Margaret Thatcher, the posturing far-right ideologue provocateur who was Prime Minister of the UK at the same time Ronald Reagan, posturing far-right ideologue dumbass was President of the United States, conducted a life-long political love affair with Reagan and shared his delight in empty rhetorical blustering, coddling of fascists, and aimless anti-communism. For the rest of her life she basked in the same mindless right-wing praise that Reagan lapped up for “winning the cold war” after delivering his trademark slogan at the Berlin Wall: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
Turns out, now, that, two years after that event, during East German unrest just before the Wall actually did come down, Thatcher met with Gorbachev and personally begged him to do whatever he could to prevent East Germany from merging with West Germany, guaranteed protection for Communist rule in Soviet-bloc nations, and offered a unilateral non-aggression pledge to the Soviet Union itself. George Bush and Francois Mitterand, right-wingers who also presided over noisy anti-communist parties in their countries, backed her assurances to the Communist leader and pledged themselves to prevent German re-unification in any way they could, including with military alliances with the USSR against their official ally West Germany.
In an extraordinary frank meeting with Mr Gorbachev in Moscow in 1989 — never before fully reported — Mrs Thatcher said the destabilisation of Eastern Europe and the breakdown of the Warsaw Pact were also not in the West’s interests. She noted the huge changes happening across Eastern Europe, but she insisted that the West would not push for its decommunisation. Nor would it do anything to risk the security of the Soviet Union.
Even 20 years later, her remarks are likely to cause uproar. They are all the more explosive as she admitted that what she said was quite different from the West’s public pronouncements and official Nato communiqués. She told Mr Gorbachev that he should pay no attention to these.
“We do not want a united Germany,” she said. “This would lead to a change to postwar borders, and we cannot allow that because such a development would undermine the stability of the whole international situation and could endanger our security.” . . .
She spoke of her deep “concern” at what was going on in East Germany. She said “big changes” could be afoot.And this led to her fear that it would all eventually lead to German reunification — an official goal of Western policy for more than a generation.
She assured Mr Gorbachev that President Bush also wanted to do nothing that would be seen by the Russians as a threat to their security. The same assurance was later spelt out in person to Mr Gorbachev at the Soviet- American summit off Malta. . . .
Mrs Thatcher was not the only one worried by events in Germany. A month after the Berlin Wall came down, Jacques Attali, the personal adviser to President Mitterrand, met Vadim Zagladin, a senior Gorbachev aide, in Kiev.
Mr Attali said that Moscow’s refusal to intervene in East Germany had “puzzled the French leadership” and questioned whether “the USSR has made peace with the prospect of a united Germany and will not take any steps to prevent it. This has caused a fear approaching panic.”
He then stated bluntly, echoing Mrs Thatcher: “France by no means wants German reunification, although it realises that in the end it is inevitable.” . . .
Astonishingly, [a top USSR Communist party official] noted, in France Mr Mitterrand was even thinking of a military alliance with Russia to stop it, “camouflaged as a joint use of armies to fight natural disasters”. . . .
Even in 1990 Mrs Thatcher was still trying to slow things down. “I am convinced that reunification needs a long transition period,” she told Mr Gorbachev. “All Europe is watching this not without a degree of fear, remembering very well who started the two world wars.”
“The reunification of Germany is not in the interests of Britain and Western Europe. It might look different from public pronouncements, in official communiqué at Nato meetings, but it is not worth paying ones attention to it. We do not want a united Germany. This would have led to a change to post-war borders and we can not allow that because such development would undermine the stability of the whole international situation and could endanger our security.”
“In the same way, a destabilisation of Eastern Europe and breakdown of the Warsaw Pact are also not in our interests. Of course, internal changes are happening in all Eastern European countries, somewhere they are deeper than in others. However, we would prefer if those processes were entirely internal, we would not interfere in them or push the de-communisation of Eastern Europe. I can say that the President of the United States is of the same position. He sent me a telegram to Tokyo in which he asked me directly to tell you that the United States would not do anything that might put at risk the security of the Soviet Union or perceived by the Soviet society as danger. I am fulfilling his request.”
Now, you can understand why England and France would be leery of a resurgent Germany. And it’s welcome news that the winger dunderheads who spent their lives fighting past wars through a dense ideological fog may finally have glimpsed that knee-jerk anti-communism was neither meaningful nor helpful in the real world they occasionally noticed they were living in. But secretly selling out an official ally to the same communist country you built your entire career out of publicly demonizing, while personally assuring those very communists that you didn’t really mean it – that your entire ideology and public persona were a shameless lie intended to deceive your own constituents, while you favored your nominal enemies with the truth – is rather low even by conservative standards.
The magnitude of the hypocrisy astounds, even in the context of past behavior by these people and their parties. Think of it: communism and the USSR were basically the only reason the right wing existed in the post-colonial/post-segregationist world. (Especially in America. English and French wingers also made some hay out of attacking each other, the rest of Europe, and India and Africa [respectively] as well, but even in those countries Communism was what right-wingers did when they didn’t have anybody else’s sex life to meddle in.) To this day, Reagan and Thatcher are right-wing fetish objects, and Bush and Mitterand are remembered for their “strength” and “moral clarity”. Reagan was out of office and out of his mind by the time Germany was reunified, but Thatcher, Bush, and Mitterand – the reactionary lions who kept the world safe from the Red Menace – were in office raving about Communists, while actively conniving against a fellow NATO ally and offering security guarantees and military alliances to the Soviet Union and the international communist movement. The fate of the entire Western world was shaped for generations by a cherished and husbanded conflict that its noisiest exponents didn’t really believe in, in which they actively and explicitly sought to protect and preserve their own opponents against their own allies when it suited their purposes, while deliberately whipping up storms of paranoia among their mislead and misinformed supporters to further their own political power. Not even the Cold War “doves” were as pro-Soviet as Margaret Thatcher, but she made her career out of vilifying both them and the Soviet Union – while working to destroy the former within her own country, and shield the latter outside it! Bush and Mitterand not only knew this but did the same.
A few lessons come from this: First, we should take Thatcher at her word, about this and everything else she ever said: it was a lie; her ideological stances were empty rhetoric; her political career was a sham perpetrated on her own constituents; her ravings about security threats and international conflict were deliberate falsehoods and propaganda; and she was willing to sell out the future of a close ally to her self-named enemy for temporary political advantage for her country, while continuing to lie about it to her own people for temporary political advantage for herself and her party. After all, this is what she herself told Gorbachev she was doing – how can we not believe her? Second, we should take Bush Senior and the other Western reactionary leaders at their words as well: their rhetoric was equally empty; their lifelong ideological stances were equally insincere; their most prominent political positions were equally meaningless and self-serving; the nation-draining conflicts they manufactured and nurtured – to great political and not rarely financial advantage to themselves – were equally contrived and illusory; and the security threats they called upon to bankrupt their countries, prosecute pointless and inhuman wars at incalculable cost in money and lives, and institute nascent police states within their own borders were equally cynical fabrications fobbed off on their own supporters to manipulate them against those who saw and said the truth.
More importantly, we must recognize that right-wing hypocrisy and cynicism is as alive as ever, no matter how wrong they are and how often, no matter how much of history has gone agains them or how far behind in it they fall, no matter how clearly their lies and deceits, and the falsity of almost everything they say or say they believe, are brought to light. For Christ’s sake, they’re still using “communism” as a pejorative, usually with hilarious obliviousness. And the fact that the most strident public anti-communists in their Pantheon who were still in power at the time were actively seeking to preserve the Soviet bloc both politically and militarily, as an expressly communist alliance, specifically to maintain the German division they had simultaneously been using as an anti-communist symbol, will almost certainly not take the wind out of the sails of the morons who are using the same slogans in the same mindless way yet today. But it cannot not be known, now, that that stance is not just stupid and mindless, it isn’t even real. The people who made their careers out of hostility to communism, and forced their countries into terrible crimes and sacrifices on that basis, were not only hypocritical liars but in fact preferred the presevation of the Soviet Union and its influence to the alternative, and secretly worked in high office to achieve it.
Obama is a Communist? Well, that’s idiotic, but what do you say to this: Margaret Thatcher was secretly an active supporter of Soviet military domination in East Germany and of communism within the Eastern bloc, and used her office to coordinate with other NATO allies, including George Bush Sr. and Francois Mitterand, to provide military support to the USSR for that purpose? Kind of makes the old “pinko” label look sort of weak, doesn’t it? Hell, it makes The Manchurian Candidate look like a documentary – except here the crazed Western politicians weren’t brainwashed by Communists, they freely joined them while brainwashing their own voters. Now we know: anti-communism isn’t just a self-indulgent obsession of the right, it was a cover story aimed at their own constituents, which they boasted about to the Prime Minister of the Soviet Union while pledging him active military and political support against their countries’ allies. And the c0ntinued use of that hackneyed old political shibboleth can only be, more obviously than ever before, a deliberate embrace of a deception perpetrated upon those who accepted it, by those who cared so little about their own beliefs they were willing to turn their entire nations’ might against their own stated policies, but not willing to say so truthfully.
And finally: everything else the right wing obsesses about is just the same. The same people who inherited Thatcher’s and Bush’s rhetoric and political party apparatus, the same people who still point to the Cold War that Thatcher and Bush were fighting on the other side as a mainstay of their own ideology today, are the same people now shouting “communism” about health reform, environmentalism, and religious freedom. They are the same people raving about “protecting marriage” and “the breakdown of the family”. They are the same people who deny global warming, peak oil, and evolution. They are the same people still claiming they believe in market deregulation and supply-side economics. They are the same people gibbering about “Islamofascism”, the “liberal media”, “the Global War on Terror”, and their bizarre, distorted version of feminism. None of it means anything. Nothing they say is worth believing, because truth is not an operative consideration in right-wing ideology. The ones who really believe the nonsensical rhetoric that spews out under these headings are the dupes of their own leaders and celebrity ranters. They think Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Michelle Malkin, and Ann Coulter are legitimate, in the same way “marks” used to think professional wrestling was legitimate (the difference is that, I’m told, there are no more real “marks” in the wrestling crowd). But the ones who do the shouting are the modern-day Margaret Thatchers – liars and hypocrites on a scale so mind-boggling it becomes its own Big Lie. Occasionally they even boast of it: Limbaugh is the acknowledged opinion leader of the Republican Party and explicitly uses his power to influence policy, but calls himself an “entertainer”; Coulter invariably says that her offensive remarks were only meant as jokes -but continues to make them; the unnamed Bush operative who famously referred to liberals as “the reality-based community” also stated explicitly that senior Republicans were contemptuous of the religious right but needed their votes; it has often been reported that a not-talked-about tenet of Straussian neo-conservatism is that religion is only for the gullible masses, as a way to keep them docile, but the enlightened can make their own rules. I suppose the Iraq invasion hardly needs mentioning. Right-wing rhetoric, values, beliefs, and policy stances are as real and meaningful as Margaret Thatcher’s anti-communism: they exist only to manipulate and energize the right-wing constituency, to provide power for enactment of entirely unrelated policies for entirely self-serving reasons. Thatcher may finally have done the world some good if only she succeeds in convincing her own supporters – who have for so long doted on her every word and deed – of this basic fact about herself and her kind.
NOTE: To the dickhead[s] who keep posting comments containing irrelevant campaign pitches for a particular candidate in a local New York City Council race: knock it off. I’ve deleted those comments. The next one to appear will earn you a detailed post highlighting the accomplishments of one of your opponents. I don’t have anything particular against your candidate, but some of his supporters are obviously assholes, and I’m willing to revise my opinion of him also on that basis.