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Cold War nostalgia? MSNBC plays clip from Reagan’s ‘Evil Empire’ speech in warning to Trump

Cold War nostalgia? MSNBC plays clip from Reagan’s ‘Evil Empire’ speech in warning to Trump
Producers at MSNBC’s Morning Joe show must have been feeling nostalgic this morning when they aired a minute-long excerpt from Ronald Reagan’s infamous ‘Evil Empire’ speech about the Soviet Union.

Co-host Willie Geist introduced the clip as a warning to US President Donald Trump whose cordial meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday set off a wave of hysteria and horrified indignation across US mainstream media.

Clearly nostalgic for the days of the Cold War, Geist cut to the clip explaining that Reagan had told Americans “how to treat a leader like we see now in Putin and those who might appease him.” In the excerpt, Reagan bemoans those who would have the US “accept [Soviet leaders] at their word” and accommodate their “aggressive impulses”.

“If history teaches anything, it teaches that simple-minded appeasement or wishful thinking about our adversaries is folly,” Reagan said in the speech.

Reagan also warned Americans not to place the US in a position of “moral inferiority” — something which Trump critics at MSNBC and elsewhere accused him of when he admitted that the US also does “plenty of killing” when asked to denounce Putin’s actions domestically and abroad.

The 1983 speech was the first time Reagan used the term “evil empire” to refer to the Soviet Union and it is regarded as a rhetorical escalation in the Cold War — but it looks like MSNBC missed the memo that the Soviet Union collapsed more than 25 years ago and no longer exists.

It’s particularly interesting that MSNBC chose to hold up the Reagan speech as a model of good foreign policy, given how much liberals criticized that speech at the time it was given, as National Review columnist John Fund pointed out on Twitter. “I'm old enough to remember how much liberals attacked the ‘evil empire’ speech,” Fund wrote.

Fund also quoted a piece from the New York Times in 1983 which argued that the “greater danger” lay in Reagan’s vision of the superpower relationship as “Good versus Evil” and his “near-proclamation of a holy war” against the Soviet Union.

Still, it looks like MSNBC would prefer Trump to take the US-Russia relationship back 35 years rather than move on and forge a positive relationship for the future.