Tags: Margaret Thatcher 1925-2013 | Thatcher | leaders | Reagan | Obama

Mrs. Thatcher: The Final Word

Mrs. Thatcher: The Final Word

Thursday, 02 May 2013 11:47 AM Current | Bio | Archive

All of the eulogies have been spoken by now for Margaret Thatcher; there is not much I can add about her contribution to the West.
After her passing, I received a phone call from a British friend, a college classmate. "We have no leaders. Where are the likes of Mrs. Thatcher or Ronald Reagan today?" he lamented.
He is right — the West has no great leaders.
How fortunate we were in the middle of the Cold War to find a powerful triumvirate of Reagan, Thatcher, and John Paul II, willing to offer leadership that confronted the Soviet Empire with resolve, causing it to collapse.
Back then there were so many formidable figures: Francois Mitterrand in France, Helmut Kohl in Germany, even Mikhail Gorbachev in Russia.
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The picture is bleak now.
President Barack Obama, for all his talk about being a transformational leader, has not lived up to the hype. While his handling of national security matters has, on the whole, been surprisingly good, there is a global perception that he is weak. That is always bad. It is certainly dangerous.
A real leader would have mapped out a strategy for us to play out our role as the great superpower. We have followed in the Middle East when leading is crucial. Israeli President Shimon Peres recently said the region is "disintegrating."
China is rapidly gaining supremacy in Asia. Kim Jong Un and the North Koreans are rattling in their cages, whimsically pointing nuclear warheads.
Vladimir Putin is ascendant in Russia. He is a leader, but he is not our leader.
There were hints we might find a great leader in the West. Germany's Angela Merkel seemed strong. But she is fizzling, and fast.
In the immediate aftermath of the Japanese nuclear meltdown, she moved to shut down every nuclear power plant in her country.
It was a foolish move, and now Germans are finding out they can't generate anywhere near the power they need using "green" technology. Meanwhile, their energy rates are skyrocketing as their economy hits a wall.
France's Nicolas Sarkozy in his early days showed signs of greatness. But he lost power.
And then there is the new Pope, Francis. The early signs suggest greatness.
We need leadership because the world is in crisis. We're still living through the greatest recession since the Great Depression.
The economies in the West have been kept afloat by a massive injection of cash by central banks, which have kept interest rates at the unbelievable rate of zero for a long time. Such extreme measures can only last so long.
We also see growing signs of foreign policy crises on the horizon, in the Middle East and in Syria, on the Korean Peninsula, and in other hot spots.
This moment brings us again to Mrs. Thatcher and her legacy.
I met the Iron Lady on two occasions. The last time was just five years ago, in the summer of 2008. It was in London at the 80th birthday of the longtime chairman of Newsmax, the late Lord Rees-Mogg.
I told the former British prime minister, "Mrs. Thatcher, I want you to know that your legacy will live, not for decades, but for centuries to come."
She looked at me and took both of her arms and brought them close to her chest. "But Chris, I won't be here for centuries," she said with disappointment. I laughed and she smiled.
She will be remembered for a long time. Her championing of the individual over the state, and her efforts to roll back government control of whole industries and stop the expansion of the welfare state — which she saw as nothing more than state-sponsored slavery — is still applauded and emulated.
Interestingly, at the same 2008 party was Paul Johnson, the famed British historian. He seemed agitated about the upcoming election, as it stood fairly clear that Obama would win that November.
I remember Johnson telling me that civilizations commit suicide, and it could happen again with Obama. He said America almost committed suicide during the Carter presidency.
People think a great power like the United States will always last forever, Johnson told me. But they are wrong, he was quick to add.
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I believe we will endure — as long as we keep to our founding principles and find leaders like Mrs. Thatcher.


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All of the eulogies have been spoken by now for Margaret Thatcher; there is not much I can add about her contribution to the West. After her passing, I received a phone call from a British friend, a college classmate.
Thursday, 02 May 2013 11:47 AM
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