"With Margaret Thatcher's death, the West lost its last great leader in the four-decade-long war between communism and freedom called the Cold War. Ronald Reagan died in 2004, and John Paul II, the former Karol Wojtyla of Poland, a year later. Now Thatcher.
Mrs. Thatcher's passing requires a visit to the Cold War.
It is a safe bet that in schools here and in Europe the Cold War's history is covered in a half-day if at all. The memory hole is bottomless. This week alone, memory-erasing authorities in Berlin swept aside protesters to dismantle one of the last remaining parts of the Berlin Wall to make way for apartment buildings. How odd to live in luxury over a place where fellow Berliners were gunned down and left to bleed trying to flee communism....
When the Berlin Wall's checkpoints opened at 10:45 p.m., Nov. 9, 1989, and joyous Berliners began smashing the wall with hammers, picks and even ballpoint pens, many who had fought in the Cold War's trenches admitted they never expected to see that day. The Cold War seemed permanent.
But not to these three.
Reagan was the architect and armorer of the final battle. John Paul was its moral fiber. And Thatcher was . . . well, let's say that Maggie Thatcher was simply fiber—resilient, unbreakable, necessary. There is another good word for what Thatcher was: ally.
Allies are needed when there is opposition. The opposition to Reagan, Thatcher and John Paul was intense—in Moscow certainly but, incredible in retrospect, more so in the West. Intense doesn't begin to describe the battles in the U.S. and the capitals of Western Europe to thwart Reagan and Thatcher's foreign policy.
Why? Sleeping dogs aside, it mainly was because Ronald Reagan explicitly shifted U.S. foreign policy from a defensive accommodation with the Soviets to offensive resistance everywhere to what Reagan unapologetically called "the evil empire." That was the Reagan Doctrine, and Thatcher embraced it.
For fighting to finish this war, they received—and resisted—a decade of vilification, animosity and moral contempt. They were fought in Congress, Parliament, in mass marches, in the press, the arts and the universities...."