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Acton Institute writer claims that the Reagan Administration was the embodiment of the Sermon on the Mount phrase, Blessed are the Peacemakers, in new book review

February 26, 2023

Last week, editor of The American Spectator, Paul Kengor, who has written numerous books about former US President Ronald Reagan, reviewed a new book for the Acton Institute’s blog, entitled, The Peacemaker: Ronald Reagan, the Cold War, and the World on the Brink.

In his book review, Kengor makes the claims that the Reagan Administration peacefully won the Cold War, embracing the principle of “peace through strength.” Kengor concludes his book review by writing: 

All along, Clark, like Reagan, was buoyed by a strong sense, literally a spiritual sense, of what he and Reagan called “the DP,” the Divine Plan. They believed that they had established a policy and plan to peacefully end the Cold War—a plan that they hoped and prayed was God’s will. It worked, and the rest is history. 

The Cold War between the United States and the former Soviet Union was anything but peaceful. If the Acton writer thinks that US military build up during the Reagan years, the “peace through strength” principle didn’t have any negative consequences, then Kengor is either ignorant or more likely, ideologically compromised. 

The massive US military build up during the Reagan years (which has been a constant right up to the present), meant that the US was deciding to make weapons of war instead of investing in the country’s infrastructure, education system, health care, housing and renewable energy, just to name a few. However, the more absurd notion that Kengor puts forward is that the US won the Cold War peacefully.

From the late 1940s through the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, both countries invested heavily in militarism, while their domestic populations suffered. And while the US and the former Soviet Union didn’t directly engage in warfare with each other, especially during the Reagan years, the US government certainly engaged in proxy wars, support for dictatorships, Low-Intensity Conflicts, massive weapons sales abroad, the use of CIA, Green Berets and DEA agents to undermine foreign governments or to help facilitate narco-trafficking on a global scale. 

Here is but a brief summary of the US militarism and Imperialism during the Reagan years:

Afghanistan – the Reagan Administration provided billions of dollars in US military aid in the form of training, advisors and weapons, to a group of Islamic insurgents that became the Afghan Moujahedeen. Amongst the Afghan insurgents was Osama bin Laden, along with several other future members of the Taliban and other fanatical right wing groups. The Reagan Administration wanted to undermine the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and force the Soviet government to get caught up in a Vietnam – like protracted war.

Iran/Iraq war – The US was providing weapons and military aid to both Iran and Iraq during the 1980s in an attempt to destabilize the region. Some of the weaponry provided to Iraq WMDs, specifically chemical weapons, used against Iranian civilians and the Kurds. 

Israel – The Reagan Administration continued to policy that began in the mid-1970s, which was to provide Israel the largest amount of US military Aid to any single country annually. The Israelis used the US military aid to brutalize the Palestinians and displace them from their lands, thus making way for the expansion of Israeli Settlements. In addition, the US provided key diplomatic and military support to Israel for their invasion of Lebanon, resulting in an estimated 23,000 civilian deaths.

Grenada – The Reagan Administration invaded Grenada to get rid of a leftist government, killing 400 Grenadians and 84 Cubans, mostly construction workers.

Cuba – The Reagan Administration maintained the decades long US embargo of Cuba, along with numerous attempted assassinations of Fidel Castro, a massive disinformation campaign and the ongoing US occupation of Guantanamo, Cuba, where the US maintained a military base.

Nicaragua – The Reagan Administration was incensed by the Sandinista Revolution that took power in 1979. The government provided US military Aid to the former Somozan National Guardsmen, known as the Contras, which regularly attack civilians, farming cooperatives, health clinics and Christian-base communities. When the US Congress cut off aid to the Contras, the Reagan Administration engaged an illegal drug and weapons trade that also involved Iran, in what later became known as the Iran-Contra scandal. 

El Salvador – The Reagan Administration continued what began during the Carter years, which was to provide $1 million in US military aid on a daily basis to the death squad government, which was run by the Arena Party. Tens of thousands of Salvadoran civilians were murdered during the Reagan years, including numerous Christian clergy and other religious workers.

Guatemala – The Reagan Administration supported a series of military dictatorships, most notably Rios Montt. According to Amnesty International, the Rios Montt regime engaged in a genocidal campaign against the Mayan people of Guatemala, with thousands murdered, tortured, disappeared and displaced.

Honduras – The Reagan Administration deeded to expand the US military presence in Honduras in the 1980s, turn that country into a US military base providing more immediate US military support for the wars in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala. The US also supported the Honduran death squads known as the 316 Battalion during the Reagan years. 

South Africa – The Reagan Administration supported the Apartheid regime in South Africa during the height of the global anti-Apartheid movement.

Angola – The Reagan Administration supported the brutal government of Jonas Savimbi, who was head of the UNITA Party in Angola.

Libya – The Reagan Administration engaged in numerous tactics to destabilize the Qaddafi government. 

Philippines – The Reagan Administration supported the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, who allowed the US military base to operate freely for military interventions in the region. 

These are just some of the examples of how the US was using the pretext of the Cold War for military interventions, proxy wars and weapons trafficking in the 1980s. Several million civilians were killed during the Reagan years, plus millions more who were displaced and countless people who were tortured. The fact that the Acton Institute writer referred to the Reagan Administration as peacefully winning the Cold War, not only demonstrates how ideologically compromised he is, but how heartless he could be for not acknowledging the mountains of bodies of dead civilians that took place during the Cold War years. 

Editors note

Books used as source material for this article:

  • The Cold War and the New Imperialism: A Global History, 1945 – 2005, by Henry Heller
  • The Violent American Century: War and Terror since World War II, by John Dower
  • Overthrow: America’s Century of regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq, by Stephen Kinzer
  • Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, by William Blum
  • Boomerang: How Covert Wars Have Created Enemies Across the Middle East and Brought Terror to America, by Mark Zepezauer
  • Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, by William Blum
  • Lying for Empire: How to Commit War Crimes With a Straight Face, by David Model
  • War Made Easy: How Presidents And Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death, by Norman Soloman

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