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4JC November 9th, 2019 5:14pm

On 30th anniversary of fall of Berlin Wall, Reagan’s former speech writer shares what inspired those now famous words – “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall” & how the words that came to define a turning point in U.S-Soviet relations were almost cut.

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Zingerz Wisconsin
11/09/19 11:38 pm

I was planning on the front just previous to the Wall coming down. I was in a special detachment to relieve Berlin in case of soviet blockade. I had just left the military and couldn't afford TV so I didn't see the actual events. Seeing what the Wall did to the German people was sad. Not seeing it come was disappointing. Reagan and pope Paul II had a lot to do with it (regardless of the soviet people think). They only knew what they were told.

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leedyrobert2 Washington
11/09/19 6:24 pm

Reagan saying that drew praise from Americans and other western countries.
It had no effect on the Soviets. They saw it as typical western propaganda.
Reagan did not end communism. Gorbachev ended communism

4JC Christian Pastors Wife
11/09/19 7:04 pm

I can’t speak to that, because I didn’t live there. Let’s ask someone whose parents lived there at that time:

@RussianThunder , would you agree with leedyrobert’s statement?

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Zingerz Wisconsin
11/09/19 11:57 pm

I know Russians of that generation that agree, Reagan and pope Paul II had a huge effect on the soviet union and Gorbachev. And these aren't catholics or even Christians.

RussianThunder Russia and USA
11/10/19 7:53 am

It was a mixture. Gorbachev was the first General Secretary born into communism. As such, he remembers seeing family and friends disappear in the night (they often came around 2AM). He was forced to work on a sovhhozy, running machinery like tractors and combines. He was communist but thought more openness was needed. He loathed Stalin. He set glasnost and perestroika into very slow motion but with that crack, came a fracturing of the system. Then Chernobyl happened. The fracture practically broke. The people who were just getting used to less harsh measures, now found the information door shut in their faces about Chernobyl. Mischa could not hold off the wolves in his own government, the world clamoring for answers, a Polish Catholic pope and a needling American President. Communism fell under Gorbachev, not by his design. The Polish people agitators used the popes picture to barricade themselves off from authorities. The Russian people used Reagan’s words.

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RussianThunder Russia and USA
11/10/19 8:10 am

Reagan’s words were heard via illegal radios (illegal but no one cracked down on them after Stalin) and galvanized people, especially the East Germans. It took a bit but News was rife in Moscow via the rumor mill that East Germans were unhappy and the Poles were in revolt (it was a puppet state). Reagan was very popular with anti-communist groups. Is he thought of as popular today? No. Memories fade. Most will say no. Older people remember the Cold War. Younger people are often not taught about him.
Gorbachev’s incompetence, the Soviet system itself (which led to Chernobyl) and a really botched coup by some in the KGB and other communist leaders, all led to it.

Gorbachev did not intend to end communism. He was too incompetent to keep it together. That is truly the extent of it.
The Soviet leaders were all old, kept dying. Andropov lived 15 months in office. Chernenko 13 months. So, they went younger. Mischa was 54 at the time.

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RussianThunder Russia and USA
11/10/19 8:34 am

That meant he could last much longer but he was the only one born into communism. How ironic he is the one to bring it crashing down but thank G-d he did.

Oddly, for an outspoken critic of Vova, he still lives in Moscow. Still attends functions but Raisa has passed (in Germany where she was getting treatment for cancer) and he is still in mourning after 20 years.

What I find interesting is that she is buried not all that far from Boris Yeltsin, the man who was able to democratically oust her husband. Death is such an equalizer.

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think4yourself Not a safe space
11/09/19 11:40 am

Fantastic man that helped liberate so many from communism.

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shygal47 Florida east coast
11/09/19 10:50 am

He was an actor - he recognized a great line when he read it. Should have gotten an Oscar for it.

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4JC Christian Pastors Wife
11/09/19 10:51 am

I can’t tell if you’re being complimentary or derogatory.

shygal47 Florida east coast
11/09/19 10:59 am

Both.
Everyone has good and bad points. He was a B Movie actor, but he understood the ability of the craft. He just used that inherent ability and probably practiced it in secret many times in order to get the right tone.
As a politician, wow, he grew our country’s debt to new levels... and it’s been added to ever since except that by the end of the Clinton regime, Clinton had gotten finances back under control.
IMHO.
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4JC Christian Pastors Wife
11/09/19 11:26 am

Thanks for clarifying. Most of the people I know consider him one of the best presidents in our lifetime.

susanr Colorado
11/09/19 5:33 pm

He would have been even greater if he hadn’t stifled discussion of HIV/AIDS for FOUR YEARS, prevented his Surgeon General from talking about it, and to some extent restricted research.

If he’d spoken out, and let Surgeon General Koop help people understand what in hell was going on, there would almost surely be far fewer people who died of the disease. And I’m not talking about gays specifically, although I lost a number of gay friends, including my best friend (who had just graduated from medical school, after a long career as a midwife and then physician’s assistant). I’m talking about the kids and adults with hemophilia, the *spouses* of adults with hemophilia, and countless others.

I just can’t forgive him for that kind of obstruction.

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4JC Christian Pastors Wife
11/09/19 5:38 pm

I didn’t know anything about him doing that. I thought that at that point, we didn’t even know what was causing it. I remember Princess Diana making a huge difference in how it was seen, as she visited AIDS patients in the hospital. And one of my fave Christian singers, Steve Camp, sang a song about ministering to them.

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susanr Colorado
11/09/19 5:51 pm

The CDC’s first identification of the disease AIDS and the first public alert about was in 1981. In 1982 Reagan’s press secretary mentioned it during a press briefing, but just to make jokes about it (and about gays, if I remember right). It was not addressed directly by the administration as a public health concern because... well, probably mostly because it was “just gays.”

Until it wasn’t.

Reagan did not utter the word in public until 1985. In 1986 he mentioned it in a speech to Congress. In 1987 he delivered a speech to physicians calling AIDS “Public Enemy Number One.”

Princess Diana began her AIDS work - which was indeed wonderful - in 1987.

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4JC Christian Pastors Wife
11/09/19 5:54 pm

So President Trump and Diana realized the seriousness of it in the same year?

susanr Colorado
11/09/19 5:55 pm

We didn’t know *specifically* what caused AIDS until 1983 (the French discovery of the responsible virus) and 1984 (the American discovery), but it was still a public health crisis from 1981 on.

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shygal47 Florida east coast
11/09/19 5:57 pm

Trump was not President in the 1980s

4JC Christian Pastors Wife
11/09/19 6:01 pm

I thought you might like to hear Steve Camp’s song about this. We actually met him and got to sit down and talk to him for about 30 minutes when he did a youth revival for a friend of ours. He told us of his work with AIDS patients, ministering to them.

m.youtube.com/watch?v=tqXFwfXjEjs

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susanr Colorado
11/09/19 6:11 pm

Reagan had the information to “realize the seriousness” *to gays* in 1981, when the CDC first identified the public health problem. Reagan was silent about it, publicly. In 1982 the CDC connected AIDS to blood. Reagan was silent about it, publicly. In 1983 the CDC warned blood banks about a possible problem with blood. The virus was identified in France. Reagan was silent about it. In 1984 the virus was identified in the US. Reagan was silent about it. In 1985 an antibody test for HIV was approved by the FDA, and blood products were tested. Reagan mentioned AIDS in public for the first time in September 1985, when asked a question by reporters.

His Surgeon General knew about HIV/AIDS but REAGAN FORBADE HIM FROM TALKING ABOUT IT.

HIV had entered the hemophiliac population in *1982.*

There just is no excuse at all for him not making an issue of it sooner. (And I believe he apologized, much later.)

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susanr Colorado
11/09/19 6:12 pm

I have no idea what Princess Diana knew, or when, but she wasn’t the President of the country where most of the victims were located and were dying. She didn’t have a Surgeon General to consult. Her role was important and had widespread consequences, but it was more of a supportive nature, and helping remove the stigma of the disease. She wasn’t in a position to direct public health agencies to research and issue public health warnings.

I’ve taken up too much space in your poll about this. I really just wanted to mention why *I* don’t think he was the greatest President ever.

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4JC Christian Pastors Wife
11/09/19 6:16 pm

Thanks! I didn’t realize all that. I can understand why you would be upset about it, especially being a scientist.

susanr Colorado
11/09/19 6:23 pm

I was working in a hospital lab at the time (I worked there 1975-1985) and we had *serious* concerns about it. I mean *everybody* handled blood, and some of us handled blood in conjunction with needles, and at first we had no idea what caused AIDS and how to avoid it. And speaking of avoiding, even with the most careful technique, almost everyone sticks themself with a needle that had been used by a patient, at some point.

I tried to stay on top of the science news about it, but that wasn’t always easy.

But my overwhelming concern was for my *friends.* I can still remember when I heard the first public news about the disease, I’m sure in 1981. I was standing in my kitchen cooking and listening to NPR on the radio. I can still visualize my kitchen floor very clearly because that’s what I was looking at; it’s one of those “burned into your brain” moments.

And all I could think about was my friends.

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susanr Colorado
11/09/19 6:31 pm

And to be fair, some gays didn’t always heed what public health warnings were given, when they finally were released. That’s on them. But if a strong public health campaign about the disease had started earlier and stronger, they may have behaved differently too.

And then came the conspiracy theories, in the 90s, about how AIDS wasn’t due to a virus at all, or the US government had manufactured the virus. That was crazy times. I was in grad school in genetics by then. I saw some people claiming that it wasn’t a blood-born disease at all, but something you got only from gay sex. They tried to say that all the hemophiliacs who got it must be gay. What about their spouses, I asked? They must have been gay too. It was just nuts.

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4JC Christian Pastors Wife
11/09/19 7:03 pm

I wasn’t following all of that and it was far from my radar at that time. I didn’t hear any of that about it being conspiracy theories.

susanr Colorado
11/09/19 7:15 pm

I can’t even remember where all I heard about the conspiracy theories - some of it through people on CompuServe, and at least one from one of my fellow grad students - but there was one significant scientist who promoted one of them. Peter Duesberg, PhD, was a retroviral (HIV is a retrovirus) researcher at UC Berkeley. His Wikipedia article describes the whole fiasco in detail, but briefly: He felt that AIDS was caused by recreational drugs and anti-viral drugs, and that HIV is a harmless virus that just goes along for the ride. He called the AIDS epidemic in Africa “a myth” and that influenced policy there. He published rebuttals to AIDS papers in scientific journals, espousing his pet theory, and was allowed to do that for a long time. It became a major issue in some journals and among researchers, but eventually the evidence that HIV *is* the culprit, from many directions, was overwhelming.

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susanr Colorado
11/09/19 7:19 pm

The leading American science journal, Science, published a *huge* article about the controversy, Duesberg’s contentions, and all the evidence that had been accumulated that showed HIV was indeed the culprit, in 1994.

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shygal47 Florida east coast
11/09/19 8:17 pm

That’s an amazing personal recollection, susanr. I read Science every now and then if they are covering a topic I have an interest in. I have always thought their material was excellent.
Thanks for sharing a very personal story. I am so sorry you lost friends, I lost one that I know of for sure during those years. 😢
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4JC Christian Pastors Wife
11/09/19 10:16 am

💠 4JC asked:

On the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Ronald Reagan’s former speechwriter and current Hoover Institution fellow Peter M. Robinson shares what inspired those now famous words – “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall” – and how they were almost cut from the speech.

But after the Berlin Wall toppled – 30 years ago, on Nov. 9, 1989 – Reagan’s words, delivered not two years earlier on June 12, 1987, came to define a turning point in U.S.-Soviet relations. What was once deemed audacious had become auspicious.

See that here:

news.stanford.edu/2019/11/06/reagans-mr-gorbachev-tear-down-this-wall-was-almost-left-unsaid/

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4JC Christian Pastors Wife
11/09/19 10:17 am

@Tony , I thought this was very interesting as I lived through this history and didn’t know this about Reagan’s now famous words. I’m wondering if you might consider featuring the poll as it’s educational for all of us!

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Ebola007 Florida
11/09/19 10:19 am

Thank you for your interesting and insightful polls.

4JC Christian Pastors Wife
11/09/19 10:28 am

You’re welcome, Ebola! Thanks for the compliment. That means a lot to me!

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