: Religion and Socialism

triangle19 Dec Bristol North Socialist Party: Christmas social

triangle21 Dec Wakefield Socialist Party: Socialists and the National Question

triangle6 Jan Socialist Party national women's meeting

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

December 2017

November 2017

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2