It may seem like small peanuts today, as China gobbles up Australia, the Mekong and Africa in plain sight, and when, on the 20th anniversary of the most historic massacre in modern times, the president of the United States sends his chief man over, as innocent as TinTin, not to inquire as to the safety and whereabouts of the child monk known as the Panchen Lama, kidnapped by the Chinese government years ago, but to submit and to swear fealty.

But once upon a time, Russia was a big threat to the world.

That period came to an abrupt end overnight. Maybe because of a more vital American vision; maybe because of a bigger batch of nukes or a superior economic model — however, the advanced Marxist-Leninist agenda across the Pacific seems to be doing so well that it is drawing admirers here — but there has long been a rumor that the Cold War actually ended because of Nancy Reagan.

At the beginning of Ronald Reagan’s second term, there was a general consensus that America had finally found equilibrium in the post-war world and things were getting on course. But Reagan was old and beginning to slip. His important work in the world was done and he was brought in again with 49 states approving, to stay the course.

At that point Time magazine ran a story about a dinner President Reagan held with a variety of historians and presidential biographers of both parties to consider his own biographer. The renowned Roosevelt biographer, Frank Friedel, was at the dinner, and Time reported that he and Nancy struck up an odd-couple friendship. It was suggested that Friedel might have taken the opportunity then to encourage Nancy to speak up and come forward in her husband’s second term and to become an agent for the public good, as Eleanor Roosevelt had been in her husband’s administration.

Nancy, who had stood by and behind her man in the first term, did suddenly become prominent and outspoken in the second, and was even seen to be mouthing answers to questions to Ronnie at press conferences. The venue did change dramatically, with better relations with the Soviets at the top of the agenda.

The historic Reykjavik meeting between Ronald Reagan and Soviet chief Mikhail Gorbachev followed. Soon after, the USSR descended in a bloodless change of policy and Russia re-emerged from beneath the mask. But Gorbachev reported later to a university audience that President Reagan was almost incomprehensible at the meeting. He kept talking about the old Hollywood days. Quite likely this initiative was not designed by the president.

But it could very well have come from Nancy.

“You can change the world if you don’t care who gets the credit,” Ronald Reagan once said.

Perhaps it was his wife, Nancy, he had in mind. The gentle, chipper woman in a bright red business suit walking with a cane at the White House on Tuesday on the arm of the president, properly described by the press as indomitable.

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