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  • Morning Bell: The Fall of the USSR and the Debate over Russia

    Twenty years ago, the world watched the Soviet Union fall. The regime that was “planted by bayonets,” as President Ronald Reagan once described it, did not take root, and ultimately the empire that once walled itself off from the West with an Iron Curtain could not shield its people from seeing the shining light of democracy.

    Next Tuesday, when the Republican presidential candidates come together to discuss foreign policy and national security in a debate presented by The Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Institute on CNN, they should remember the lessons that the fall of the USSR taught us, but they should also look ahead to the challenges that remain in Russia and around the world today. Chief among those challenges are those brought about by the Obama Administration’s pursuit of a “reset” in relations with Russia.

    In his “Evil Empire” speech to the British House of Commons in 1982, President Reagan quoted Winston Churchill, who said, ”I do not believe that Soviet Russia desires war. What they desire is the fruits of war and the indefinite expansion of their power and doctrines. But what we have to consider here today while time remains is the permanent prevention of war and the establishment of conditions of freedom and democracy as rapidly as possible in all countries.” Reagan said, “Well, this is precisely our mission today: to preserve freedom as well as peace. It may not be easy to see; but I believe we live now at a turning point.”

    Reagan was among those who led the Western world when it stood at that turning point. Victory in the Cold War came, and the reasons for the USSR’s collapse were many, ranging from its mania for top-down economic control, to its oppression of its own people, to its efforts to hold an empire in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, to the courage and leadership of Russian dissidents and Western leaders. President Reagan was among those leaders who saw the evil of the Soviet regime for what it was and sought to roll back the communist advance. He confronted the Soviet threat head on, and ultimately the West won victory in the Cold War.

    By contrast, the Obama Administration is failing to see the true character of those who lead Russia today. Indeed, the victories of 1991 have not yet been secured and are under threat. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R–OH) recently delivered a blistering critique of the President’s “reset” strategy and painted a picture of where Russia stands today:

    Over the last two and a half years, Russia has been the beneficiary of American outreach and engagement. [Yet it] has continued to expand its physical, political, and economic presence…under the guise of…a ‘sphere of influence.’

    Within Russia, control is the order of the day, with key industries nationalized, the independent media repressed, and the loyal opposition beaten and jailed. Russia uses natural resources as a political weapon. And it plays ball with unstable and dangerous regimes.

    Heritage vice president Kim Holmes says the Obama Administration’s posture toward Russia has failed because the President expected more from the Russians than they are willing to give under any circumstance. And that’s despite entering into the dangerously flawed New START missile defense treaty and canceling key missile defenses in Europe. Holmes notes that the “reset” policy is a failure because it assumes that Russia’s leaders share our interests when, in fact, Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev have far different goals: amassing hundreds of billions of dollars and protecting it indefinitely. Holmes explains the impact this has on Russian-U.S. relations:

    At the end of the day, Russia looks around the world and sees enemies, potential rivals, and clients. That’s why it mistreats neighbors and why so many of them distrust it. That’s why it desperately needs America to pay homage to it with concessions in arms control negotiations and cancelled missile defense programs. Its attitude toward the U.S. belies a calculated set of self-interested moves to gain financial and geopolitical advantage over other nations.

    The United States–and those who seek the presidency–should understand Russia’s reality and the fact that Putin and those in power operate under a different set of rules. As such, offering up concessions on treaties like New START sacrifices U.S. security in favor of Russia’s gain. Today, The Heritage Foundation will host a special event taking a deeper look at these issues in “Legacies and Lessons from the 20th Anniversary of the Fall of the USSR.” (Watch online today from 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM.)

    And while the world remembers the fall of the Soviet Union, it is worth remembering that communist tyranny still exists in the world today, only a few miles from America’s shore. Despite the continued oppression of Cuba’s people by its communist regime, journalists and the Obama Administration alike pay it little notice. Heritage will address this subject, too, in today’s event “The Unwritten Story: How the Media and the Obama Administration Overlook Cuba’s Wave of Repression.”

    Though the communist ideology was dealt a significant blow 20 years ago when the Soviet Union fell, freedom for the Russian people is by no means guaranteed as the country rapidly backslides into autocracy. Likewise, with an oppressed people suffering under the Cuban regime, America’s leaders must take notice and speak loudly in defense of freedom while also standing up for America’s interests in the face of tyranny.

    Quick Hits:

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    33 Responses to Morning Bell: The Fall of the USSR and the Debate over Russia

    1. john willimas says:

      I never believed for a moment that the Soviet Union went down. Maybe as a "name" it did, but it is as untied and strong as it ever was. And, now, since Obama shut down NASA, the U.S. has to ASK them for permission to send up any rocket ships, missiles, anything to check on our satellites or to DEFEND OUR NATION AGAINST AGGRESSION.

      • T.Denney says:

        I totally agree. I have been saying this for years especially after traveling throughout the former USSR. The 'Cold War' just took a half time break. Now we are in the fourth quarter against Russia inside the red zone.

    2. John Frymire says:

      Perhaps the dumbest strategic gaffe of this entire election series is agreement by the political right to have its debates hosted by the political left. ARE WE STUPID!!! What are you thinking HF, when you allow the Communist/Clinton News Network, or any of the Establishment networks host a GOP debate?!! CNN's intent (like CBS, ABC, NBC, NPR) is to wreck your debate through fomenting petty disagreements between candidates and making sure questions are mostly irrelevant to the big ideas Americans care about. HF, you are culpable in this disastrous outcome.

      • ThomNJ says:

        It never ceases to amaze me that so many conservatives and Republicans refuse to understand that we are rather literally at war with the democrats/liberals and just keep on treating them as fair-playing opponents. Just one more way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

      • Juan Martinez says:

        John, are we watching the same debates? I have been watching the many televised debates among the Republican candidates. I thought the last one, hosted by CNBC and focused on economic issues, was excellent.

    3. Robert R says:

      Were I ever tempted to borrow a phrase from another, I'd suggest that we present the Obama Administration with the title "The evil Administration". It is much in line with my own description of the Democrats as "The party of Hate". Considering their perennial efforts to cause hatreds between Rich and Poor, Men and Women, Gays and Not, Blacks and Whites, Labor and Management and the list goes on, the Democrats would disappear if they could not foster hatreds. Where there is no hatred, not one liberal has arrived.


    4. Lawrence says:

      Communism is still very strong It just has other names like progressive. Tactics have also changed; Less confrontation. Krushev was right. " We will bury you, except they will destroy us from within.

    5. Paul Reid says:

      President Obama views the recycled Soviet regime taking shape in Russia as positive because they are kindred spirits with his own.

    6. Curt Krehbiel says:

      "And while the world remembers the fall of the Soviet Union, it is worth remembering that communist tyranny still exists in the world today, only a few miles from America's shore."

      To the contrary, communism is alive and well in Washington, D.C., in the minds of our president, his czars, our radically left wing congressmen and senators, and Obama Care as a major step toward controlling every aspect of our lives. Communism has been quietly infiltrating our system for the last 50 years and its pace is rapidly quickening.

    7. Wayne Peterkin says:

      President Obama is not only failing to see the reality in Russia today, he is pursuing those same policies for the United States. Top down economic control of a nation is socialism, it always fails, yet our own president embraces this same doctrine.

    8. WRB says:

      Mike: Thank you for reminding us who our long standing enemy is and what our spineless head of State represents: appeasement, weakness, and an appalling lack of courage.

    9. Dr. Pete Kleff says:

      Ultimately Russian goals are always nationalistic and jingoistic. This has been historically true under the Tsars, the Communists, and now the reactionary oligarchs. Any foreign policy which does not recognize that underlying reality and proceed under that assumption will inevitably fail.

    10. ThomNJ says:

      I agree with your closing assessment, especially this: "Though the communist ideology was dealt a significant blow 20 years ago when the Soviet Union fell,…" As much as I am a Regan fan, I always felt that we only defeated the Soviet Union in a protracted battle of an even longer war – one that is also being waged within our very borders. So while we were winning the war for a while outside of our borders; we were slowly succumbing within – and that is well evidenced by the condition our own country is in today.

      A win by obama and the dems in the next election will most certainly seal our fate or cause a revolution if conservatives have the guts for it. I worry that even if the Republicans win the Senate, House and Presidency in 2012, we have only succeeded in delaying our demise for too many Republicans have lost their way as well. The communists have succeeded in infiltrating and perverting our values through education, government, social programs and even a number of churches.

    11. Doc Hilliard says:

      The biggest threat to freedom is Obama tyranny.

      • Juan Martinez says:

        Right Doc, I am afraid to agree with you because I know that the police will come to my door at night and take me away. For real, right?

    12. Leftshot says:

      I know the article's focus is on foreign policy and protecting us from the communists and power hungry forces in other places. But let us not overlook the fact that today, right now, we have avowed communists, Marxists and socialists in the White House–in the Obama Administration. Van Jones and Valerie Jarrett have already exited stage right, but there are many, many others. Our first goal has to be to throw out the enemy in our midst, in the palace, in the throne room, in our courtyards, and replace them with freedom loving patriots of our Constitutional Republic. Then and only then can we once again deal effectively with the enemies outside our walls.

    13. Clearhead says:

      No one with more than a single digit I.Q. could miss the implications of what mr. obama and his horde are doing to America through "resets", "Start" treaties, and other amazingly moronic attitudes and actions toward our sworn enemies. We all know that mr. obama has more than a single digit I.Q. ; therefore, he MUST know what he is doing to the United States. In the event that his re-election campaign has completely overshadowed his concept of trying to be President of The United States of America, SOMEONE to whom he will listen should shake him back to reality before America as we know it is completely non-existent. Suggestions anyone?

    14. Glen says:

      The Disarming of America has begun. Obama will bring this country down to a third world country if his programs and policies continue. I totally cannot believe what is happening to our country and NOONE is doing anything about it. Wake up Congress, Wake up America, before it is too late.

    15. The Soviet Union might have collapsed, but the seeds the Soviets have sown are beginning to bear fruit. The key to their plan was education and media. Infiltrate the media and start softening the views of a republic and more towards a communist state. Base line- Constitution is BAD, government controlled is GOOD.

      As for education, their task has been completed. We no longer have an education system that teaches future generations to be good upstanding Americans. It has been splintered with "multiculturalism", the signers of the Constitution were petty crooks, the civil war was fought over slavery, and most prominent historical figures have been replaced with vague characters that did very little in building this country.

      Department of Homeland Security is derived from the USSR's NKVD. We talk about "political correctness", the USSR's GRU unit will be coming along shortly. The government is taking baby steps in completing their tasks of turning this republic into a fascist police state.

      Say it's not true? Simply buy a plane ticket to visit grandma. You'll be told what you can pack in your suit case, your tax dollars are paying for someone to ransack your suitcase and remove anything they think is contraband. Your tax dollars also pay for you to either to go through an x-ray machine that hasn't been proven safe for public consumption, or be groped and molested in public view or in a private room so they can touch every single inch of your body. Oh, and do not bicker that your rights are being violated, you'll be detained or arrested for obstructing law enforcement.

      This described trip to the airport is the start. TSA is wanting to do the bus system, railroads and the public highway system. Internal passports are in the works. No internal passport, no travel. Later it will be no internal passport, go to jail.

      Attempt to fix it with the pen and votes now, hold your representatives accountable. By not doing so, you are part of the problem and the government is counting on your silence.

      • ThomNJ says:


        On another note: And I traveled this past week – the woman in the security line in front of me was told by TSA to lose the unopened bottle of water for her toddler…while simultaneously, I noticed her husband a bit further ahead was told to keep the bottle of water for the other toddler by another TSA agent. Not even consistent. Also, the metal detectors were different strength settings at the different ariports. TSA = joke.

    16. Natalie says:

      To the Heritage Foundation……I will watch the debate. If you do not give Ron Paul at least as much time as the rest of the candidates, I will cancel my subscription.

    17. Stann Lyman says:

      Recently I enjoyed reading the quote by former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher: "socialism is great until you run out of other people's money." It seems to me that each generation of socialists are blind to history. They seem to believe that"it's different now and we can make it work." Only the people at the top will benefit and will eventually impoverish and oppress the people they lead. God bless America and the U.S. Constitution!

    18. Jeanne Stotler says:

      "If we forget the past we are doomed to repeat it" I sat with wonder in 2008 and wondered if the people voting for BHO actually listened to him, read about his past or gave any thought except that he was a "Black Man", which of course he's not as his mother was white. Yet I read about how he was raised, his mother's idology, his assoc. with known communist and rabble rousers, his lack of experiance in any field, then I knew he should not be president. I was not a big McCain supporter, but I knew what would happen if BHO was elected and I must say it's worse than I imangined. Now we see dems. attacking anyone who seems a threat, yet they can block someone from voting, falsify names, support comminism, and no one says a thing, other than HF and Fox news. We need to be very vigilant this coming year and stiffle all attempts for BHO to be reelected frauduantly.

    19. Ken says:

      No personal attacks but when commenting on the direction of this country toward socialism, I think of the engine now driving our country into ruin and the name Obama pops up first. How do we comment on anything that is destroying this country without using the name Obama? No profanity but Obamas mentor can damn this country and Obama sanctions his words and that is to be accepted. I see the people he looks to for direction and guidance and what names come to light, some are convicted criminals. Who is leading the overthrow of the United States, who is purposely destroying this nation, Obama. I fear that people will wake up only after it is too late.

    20. Mike, Hickory, NC says:

      In the eyes of both Statist "leaders" of all stripes (Leftist Marxists/Communists/Socialists et al) both here and around the world, and people who exist under their rule, (U.S.) Americans don't have a whole lot of credibility or room to talk, exactly because, as Russian citizens have said in "man on the street" interviews (quote) "Americans encouraged us to go right for freedom, but as soon as we went Right, they went Left, such as when they elected (Bill) Clinton not once but twice!"

      So us (U.S.) Americans need to practice what we preach, as in "clean house", a.k.a. "throw all the Statists (and those who "cave" to them) out of office", lest we continue to make it so that we have less and less credibility, less and less room to talk, until it is too late, and us freedom-lovers, and freedom-loving people around the world, are subjugated by a "Leftist" Statist "One World Government" or "New World Order".

    21. The Soviet Union was a lesson in the failure of Communism. However, what Russia claims now to have is a form of democracy, which is indistinguishable from communism. Still, Russia has received special recognition from United States and other European countries with praise and consideration by the bureaucrats, following President Reagan's administration. We have complimented them on turning there socialistic regime around and putting on the mantle of 'democracy, but democracy can show little differentiation from what they had previously. The difference between Russia's new democratic structure and the United States is our country is actually a Republic, not a democracy. We are controlled by a constitutional form of government and based on those constitutional mandates. Even though our elected officials refer to this country as a democracy, we can give thanks that we are not controlled by the ruling majority as we would be if we were truly a democratic society. However, we are certainly catering to those who would like to negate the Constitution and is principles. Without the basic principles of our constitution, to guide this nation, we would be no different then Russia, or any other socialistic form of government.

    22. Robert Branch says:

      The only winner in these "debates" is Obama and the clear losed is the Republican party. Sad.

    23. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      The USSR fell because of crushing debt.

    24. Ann Wilson Kingsley says:

      Thank you! That was well said Brownfield. The problem that conservatives are not facing is that Liberals actually do want to create an image of the failed Russian state in the U.S. With organized crime at 40% of Russia's GDP, All things Russian are dear to Socialists because they do not have to stretch or feel moral scruples when living in a Socialist society. After all, Russians make love in the street and engage in any activity they want. The Socialist elite want enormous amounts of money and power to insulate themselves from the people they have enslaved. The common people are slaves of the Socialist elite and their own base immoral desires and life styles.

    25. cgm says:

      A very well done article that all who value peace and freedom in our USA and the world would do well to heed and file in their memories. It is so sad to see our President apparently on a course that will turn back much, if not all, the progress made by the Reagan-Thatcher administrations.

    26. ????? ?????? says:

      Dear Americans! You probably never interacted with the Russian people, not with those who live in the united states, but with those who live in Russia. The majority of Russian citizens has never and no one wanted to evil. IN the USSR we were told that America wants a war, and you said that Russia wants everyone to win. The cold war is over, and your media and many politicians still say that Russia is evil… AND we just want to make our Homeland has been a strong and successful power!!!!

    27. Libby Adams says:

      Truly, history repeats itself. Our young people are ignorant as to the harm nations like Russia are and will do as their goals are the same as they were when Reagan and Thatcher were on the world stage. We must return to teaching history! Thank you for the booklet, The Road to Serfdom. It has clarified my thinking like never before.

    28. Ms_Mayhem says:

      Bottom line, the falling of most countries today are all ruled by males…perhaps it's long overdue time to give the reins over to women who know how to balance a budget, bring life into the world and not destroy it, and have a deeper spiritual understanding of peace, love and harmony. We don't need phallic symbols of destruction like missiles, guns, bullets, etc., to bring about human understanding, compassion, strength and honor. I'm reasonably sure that this comment will never make it through, as the admins running this are probably all males, but it doesn't hurt to try…oh gee…no hurt…imagine that during this time of supposed peace and love that we celebrate this month!!!

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