Remember what Ronald Reagan did when the Russkies shot down a passenger plane?
The current generation of American political conservatives is not well-known for its firm grasp of history.
Accordingly, it strikes me as a good idea to warn these right-wing partisans against making any snarky suggestions that Ronald Reagan would have done better than Barack Obama in dealing with yesterday’s missile attack on a civilian passenger plane in the skies over Ukraine.
HERE‘s a history lesson worth taking to heart:
On Sept. 1, 1983, the Soviet Union shot down a Korean Airlines passenger airliner traveling from New York to Seoul, killing 269 people…
[I]t is worth recalling that Reagan’s own response in 1983 did not get good reviews from the Fox News of the day. According to Richard Reeves’s “President Reagan,” the administration was seen as far too weak.
True, the president’s nationally televised address on Sept. 5 was full of strong rhetorical condemnation: Reagan called the Soviet action “monstrous,” “murderous,” and “born of a society which wantonly disregards individual rights and the value of human life.”
But little action followed. Reagan demanded an apology to the world and continued a number of sanctions — but he decided not to end grain sales to the USSR or to suspend arms control talks. George Will argued that “the administration is pathetic…. We didn’t elect a dictionary. We elected a President and it’s time for him to act.” The Manchester Union-Leader editorialized that “if someone had told us three years ago that the Russians could blow a civilian airliner out of the skies – and not face one whit of retaliation from a Ronald Reagan administration, we would have called that crazy. It is crazy. It is insane. It is exactly what happened.”
Even at the height of the Cold War, however — and keeping in mind that the flight had departed from the U.S., with dozens of American passengers, including a sitting member of Congress – Reagan told a National Security Meeting that “we’ve got to protect against overreaction. Vengeance isn’t the name of the game.”