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Ronald Reagan - The World View

Then U.S. President Ronald Reagan saluting members of the Reserve Officers Association in Washington on January 27, 1988. (Photo:Mike Sargent/AFP-Getty Images).

London The Guardian (liberal), June 7: Ronald Reagan, who has died aged 93, following complications from Alzheimer's disease, served two terms as U.S. president, from 1981 to 1989. He will be long remembered for his part in ending the cold war, although what that part was exactly will be long disputed. Perhaps the cold war was certain to end peaceably, rather than in a nuclear holocaust; perhaps the dissolution of the Soviet Union was equally certain. But it is at least as probable that the rise of Mikhail Gorbechev as Soviet leader in 1985, and the presence of the Republican Reagan in the White House, created a window of opportunity, which both men, to their credit, took full advantage of. Reagan's presidency also heralded a shift to the right in American Politics. Partly a cause, partly a consequence, of political realignment, his 1980 victory over the incumbent president, Democrat Jimmy Carter, was a seismic event, which touched off an earthquake similar to those that followed the victories of Andrew Jackson in 1828 and Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1932…There followed eight years (Reagan was re-elected in 1984 with 59 percent of the popular vote and all but one of the states). Helped by his film training, he gave an always dignified and warm performance, serenely meeting such challenges as increasing deafness, two bouts of cancer, and an assassination attempt one year into his presidency.
- Hugh Brogan

Moscow Pravda (liberal), June 7: The 40th President of the United States Ronald Reagan died on Saturday, June 5th with family members by his side…All living former U.S. presidents will be present at the funeral services - Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, George Bush Sr., and Bill Clinton. They will also be joined by the U.S. president George Bush Jr., who is expected from the G-8 summit.

Amman The Jordan Times (independent), June 7: America mourned former President Ronald Reagan on Sunday as preparations began in Washington for the first presidential state funeral in 30 years for the man who won the cold war and the hearts of countless Americans with his skills as the "Great Communicator." On Wednesday and Thursday, Reagan will lie in state in the U.S. Capitol before a funeral at the National Cathedral on Friday followed by a private sunset burial at the presidential library in California…Leaders of the G-8 group are meeting in the U.S. state of Georgia this week, which will allow them to travel to Washington for the funeral. It will pose a major security challenge for a city already on high alert against terror threats following the attacks of September 11, 2001. Reagan became the first right-wing U.S. president in 50 years; the first in 30 years to serve two terms; and the first to spend a trillion dollars on peacetime defence and a doubling of the national debt. He called the Soviet Union an evil empire and helped defeat it in the cold war by presiding over massive U.S. defence build-up that the Russians could not afford to keep up with. In a flood of tributes from America and abroad, Reagan was hailed as the man who changed the course of world history by hastening the end of Soviet communism…The father of Soviet Perestroika reform Mikhail Gorbachev praised Reagan, his partner on the world stage, as a great leader who dared to change the tide in relations between the cold war superpowers. Gorbachev said his dialogue with Reagan "kick-started the process, which ultimately put an end to the cold war." Former British Prime Minister Thatcher - the "Iron Lady" to Reagan's warm "Great Communicator" said: "Ronald Reagan had a higher claim than any other leader to have won the cold war for liberty. To have achieved so much, against such odds, and with such humour and humanity, made Ronald Reagan a truly great American hero."…French president Jacques Chirac called him "a great statesman who through the strength of his convictions and his commitment to democracy will leave a deep mark in history."…Reagan's presidential state funeral will be the first since Lyndon Johnson's in 1973.

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Seoul Chosun Ilbo (conservative), June 7: In a dramatic speech in Berlin, which was still a divided city in 1987, Mr. Reagan challenged the Kremlin leader of the time: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall." Two years later, the Communist East German state collapsed, along with the Berlin Wall, and a wave of political upheaval swept through Eastern Europe to Moscow.

Moscow Moscow Times (independent), June 11: Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan's one-time adviser on Soviet affairs remembers him as the man who forever changed the face of Moscow-Washington relations. Suzanne Massie, Reagan's adviser from 1984 to 1988 and a Democrat at the time, said Reagan played a "very significant" role in ending the Cold War...Reagan was the first U.S. president to build human relations between the two countries, which were locked in the decades-long Cold War, Massie said...Reagan turned the tide with his unique approach and interest in the Soviet people. "He really wanted to know how ordinary Russians thought and lived and their aspirations, rather than bureaucrats," she said. "He was the first president, I think to understand very clearly the difference between 'Russian' and 'Soviet'."
- Simone Kozhuarov

Doha Aljazeera.net (English language), June 6: In East Timor, reactions to [Reagan's] passing have been tempered by his role in supporting Jakarta's occupation. "The world must not forget that under his leadership, America helped the Indonesian military commit genocide in East Timor." Said Jose Luis Oliveira, who heads Yayasan HAK, the country's leading rights organization. During Reagan's presidency, Washington maintained close ties with Indonesia's military dictator Suharto, whom the administration viewed as a bulwark against the spread of communism in Southeast Asia. In 1975, just hours after receiving the backing of ex-president Gerald Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Suharto ordered the invasion of the former Portuguese colony. The Timorese resisted and conducted a successful guerrilla war during which up to 20,000 people - a third of the population - died as a result of military operations, starvation and disease. The war lasted until 1998 when Suharto was ousted and the new government in Jakarta allowed a referendum, which resulted in an overwhelming vote for independence the following year. In 2000, East Timor became the world's newest country. Despite pleas from human rights groups, Reagan - who visited Indonesia at the height of the bloodshed in 1986 - refused to ban the use of U.S. - supplied arms in East Timor. "Reagan was a key supporter of the Indonesian military who gave them the equipment that was used to kill…the people of East Timor," Oliveira said.

Tokyo The Japan Times (independent centrist), June 7: Prime ministers past and present offered words of tribute Sunday for former U.S. President Ronald Reagan. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Reagan laid the foundation for the Japan-U.S. alliance. Former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone mourned him as a great leader and "a friend of Japan." Nakasone, prime minister from 1982 to 1987, described Reagan as a "great president who led the Cold War against communism to the victory of freedom and democracy." "He was a good friend of the Japanese people as he respected Japan and its culture." Koizumi said in a statement: "The foundation of the Japan-U.S. alliance that now serves as a driving force to solve international issues with other countries was built during President Reagan's era."

Karachi Daily Jang (pro-government), June 7: Former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, who worked closely with U.S. President Ronald Reagan during the 1980's will attend the late leader's funeral this week, the government said Monday. Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosada announced that Nakasone was picked as the most appropriate representative from Japan to attend Reagan's funeral because of his friendship and diplomatic ties with the late president.

Doha Aljazeera.net (English language), June 7: In the Arab world and beyond, Reagan's foreign policy was roundly condemned. Rights groups accused him of opposing democracy and human rights in Central America, and of supporting brutal dictators to further the U.S.'s economic and strategic interests…Reagan's death was given only a brief mention on Iranian state television, although the Kayhan evening newspaper did give a short commentary: "During the Reagan administration, weapons of mass destruction flooded Iraq and were used against Iran. Also under Reagan's orders, an Iranian passenger jet was shot at over the Persian Gulf by an American warship, and 290 passengers lost their lives," [the paper] said in reference to the 1988 downing of an Iran Air flight by the USS Vincennes. The Reagan administration was a major supplier of weapons to Iraq during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, during which close to a million people - a majority of them Iranians - were killed. Another scandal to dog Reagan was the discovery of a secret program to send military supplies to Iran...It later emerged the profits from these sales had gone to help the Contra rebels fighting the leftwing government of Nicaragua. A congressional report laid the blame on the president saying: "If the president did not know what his national security advisers were doing, he should have."

Toronto Toronto Star (liberal), June 7: While Americans paid their own tributes, memories of the Reagan years came flooding in from foreign capitals, from current leaders and his contemporaries, both allies and adversaries. John Kerry, the Massachusetts senator who will be confirmed next month as the Democratic presidential nominee, suspended campaigning this week. Americans are mourning "the passing of a modern giant," Kerry told graduating students at a Toledo, Ohio high school. "We lost one of our greatest optimists. President Reagan's belief in America was infectious." Jimmy Carter, one of four surviving ex-presidents, offered his condolences from Plains, Georgia. "This is a sad day for our country," Carter said. "I probably know as well as anybody what a formidable communicator and campaigner president Reagan was. It was because of him that I was retired from my last job." Reagan defeated Democrat Carter in the 1980 election. Reagan's longtime nemesis, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, remembered how he first thought of Reagan as a "dinosaur" during the Cold War years. "I take the death of Ronald Reagan very hard," Gorbachev told reporters in Moscow. "He was a man whom fate set by me in perhaps the most difficult years at the end of the 20th century. He has already entered history as a man who was instrumental in bringing about the end of the Cold War, Gorbachev added. "To use the terminology of those years, he was a hawk. Nevertheless, that hawk loved life. He was a man who respected traditions, and I think he was concerned about how he would be remembered in history. It was his goal and his dream to end his term and enter history as a peacemaker."
- Tim Harper

Johannesburg Mail & Guardian (liberal), June 7: [Libyan President] Muammar Gaddafi expressed regret on Sunday that former U.S. President Ronald Reagan died without ever standing trial for the 1986 air strikes he ordered that killed the Libyan leader's adopted daughter and 36 other people. Reagan ordered the April 15, 1986, air raid in response to a discotheque bombing in Berlin allegedly ordered by Gaddafi that killed two U.S. soldiers and a Turkish woman and injured 229 people. "I express my deep regret because Reagan died before facing justice for his ugly crime that he committed in 1986 against the Libyan children," Libya's official Jana news agency quoted Gaddafi as saying. Jana, in reporting Regan's death…described former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as Reagan's partner in the strikes because some of the warplanes took off from U.S. bases in the United Kingdom. "Ronald Reagan, Thatcher's partner in the failed American-Atlantic aggression against the house of the brother leader of the revolution, in Tripoli and Benghazi in 1986, died," Jana reported. The United States branded Libya a "rogue" state in the 1980's, alleging state-sponsored support of terrorism and imposing trade sanctions on the country in 1986.
- Khaled El-Deeb

Sydney The Sydney Morning Herald (centrist), June 7: In 1980, on the eve of an era nobody predicted, the conventional wisdom was that Ronald Reagan was the journeyman, the B-grade actor, the mouthpiece for big business interests who was too old, who read Reader's Digest, and had twice failed to win the Republican presidential nomination in 1968 and 1976. When he tried once more, at the age of 69, he was, for a long time, simply not taken seriously by the media consensus. The view was widely shared in Australia, and to Australian eyes, even in an American context, Reagan did seem remarkably folksy, with a message too simple for a great imperial power. In the sweep of history, who looks myopic now? It was only late in 1980, just before he would oust President Jimmy Carter in a landslide, that it dawned on people that Reagan, the oldest man elected president, was going to show how potent folksiness could be. No U.S. presidential candidate, before or since, won as many votes as the 54 million he harvested in his re-election in 1984, carrying almost every state, at the age of 73…In 1988, his loyal, unthreatening and long-serving vice president, George Bush, won the presidency partly on the Reagan coat tails, against a weak opponent, Governor Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts. It was not long before what Reagan had made seem easy was seen to be hard, as Bush would discover when he sought re-election on his own record in 1992.
- Paul Sheehan

Lahore Daily Times (independent), June 7: During his life, President Ronald Reagan developed a reputation as a man with a sharp wit who loved a good joke. Here are some examples of his humour:

"A lot of people wondered, 'How dare an actor have the audacity to run for this job,'" Reagan told the Chicago Sun-Times in 1990. "There were times when I wondered how you could do this job without having been an actor." James Baker, Reagan's one-time chief of staff, recalled on Fox News Sunday that Reagan once had to sit through a photo opportunity at which Archbishop Desmond Tutu "thoroughly trashed" the president's South African policy. The next day, the media scented blood and eagerly asked him about his talks with the anti-apartheid campaigner. "What about your meeting with Tutu?" they said. And Reagan replied: "Tutu? So-So." Reagan had a keen and wry awareness of how others saw him. Once he told a visitor to the Oval Office in the White House: "Some day, people will say Ronald Reagan slept here." And on another occasion: "I have left orders to be awakened at any time in case of national emergency, even if I'm in a cabinet meeting." Being shot would test most people's sense of humour, but Reagan was able to keep his. "Honey I forgot to duck," he told his wife Nancy. "When I saw all those doctors around me, I said, 'I hope they're all Republicans.'"

Havana Granma (communist party), June 11: One June 7, a Cuban radio station issued judgements and commentaries on recently deceased former U.S. President, Ronald Reagan. Immediately, the international media echoed the aforementioned comments, presenting them as an official declaration by the Cuban authorities. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has received instructions from the leadership of the Cuban Revolution to clarify that the commentaries made on the radio station were not an official statement by Cuban authorities nor do they express any official opinion. President Ronald Reagan was a tenacious opponent of the Cuban Revolution, but Cuban Revolutionaries possess a sense of ethics and honor that is incompatible with the idea of issuing critical judgements or attacks at what is a moment of profound sorrow for his family. That has been and will always be the conduct of the Cuban people and leadership.

Jerusalem The Jerusalem Post (conservative) June 7: It is fitting that Bush was in France to commemorate the 60th anniversary of D-Day when he said these words on the passing of Ronald Wilson Reagan: "Ronald Reagan had the confidence that comes with conviction, the strength that comes with character, the grace that comes with humility, and the humor that comes with wisdom. He leaves behind a nation he restored and a world he helped save." Like World War II, the Cold War is now viewed retrospectively through American eyes as inevitable, just, and ending in the West's victory. But as Reagan himself pointed out in his farewell address, the policies that he espoused were widely derided as "dangerous" before and during his tenure…Given his focus on freedom, it is not surprising that Reagan was considered one of the most "pro-Israel" presidents ever. Missteps aside, such as the condemnation of Israel's attack on Iraq's Osirak reactor in 1981, supporting Israel came naturally for him.

Taipei Taipei Times (pro-government), June 12: Reagan was a hero in the battle against communism; during his two terms as president in the 1980's, he led the free world in a determined fight against communism...He did not shrink from shouldering the moral burden of being a leader of the free world. He was resolute in the face of threats from the communist camp and undeterred by the obstruction of the political left in the West. He upheld his principles and ideas, emerging as a victor of the Cold War, and impelled the collapse of communism in Europe and around the world....After the imbecilic Democratic president Jimmy Carter established diplomatic relations with China, Taiwan found itself facing hard times. Not long after, Reagan defeated Carter by a wide margin and took over the White House. The resolute anti-communist was concerned for Taiwan's safety and in his second year as president (1982), he gave the famous "six assurances" to Taiwan, in which he promised to set no date for the termination of arms sales to Taiwan, and that the U.S. would not consult with China over such sales; that the Taiwan Relations Act would not be altered; and that the U.S. would not formally recognize Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan. These principles have long protected Taiwan's safety. That subsequent U.S. administrations have been able to assist and protect Taiwan is largely the result of the policy foundation established by Reagan. It was Reagan's unwavering adherence to his principles, his insistence on moral values that won him the love of the American people. And it is not just the American people. The people of Eastern Europe freed from communist tyrrany after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and those all over the world who were freed with the rollback of communism, all feel gratitude to this leader of the free world. He was not only a "guardian of Taiwan," but he was also a "guardian of liberty," and in this role he will be remembered and missed by freedom-loving people all over the world.
- Cao Chang-ching

Manama Gulf Daily News (government-supported), June 7: World leaders paid tribute yesterday to Ronald Reagan as the man who helped end the Cold War. Here are some of the remembrances of the former U.S. president who died on Saturday aged 93:

British Prime Minister Tony Blair: "At home his vision and leadership restored national self-confidence and brought some significant changes to U.S. politics, while abroad the negotiation of arms control agreements in his second term and his statesman-like pursuit of more stable relations with the Soviet Union helped bring about the end of the Cold War."

Former U.S. President George Bush Sr.: "Ronnie stayed with his principles, which is very important, and he proved to be a strong leader for what he believed. But secondly there was the human qualities of decency and kindness, a wonderful sense of humor. All of these things added up to the fact that even if he disagreed with a person, that person would not become a political enemy, he conducted himself in a very civil manner."

Former U.S President Bill Clinton and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton: "Hillary and I will always remember President Ronald Reagan for the way he personified the indomitable optimism of the American people, and for keeping America at the forefront of the fight for freedom for people everywhere."

Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl: "His consistent championing of freedom contributed decisively to overcoming the division of Europe and Germany. We Germans have much to thank Ronald Reagan for."

South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun: "He made great efforts to overcome the Cold War. In particular, that he made so many achievements for peace and stabilisation in the Korean Peninsula and helped bolster the alliance between South Korea and the U.S. South Koreans will remember that."

Hong Kong Asia Times (online publication), June 7: For his lonely stand against the forces of barbarism, I rate Winston Churchill the greatest statesman of the 20th century. Ronald Reagan though, arguably was the greater commander in chief. Decisiveness (translating Clausewitz's term Entschlossenheit) depends in turn upon strategic vision. But a commander requires not only vision, but also the intestinal fortitude to endure uncertainty, and the will to force the burden of uncertainty onto his opponent. Borrowing from the language of economics, one might call this a predilection for creative destruction. Whatever his faults, Reagan possessed the great attribute of command…To a generation that has come of age after the fall of the Soviet Empire, it is hard to imagine that the smart money in Europe wagered on Russian dominance when Ronald Reagan took office in 1981. I can attest that the closest advisors of French President Francois Mitterand and German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt thought NATO would lose the Cold War. So humiliating was the later collapse of the communist regimes that the pundits could argue credibly that it had fallen of its own weight. No such thing happened. Reagan took office at a dark hour for the West, and did things that the elite of Europe had deemed impossible…For now it is enough to say that Ronald Reagan goes to his rest with the gratitude of free people everywhere.
- Spengler

Sydney Sydney Morning Herald (centrist), June 11: Nancy Reagan wept over the coffin of her husband, former U.S. president Ronald Reagan today as she said a final farewell before he was laid to rest. Nancy Reagan, 82, momentarily lost her composure for the first time in a long day that featured a moving state funeral in Washington, resting her head on the late president's mahogany coffin as she stroked and held it. Ronald Reagan's three children rushed to her side and held Nancy as she stood in front of the casket for several minutes after the U.S. flag that had covered it for a week was removed ahead of his burial. In contrast to the formal, state funeral service, Reagan's burial was a family affair attended by some 700 close friends, many of them people the late president had known since his days as a Hollywood actor. In short but moving speeches, his three surviving children spoke lovingly of the man they knew as a father rather than a world leader and celebrated his humour and odd habits like pulling a stranger's earlobe. "He is home now. He is free. In his final letter to the American people, Dad wrote, 'I now begin my journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life.' This evening he has arrived," his youngest son Ronald Prescott Reagan said, briefly touching his father's flag-draped coffin. "History will record his worth as a leader. We here have long since measured his worth as a man," he added.

 


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