If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck.
–Ronald Reagan, to Lyn Nofziger,
August 31, 1967
Ed Kilgore, Policy Director of the Democratic Leadership Council, rejects the idea that Bush’s mideast policies have something to do with recent events in Lebanon. Not only that, but he craftily uses it as an opportunity to segue into a brief sidebar of Reagan bashing:
This is the kind of thinking, of course, that has convinced God knows how many people that Ronald Reagan personally won the Cold War. It's the old post hoc ergo propter hoc (after this, therefore because of this) logical fallacy.
Kilgore is toeing the same old, worn-out party line that the Soviet collapse was inevitable, and that Reagan was merely in the right place at the right time. Reagan bashers tend to count far too heavily on Lee Simonson’s statement:
Any event, once it has occurred, can be made to appear inevitable by a competent historian.
Kilgore's invoking of the post-hoc fallacy is a feeble smoke screen—one that fails to disguise the (obligatory) logical fallacy Kilgore himself is committing—obligatory because of the position he holds.
But just because Kilgore wishes it weren’t so doesn’t mean it isn’t. Reagan played a significant, decisive role in the collapse of the Soviet Union. Evidence abounds, but let’s just look at two quotes—one before the Cold War's climax, and one after—by the two key players:
Quote #1, before Reagan’s presidency and the Cold War climax:
My theory of the Cold War is that we win and they lose. What do you think about that?
--Ronald Reagan in 1977, to his future national security advisor Richard Allen
Quote #2, after the Soviet Union’s collapse:
He was an authentic person and a great person. If someone else had been in his place, I don't know if what happened would have happened.
--Mikhail Gorbachev, reflecting on Reagan in a videotaped interview
Isn't it interesting that the leader of the side that lost the Cold War has a higher opinion of Reagan's role than Ed Kilgore and his fellow Reagan bashers do? But Gorbachev had no vested interest in denying it; that explains why his opinion differs from Kilgore’s.
There’s a very good, tangible reason the West won the Cold War. Jack Kemp gave us a clue:
Most politicians talk about policies and the changing issues of the day. Ronald Reagan talked about principles—deeply held beliefs. The difference is profound. Policies shift with the breeze of public opinion, but principles are anchors, even in a storm.
Yes, there’s a reason the West won. It’s walking like a duck, and quacking like a duck. Face it, Ed: It’s a duck.
[Update: Another Duck?]