Jay Winik's On the Brink tells the story of "a visionary president and the men and women who served him; of the great and divisive debates over how to deal with the Soviet Union . . . and of a tumultuous time that gripped the nation at home, stirred the imagination abroad, forced unprecedented change upon the Soviet Union, and forever altered the world."
Winik reminds amnesiac Americans what the world was like before Ronald Reagan assumed the presidency: "Soviet troops were brutally setting siege to Afghanistan; from the dusty roads of Nicaragua to the bushlands of Angola, regional conflicts were exploding with ferocious intensity; America was routinely under attack at the United Nations; and the policies of containment and détente, or U.S.-Soviet co-existence, lay in tatters."
Winik recounts how "Ronald Reagan and his administration decided to break radically with the past. Where preceding administrations had believed military confrontation and brinkmanship were a costly precursor to war, the Reagan Administration believed they were a necessary component to secure peace," he observes; "where preceding administrations had sought diminished tensions with the Soviets, the Reagan Administration vocally championed democracy and human rights."
Winik describes how Soviet pressure was "met by U.S. counterpressure. Where the Soviets had supported Marxist-guerrilla movements," he notes, "their imperial gains were checked and reversed by U.S.- backed anti-Communist groups; where they had blustered that 'History is on our side,' the U.S. rocked the very conceptual foundations of their empire with robust ideological warfare in defense of democracy; and where the Soviets had deployed their missiles, the U.S. refused to back down and firmly put its missiles into place."
Winik emphasizes that "America's winning of the Cold War liberated entire nations and freed ordinary individuals from tyranny. And Ronald Reagan and his administration won it without sacrificing battalion upon battalion of bright, young lives, without dotting any continent with freshly dug American graves."
Augusto Pinochet is the Ronald Reagan of Chile. That's why the Left hates him so much, too! Political science professor James Whelan offers an objective appraisal of the man and the administration overthrown by Pinochet. "Salvador Allende's regime," he charges, "waged war on private property, confiscating hundreds of foreign and domestic businesses; resorted to radical monetary measures that produced a 2,000- percent increase in the cost of living; unleashed armed, revolutionary mobs who seized hundreds of privately owned farms and shops; and energetically tried to impose a police state."
Whelan recalls how "hundreds, then thousands of sympathizers streamed into this new mecca of world revolution -- left-wing terrorists from Uruguay, Argentina, and Brazil, experienced military training instructors, guerrilla fighters and secret police experts from such established Communist states as Cuba, Czechoslovakia, North Korea, and East Germany. Chile," he emphasizes, "was to become a base for exporting revolution." Allende was "imposing his policies in direct violation of both the laws and the Constitution." He'd have gotten away with it, too, with dire consequences for Chile and the entire world -- had it not been for Pinochet.