If President Reagan were to give a speech today, what might he say? Perhaps something like the following. Let’s hear one more from the Gipper:
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Let me begin by thanking you for your gracious welcome and for inviting me to speak in this fine auditorium. I especially appreciate the understanding of the kind person who greeted me when I entered through the back door of the building. She said she thought it was wonderful that the government would hire someone my age to police the hallways and empty the wastepaper baskets. I told her that I would attend to those duties after I addressed the audience. She looked at me kind of funny, patted me on the shoulder, and said, “of course, you will.” Then she walked away, shaking her head. I hope you won’t be shaking your head too much after my comments. Or, perhaps you should.
One of the most remarkable developments of this time, the first decade of the 21st century, is a great deal of moral confusion. The main conflict today is between those who wish to destroy our way of life—the freedoms we cherish, the blessings we enjoy—and those charged with the responsibility of defending all that we hold dear. Now, since I have had some experience with these matters, allow me to contribute my thoughts.
When the Soviet Union was still in business, many people in this country and in Europe regarded it as just another superpower, with its own ambitions and its own goals, but no better or no worse than the United States. Some of us believed differently. Any regime that crushes dissent, imprisons its bravest citizens, and consigns all the rest to a condition of near slavery is plainly and simply evil. Any regime that reserves for itself the right to lie, to cheat, to murder, to threaten genocide is the very definition of wickedness. At that time, I called the Soviet Union the focus of evil in the world and said that it would soon be consigned to the dustbin of history. Events have borne out this prediction.
You see, before any of us can do anything, we must face the truth. Courage to speak the truth is the first step to achieving moral clarity. This is the great lesson of the Cold War. With that in mind, we must squarely face the fact that America’s principle adversary in the world today is not Iran, not North Korea, but Saudi Arabia. True, this country does not have nuclear weapons like the Soviet Union, but its global reach, its global ambitions are similar. Moreover, though we have befriended and defended that country since World War II, including during my administration, the Saudis continue to spread vile and filthy lies about the United States. The Saudi tyranny spends billions of dollars to destroy those who do not subscribe to the radical beliefs of the Wahhabi sect.
The Saudi government trains children to be suicide bombers, funds terrorists throughout the world, and sends fanatics into Iraq to attack our troops. The radicals of Riyadh provide financial support for preachers of hatred in thousands of mosques in Asia, Africa, Europe, as well as in the United States. The regime’s despicable treatment of women, which includes mutilation and slavery, is well known. And this government continues to keep its own citizens in a state of deplorable ignorance. Like the Bolsheviks of the twentieth century, who were a small band of radical revolutionaries, Saudi rulers hijacked a country and have been using it as a basis to wage war against civilization. That government is the focus of evil in the world today.
Yet, your President proposes additional military support for a country whose leaders loathe everything we stand for and who are determined to destroy us. Clearly, many of our leaders, our opinion makers, our professors, and our journalists remain in denial.
Let me end with a famous story. Vladimir Lenin, the Russian revolutionary, was once asked where he planned to get enough rope to hang the entire bourgeoisie. Lenin’s response was classic: the capitalists will sell it to us, he said. Tragically, and foolishly, much of the twentieth century is a record of western civilization selling its enemies the rope they need to hang us.
I once said that my plan for ending the cold war could be summarized as follows: We win, they lose. My advice to you today about our policy toward Saudi Arabia is similar: stop selling them rope.
Thank you all for your attention, and God Bless.