Fears that Russia is returning to its Soviet era ways in the wake of the unrest in Ukraine are exaggerated and would not have been shared by former President Ronald Reagan, says Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California, who worked in the Reagan White House.
"Frankly what we've had in the last 15 or 20 years would have very much disappointed Ronald Reagan… as we demonize Putin. Ronald Reagan sought a missile defense system. He was very committed to that. He made it very clear that if Russia would pull back from Eastern Europe that we should enter into a partnership with them on missile defense. We end up setting up a system that is aimed at Russian missiles, which was a hostile act, and it just seems that Ronald Reagan wanted peace with Russia," he told Newsmax TV's J.D. Hayworth on "America's Forum" on Friday.
"Ronald Reagan wanted the Russians to be our friend. He knew that it was communism that was the enemy and not Russia and here you've got the churches filled in Russia, you've got opposition people demonstrating all over the country, you've got opposition newspapers," he said, adding, "The Cold War is over."
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Rohrabacher, who has served as a member of the House since 1989, currently represents the 48th congressional district based in Orange County.
He served as assistant press secretary to Reagan's 1976 and 1980 presidential campaigns, and from 1981 to 1988 he was one of President Reagan's senior speech writers.
During his tenure at the White House, Rohrabacher was involved in the formulation of the Reagan Doctrine aimed at containing the global influence of the Soviet Union.
He said today he is concerned about the influence of Pakistan after the withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan by the end of the year.
"It will mean the people of the region who are anti-radical Islamic will need to be doing the fighting themselves rather than having Americans doing the fighting, and the trouble with this is we're giving billions of dollars to Pakistan and Pakistan is the heart of the problem," Rohrabacher argued.
"They are, the government of Pakistan, are the ones who are supporting radical Islam. The fact that Osama bin Laden had safe haven there for all those years is no accident. So as we leave, the Pakistanis, who are the ones who inserted the Taliban in power in the first place, will again emerge and it's up to us to – not to support by sending troops, but by trying to find those people like we did before and the Northern Alliance, the people who are opposed to radical Islam, and try to give them a fighting chance to keep their country from being taken over by these awful, evil, radical Islamists."
Asked about reports that the FBI had a human source in contact with bin Laden as far back as 1993 and that the source learned of a plan by al-Qaida to finance terror attacks on the U.S., Rohrabacher replied, "I'm sure that's accurate, and during that time period, we were supporting— in fact, during the 1980s, when I was in the White House, we were supporting those elements that were fighting the Soviet troops and Soviet occupation groups in Afghanistan."
Rohrabacher recalled a trip he made to Afghanistan where he accompanied a Mujahedeen combat group to a battle. "They told me there will be no English spoken for the next four hours — I had a beard and I had the whole [similar outfit] — and as we walked by this camp, it was a bin Laden camp.... Osama bin Laden was there and I was told that if he knew I was an American and knew I was part of this group, he'd kill the whole group. They'd attack us. So that's why I had to keep my mouth shut.... They said this guy hates the Americans as much as he hates the communists."
"So we knew about him," Rohrabacher said. "And in the early '90s as well our government was providing aid to radical Islamists who shouldn't have ever had one penny from us."
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