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Former first lady Nancy Reagan is helped by George Shultz, secretary of state under former President Ronald Reagan, as they arrive beside a replica of the Berlin Wall on Friday at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley.
Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate!
Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!
--- Ronald W. Reagan, 1987 at Brandenburg Gate, Berlin
“He (Reagan) believed that to seek to accommodate any political system, which left millions of people in oppression, was morally wrong." --- Mrs. Thatcher said of Reagan
Speakers reflect on fall of Berlin Wall at Reagan Library event
By Anna Bakalis
Posted November 7, 2009 at midnight
Years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev were sitting in a backyard near Stanford, where Shultz was teaching.
The two men discussed what they thought was the turning point in ending the Cold War.
Gorbachev said it was two leaders — he and President Ronald Reagan — sitting in a room together, talking.
Shultz said it was Reagan’s decision to show military might in 1983 by sending missiles to West Germany.
“The strength we put on display was never used,” Shultz said. “Strength works hand in hand with diplomacy.”
Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Shultz and other key figures in the end of the Cold War spoke Friday to a sold-out audience of about 900 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum.
Hosted by former first lady Nancy Reagan, diplomats, world leaders and Reagan’s top advisers spoke throughout the day as part of “Ronald Reagan and the Fall of the Wall: Reflections From Yesterday, Lessons for Today.”
Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall! Shultz said when he joined the Marines during World War II, he was given a rifle and told to use it only if he was willing to pull the trigger — not for empty threats. He said Reagan lived by that idea, too.
“When he said something, they knew he meant it,” said Shultz, who served as Reagan’s secretary of state for almost eight years.
In 1987, Reagan stood in front of the wall’s Brandenburg Gate and said, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
For almost 30 years, the wall separated East Germany from West Germany; 137 people died trying to get to the other side of the wall.
The conference featured panels with Richard Allen, former national security adviser; Ed Meese, former U.S. attorney general; John Lehman, secretary of the Navy; and Martin Anderson, chief domestic policy adviser.
In the morning panel, a member of the audience asked the former Reagan advisers to respond to the notion that Reagan’s participation in the end of the Cold War was minimal — the end was coming regardless of his participation.
Allen said on the first day Reagan was president, he walked into the Oval Office, and among a few items on his desk, nearby was a plaque that read:
[size=16]“There’s no limit to what man can accomplish, as long as he’s willing to let someone else have the credit.”[/size]
Allen said Reagan “knew he stood on the shoulders of other people.” Reagan wouldn’t accept the credit, instead offering it to others like British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Colin Powell, Reagan’s national security adviser from 1987-89.
Thatcher sent a letter to the library that was read aloud just before Shultz’s speech. In it, Thatcher said of Reagan: “He believed that to seek to accommodate any political system, which left millions of people in oppression, was morally wrong.”
A panel discussion on what the fall of the wall achieved, and some of the remaining obstacles democracy faces in Eastern Europe included Vaclav Klaus, president of the Czech Republic; Leszek Balcerowicz, the former first deputy prime minister of Poland; and Mart Laar, former prime minister of Estonia.
Shultz said that when he first arrived at the Reagan Library on Friday morning, he was offered a tour through the 40th president’s library. Instead, he and his wife went to Reagan’s final resting place. He then saluted the nation’s 40th president.
“There was only one ‘Mr. President’ — the one that I served with,” Shultz said.
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