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Old 08-30-2019, 12:14 AM
 
190 posts, read 64,547 times
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The USSR had always been an evil empire based on the worst dictators and people one could imagine, even bringing us towards nuclear war. So in 1983 when he gave the speech, why was there any controversy at all? It's akin to saying Nazis are bad guys yet anyone would disagree?
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Old 08-30-2019, 09:46 AM
 
Location: State of Transition
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People felt it exacerbated tensions between Russia and the US unnecessarily, and risked bringing the two countries closer to war. As a result of that speech, scads of citizen-diplomacy organizations formed, to foster mutual understanding and communication on a grass-roots level in both countries. Talk show host Phil Donahue hosted a series of televised "sky bridges" with Soviet audience participation, with the same goal, basically, of defusing hostilities and fostering outreach to the Soviet people and an exchange of views.

Furthermore, given that Gorbachev made it his goal to reform the system, the "evil empire" meme was unnecessary and inaccurate. Reagan was a propagandist. Remember, this was the guy who, as head of the Hollywood Screen Actors' Guild during the McCarthy era, advised anyone being denounced as being a communist sympathizer, to denounce someone else as a defense. He wasn't known for having scruples or much in the way of brains, either.

I think the more pressing question is, how did Russia get out of "evil empire" status with the conservative Right in the US? It's not as if they've left the Soviet-era dictator model behind, and moved on toward democracy, free speech, and openness.Judging by the posts on C-D Politics forum, you'd think the Right had suddenly become enamored of dictators.

Last edited by Ruth4Truth; 08-30-2019 at 10:28 AM..
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Old 08-30-2019, 11:11 AM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
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Soviet Russia was not an evil empire, it was an inept empire. They stood behind a doctrine of equalizing everyone, of the state providing all of the people's needs, of protecting the people from the sharp hustlers who would amass private fortunes at their expense, and that the capitalist nations would eventually destroy themselves in the greedy pursuits.

It was a doctrine which in theory was a hell of a lot closer to reflecting the teachings of Jesus than capitalism could ever hope to be. The problem was the theory doesn't work, not that the theorists were evil.
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Old 08-30-2019, 11:29 AM
 
Location: Mars City
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The word "evil" is subjective, and a careless word to throw around since it varies in meaning from person to person. Used haphazardly like that, it only leads to anger by others, and nothing productive or useful.

Many likely see America "evil" in many ways and could use the word against us, like we use towards others. So, it's better to use some other word that is more specific and less variable.

Many saw RR using it in a anger-mongering stance, for pure emotion's sake. It's like a tactic from the book of a religious fundamentalist.
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Old 08-30-2019, 02:16 PM
 
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He didn't really call Russia and "evil empire" if you read the text. He told Russia to beware the temptations of the "aggressive impulses of an evil empire", as in don't become one. The context was the arms race.
I don't remember any controversy of his speech, which was actually quite elegant. Certainly the Russians objected. But the phrase took on a life of it's own after the speech and because a catch phrase of sorts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruth4Truth View Post
Furthermore, given that Gorbachev made it his goal to reform the system, the "evil empire" meme was unnecessary and inaccurate. Reagan was a propagandist.
This was way before Gorbachev came to power however.
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Old 08-30-2019, 02:22 PM
 
Location: Mars City
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dd714 View Post
He didn't really call Russia and "evil empire"
Yes he did! I distinctively remember him calling them "an evil empire" on TV in various speeches, as though it was yesterday. You aren't going to revise and rewrite history, and won't be able to white-wash this reality.
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Old 08-30-2019, 02:25 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thoreau424 View Post
^ Yes he did! I remember him constantly calling them "an evil empire" on TV in various speeches. You aren't going to revise and rewrite history, and won't be able to white-wash this reality.
Yes he did what? The "reality" is well documented.
This is the exact text of his speech:
"Yes, let us pray for the salvation of all of those who live in that totalitarian darkness—pray they will discover the joy of knowing God. But until they do, let us be aware that while they preach the supremacy of the State, declare its omnipotence over individual man, and predict its eventual domination of all peoples on the earth, they are the focus of evil in the modern world .... So, in your discussions of the nuclear freeze proposals, I urge you to beware the temptation of pride—the temptation of blithely declaring yourselves above it all and label both sides equally at fault, to ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire, to simply call the arms race a giant misunderstanding and thereby remove yourself from the struggle between right and wrong and good and evil."
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Old 08-30-2019, 02:27 PM
 
Location: Mars City
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^ I'm not saying that speech was an example of calling them an "evil empire". But many other times, including short speeches before cameras in public, he resorted to that. He directly accused them of being such. No ambiguity whatsoever. No wiggle room out of it.

There was no one, solitary "evil empire" speech. It was a repeated comment over years, in front of news cameras, and in some speeches.
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Old 08-30-2019, 02:33 PM
 
12,552 posts, read 18,659,593 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thoreau424 View Post
^ I'm not saying that speech was an example of calling them an "evil empire". But many other times, including short speeches before cameras in public, he resorted to that. He directly accused them of being such. No ambiguity whatsoever. No wiggle room out of it.

There was no one, solitary "evil empire" speech. It was a repeated comment over years, in front of news cameras, and in some speeches.
OK OK, point taken then. I agree with that.
Also I am re-reading the text and it's unclear who he is directing it at. Based on how you interpret who he is directing his comments at (Russia itself or to the American public) one can interpret it as him saying indeed that Russia is an evil empire.
He was asked years later, in 1988 if he though Russia was still an "evil empire". He said no and that times have changed.
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Old 08-30-2019, 02:41 PM
 
20,562 posts, read 11,466,441 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dd714 View Post
He didn't really call Russia and "evil empire" if you read the text. He told Russia to beware the temptations of the "aggressive impulses of an evil empire", as in don't become one. The context was the arms race.
I don't remember any controversy of his speech, which was actually quite elegant. Certainly the Russians objected. But the phrase took on a life of it's own after the speech and because a catch phrase of sorts.



This was way before Gorbachev came to power however.
I don't recall there being a controversy in the US over Reagan's statement.

However, this statement certainly was controversy in the USSR. Yuri Andropov went naz over it. But there are two things to understand: In most of the world, "evil" is not just a simple rhetorical tag because in most social contexts, there is no compromise with evil, there can only be its destruction. So they see a presidential declaration of being "evil" meaning, "We can't make a deal with you, we must destroy you."

Moreover, as we did not learn until the 90s, Yuri Andropov had already realized that the USSR had lost the Cold War. He actually believed the US could win a nuclear war with "acceptable losses" (from the Soviet point of view), and that Reagan actually intended to launch such a war.

The US did not realize how edgy Andropov was, which is why the situation of EXERCISE ABLE ARCHER 83 happened. You can check out that event on Wikipedia. I was on the combat operations staff of the US Strategic Air Command at that time, and that sparked four days of sheer terror for us in the SAC Underground Command Post.

In fuller context, Reagan indeed was calling them out as an evil empire. See the full sentence beginning around 2:00.

Quote:
So, in your discussions of the nuclear freeze proposals, I urge you to beware the temptation of pride -- the temptation of blithely declaring yourselves above it all and label both sides equally at fault, to ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire, to simply call the arms race a giant misunderstanding and thereby remove yourself from the struggle between right and wrong and good and evil.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0NXs_uWPgg
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