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So It's Goodnight From Me... And Goodnight From Him

article - SchNEWS,  11 June 2004

It's nice that the shock of ex US President Ronald Reagan's death at 93 was so sensitively cushioned by kind words from the corporate media and politicians. According to Business Investors Weekly, Ronnie "revived the US economy, rebuilt its military and faced down the Soviet Union to win the Cold War, thereby giving hope for peace and freedom to billions of people throughout the world." But hang on a minute, didn't he oversee one of the biggest increases in inequality and poverty, cause thousands of deaths by supporting a bunch of nasty Latin American dictators and nearly blow up the world in his fight with the Soviet Union? Er yes, he did.

According to the Heritage Foundation, Ronnie oversaw "the most successful economic policy of the 20th century." This success started within a month of getting the presidency, as Ray-gun cut $41bn from the US budget, mainly targeting welfare for the poor while at the same time massively increasing military spending. He turned the world's richest country into a debtor for the first time since the Second World War and paved the way for the first increase in poverty since the 1960s. Inequality rose so much that by the 1990s the top 1% of US citizens owned as much wealth as the bottom 95% percent. This was Regeanomics and the beginning of the neo-liberal agenda of market deregulation, flexibile labour laws and privatisation.

In a recent White House speech, the incorruptible Vice President Dick Cheney said that he was proud that Ronnie was always "taking risks to advance freedom, justice, and democracy." Like backing Vinicio Cerezo of Guatemala, where, according to Americas Watch, tens-of-thousands of people were killed and 400 rural villages were destroyed by government death squads during Ronnie's time in office. Then there's PW Botha who oversaw the apartheid regime in South Africa and of course Suharto of Indonesia, responsible for over one million deaths, both grateful customers for US military hardware. In fact the sort of 'freedom' that Ronnie loved lead to a quarter of a million deaths in Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador during the 1980s. Then there's the invasion of Grenada, the bombing of Libya and Beirut and his support for Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden...

Ray-gun said that his idea of US policy toward the Soviet Union was simple: "We win and they lose". Often complimented with winning the 'Cold War', Ronnie sought to outspend the Soviets with the Star Wars initiative, bigger bombs and faster missiles, winning the Cold War without firing a shot according to close chum Maggie Thatcher. Well he almost did fire, as he kept his options open if the out-buying strategy didn't win. Famously talking of 'recallable nuclear missiles' and 'winnable nuclear war', he meant it. In 1981 he ordered thousands of Minuteman missiles, which were designed to destroy Soviet missile silos. But what's the point in destroying silos if there are no missiles in them? Simple: these missiles were designed as a 'first strike' weapon, to hit the Soviet Union before they hit the US. To launch a Minuteman in those days, an operator had to "unlock" the missile by dialling in a code. However, according to former launch officer Bruce Blair, the U.S. Strategic Air Command was worried that such safety features might slow things down, and set all locks to 00000000. Cementing this legacy the US has just named its latest nuclear aircraft carrier the USS Ronald Reagan.

So why all the positive press for this man? Investigative journalist Joseph Spear describes how the Reagan White House further refined Nixon's tricks of press appeasement, evasion and intimidation to shape opinion and mould public perceptions. Spear called Ronnie's presidency "probably the best staged one in history thanks to his acting abilities and the expertise of his media specialists."

- SchNEWS  (11th June 2004)

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revised 18 November 2005