John Bolton

John Bolton

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

WWRD. A Lesson From History: What Would Reagan Do After Russians Shoot Down Jetliner?

Contrast the steely style of a real leader with Obama in the wake of Jetliner shootdown!

According to the New York Times the Obama Administration has clear evidence that Russia supplied the missile system that shot down the Malaysian Airlines flight 17 over Ukraine. Thus far, Obama's reaction has been to mention the atrocity briefly during a photo op before heading off to fundraisers and a longer statement at a White House press briefing. Where's the outrage? Where's the action? Where's the leadership galvanizing the world to act? AWOL as usual.

This crime against humanity reminded me of another such atrocity 30 years before. The Soviets shot down Korean Airlines flight 007 after it went off course on a flight originating from New York bound for Seoul. There too, hundreds of people died. The contrast between Reagan's handling of the atrocity and Obama's couldn't be more stark.

Reagan was at his ranch in California when the attack occurred. Did he go back to horseriding? As soon as the facts were known he flew back to Washington (not to two more fundraisers) and pulled together his national security team to coordinate a plan of action. Four days later he delivered the following prime time address to the American people from the Oval Office:

REAGAN: I'm coming before you tonight about the Korean airline massacre, the attack by the Soviet Union against 269 innocent men, women, and children aboard an unarmed Korean passenger plane. This crime against humanity must never be forgotten, here or throughout the world.

Our prayers tonight are with the victims and their families in their time of terrible grief. Our hearts go out to them -- to brave people like Kathryn McDonald, the wife of a Congressman whose composure and eloquence on the day of her husband's death moved us all. He will be sorely missed by all of us here in government.

The parents of one slain couple wired me: ``Our daughter . . . and her husband . . . died on Korean Airline Flight 007. Their deaths were the result of the Soviet Union violating every concept of human rights.'' The emotions of these parents -- grief, shock, anger -- are shared by civilized people everywhere. From around the world press accounts reflect an explosion of condemnation by people everywhere.

Let me state as plainly as I can: There was absolutely no justification, either legal or moral, for what the Soviets did. One newspaper in India said, ``If every passenger plane . . . is fair game for home air forces . . . it will be the end to civil aviation as we know it.''
And make no mistake about it, this attack was not just against ourselves or the Republic of Korea. This was the Soviet Union against the world and the moral precepts which guide human relations among people everywhere.
We know it will be hard to make a nation that rules its own people through force to cease using force against the rest of the world. But we must try.

This is not a role we sought. We preach no manifest destiny. But like Americans who began this country and brought forth this last, best hope of mankind, history has asked much of the Americans of our own time. Much we have already given; much more we must be prepared to give.
Can you imagine Obama saying anything like that? Reagan went on to list a series of actions which he was taking immediately to punish the Soviets. Obama only talks vaguely about costs and consequences which never seem to have any bite in them.

Unlike Obama, Reagan never had any delusions about the Russians. When Reagan came into office he didn't hesitate to call them an "evil empire" and suggest the world would be better off without them. Of course Obama is unlikely to remember any of the conflict from this period and Reagan's leadership since he bragged that at that time he was too busy smoking pot in Hawaii.

Obama came into office suffering from the delusion that the Russian leopard could change it's spots. Remember Hillary Clinton farcically handing the Russian Foreign Minister a button which Hillary thought said "reset" in Russian? It translated instead to "overcharge." Obama and company were going to improve relations with Russia. Instead, they're much, MUCH worse! What a shame we don't have a president in the White House who, like Reagan, understands what it takes to lead the world at such difficult times. It's not enough just to phone it in on your way to the next fundraiser!

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