Kate Bachelder Odell would lead you to believe that the only thing that has changed since Mikhail Gorbachev met Ronald Reagan in 1985 is the Heritage Foundation’s position on America’s role in the world (“What Time Is It at the Heritage Foundation?” op-ed, Oct 5). But Gorbachev no longer leads a Soviet Empire; Vladimir Putin leads a severely weakened Russian petrostate. More to the point, Xi Jinping’s China—not Russia—is now America’s No. 1 adversary on the world stage.
America, too, has changed in the 40 years that Mrs. Odell wants to “fast forward” through. Our debt-to-GDP ratio has tripled, a reflection of many Americans’ own mounting debt. Men aren’t pursuing work or marriage, much less military service. The president isn’t a fearless Reagan but a feckless Joe Biden. Is it any wonder the polls Mrs. Odell encourages us to ignore indicate that the American people are growing tired of shipping billions in taxpayer dollars to Kyiv without articulating our end game?
Mrs. Odell is right to recall Reagan’s assertion that “the U.S. could still summon ‘the moral energy and spiritual stamina’ to confront problems both at home and abroad.” But to do so, we must overcome the challenges that confront Americans in this century—not those of 40 years ago.
In this respect, Reagan remains our guiding light. A relentless prioritizer, the Teflon president spurned the backward-looking foreign-policy consensus of his day and reoriented all of America’s power toward defeating the Soviet Union. Defeating enemy No. 1 is precisely what we are doing at the Heritage Foundation today.
By advocating an acceptable resolution to the war in Ukraine, we hope to put an end to the deaths, the decimation of our weapons reserves and the distraction of our forces from where they’re most needed in the Pacific. In short, we reject the idea that war is ever a “strategic gift,” and hold fast to Reagan’s motto: “Peace through strength.”
This piece originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal on October 9, 2023