The Westminster Speech

The speech by President Reagan to the British Parliament in 1982, the Westminster Address, was a call for “liberation” from communism. By providing an outline for the future of democracy he challenged the idea the communism was the idea of the future. President Reagan helped rally the West at a crucial moment in history. He described a plan and a hope for the long term “a march of freedom and democracy which will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash-heap of history as it has left other tyrannies which stifle the freedom and muzzle the self-expression of the people.”

A long struggle against communism was promised but in reality it lasted only a decade. Mr. Reagan never doubted victory would come, but the collapse of Soviet communism came quicker because of the pressures on the Soviet Union applied by his administration.

It is important to note that in the Westminster Address the President used a phrase by Leon Trotsky. He had once dismissed the Menshevik party as being doomed to the ash-heap of history.

In 1982 it was impossible that other Western leaders would talk of the fall of the Soviet Union. The views presented in London were really revolutionary. It went against the whole Sovietological establishment.

The Reagan Doctrine was here for the first time outlined in the words “a democratic revolution is gathering new strength” around the world. It heralded American support of anti-communist guerrilla forces around the globe.

Attorney General Edwin Meese III has described the speech as a “kick-off” for the foreign policy efforts of the administration to reverse the expansion of communism. This and other events during 1982 make this a crucial year in preparing for victory over the Soviet system. In Mr. Meese’s words Soviet imperialism was morally unacceptable to President Reagan. But the views he expressed in London were not new. They were rooted in decades of thinking by Mr. Reagan, who in reality had spoken on this theme for 30 years. President Reagan provided the original idea of the speech and the final words, although the draft was written by speechwriter Mr. Tony Dolan.

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