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Family – well, it’s the center of all our activities this time of year, the reason for the season, so to speak. And to Ronald Reagan, incredibly important. So following in the tradition established in 1972 by President Richard Nixon, he proclaimed National Family Week which occurs near Thanksgiving. In 1981, Ronald Reagan wrote as he proclaimed National Family Week:
The family is the basic unit of our society, the heart of our free democracy. It provides love, acceptance, guidance, support, and instruction to the individual. Community values and goals that give America strength also take root in the home. In times of change and challenge, families keep safe our cultural heritage and reinforce our spiritual foundation.
Because of the war in the Middle East, we thought it would be a good idea to devote today’s podcast to Israel, focusing on the radio addresses written by Ronald Reagan before entering the Oval Office. So remember, he wrote these, on a yellow pad, without the oversight of a foreign policy advisor, without a secretary of defense or secretary of state or national security advisor hanging over his shoulder. These, from the late 70’s, came from his own pen. One entitled Palestine and the other Brezhnev. Overall, the politics of the Middle East was not the subject of many radio broadcasts in the late 70’s. Of course, as soon as he became President, Ronald Reagan met with Prime Minister Menachem Begin early in his administration and clearly defined America’s role and his objective focusing on peace.
Now this might seem an odd pairing…Israel and Thanksgiving. But, as of this writing, the war in the Middle East rages. While in America, we are focused on Thanksgiving celebrations, we cannot overlook the terrible pain, suffering, and yes, terror the residents of the Middle East are enduring. Therefore, in this podcast, we’ll cover the President’s position on Israel briefly, and then we’ll close in the second half with his heartfelt Thanksgiving remarks.
Forty years ago, President and Mrs. Reagan made an historic trip to Japan and South Korea. The President’s last stop was to Camp Liberty Bell, which was less than a mile from North Korean guns. Yes, they were quite near the DMZ. They attended an open air church service and the president wrote in his diary, that they were entertained by a choir of little Korean orphan girls. You might be surprised to know that our GI’s support and maintain that orphanage. Following the service, they went up onto a 500 foot promontory to Post Guard Collier where they met a patrol just going out. As you probably know, the zone is patrolled night and day. Still, they were so close, that they could hear the North Korean loudspeakers spewing their propaganda. He then toured the bunker and returned to Camp Liberty Bell where he addressed the troops. But to fit in, he chose to forget about the business suit…rather he wore his military, army assigned, POTUS khaki garb. He spoke in the mortar bunker area of the camp, which is located near the DMZ (demilitarized zone) dividing the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Let’s begin listening.
In today’s podcast we honor our veterans and in the president’s messages to veterans, we’ll cover peace through strength. Going through our archives, both Citizen, Governor and President Reagan delivered many addresses saluting those who serve our country. Today we’ve chosen two – the first he delivered in August 1980 to the Veterans of Foreign Wars. The theme was Peace because, in candidate Ronald Reagan’s view, Peace was the first purpose of American foreign policy. So in saluting the sacrifices made by veterans, President Reagan is stressing that in order to protect these men, and find a path toward peace, we must focus on peace through strength. He covers why he thinks American foreign policy has been working against peace and how that trend could be reversed. In the second half of the podcast, we’ll hear when he addressed the American people in honor of Veterans Day 40 years ago in 1983. Of course, this address was focused on the veterans of both the Grenada and Beirut operations.
After the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, the President said in his autobiography that the “price we had to pay was so great, the tragedy at the barracks so enormous, and the virulent problems of Lebanon were so intractable, that it wasn’t possible to continue with the policy that had put our marines in without taking a second look at it. As President, he had very few choices and none of them easy. He didn’t want to turn tail and leave. He believed if we did that, it would say to the terrorists of the world that all it took to change American foreign policy was to murder some Americans. And, the President was a man of his word. He didn’t want to give up on the moral commitment to Israel that had originally sent our marines to Lebanon. And if we left, after more than a year of fighting and mounting chaos in Beirut, the biggest winner would be Syria, a Soviet client. The president wrote that “the irrationality of Middle Eastern politics forced us to rethink our policy there." By early 1984, the President gave an order to evacuate all the marines to ships anchored off Lebanon. So in this podcast we’ll hear the President’s beautiful eulogy when the bodies of the slain marines were returned home…along with those Americans who were lost in the Grenada maneuver. And then, in the second half, we’ll cover how the president chose to review the Terms of Engagement after the Beirut tragedy.
In 1982, the Israeli army leveled a siege on the capital of an Arab land – Beirut. They were poised on the southern edge of Beirut. And Palestinian fighters ran raids against their front lines and lobbed mortars in their rear areas; the Israel Defense Forces pounded back at the city with artillery, tank forays, and air strikes. The United States was caught in the middle. The Arab world blamed us, as Israel’s great ally and financial supporter, for all of Israel’s deeds and looked to us to end the fighting in a responsible way. The Lebanese government particularly relied on us to save them from outside predators and to help them restore Lebanese central authority over their country. In effect, every side wanted to squeeze the system for its own purposes, regardless of the cost to the Lebanese. Jordan wanted an Israeli settlements freeze; Israel wanted the US assistance stepped up. Lebanon grew fearful of renewed Syrian dominance as massive Soviet military resupply flowed to Syria, and warring militias battled each other beyond the control of the weak Lebanese central authority. In August 1982, America participated in sending a multinational peacekeeping force to Beirut. As hostilities increased considerably, additional help was required. So, in September 1983, Congress authorized the deployment of Marines for an additional 18 months. And one month later, tragedy struck.
Everything from eggs and car rentals to a night out at a restaurant is significantly more expensive than before the pandemic. The average family is spending about $700 more per month on the same goods and services relative to two years ago, according to Moody’s Analytics. So what does that have to do with Ronald Reagan you ask? Well, he was devoted to the idea that with government out of the way, the quality of life for Americans can improve. So 40 years ago, he delivered a radio address on the quality of life in America, which you’ll agree, is significantly different from today. And in the second part of this podcast, we’ll listen to a gem of a radio address, entitled “Looking out a Window” when he ponders a bit about life.
Today, we’re well aware of the ongoing debate regarding how much aid we should send Ukraine, and exactly what our level of involvement should be. It’s a question many administrations have faced, and President Reagan’s was no exception. In his case, the hotbed was in the middle east, particularly 39 years ago, when Israel invaded Lebanon, marching all the way into Beirut. By October 1983, the conflict in the middle east, despite our effort to be part of a multinational peacekeeping force, well, the conflict continued to escalate. Syria, Hezbollah, they all engaged and the action was intense in Lebanon. So in today’s podcast we’re going to examine two radio addresses: one in 1978 focused on the UN’s aid to Lebanon and how the Soviet bloc did not fulfill its financial obligation, and then we’ll hear our 40th President’s perspective on our nation’s commitment to Lebanon in 1983. Of course, in both cases, the Soviet Union is supporting the enemy.
So, Ronald Reagan and the Heritage Foundation: it was a truly epic partnership. In fact, it's hard to tell the story of one without much of the other's. Heritage was President Reagan's favorite think tank, and Ronald Reagan was the embodiment of the ideas and principles Heritage holds dear. Some say that together, they blazed a new path for America. So I think in today’s podcast, we should focus on this significant partnership.
So today, we are focusing on President Reagan’s second address to the United Nations, delivered in September 1983, 40 years ago. Why, you ask, this specific address? Well, two things to consider here: the history of President Reagan’s opinion and his relationship with the UN, and secondly, the heated events of 1983 which led to this historic moment.
You might have heard that the Reagan Presidential Foundation is hosting a Republican debate in their Air Force One Pavilion on Wednesday, September 27th. We’re proud to be able to participate in this important component of our democratic process and we hope you’ll tune into FOX news on debate evening. Since we are in debate season, we thought it would be fun to go back, 43 years ago, when Candidate Ronald Reagan was easing into the final stretch of his campaign.