Reagan’s Westminster speech is still a reminder of the power of words

"Regimes planted by bayonets do not take root"

From the Editors of the Washington Post: Thirty years ago, on June 8, 1982, President Reagan delivered an address to the British Parliament that stands as one of the greatest of his presidency and a milestone in the final years of the Cold War. At a time when the Soviet Union seemed to be a permanent, if foreboding, presence in the world, Reagan predicted that “the march of freedom and democracy” would “leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash heap of history as it has left other tyrannies which stifle the freedom and muzzle the self-expression of the people. . . .”

Mr. Reagan pledged in the Westminster speech to boost support for democracy around the globe, and a year after his speech, Congress created the National Endowment for Democracy. Although Mr. Reagan’s focus was on the Soviet bloc, his vision has endured long after Soviet communism expired. The National Endowment for Democracy is active in more than 90 countries.

Recent events in China, Russia and the Arab world vividly demonstrate that democracy remains a universal aspiration — but also that the forces of repression have powerful means to resist the tide. The National Endowment for Democracy, and like-minded agencies that other democracies subsequently established, have found useful ways to aid and nurture freedom movements. Words, too, are important. Reading the Westminster speech is a good reminder of their power to inspire action, and change history.  (photo: the History Place)

Image: history%20place%206%208%2012%20reagan-parliament3.jpg