Twenty years ago today, the President of the United States did what every single diplomat told him not to do, but he did it because he believed it was the right thing to do.

And it was.

Powerline highlights Peter Robinson’s story of how he researched and then wrote a speech to be delivered by Ronald Reagan at West Germany’s Brandenburg Gate. It was Robinson who wrote the lines, “Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” No one at the State Department or the National Security Council liked it because it was too confrontational and raised false hopes.

Indeed it was confrontational, but you don’t slink away from confronting evil. It only raised false hopes if you had no faith in your cause and a belief in the ultimate victory for what was right. If you didn’t want to offend evil, and if you didn’t think winning was really possible, you really wouldn’t like that tone.

But that tone was what was needed then. And too many haven’t learned the lesson even today. Read the whole thing to find out what Robinson learned in Berlin that gave him the idea for the line.

These days, the world talks tough to countries like Iran and Syria, and groups like Al Qaeda. But the difference is that Reagan acted on his words. He walked away from the table in Iceland when he determined the Soviets were acting in bad faith. The Left was hysterical, condemning this action as confrontational. They were right, it was. But they were wrong, because they didn’t realize that that’s the language the Soviets understood. They learned that Reagan would act on what he said, and they respected it. And thus, without the nuclear exchange the Left was sure Reagan was leading us to, very soon the gate did open and the wall did come down.

Bin Laden’s lesson from observing America’s retreat from Somalia was that we would tuck tail and run at the first sign of a serious resistance. That is why he was bold enough to plan the 9/11 attacks; because a different President sent a different message.

BIN LADEN: We experienced the Americans through our brothers who went into combat against them in Somalia, for example. We found they had no power worthy of mention. There was a huge aura over America — the United States — that terrified people even before they entered combat. Our brothers who were here in Afghanistan tested them, and together with some of the mujahedeen in Somalia, God granted them victory. America exited dragging its tails in failure, defeat, and ruin, caring for nothing.

America left faster than anyone expected. It forgot all that tremendous media fanfare about the new world order, that it is the master of that order, and that it does whatever it wants. It forgot all of these propositions, gathered up its army, and withdrew in defeat, thanks be to God.

To bin Laden and his supporters, this is not a policy war, nor a political war, but a religious war. It must be fought differently than the Cold War, but some things never change. Speaking truth to evil, and backing up your words with confident actions, whether on the diplomatic field or the battle field, are required to defeat that evil. Reagan understood that. It’s a lesson that needs to be relearned by the diplomats of our present time.

Doug Payton blogs at Considerettes.

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