World leaders react to Thatcher’s passing

A great Briton

From David Cameron, Office of the Prime Minister:  It was with great sadness that l learned of Lady Thatcher’s death. We’ve lost a great leader, a great Prime Minister and a great Briton.

As our first woman Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher succeeded against all the odds, and the real thing about Margaret Thatcher is that she didn’t just lead our country, she saved our country. I believe she’ll go down as the greatest British peacetime Prime Minister.

From Stephen Harper, Office of the Prime Minister (Canada):  With the passing of Baroness Thatcher, the world has lost a giant among leaders.

While many in positions of power are defined by the times in which they govern, Margaret Thatcher had that rarest of abilities to herself personify and define the age in which she served. . . .

Her greatest achievements however, were surely on the world stage. Along with the late U.S. President Ronald Reagan, and His Holiness Pope John Paul II, she played a key role in the fall of the USSR. The era of peace and prosperity that followed the end of the Cold War must therefore rank as one of her great and lasting gifts to this generation.

Lady Thatcher’s leadership in time of conflict and during the generous peace she helped bring forth, was an example to the world. As a result, millions now live with the dignity and freedom that she envisioned for them, during the darkest moments of the post-war years.

From AFP:  France’s Socialist President Francois Hollande on Monday hailed Margaret Thatcher as a "great figure who left a profound mark on the history of her country" after the former British leader died of a stroke. . . .

"She maintained a relationship with France that was frank and honest," Hollande said, adding that Thatcher and former French president Francois Mitterrand had shared a "constructive and fruitful dialogue".

"Together they worked to strengthen the ties between our two countries. And it was at this time that Mrs Thatcher gave the decisive impetus to the construction of the cross-Channel tunnel," Hollande said.

From AFPGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel hailed former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, who died Monday, as an "extraordinary leader" who played a pivotal role in overcoming Europe’s Cold War division.

"She was an extraordinary leader in the global politics of her time," Merkel said in a statement. "I will never forget her part in surmounting the division of Europe and at the end of the Cold War."

Merkel, a fellow conservative who was often compared to Thatcher when she became chancellor in 2005, said Thatcher would not be remembered as a "female politician" but one who had blazed a trail for women in the halls of power.

"As she took the highest democratic offices as a woman before that was common, she set an example for many," Merkel said.

From Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, @sikorskiradek: Lady Thatcher, fearless champion of liberty, stood up for captive nations, helped free world win the Cold War. Deserves statue in Poland.

From Voice of Russia: "I believe that we have lost a major politician, I’m sorry about this and would like to offer condolences on behalf of the Russian leadership to the British government and people," [Russian President Vladimir] Putin told a news conference in Amsterdam.

From Politico:  “She was a leader of strong convictions, great leadership abilities and extraordinary personality,” [Former Secretary of State Henry] Kissinger said [on CNN]. “She was a woman who [knew that] a leader needed to have strong convictions because the public had no way of orienting itself unless its leadership, its leaders gave it the real push. She didn’t think it was her job to find the middle ground.”

From Wall Street Journal:  “She showed everyone what a political leader with a powerful agenda could accomplish,” said George Shultz, who was secretary of state to Ronald Reagan.

From CBS News:  Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said of Lady Thatcher, "She was tough as nails. I think she was a great leader, she was a determined person, she was someone who had a vision, a purpose and went after that purpose, and she brought everybody along with her for a while. . . . The British people have lost a great inspiration. They have lost somebody who should be an example to anybody in political life today – you need to have the vision, you need to have a purpose."

From Telegraph:  Baroness Thatcher, who has died aged 87 from a stroke, was not only Britain’s first woman Prime Minister, she was also the outstanding peacetime leader of the 20th century. . . .

Margaret Thatcher was the only British prime minister to leave behind a set of ideas about the role of the state which other leaders and nations strove to copy and apply. Monetarism, privatisation, deregulation, small government, lower taxes and free trade — all these features of the modern globalised economy were crucially promoted as a result of the policy prescriptions she employed to reverse Britain’s economic decline.

From Economist:  Only a handful of peace-time politicians can claim to have changed the world. Margaret Thatcher, who died this morning, was one. She transformed not just her own Conservative Party, but the whole of British politics. Her enthusiasm for privatisation launched a global revolution and her willingness to stand up to tyranny helped to bring an end to the Soviet Union. Winston Churchill won a war, but he never created an “ism”.

The essence of Thatcherism was to oppose the status quo and bet on freedom—odd, since as a prim control freak, she was in some ways the embodiment of conservatism. She thought nations could become great only if individuals were set free. Her struggles had a theme: the right of individuals to run their own lives, as free as possible from the micromanagement of the state.

From Wall Street Journal:  Thatcher died in London Monday, at age 87, having earned her place among the greats. This is not simply because she revived Britain’s economy, though that was no mean achievement. Nor is it because she held office longer than any of her predecessors, though this also testifies to her political skill. She achieved greatness because she articulated a set of vital ideas about economic freedom, national self-respect and personal virtue, sold them to a skeptical public and then demonstrated their efficacy. . . .

Thatcher understood that Britain’s fight was also the West’s, and vice versa. So she agreed, over massive protests, to the stationing of U.S. nuclear cruise missiles at Greenham Common as a counterforce to the Soviet SS-20; and she agreed to let the U.S. launch air strikes from British bases against Libya, in retaliation for Moammar Gadhafi’s terrorist campaigns in Europe. In summer 1990 she steeled President George H.W. Bush after Saddam Hussein had invaded Kuwait: "This is no time to go wobbly."

Deeper than this was Thatcher’s sympathy with what is best in America: freedom, enterprise, opportunity, optimism and the urge for self-improvement. No doubt this reflected Thatcher’s background as a grocer’s daughter who’d risen on her own talent and effort.

It did not, however, always reflect British or even Tory opinion, which was (and remains) prone to seeing the U.S. as a coarse, overbearing ally. Preserving the "special relationship" is more than the default option of British leadership: It is a political choice that has to be defended against alternatives such as "Europe." Thatcher, like Churchill before her and Tony Blair afterward, always made the choice to remain close to America, one reason the three are often admired more in the U.S. than at home. . . .

Thatcher came to power when Britain and the West were in every kind of crisis: social, economic, moral and strategic. Along with Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II, she showed the world the way out. She believed in the inherent right of free men to craft their own destinies, and in the capacity of free nations to resist and overcome every kind of tyranny and injustice.

These were the right beliefs then as now. She was the right woman at the right time.  (photo: Getty)

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