An editorial in the Wall Street Journal brings attention to a remarkable story from Germany (subscription required.) It begins:
Estimates vary, but up to 780 people were killed by East German border guards for trying to flee to the West during the Cold War. Yet Saturday’s revelation of an official 1973 order that Stasi secret-police agents “stop or liquidate” anyone trying to escape the socialist paradise has stunned Germany. The story preoccupies the media and politicians alike.
The story surfaced in the New York Times a few days ago, and reminds us of the nature of the communist regimes that Ronald Reagan set out to destroy:
The Stasi, founded in the 1950s, had about 91,000 full-time employees and 180,000 undercover informers. They kept East Germany’s population of 18 million under blanket surveillance. After the Soviet Union collapsed, the border came down, the Stasi was disbanded, and East and West Germany were united in 1990.
Reagan was often attacked as a dangerous ideolouge who needed to reconcile himself to the facts of the world, but he never succombed to Beltway realpolitick.
“Here’s my strategy on the Cold War,” Reagan declared. “We win, they lose.”
This is also George W. Bush’s approach to Islamist fanaticism. And a generation from now his resolve concerning the War on Terror will be as esteemed as Reagan’s resolve to triumph in the Cold War.