Recorded on September 26, 2018.
Did President Reagan and Pope John Paul II have a secret alliance or simply an aligned foreign policy strategy that helped to end the Cold War? Former attorney general to President Reagan, Edwin Meese III, answers these questions and more in this episode of Uncommon Knowledge.
Edwin Meese III discusses Reagan’s unique background and suitability for handling the Cold War as president because of his experience with communism attempting to infiltrate Hollywood’s unions while he was an actor. He understood Stalinism’s propaganda spread and had already spent several years defeating communism in Hollywood, long before it was asked of him as President.
Religion in particular was an anathema to Stalinism and President Reagan’s personal protestant faith and his mutual admiration and respect for Pope John Paul II enabled the two world leaders to form a cooperative geopolitical relationship. According to Meese, President Reagan and Pope John Paul II had similar goals in ending the oppressive influence of the Soviet regime in Eastern Europe, Poland in particular as it was Pope John Paull II’s native country. The two leaders were able to coordinate their efforts to put increasing political, economic, and information pressure on the Soviet Union and General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, which in the end helped bring about the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Meese stresses the importance of understanding history for younger generations, particularly the history of the Cold War and the oppressive influence of communism during that time. It was important to end the oppressive regime’s hold behind the Iron Curtain and free the captive nations.