On this 67th anniversary of D-Day, I was reminded of Reagan's speech on the occasion of the 40th anniversary. Here it is:
A few observations. First, the Soviets never really stood a chance once Reagan was elected. His rhetoric was so powerful and persuasive, it's hard to imagine it emanated from the same office that produced Carter's accommodationist "inordinate fear of Communism" speech a mere seven years earlier. Speak softly and carry a big stick, Teddy Roosevelt said. And boy, did Reagan take that lesson to heart. Speak peacefully but prepare for war: in the hands of a master rhetorician the combination was unstoppable.
Of course, it's easy to see that in hindsight. Reagan's genius was that he intuited the right strategy against almost all of the experts.
Second, this speech really illustrates how second-rate was George W. Bush. Bush tried but never could really convince that Islam was not the enemy, and that conciliation was possible. Reagan did make that clear, even while condemning the "evil empire". Reagan managed to convey that the Soviet regime was the problem, not the Soviet people. With Bush a similar message vis-a-vis Muslims and Islamic regimes was never clear.