Reprinted from Paul Craig Roberts Website
Not much remains of the once vibrant American left-wing. Among the brainwashed remnants there is such a hatred of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan that the commitment of these two presidents to ending dangerous military rivalries is unrecognized. Whenever I write about the illegal invasions of other countries launched by Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama, leftists point to Chile, Nicaragua and Grenada and say that nothing has changed. But a great deal has changed. In the 1970s and 1980s Nixon and Reagan focused on reducing Cold War tensions. Courageously, Nixon negotiated nuclear arms limitation agreements with the Soviet Union and opened to China, and Reagan negotiated with Gorbachev the end of the dangerous Cold War.
Beginning with the Clinton regime, the neoconservative doctrine of the US as the Uni-power exercising hegemony over the world has resurrected tensions between nuclear-armed powers. Clinton trashed the word of the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations and expanded NATO throughout Eastern Europe and brought the military alliance to Russia's border. The George W. Bush regime withdrew from the anti-ballistic missile treaty, revised US war doctrine to permit pre-emptive nuclear attack, and negotiated with Washington's East European vassals to put anti-ballistic missiles on Russia's borders in an effort to neutralize Russia's nuclear deterrent, thus bringing major security problems to Russia. The Obama regime staged a coup against a government allied with Russia in Ukraine, traditionally a part of Russia, and imposed a Russophobia government as Washington's vassal. Turning to China, Washington announced the "pivot to Asia" with the purpose of controlling shipping in the South China Sea. Additionally, the Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama regimes fomented wars across a wide swath of the planet from Yugoslavia and Serbia through the Middle East and Africa to South Ossetia and now in Ukraine.
The neoconservative ideology rose from the post-Reagan collapse of the Soviet Union. The doctrine met the need of the US military/security complex for a new enemy in order to avoid downsizing. Washington's pursuit of empire is a principal danger to life itself for everyone on the planet.
Unlike Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama, Nixon and Reagan went against the military/security complex. Nixon opened to China and made arms reduction agreements with the Soviets. Reagan negotiated with Gorbachev the end of the Cold War. The military/security complex was displeased with these presidential initiatives. Both left and right accused Nixon and Reagan of nefarious machinations. Right-wing Republicans said that Nixon and Kissinger were selling America out to the communists and that the scheming Soviets would take advantage of Reagan, the old movie actor. "Communists," we were assured, "only understand force."
Nixon and Reagan focused on eliminating dangerous rivalries, and the three stooges -- Clinton, Bush, and Obama -- have resurrected the rivalries. Those who cannot see the astonishing difference are blinded by prejudices and their brainwashing.
In this article, I describe unappreciated aspects of the Nixon and Reagan presidencies. What I provide is neither a justification nor a denunciation, but an explanation. Here is what Patrick Buchanan, who was in the White House with both presidents, wrote to me in response to my explanation:
"Craig, you are dead on in what you write about both Nixon and Reagan and what they sought in their presidencies. Reagan often talked of those 'godawful weapons,' meaning nukes. I was at Reykjavik with him, and was stunned at Hofde House to learn that Ronald Reagan pretty much wanted to trade them all away. And when, years later, Tom Wicker wrote favorably about the Nixon presidency, he accurately titled his book One of Us. All his life Nixon sought the approbation of the [pre-neocon] Establishment. Am deep into a new book, based on my experiences and my White House files, and all through it I am urging him [Nixon] to be and to become the kind of conservative president I wanted, but he never was. My thanks for bringing in The Greatest Comeback, which covered the period when I was closest to Nixon. All the best, Pat."
Writing for Americans is not always an enjoyable experience. Many readers want to have their prejudices confirmed, not challenged. Emotions rule their reason, and they are capable of a determined resistance to facts and are not inhibited from displays of rudeness and ignorance. Indeed, some are so proud of their shortcomings that they can't wait to show them to others. Some simply cannot read and confuse explanations with justifications as if the act of explaining something justifies the person or event explained. Thankfully, all readers are not handicapped in these ways or there would be no point in trying to inform the American people.
In a recent column I used some examples of Clinton-era scandals to make a point about the media, pointing out that the media and the American people were more interested in Clinton's sexual escapades and in his choice of underwear than in the many anomalies associated with such serious events as the Oklahoma City bombing, Waco, the mysterious death of a White House legal counsel, US sanctions on Iraq that took the lives of 500,000 children, and illegal war against Serbia.
Reaganphobes responded in an infantile way, remonstrating that the same standards should be applied to "your dear beloved Ray-Gun" as to Clinton. Those readers were unable to understand that the article was not about Clinton, but about how the media sensationalizes unimportant events in order to distract attention from serious ones. Examples from the Clinton era were used, because no question better epitomizes the level of the American public's interest in political life than the young woman's question to President Clinton: "boxers or briefs?"
It is doubtful that journalists and historians are capable of providing accurate understandings of any presidential term. Even those personally involved often do not know why some things happened. I have been in White House meetings from which every participant departed with a different understanding of what the president's policy was. This was not the result of lack of clarity on the president's part, but from the various interests present shaping the policy to their agendas.
Many Americans regard the White House as the lair of a powerful being who can snap his fingers and make things happen. The fact of the matter is that presidents have little idea of what is transpiring in the vast cabinet departments and federal agencies that constitute "their" administration. Many parts of government are empires unto themselves. The "Deep State," about which Mike Lofgren, formerly a senior member of the Congressional staff has written, is unaccountable to anyone. But even the accountable part of the government isn't. For example, the information flows from the cabinet departments, such as defense, state, and treasury, are reported to Assistant Secretaries, who control the flow of information to the Secretaries, who inform the President. The civil service professionals can massage the information one way, the Assistant Secretaries another, and the Secretaries yet another. If the Secretaries report the information to the White House Chief of Staff, the information can be massaged yet again. In my day before George W. Bush and Dick Cheney gave us the Gestapo-sounding Department of Homeland Security, the Secret Service reported to an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, but the Assistant Secretary had no way of evaluating the reliability of the information. The Secret Service reported whatever it suited the Secret Service to report.
Those who think that "the President knows" can test their conviction by trying to keep up with the daily announcements from all departments and agencies of the government. It is a known fact that CEOs of large corporations, the relative size of which are tiny compared to the US government, cannot know all that is happening within their organizations.
Nixon: Villain or Centrist Reformer?
I am not particularly knowledgeable about the terms of our various presidents. Nevertheless, I suspect that the Nixon and Reagan terms are among the least understood. Both presidents had more ideological opponents among journalists and historians than they had defenders. Consequently, their stories are distorted by how their ideological opponents want them to be seen and remembered. For example, compare your view of Richard Nixon with the portrait Patrick Buchanan provides in his latest book, The Greatest Comeback. A person doesn't have to agree with Buchanan's view of the issues of those years, or with how Buchanan positioned, or tried to position, Nixon on various issues, to learn a great deal about Nixon. Buchanan can be wrong on issues, but he is not dishonest.