In this new realist push, amid constant reminders that we once talked to the Soviet Union, Ronald Reagan is often evoked-but not the Ronald Reagan who in a high-stakes effort, fraught with risk, pushed the Soviet Union to the brink, or bombed Tripoli to remind Khadafi of the consequences of his terror, but apparently the Ronald Reagan who abruptly left Lebanon and allowed surrogates to talk with Iran to trade arms for hostages.
So the new revisionist image is perhaps that Reagan was a sort of realist who accepted the world as it was, and avoided the zealotry associated with the sweeping Axis of Evil rhetoric of George Bush. But I remember another "evil empire" Reagan who sought to address bluntly wrong as he saw it. And I was reminded of that when glancing at old news accounts such as the following 1985 New York Times piece that started, "President Reagan today characterized Iran, Libya, North Korea, Cuba and Nicaragua as ''a confederation of terrorist states'' that had carried out ''outright acts of war'' against the United States. The President said the five nations were ''a new, international version of Murder Inc.''
"Murder Incorporated" then sounded a lot like "Axis of Evil" does now.
And re: Iraq. I remember as well the old conventional wisdom that Iraq under Saddam Hussein was a terrorist haven. As far back as 1990, Congressman Broomfield, for example, inserted the following into the Congressional Record, " New reports reveal that in the past few months, the Iraqi leader has built a network of old and new terrorist allies who could be called upon to conduct terrorist operations against American interests. Among Saddam's new friends are notorious terrorists Abu Nidal, Abu Abbas, and Abu Iyad—all star performers in the sordid world of international terrorism. As many as 1,400 terrorist operatives may now be living in Iraq as guests of Saddam Hussein. Iraqi involvement with terrorist groups is so extensive that the Department of State recently put Iraq back on the list of countries that support terrorism."