On this anniversary of the Berlin Wall's apocalyptic destruction, we link a recording, of Ronald Reagan's remarkable 1987 speech that momentously called for that very event. The speech has been edited into three parts to conform to the time limits imposed by YouTube.
We link this extensive digest as opposed to briefer excerpts of the climactic phrase for a reason. As we look back on the democratic West's victory over Communism in the Cold War, we must reckon that the conflict was concluded successfully when Reagan, Thatcher and Pope John Paul II added to the historic strategy of containment a determination to roll back the oppression of Communist regimes that were both morally evil and politically rotten.
Reagan's delivery is clear, though betraying some fatigue. He muddles the German phrases, though they are received warmly by his audience. But he delivers not just a call to destroy the wall but an assertion of his core political values: that freedom is both right morally and pragmatic economically. The West was strong because freedom makes its citizens strong and prosperous, while the Communist bloc was weak because oppression makes people weak and poor.
That didn't mean confrontation alone. It meant diplomacy, and most of the speech is about possible diplomatic moves. But it was the aim of the diplomacy that never wavered: Reagan proposed diplomacy not simply to keep the peace but to promote liberty. Avoiding hostility was by itself far too small a goal to channel Reagan's idealism.
And so here is the speech, in three parts:
As a coda,we note that WSJ carries today a there-at-the-creation essay by one of Reagan's speechwriters, noting how the President himself championed the inclusion of the four words that Foggy Bottom sought to excise.