Fri 31st Oct 2014 | Last updated: Fri 31st Oct 2014 at 16:19pm

Facebook Logo Twitter Logo RSS Logo

Comment & Blogs

A Tale of Two Speeches: the Queen’s imaginary World War III address; and the ‘Evil Empire’ speech, which showed why it was a futile exercise

It was the détente policy dismantled by President Reagan which had placed us in danger: rearmament and confrontation which made us safe

By on Monday, 5 August 2013

A page showing President Reagan's edits to his 'Evil Empire' speech (AP)

A page showing President Reagan's edits to his 'Evil Empire' speech (AP)

This is a tale of two speeches by heads of state: one actually delivered, the other happily not. I begin by considering the first, a speech written in a weak parody of the Queen’s annual Christmas address (a parody which nowhere approaches the combination of simplicity and spiritual depth she so often reaches in these Christmas speeches, which she of course writes herself). It was intended to be delivered by her in the event of the outbreak of a Third World War. This was how she was supposed to begin: “When I spoke to you less than three months ago we were all enjoying the warmth and fellowship of a family Christmas. Our thoughts were concentrated on the strong links that bind each generation to the ones that came before and those that will follow. The horrors of war could not have seemed more remote as my family and I shared our Christmas joy with the growing family of the Commonwealth.

“Now this madness of war is once more spreading through the world and our brave country must again prepare itself to survive against great odds.”

Even in this exercise, the mentality of what was known as détente (a code for the appeasement of Soviet power by all means, including never being offensive to the potential enemy) is well in place: thus, the military forces of the now declared enemy are not to be blamed for their aggressive actions: Her Majesty is to be asked to say instead that “The enemy is not the soldier with his rifle nor even the airman prowling the skies above our cities and towns but the deadly power of abused technology”.

It is hardly too much to speculate that the panicky notion that we might be close to World War III was a direct result of the conviction of the government’s chief advisers in Whitehall that the dismantling of détente then in full swing because of the policies of both Margaret Thatcher (unwisely attacked by the Soviets even before she came to power as ”The Iron Lady”) and, above all, Ronald Reagan, had actually put us in danger of imminent attack. In fact, the end of détente had made us safer than we had been for years; it was precisely détente which had made war more likely: it had, for instance, led directly to the invasion by the Soviets of Afghanistan, after the cautious but nevertheless opportunist Leonid Brezhnev had concluded that the clearly pacifist attitude of President Jimmy Carter (the more aggressive so-called “Carter Doctrine” came only later) meant exactly what he supposed: that he could invade Afghanistan with impunity: and so he did. The whole thing came as a huge shock to Carter, who weakly admitted that it had “made a more dramatic change in my own opinion of what the Soviets’ ultimate goals are than anything they’ve done in the previous time I’ve been in office.”

The question is why he should have been so surprised. The Brezhnev doctrine, that the Soviet Union had the right to use military force to maintain the power of the Communist Party in nearby socialist countries (which the Soviets had made no secret that they regarded Afghanistan as now being) was clearly still in force.

It was only with the election of Ronald Reagan that the Soviets finally realised that the game was up. The same year that the bureaucrats imagined the Queen making “her” wet World War III speech, he delivered his magnificent “Evil Empire” oration, which undoubtedly terrified the pacifists in Whitehall. At last, an American President was speaking the truth about the nature of the Soviet Union and indicating the intention not to maintain a precarious balance with Soviet power, but in the end to dismantle it on moral grounds. It is significant that the same speech contains this attack on Roe v Wade: “Abortion on demand now takes the lives of up to one and a half million unborn children a year. Human life legislation ending this tragedy will some day pass the Congress, and you and I must never rest until it does.”

It also contains this: “There is sin and evil in the world, and we’re enjoined by Scripture and the Lord Jesus to oppose it with all our might. Our nation, too, has a legacy of evil with which it must deal. The glory of this land has been its capacity for transcending the moral evils of our past. For example, the long struggle of minority citizens for equal rights, once a source of disunity and civil war, is now a point of pride for all Americans. We must never go back. There is no room for racism, anti-Semitism, or other forms of ethnic and racial hatred in this country.”

It was only after he had firmly established the religious and moral foundations of his policy towards the Soviets that he began the most famous section of his speech (though most of what follows has been forgotten):

It was C S Lewis who, in his unforgettable Screwtape Letters, wrote: “The greatest evil is not done now in those sordid ‘dens of crime’ that Dickens loved to paint. It is not even done in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried and minuted) in clear, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice…”

You know, I’ve always believed that old Screwtape reserved his best efforts for those of you in the church. So, in your discussions of the nuclear freeze proposals, I urge you to beware the temptation of pride – the temptation of blithely declaring yourselves above it all and label both sides equally at fault, to ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire, to simply call the arms race a giant misunderstanding and thereby remove yourself from the struggle between right and wrong and good and evil.

The irony of the reaction to this magnificent oration among the Western Establishment — in this country, precisely among those in Whitehall who had written that WWIII speech for the Queen to deliver — those “in clear, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, [the] quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice” — is that far from being closer to war, we had never, because of Reagan’s rearmament policies, been safer. One person who was not horrified was Margaret Thatcher, who a full seven years earlier had attacked
the then government’s defence policy
, by declaring that “the advance of Communist power threatens our whole way of life” and that “that advance is not irreversible, providing that we take the necessary measures now”. When she came to power, she did.

Margaret Thatcher’s attitude to the Soviet Union, like Ronald Reagan’s, was a moral one. For the simple fact is that the Soviet Union was indeed, in undeniable fact, a profoundly Evil Empire. It violated in the most cynical way the most basic civil liberties: all of them. Freedom of the press, freedom of speech (those who publicly criticised its policies were either sent to the gulags or, most cynically and horrifically of all, committed to mental institutions), freedom of assembly, religion, conscience, travel, emigration, property, everything. The Soviet Union murdered tens of millions, many more than Nazi Germany, simply among its own people. Its wider Communist ideology killed over 100 million in the 20th century, double the combined dead of World War I and II. The numbers are staggering.

Ronald Reagan told the truth. Within the decade the Soviet Union collapsed. And the Queen never had to deliver that silly bureaucrats’ speech.

  • Julian Lord

  • Julian Lord

    The entire West owes the Americans and the British a gigantic vote of
    thanks for their joint efforts in withstanding the Communists.

    The French, in their idiosyncratic and sometimes paradoxical manner, actually helped too, but … yes. Yes.

  • Julian Lord

    They’re probably just waiting for all of them to die of extreme old age …

  • $20596475

    Then screaming “relativism failed us” into the darkness!

  • $24570317

    It must have been something in order to be “sheer idiocy and often, sheer evil” – or do you think Benedict didn’t have my very modest efforts in mind?

  • $24570317

    Because I am the former and not the latter.

  • $24570317

    I wrote a lengthy reply to this Mr Carter, to which you responded by saying you did not want the reading list which I offered to you. My comment and your brief reply have been deleted.
    I pointed out that your view of impending Soviet invasion of western Europe up to 1980 was absurd. France had left NATO and kicked out all US forces in the mid 1960s – De Gaulle was no fool, he would not have done this if there were any reasonable expectation of a Soviet invasion.
    I addressed other points you made – if it is not permitted to comment in fairly good and clean English on the views expressed by another (who has misrepresented one) why on earth do we have this website’s capacity to comment at all?

  • Julian Lord

    De Gaulle was no fool, he would not have done this if there were any reasonable expectation of a Soviet invasion

    In reality, France had a significant nuclear deterrent permanently deployed against such invasion.

  • $24570317

    Although it produced a primitive fission explosion a few years earlier in Algeria, “in reality” France only tested its very first fusion bomb in 1968.
    But, more significantly, if you are a disciple of MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction), you must believe that the American nuclear presence in Germany, the UK (with our added offering) and Turkey would already have prevented any Soviet attack on W. Europe.

  • cestusdei

    Reagan was hated for telling the truth and for ending communism. The Left still hates him and refuses to acknowledge their complicity with the evil empire. I am proud to have voted for Reagan twice.

  • Benedict Carter

    All bark and little bite?

    Tell that to Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Hungary, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria and all the other peoples of the USSR brutalised and murdered for 75 years.

    People here are mad.

  • PaulF

    They banned it again from 1936-55 – so it’s more complex than I thought.
    But you are right, they were the first country to legalize it.

  • Patrick JK Gray

    I do not know why Our Lady’s plain instruction has not been carried out. I do not think it will be now.

    Monsieur Stéphane Courtois’ ‘Black Book of Communism’, if you can stomach the impious and liberal parts (insulting Pius XI and dragging out the Liberal nonsense about ‘freedom of speech’. ‘freedom of thought’, ‘freedom of conscience’ and, of course, ‘freedom of religion’ (p. 29 ) is well worth reading.

    Russia has spread its errors through the world in other ways than the terrible slaughter of the innocents (apparently, and this is a horrendous figure, 48 million babies have been killed in the womb in the United States of America since the ‘Rose vs. Wade’ court case) with which the world is still wracked. Rather, although the head and fount of the evil has been destroyed, Socialist and Communist ideas are now heard in every corner of the West.
    I sit and write this – and, unless you are back in Russia, so do you – in a Socialist country as zealous at enforcing its atheist ‘orthodoxy’ as was Marshal Stalin and which has surpassed its parent in immorality on some points. I wait daily – and this is not an exaggeration – for the first set of Penal Laws to be published (although ‘diversity training’ and ‘multi-culturalism’ are Penal Laws on the sly, it is becoming nigh on impossible for a Catholic to hold a public post, as you are required to submit to the secular-humanist ideology of ‘Great’ Britain).

    The betrayal of the noble Catholic regimes of General Franco and Salazar in Portugalshows us how far the poisonous liberal and Communist ideas had got – as does the Catholics who flocked to join the ‘democratic opposition’. The South American priests who wag the red flag should hang their heads in shame.

    My great-uncle (I never knew him, – he was the eldest brother of eight and died before I was born) married a White Russian girl who fled from the Soviet Union during the first persecutions, married her in the 1920s, I think , so none of my family – even those who are not Catholics – are under any delusions regarding the truly wicked character of Communism. That puts us in a real minority in the British population! If a man were to stand up and say that he were a moderate Nazi, I should not think much of his chances of getting to the door alive. Yet Socialists (Communists who prefer to dissemble about the methods but share the same abominable ends), ‘moderate Communists’ and brazen Leninists all enjoy high positions in this country and are feted by the liberal elite for their conscience! Their conscience! Communism and its atrocities, and you can scream at me as much as you like for saying this, far surpass the appalling atrocities in Poland perpetrated by Herr Hitler’s mob of gangsters in Germany in the last War. Indeed, Rudolf Hoess, the commander of Auschwitz concentration-camp, studied Russian methods of mass-extermination in order to ‘improve’ his camp!

    Our alliance with the Soviet Union in the last war was a disgrace, a permanent blot on the honour of this country. The idea of signing a treaty with those barbarians at any stretch is an unjustifiable alliance with anarchy and with the Devil. I have a deep abhorrence of being on any side that includes the Soviets. The abominable, pagan character of the National-Socialist regime, with its euthanasia, race-worship and appalling persecution of the Church fits well with Communism; and indeed, in the early part of that war, when Stalin and Hitler were allies, everything was gloriously clear – here was the enemy. The Russian alliance turned that war, which was gathering into the semblance of a crusade, into a shameful debacle.

    We signed a treaty with the jackals in order to beat the hyenas. We certainly left Poland in the soup, along with Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia (I seem to remember we actively supported the partisans), Rumania – not to mention all of the countries who toiled under the Soviet yoke, Lithuania, Latvia, the Ukraine, Russia herself. If we were concerned with justice the Russians were as guilty as the Germans and Stalin should have occupied the second place of the gibbet alongside Hitler.

    In one of Evelyn Waugh’s books, there is a character who talks of the great Catholic uprising he believes is imminent across Europe, ‘led by the priests and gentry…with the banners and the relics going on before’ – he’s portrayed as a harmless eccentric, but a great Catholic uprising across Europe is what is needed now, if we shall have it (which we shall not) to save us from the long, dark night and the end. Perhaps the Church will have one last triumph before the end, but I am keeping my Rosary close to hand. I know in my heart things will only get worse. I do honestly believe we are living in the End Times.

    Forgive me, I am going on for rather too long. I’ll be quiet. Again, an excellent post.

  • Benedict Carter

    I agree with nearly all you say, but have to disagree re the alliance with the USSR against Hitler. We had to support them, and support the eastern meat-grinder we did, though we never had any thanks for it. The real scandal was Churchill’s capitulation to Stalin re eastern Europe.

    Our war aim was ostensibly the freedom of Poland. The war ended with 20% of her population dead at the hands of the Soviets and Nazis (allies), then at the hands of the Nazis, then again at the end at the hands of the Soviets; and in her enslavement for fifty years.

    You said, “I do honestly believe we are living in the End Times. As I think you said elsewhere, the SSPX, the true Mass, the True Faith and prayer.”

    I agree 100% with every word of that.

  • tolpuddle1

    Wasn’t Sweden the first country to legalise abortion ?

  • tolpuddle1

    Churchill had no choice – Stalin would have re-allied himself with Hitler if Churchill hadn’t played ball. Once the Russians had defeated Hitler’s invasion (which they had by August 1943), Stalin held all the trump cards.

    Regarding Poland, the Nazis killed 6 million Poles (3 million Jews + 3 million Christians). Stalin’s tyranny in Poland caused only the minutest fraction of these deaths. Stalin was as cruel as Hitler, but less malevolent, aggressive and nihilistic. It was Hitler who was a Satanist (from his adolescent satanic initiation onwards), not Stalin.

    It’s the Catholic Church, not the schismatic SSPX, that is the one true church. Right-wing Catholics have every right to criticise the silliness (and “smoke of Satan”) that invaded the Church between Vatican II and the election of a Polish pope in 1978, but they have no right to live in the past.

  • tolpuddle1

    As Chesterton pointed out long ago, it is Capitalism that is the true enemy of the Family (and in many different ways). The vast majority of abortions in the West are motivated, not by any sort of Leftism, but by selfish individualism – the selfish individualism that Capitalism has done so much to cause and encourage. To blame these abortions on “Socialist and Communist ideas” is either incredibly ignorant or incredibly dishonest. But then, most Western Catholics long ago took the Capitalist bribe, despite the Church always having condemned capitalist avarice and liberal, capitalist ideas (laissez faire, sink or swim, the tyranny of the Market etc). The result – there aren’t many Catholics left in the West, least of all in Spain, where the grandchildren of those who murdered on behalf of Franco and the Falange have apostasised (surprise, surprise).

    Our Lord (unlike Mohammed !) never had a temporal crown, carefully rejecting one: “My Kingdom is not of this world.” The medieval church, corrupted by the power and vainglorious pride of its senior clerics, tried to force a temporal crown onto Christ’s head, with disastrous consequences for the Catholic Faith and the Church.

    Do you pray to Franco, that well-known Apostle of Mercy ? Pius XI rejected the demand of right-wing Catholics that Franco’s botched coup d’etat be declared a crusade.

    You seem to inhabit the same fantasy-world as Evelyn Waugh. Not harmless, by the way – once, after cracking an evil joke, he was upbraided by Nancy Mitford, who wanted to know where his Christianity was. He replied: “if I wasn’t a Catholic, I would scarcely be a human being.”

  • tolpuddle1

    But the Queen is a figurehead, not a ruler.

  • Benedict Carter

    The word “Catholic” primarily means universal THROUGH TIME, not geography. Therefore the line “Live in the past” has no meaning at all for the Catholic.

    As soon as one sees the word “schism” connected to the SSPX, one knows the poster using it hasn’t a clue. Posses of Cardinals and at least two Popes have said the opposite, and that’s from the Modernist camp!

  • tolpuddle1

    William Oddie sneers at pacifism, seeming to admire the moral qualities of our nuclear weapons. Oh, “they’re only there as a deterrent” – but the deterrent is only effective if you’re prepared actually to use the weapons (murdering countless civilians – babies and children included – in the process) and on one occasion, the Archangel Thatcher boasted publicly of her willingness to use nuclear weapons.

    We were far safer under Jimmy Carter’s detente policy than in the gung ho Cold War days of 1980-85. After that we became safer solely because:
    (a) Gorbachev had become leader of the Soviet Union
    (b) People like CND and the Greenham Common protestors had forced our bellicose Western leaders to start thinking and talking about peace.

    Brezhnev an opportunist ? – buffoon, more like; his invasion of Afghanistan did more to bring down the Soviet Union than any amount of windy rhetoric from Blessed Ronald Reagan. Of course, only buffoons seek to invade Afghanistan in order to control its politics – witness Bush, Blair, Brown et al.

  • tolpuddle1

    The pagan death-worshipping cult of Capitalism has killed quite a few aborted babies too, hasn’t it ? Are the Western women who have abortions Marxists ? Was pro-abortion Margaret Thatcher a Marxist ?

  • tolpuddle1

    So why did Benedict XVI try to heal the Schism, sorry, Disagreement? Why did he try to bring the SSPX back on board if they were already on board ?

    The Church started using the word “Catholic” to indicate it was worldwide, unlike the heretical sects. In this world, we are creatures of time, and for SSPX supporters to claim that they are holy people raised up above time and with one foot in the Eternity of Blessedness – whilst in fact they are for the most part nasty bigots with a largely social and political agenda who are trying to live in some 1950′s / Francoist / Petainist nirvana – is beyond absurd, not to say dishonest.

    If as Catholics we aren’t subject to time, why aren’t we using the Greek liturgy ? It’s far older and more apostolic than that of Trent.
    Or should we write off the Orthodox ?

  • tolpuddle1

    Many of our current problems are the direct and inevitable result of Ronald Reagan’s debt-fuelled economic policies. That he was a kindly person (unlike most of his supporters) and a sincere and forthright Christian, does not, however, make him a saint or confer on him the mantle of Infallibility.

  • $24570317

    The Queen is the Head of State of the UK;
    Just as Raygun was the H of S of the USA.

    But the Queen is not a politician, as are US Heads of State, and is thus not tempted to indulge in politicking. American presidents are always steeped in politicking – like our leading politicians in the UK.