Walker is Right: Trafficker Firings Affected Soviets

   < < Go Back

by Robert Charles,

from Townhall,

Make no mistake, Scott Walker is right about Ronald Reagan’s firing of the air traffic controllers, and the sobering impact this one decision – a domestic policy decision – had on the thinking of Soviet leaders. In short, Reagan’s decisive domestic leadership sacred the Soviet Union, which was not accustomed to an American President doing exactly as he said he would do. This decision by Reagan, made against the counsel of some of his senior advisors, had enormous implications for the Soviet Union – and theirs leaders knew it. While Walker’s media critics disparage the comment and Reagan’s onetime Soviet Ambassador blithely dismisses the assessment, Walker is exactly right. Here is the evidence.

For clarity, in 1981, nearly 13,000 air traffic controllers went on strike.

Against the strikers’ expectations, and most public expectations, Reagan summarily fired the strikers who defied the law. Most never worked in the field again. This was the death knell for the union. It was decertified in 1981. To assure safety in the skies, Reagan deployed the National Guard controllers, swiftly training and hiring fresh talent. The world went on.

But not without notice. As a young man, I worked in the Reagan Administration and recall that particular speech vividly. Even then, global reaction was a matter of record. There was no question that the Soviets noticed, and within a year were sitting up straight themselves. That was August 1981, and by June 1982, the Soviets were on notice that – against the backdrop of the air traffic controllers’ decision – they were next in line. Reagan gave another speech, in this one declaring before the British Parliament, with Margaret Thatcher looking on, “the forward march of freedom and democracy will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash heap of history.” The Soviet leaders were on notice.

More From Townhall: