The first communist country in the aftermath of World War I was Russia, renamed the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.). Millions in the West thought that the new U.S.S.R. was "the workers' paradise." American journalist John Reed visited the country and proclaimed, "I have seen the future and it works."
Neighboring Mongolia soon followed. After World War II more countries joined the communist empire–the nations of Eastern Europe forcibly annexed into the Stalinist Soviet system. China's communist government took power in 1949. North Korea and North Vietnam soon followed; Cuba a decade later.
In the 1970s communists took control of much of Indochina (South Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos), Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Angola. Grenada in the Caribbean and Yemen on the Arabian peninsula had also fallen to communism.
One after another they fell like dominoes until almost half the world's landmass was communist and a great deal of the rest flirted with various forms of socialism, communism watered down.
Until Ronald Reagan.
The 40th President of the United States took over the leadership of the country at a troubled time.
Americans had lost confidence in their institutions during the Watergate scandal and the defeat in Vietnam. The resignation in disgrace of President Richard Nixon in 1974 came at a time of economic trouble caused by events in the Middle East. The brief interim presidency of Gerald Ford was followed by that of Jimmy Carter. Well-meaning and idealistic President Carter was seen around the world as a lightweight, more interested in advancing humanitarian programs than in leading the free world.
The 1979 revolution in Iran was a turning point in Mr. Carter's presidency and led inevitably to his fall from power. The seizure of American diplomatic staff as hostages and their 444-day captivity showed the impotence of the United States and the incompetence of its leadership at the end of a bad 15-year period.
Within minutes of Ronald Reagan being sworn in as President in January 1981, it was announced that the hostages had been released by Iran's revolutionary Islamic government.
By the end of his presidency, the communist system was in a state of collapse, the handwriting on the wall. At least four other leaders can be given some credit for this. Among them were the Polish Pope, John Paul II, who inspired the people of Poland to revolt against their atheistic leaders; British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who turned back the tide of socialism in her own country and inspired the Polish dockyard workers of Gdansk to do the same; Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who chose not to resist the inevitable, and the Pakistani President General Zia who shipped American arms through his territory to help those rebelling against the Soviet invaders.
But, without Ronald Reagan, communism would still be a threat to the peace and security of the world. It was his single-minded vision—"Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"—which brought down the Berlin Wall and ended over four decades of division in Europe.
At the beginning of his presidency he described the Soviet empire as an "evil empire," thereby going directly against the diplomacy of decades. Just a few months after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan he chose to substantially increase U.S. defense spending. Unable to match the increase, bogged down in a war it could not win and with an economic system that had failed miserably to deliver the goods, Moscow was doomed. The Soviet Union staggered on until 1991, but it was Reagan's vision that led directly to its fall.
American columnist George Will wrote following Mr. Reagan's death: "One measure of a leader's greatness is this: By the time he dies, the dangers that summoned him to greatness have been so thoroughly defeated, in no small measure by what he did, it is difficult to recall the magnitude of those dangers, or of his achievements."
Certainly, communism is totally discredited and no longer remains a credible threat.
Proverbs 29:18 says, "Where there is no vision, the people perish." Americans were floundering when Ronald Reagan became president. After his eight years in the White House, Americans once again had a vision, a sense of purpose and a determined resolve.
In remembering Mr. Reagan we should also take notice of the presence of one other world leader at his state funeral. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, now in ill health following a series of strokes, will be there. Mrs. Thatcher, now Baroness Thatcher, did for Britain what Mr. Reagan accomplished in America–turning a country around after a period of decline. Together, the two revived the strong Anglo-American alliance that continues to this day.
To better understand America's place in the world, and how it was foretold thousands of years ago in the Bible, please request or download our free booklet The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy.