Barack Should Read Ronnie’s Diaries

Ronald Reagan DiariesWhen President Obama and European leaders meet at the NATO summit meeting in Wales on Thursday, they will have one last chance to address the grave dangers to Western security from the mass murder committed by ISIS terrorists and the aggression against Europe and Ukraine by Russian strongman Vladimir Putin.

The president and European leaders must understand why their lack of clarity and resolve on vital matters of national security endangers American and Western security. Halfway sanctions against Russia, a halfway NATO rapid response force in Europe and a halfway war to destroy the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) will not suffice when European security is threatened by an imperial dictator who seeks to destroy borders and genocidal terrorists who target our shores.

The demented beheading by ISIS of a second American journalist, Steven Sotloff, following the killing last month of James Foley, dramatizes again the urgency for America, Europe and decent people of all faiths to unite to destroy ISIS. Let’s pray for Mr. Sotloff and his family, and resolve to eliminate this murderous scourge from the face of the earth.

Obama would be well advised to read the diaries of former President Reagan, probably the best book by a president about how to be president.

Reagan understood how to project strength, purpose and resolve to defeat enemies, deter adversaries, motivate allies and achieve legacy-defining diplomatic success.

Reagan understood how to project strength, purpose and resolve to defeat enemies, deter adversaries, motivate allies and achieve legacy-defining diplomatic success.

In several important interviews, Obama often lapsed into negative ruminations about things he cannot do and the reasons he cannot do them. At times he appears disengaged, overwhelmed and even bored by the presidency. Reagan, by contrast, instructed his speechwriters to use positive formulations, to project confidence, optimism, self-assurance and clarity of purpose.

Obama has been right on some security matters, but there is a widespread view among Democratic and Republican security strategists that he has gone dangerously wrong on key matters. When security risks are great, allies are tentative and Congress is dysfunctional, the president must lead from the front.

Reagan understood this. His diaries detail the time he spent cultivating personal relationships with members of Congress, something Obama disdains. At important moments, Reagan addressed the nation from the Oval Office to shape public opinion and mobilize public support, which Obama declines to do.

Today, America lacks ambassadors to dozens of nations because Senate Republicans refuse to confirm nominees. Yet when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) recently asked the president for help to confirm his own nominees, a disengaged Obama reportedly replied: “You and Mitch [McConnell] work it out.”

For years, American policy toward Syria has been indecisive and incoherent. Obama issued empty demands that Bashar Assad must not cross “red lines” and empty vows that “Assad must go.” His comment that ISIS is junior varsity was trash talk rooted in a lack of knowledge. His smiling presence on the golf course minutes after denouncing the beheading of Foley was unworthy of the presidency. His admission that he has no military strategy toward Syria, years after his advisers began recommending such strategies, was not “a bad choice of words” but a failure of commander in chief leadership.

brent budowskyFor many months Putin has escalated his stealth invasion of Ukraine, his ludicrous lies denying Russian aggression, his ambitions to reconstitute the Soviet empire and his attempts to intimidate the West through boasts that Russia is a nuclear power. While Obama sounds an uncertain trumpet, British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande sound a cacophony of incoherence. They hector Putin with loud ultimatums but institute only weak and puny sanctions, all the while as France sells warships to Putin’s military, bringing to mind Lenin’s boast that capitalists will sell him the rope with which he will hang them.

Full sectoral financial sanctions against Russia should begin immediately. A NATO rapid deployment force of 10,000 should be created and available in Europe and to supplement airstrikes against ISIS in Syria with support from Muslim nations.

As NATO confronts its biggest challenges since the end of the Cold War and the terror attacks on 9/11, Reagan’s diaries are more relevant than ever. Under Reagan, major new wars did not begin, but the Cold War ended. Reagan understood that the surest way to preserve peace through diplomacy is to project strength with resolve to deter adversaries and support negotiations.

Brent BudowskyObama should apply the lessons of history described in the Reagan diaries and lead from the front. If he does, the world will be a safer place. If not, the gathering storm will bring even more danger in the hours ahead.

Brent Budowsky
The Hill


  1. JoeWeinstein says

    Brent means well but refuses to learn. The past five years have amply demonstrated that (1) Obama does NOT believe that he needs advice on anything, and certainly won’t listen to more of it, however well meant (indeed, especially if well meant, as from guys like Brent); (2) Obama doesn’t really care what’s allegedly good for the Democrats; for his cushy retirement he’s got it made no matter what happens in 2014; (3) Obama’s projection of USA weakness and indecision and half-heartedness is intentional. He really believes that the USA, in order to make up for past errors and crimes, ought to refrain from doing much of anything except maybe humbly to march to the tune of collectives whose policies will be articulated by others, e.g. UN, NATO, EU, Arab League, OAU, etc. It doesn’t bother him that bullies and even bad guys – Putin, Khamenei, Kim Jong Un, or whoever – will move into the vacuum left by the USA. In fact, he rather admires those bullies, especially the Islamists, for daring to confront him, and apparently at this stage of the game he would just as soon turn over to them the keys of regional domination in the Mideast and other areas.

  2. R Zwarich says

    It remains painfully unclear to me why this material, from a man who is clearly helping to foment the latest neo-conservative Big Lie, and who is now actually holding up Ronald Reagan as a model president, appears under a masthead banner that contains the word “progressive”.

    I discussed this briefly with Dick Price on an earlier occasion, after Mr. Budowsky had broached this Big Lie on LA Progressive, and he told me that he wanted a Washington insider’s perspective to round out the LA Progressive’s spectrum of opinion. I do respect Mr. Price a great deal, but I have to confess that this remains a befuddling mystery. Actually, it’s worse than that. It just makes no sense at all. Why doesn’t he see if Dick Cheney would contribute an occasional article? That would sure round out the spectrum even more.

    It is impossible to believe that Mr. Budowsky does not know about US aggression in Ukraine. It is written very clearly in the historical record. It is not some obscure ‘conspiracy theory’. US Intelligence spent a great deal of money, $5 billion is documented, and a great deal of effort, to first destabilize Ukraine, and then engineer a coup against the Ukrainian government, installing a junta government, handpicked by US Intelligence, in its place. A large neo-Nazi movement in Ukraine, people who actually lionize Adolph Hitler, openly use the Nazi straight armed salute, and display the same banners and symbols as the Waffen SS, played a large role in the coup, and were given several important high level positions in the junta government.

    Russia was put on the defensive, and has had to scramble to protect its most strategic security assets. The neo-Nazis actually began to engage in ethnic cleansing of Russian speaking people from Eastern and Southeastern Ukraine. How else would we expect that Russia should respond in the face of this US aggression? How do we suppose the US would respond if a hostile power overthrew the government of Mexico, or Canada, and installed a hostile Nazi junta in its place?

    The historical record is very clear that the US has been the aggressor in Ukraine, and Russia has been reacting defensively to US aggression. I cannot believe that Brent Budowsky does not know this. If we assume that this supposed ‘Washington insider’ is not some idiot dupe himself, totally and blissfully unaware of the facts of world events as he spews his opinions concerning same, then we are hard pressed to find some other explanation for his performance here other than to assume that he is a bald faced liar who is deliberately and loyally playing his part in propagating this neo-Conservative Big Lie, in a supposedly “progressive” publication.

    Holding Reagan up as a model? Do we really have to spend our time, even on a publication that bills itself as ‘progressive’, pointing out that Ronald Reagan is the arch-hero of Conservatives, and the man who convinced America that if we just let the rich people have most all of the money, and if we just weaken government’s capacity to protect us from exploitation at the hands of Big Money, that all our lives will all be greatly improved? The man who broke the back of American unions when he fired the PATCO workforce? Foreign policy? I guess Brent Budowsky forgot about the death squads in Latin America that Reagan’s CIA organized and supported, the Israeli atrocities that he aided and abetted? He was certainly very forceful in promoting murder of innocent people to advance US interests. He’s Brent’s hero for doing just that.

    Geez….It’s getting late back here in the East, and I’ve been writing all day. This is a very discouraging way to end the day. E tu, Dick and Sharon? The world is quite confusing enough without opening a supposedly ‘progressive’ publication and reading the propagation of neo-Con Big Lies, and the promotion of Ronald Reagan’s stellar qualities as president.

    Once again, I’ve held Mr. and Mrs. Price in the highest respect, but when I read this material in their magazine, especially late on a long day, that sense of respect suddenly becomes very hard pressed. One wonders how they possibly justify this.

    C’mon, guys. We gotta do a lot better than this.

    • says

      Well, when you have Victoria Nuland as assistant secretary of state, when she is married to PNAC cofounder, Robert Kagan, our progressives don’t stand a chance. Neoconservatism, and Yinon Zionism, to get specific, is everywhere. It is the NWO, after all.

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