Foreign Policy

McCain’s Reagan Gaffe: 100 percent Wrong about Reagan and Soviet Negotiations

When McCain said during the debate that Ronald Reagan refused to negotiate with the Soviets until Gorbachev has instituted reforms, McCain had the facts and the truth exactly backwards. Shortly after the attempted assassination of Reagan — shortly after he assumed office — Reagan wrote a personal plea to Leonid Brezhnev calling for a new era of reconciliation and hoping for diplomatic negotiations to achieve it.

I am linking here a story from Time magazine that includes the first draft of the letter Reagan wrote to Brezhnev, in his own handwriting, with his plea for negotiations.

John McCain simply does not know what he is talking about. In fact, not only did Reagan write to Brezhnev in his own handwriting, not only did Reagan send a final version of the letter that was released in 1990, Reagan said, famously, that he wanted diplomacy to improve relations but Soviet leaders kept dying on him before he could achieve it.

Dwight Eisenhower believed in negotiating with adversaries. Nixon believed it. Ford believed it. Even George W. Bush has come to believe it. But John McCain stands alone, radically out of touch with every Republican and Democratic president since World War II, isolated and wrong.

That is bad enough, but to so grossly and falsely misrepresent Ronald Reagan on a matter so important only proves that loud talk, angry threats, name-calling, bellicose rhetoric and misinformation are no substitute in a president for sound judgment, common sense, strategic vision and an accurate knowledge of history.

McCain was dead wrong about Reagan and that is a mistake no president should make.

Tags Civil awards and decorations Iran–Contra affair John McCain John McCain Leonid Brezhnev Mikhail Gorbachev Political positions of Ronald Reagan Politics Quotation Reagan Gaffe Ronald Reagan Soviet people United States

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