From the Front Lines

In today’s OpinionJournal, former Polish Solidarity leader (and President) Lech Walesa says that the Poles owe their liberty to Ronald Reagan. He goes on:

I often wondered why Ronald Reagan did this, taking the risks he did, in supporting us at Solidarity, as well as dissident movements in other countries behind the Iron Curtain, while pushing a defense buildup that pushed the Soviet economy over the brink. Let’s remember that it was a time of recession in the U.S. and a time when the American public was more interested in their own domestic affairs. It took a leader with a vision to convince them that there are greater things worth fighting for. Did he seek any profit in such a policy? Though our freedom movements were in line with the foreign policy of the United States, I doubt it.

I distinguish between two kinds of politicians. There are those who view politics as a tactical game, a game in which they do not reveal any individuality, in which they lose their own face. There are, however, leaders for whom politics is a means of defending and furthering values. For them, it is a moral pursuit. They do so because the values they cherish are endangered. They’re convinced that there are values worth living for, and even values worth dying for. Otherwise they would consider their life and work pointless. Only such politicians are great politicians and Ronald Reagan was one of them.

Somehow, I’m more likely to agree with the estimation of Reagan by a man who risked everything to lead his people to freedom, than I am the likes of. . .

. . . oh, who wants to name names and point fingers on the day of Reagan’s funeral? If nothing else, the man earned that much.

But as Lech Walesa will tell you, he earned much more than just that.