Potential Secretary of State Rohrabacher Wants Revival of Reagan Legacy

By Sarah Le
Sarah Le
Sarah Le
December 7, 2016 Updated: December 9, 2016

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a U.S. Congressman from California who is under consideration for the position of Secretary of State, would like to see the United States look to Ronald Reagan for inspiration.

“Ronald Reagan captured the vision of America and the vision of a greater world that was filled with people who respected other people’s rights, enterprise, stability, peace, and democracy,” said Rep. Rohrabacher in a recent interview with NTD Television.

Rohrabacher said he hopes whoever is appointed Secretary of State will help Donald Trump be a strong yet peaceful leader.

“Obama wanted to lead from behind, he wanted to be part of international organizations,” Rohrabacher said. “Well, America should stand tall and if it has to, stand alone in making sure that we mobilize the good people of the world against the evils of the world.”

“America has to be an example to others, a country that stands for principles, freedom, and things that relate directly to ordinary people and their lives throughout the world in a positive way,” Rohrabacher said, “and we should not be on the side of every gangster and dictator.”

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., talks about a campaign poster with his image alongside Ronald Reagan's while giving a tour of his Rayburn Building office to Roll Call.  (Tom Williams/Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., talks about a campaign poster with his image alongside Ronald Reagan’s while giving a tour of his Rayburn Building office to Roll Call. (Tom Williams/Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

Reagan’s Example

Reagan led a peaceful presidency, while at the same time speaking out in support of human rights around the world.

“A violation of human rights anywhere is the business of free people everywhere,” said Reagan.

Instead of spurring conflict, he worked to reduce the danger of nuclear weapons through face-to-face diplomacy and communication.

“As for the enemies of freedom…they will be reminded that peace is the highest aspiration of the American people. We will negotiate for it, sacrifice for it; we will not surrender for it—now or ever,” Reagan said.

Reagan is often credited for helping bring about the collapse of the Soviet empire, symbolized by the fall of the Berlin Wall. Key to the pressure Reagan put on the Soviets was a strong military build up–he increased defense spending by 30 percent, and the Soviets realized they could not keep up.

In his speeches, Reagan made the case for communism giving way to freedom, most famously in Berlin in 1987 when he said,  “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Rohrabacher was one of the writers who worked on that speech.

“Reagan managed to do that [end the Soviet’s threat to world peace] without a major fight with our military and their military,” said Rohrabacher.

In the Middle East, Reagan was very hesitant to take military action in response to terrorism. The president reportedly said it was “terrorism itself” to harm innocent civilians during anti-terror operations.

Reagan was also against torture, and he signed the United Nations Convention Against Torture in 1988.

Rohrabacher believes that Reagan’s words to Gorbachev in 1987 affected democracy advocates around the world, such as in China, helping inspire the Tiananmen Square protests. But when the crackdown on Tiananmen Square began, Reagan was no longer president.

“We had a big moment, a chance for democracy in Tiananmen Square, and President Bush blew it, because he didn’t believe in those things like Ronald Reagan believed in them,” said Rohrabacher.

Rohrabacher believes that if Reagan had been president, he would have picked up the phone and called Beijing leaders directly, telling them in no uncertain words that if they killed the Democracy movement, the United States would immediately pull all of its money out of China. But the phone call was never made.

Other recent U.S. leaders have believed that economic engagement with China would naturally result in more freedom for the Chinese people. But some believe the tactic has since failed.

“I think that we have got to quit separating national security with economy,” said Rohrabacher. “What we have done for the last 30 years with China, 40 years actually, we have built the economy and an economic structure and created more and more wealth, but the wealth was then controlled by a tiny clique of people.”

“You shouldn’t be on the side of the clique,” Rohrabacher said.

“[It] is in our interest to see that there be a more democratic group of people in charge of various countries. It’s in our interest in a way, but it’s also the moral thing to do.”

Reagan himself said, “The West will not contain Communism; it will transcend Communism. We will…dismiss it as a sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages are even now being written.”

Sarah Le