Gorbachev: Reagan Was Great President, Peace Partner

Tuesday, 01 Feb 2011 06:21 PM

By Henry J. Reske and Ashley Martella

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Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev remembers Ronald Reagan as a great president and partner in ending the Cold War — even though the two initially labeled each other with distinctly unflattering terms.

“After our first talk, he called me a diehard Bolshevik, and I called him a dinosaur,” Gorbachev confided to Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy in an exclusive interview. “So that was our first meeting. But then we became good partners, good partners in the best sense of that word.”

Ruddy traveled to Moscow to interview Gorbachev in preparation for Newsmax’s special presentations in its February magazine and on its website this week marking Reagan’s 100th birthday Feb. 6.

Story continues below video.

Gorbachev credited Reagan’s vice president, George H.W. Bush, with laying the groundwork for the summit when he traveled to Moscow for the funeral of his predecessor, Konstantin Chernenko. Despite the need for a meeting between the leaders of the two superpowers, there was opposition in both countries that had to be overcome.

“So that is how it all started,” Gorbachev recalled. “The discussions were dramatic and sometimes harsh with recriminations. Of course it was all dignified but nevertheless sometimes harsh like I said. But two days later we agreed and signed a joint statement . . . The most important thing was that it said a nuclear war could not be won and must never be fought and secondly neither of our two nations will seek military superiority over the other side.”

Gorbachev said that the main reason he and Reagan were able to succeed in making drastic reductions in the nuclear arsenals was that they had the moral standing to do so.

“We objected to the existence of nuclear weapons,” he said. “We understood that the world, the entire world is very alarmed at the existence of nuclear weapons. And I think that it was a stroke of luck that two such persons worked together.”

One point on which the two could never agree was the Strategic Defense Initiative — later dubbed Star Wars after the movie — intended to provide a shield against nuclear attack using ground and space-based systems.

“President Reagan, however, liked the program it was his pet project, perhaps his favorite girl,” Gorbachev said with a smile. “He wanted SDI. It seemed a little strange to me. Many people said that such defense is probably unrealistic . . . Reagan liked perhaps the movie, the ‘Star Wars’ movie, but I think that, as president he should have understood it’s not the movies — we must not make ourselves hostage to mistakes.”

Nonetheless, Gorbachev said, “We must pay tribute to President Reagan; to Ronald Reagan he was a great man. While I’m alive, I’m proud of what we did together.”

Editor’s Note: To read additional Gorbachev comments on the nation’s 40th president, get Newsmax’s special commemorative issue marking Ronald Reagan’s 100th birthday, and choose a FREE gift — Click Here Now.

To read previous parts of special Newsmax commemorative series, click below:

Reagan at 100: A Newsmax Tour of Rancho del Cielo

Reagan Recollections: Meese Recalls Clarity, Directness

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

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