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By Snubbing Sakharov, Reagan Subverts Freedom
April 29, 1986|By William Safire, New York Times
WASHINGTON — Exactly a decade ago candidate Ronald Reagan -- seeking to wrest the Republican nomination from President Ford -- exploited a glaring example of the blind eye being turned to human rights by detente.
''Last summer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was in our nation's capital for the first time,'' cried Reagan. ''It seemed only natural he would be invited to the White House for a meeting with the president, but no invitation was forthcoming . . .''
The foremost Soviet dissident ''is still being snubbed,'' charged Reagan, ''consistent with a foreign policy that could accept the Helsinki pact, which wrote off freedom for millions of people in the captive nations of Europe.''
That was then. Now we are in a new summit era, during which Reagan is careful not to do anything in this sensitive field to embarrass his invitees. Today the leading Soviet dissident is Andrei Sakharov. The Nobel laureate scientist is in ''internal exile'' in the prison village of Gorky.
Cut off from the nourishment of contact with the likeminded, he is drugged and tortured. His words are recorded and movements secretly filmed.
Sakharov is force-fed to counter his only weapon, the hunger strike, because Mikhail Gorbachev does not want to be blamed for his death and martyrdom or that of his ill wife, Yelena Bonner, who is a noted dissident in her own right. Gorbachev permitted her to come to the United States for medical treatment on the understanding that she would not meet with the press to describe the suffering of her husband.
Bonner is now under treatment near Boston. A month ago she traveled to Washington in the hopes of meeting privately with Reagan, as she had with the pope. At the White House, the national security arbitrageur, Adm. Poindexter, told her that she could not meet the president.
Why is Reagan snubbing the wife of the leading Soviet dissident? When I put that question to the president the other day, he confessed that his protective aides had not let him know she was downstairs asking to see him.
Nevertheless, he saw a great difference between snubbing the leading dissident a decade ago and now. ''Solzhenitsyn was in exile and there was nothing political involved in seeing him,'' the president explained. ''He had been thrown out of his own country. But Mrs. Sakharov left for the health reasons we all know, but left the Soviet Union with an agreement that she would not get with the press or make statements and so forth.''
He expressed ''complete sympathy with what she's trying to do with her husband's desire to leave that country,'' but felt that ''quiet diplomacy is the best way to succeed,'' and that seeing her would be ''counterproductive.'' Reagan misses the point. He assumes that all Soviet dissidents have the same goal as Anatoly Shcharansky, a Jew determined to emigrate to Israel, whose freedom Reagan apparently bought at the Geneva summit with a promise not to complain publicly about tens of thousands of other refuseniks.
Sakharov is not a Jew. He is not persecuted because he tried to emigrate. He is a Soviet scientist who took seriously the human-rights promises made by his government at Helsinki in return for Western recognition of wartime borders. He is punished without trial because he dares to publicize the Soviets' repression of thought.
Above is another one for you to research you dumb ass.
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And that Sarkharov was freed, in good part by the work of Reagan. That Reagan always made a point of meeting with dissidents in the USSR. The Soviets could not refuse him, because they respected and feared the ability of the US to make things very difficult for them.
Do you think Obama would be allowed to do that, much less try it?
Obama has disarmed us unilaterally, the Chinese have no respect, and by that I mean fear of him or us, as they know there will be no price to pay for the oppression of its people.
If Obama has made any effort on behalf of dissidents anywhere, it's been a timid effort. I for one doubt he's made any effort at all.
This could have been an opportunity for Obama to press publicly for human rights-and not in some vague way. Dissidents all over the world would welcomed such a move, and it would have given a morale boost to those imprisoned. But he didn't, and he has shown his lack of committment to the inherent right of all people to be free.
This post was edited on 5/3 at 5:54 am
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Yes, an opinion on the behavior of Mr Regan by Mr Safire, what is your point? We share opinions about facts on this board that is what you are doing you dumb shite.
The behavior of Obama has nothing to do with the hypocrisy of Reagan or your stupidity. The reality is the State Department Acts pretty much the same nomater how is Presidnet, because reality does not change.
What should he have done? Spell it out? Keep the dissident in the embassy while his family was beaten? Gone to war with China? Shared his opinion and made another statement that wouldn't satisfy an arse clown like yourself?
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