Baroness Thatcher Dies at 87

April 8, 2013 9:02 am

by Bridget Cantrell · 20 comments

It’s not a Georgia Politics issue, but it’s clearly the topic of the day.  The comment section will be left open for dialogue, but don’t be a jerk or your comments will be deleted.

An obituary video of Baroness Thatcher.

A BBC News Live Feed is here.

The Iron Lady’s Most Famous Quotes as listed in today’s Mirror.  My favorites are likely obvious:

  • If you want something said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman.
  • I am extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end.
Nathan April 8, 2013 at 9:15 am

The Iron Lady was a strong leader guided by her conservative principles. She will be missed.

sockpuppet April 8, 2013 at 9:31 am

The Iron Lady did a lot to free many people from the cruel boot of Soviet Marxism and end the Cold War. Rest in peace …

George Chidi April 8, 2013 at 9:34 am

“None of her triumphs astonished me.” — Christopher Hitchens.

saltycracker April 8, 2013 at 1:16 pm

Hitchens was a contrarian, an atheist, a socialist, a drunk and died at 52 – not the kind of guy to fall for an iron lady, he didn’t think much of Mother Teresa either.

Harry April 8, 2013 at 9:34 am

“Economics are the method; the object is to change the heart and soul.” Margaret Thatcher, Sunday Times, May 1, 1981

Buzz Brockway April 8, 2013 at 9:48 am

She was a great leader and Prime Minister. How blessed the world was to have had Thatcher, Reagan, and Pope John Paul II leading at the same time and helping to topple the communist regimes of the day.

I stumbled across an old “Firing Line” program a few weeks ago where Buckley was interviewing then candidate Lady Thatcher. What a treat that was.

sockpuppet April 8, 2013 at 9:58 am

I still remember the opposition Reagan and Thatcher faced because people didn’t think that defeating Soviet communism was possible. Or rather, only wanted Soviet communism to undergo (minor) reforms as opposed to outright defeat.

Buzz Brockway April 8, 2013 at 10:03 am

Containment wasn’t working was it? ;)

David C April 8, 2013 at 11:48 am

Unless I missed the massive war we launched into Eastern Europe under Reagan/Thatcher, containment worked just fine. The thing that always strikes me about people rushing to credit Reagan/Thatcher for ‘defeating Communism’ it seems like they’re saying communism would have worked if it wasn’t for them. Containing Communism, under Presidents D and R (And Prime Ministers Tory and Labour) while the rotten system collapsed on its own under its own failed policies and ideas and in the face of the more attractive culture, system, and ideas next door, (and people power from within led by people like Walesa, Sakharov, and Havel) was the right call.

Buzz Brockway April 8, 2013 at 1:10 pm

You’re wrong about that. Containment meant for many trying to get along. Reagan decided the policy needed to change. He wasn’t satisfied with containing the Soviets he wanted them driven back and defeated. Walesa and Havel came to the forefront during the Reagan/Thatcher years – once the policy had changed and they knew they had support (both in words and deeds) in the U.S. and the U.K.

Communism didn’t merely collapse under it’s own weight, the West, under the leadership of Reagan, Thatcher and John Paul II, collapsed it.

David C April 8, 2013 at 2:51 pm

You’re completely, utterly wrong. Containment was about containment. Don’t let Communism expand, but recognize that overthrowing it militarily within its spheres of influence wasn’t feasible and wasn’t worth the nuclear holocaust that would result. And that was the US Policy, from Truman all the way past Reagan to Bush. It was the policy of Truman w/ NATO and Korea, Ike putting Western Europe under the Nuclear Umbrella, Kennedy in Cuba, and Carter and Reagan in Afghanistan. What you’re thinking of was ‘detente’ or ‘peaceful coexistence,’ from the 1970s, something that went by the wayside even before Reagan was President. Detente fell apart with the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan and the response of the Carter Administration, pulling SALT II, starting a defense buildup (that Reagan later increased further). But containment was denounced by those on the right that wanted ‘roll back’ as far back as the 1950s and felt containment didn’t go far enough against Communism. You had people who felt Eisenhower should have intervened in the Hungarian Uprising of 1956, but he demurred. Reagan talked tough on anti-communism, but his military action was, like his predecessors, limited to resisting it in the 3rd world, with decidedly mixed results looking back on it 30 years later.

And you’re dead wrong about Walesa and especially Havel. The name of Havel’s organization was Charter 77: Named for the founding document they signed in January 6, 1977, even before the beginning of the Carter Administration. The impetus for reform movements in Eastern Europe was the Helsinki Final Act. Signed at the Helsinki Conference in 1975 by the East and West at the height of detente, it was essentially a trade off: The West recognized the post-war status quo of borders, (rollback forces were outraged at that) and the Communist nations committed to a whole host of civil and political rights. The result was the rise of Helsinki Watch Groups throughout the Communist world. As Cold War historian John Lewis Gaddis said, “Leonid Brezhnev had looked forward, Anatoly Dobrynin recalls, to the ‘publicity he would gain… when the Soviet public learned of the final settlement of the postwar boundaries for which they had sacrificed so much’… ‘[Instead, the Helsinki Accords] gradually became a manifesto of the dissident and liberal movement’… What this meant was that the people who lived under these systems — at least the more courageous — could claim official permission to say what they thought.” The early Solidarity strikes came in the late 1970s and 1980. All of that came before Reagan. And it’s insulting to both of them to presume that they didn’t or wouldn’t stand up without rhetoric from Western leaders safely abroad.

The important thing Reagan did was recognize (with Thatcher’s early endorsement) that Gorbachev was a man he could work with and support, even in the face of some devout skepticism from the neocons and hawks on his side. (Some of the columns from the right about his peace maneuvers with Gorby are absolutely brutal.) By extending a hand of friendship rather than force, he helped Gorbachev neutralize the hawks and counter-reform movements on his own side. Reagan stood strong against forces in his own party to get things like the INF Treaty signed and set the groundwork for later Bush-era treaties like START I and the Conventional Forces Treaty.

The thing that killed Communism was the long, crippling Brezhnev era of stagnation that created a system so bankrupt, so flawed, and so hated that it couldn’t be reformed (though Gorbachev tried) without causing the entire thing to collapse. By 1989, Gorbachev realized that the USSR was in such dire shape that it couldn’t afford to maintain the Brezhnev Doctrine (the post-Prague Spring rule that any reform movement would be crushed by Moscow) and instead launched the Sinatra Doctrine, cheekily named because it meant each country of Eastern Europe could do things ‘Their Way.’

Harry April 8, 2013 at 3:07 pm

Long before the Brezhnev era we realized that communism would fail in the not too distant future.

MattMD April 8, 2013 at 8:08 pm

I think that will do it as far as the conservative myths go on this subject.

Rick Day April 9, 2013 at 1:33 am

Buzz…Buzz, rose colored lenses are not in style these days. Aren’t you kind of ignoring the policy of the previous 6 presidents before Ronnie? All he did was maintain status quo, and tried hard not to break anything, like china or……….China.

The Cold War was simply a test to see who could bankrupt who first. Happened to the Soviets in the 80′s. Happened to the US in 2007. * shrugs* it is what it is.

By all means, keep your hero’s on your mantle. They seem to give you comfort.

Baker April 8, 2013 at 11:21 am

She certainly nailed it on the Euro experiment:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=vZZf7cLhPG8

George Chidi April 8, 2013 at 11:28 am

I add these, merely to note in passing, of her passing.

Thatcher was no social conservative, at least not by the standards a modern American (reactionary) conservative would apply. Thatcher voted to legalize both abortion and homosexuality and she made those votes in the 1960s, far before the trend became fashionable on this side of the Atlantic.

For all the encomiums about how Thatcher righted the economic ship of England, industrial output in Britain fell precipitously during her term in office. The child poverty rate doubled and was the highest in western Europe when she left office. It’s unreasonable to hold her solely responsible for this, of course. Britain was but one country in a world economy that was getting slaughtered by the global shift in power over oil commodities to the Middle East and the early rise of Chinese industrial output. But the unemployment rate spike early in her term? That’s more on her, a response to both global production trends while partly a result of her domestic policies — a focus on monetarist control of the currency to (ineffectually, in the end) fight inflation, as well as a penchant for privatization and opposition to labor.

Some people have been quick to say that they look back today and can see how necessary some of these reforms had been. The government had little business owning shares in BP or British Airways, for example. On the balance, labor strikes had made it impossible to make efficiency gains in industry. But the depths of the fall for the middle and working class during her years has given new rise to a persistent underclass and the reemergence of British economic caste of a scope and character that would be familiar the readers of Victorian novels … or to Atlantans — one of the most class-divided cities in America.

Credit where it is due — the Cold War would have lasted another 10 years without her. But it’s hard to argue that Britain ever regained its preeminence in world affairs after the Thatcher leadership ended. Twenty years later, and they’ve never really recovered — just a long slide.

If you ever wonder how Britain ever became the sort of place a person like Thatcher would enter as a conservative reformist, understand that it was the backlash of a British public that tired of men with hereditary wealth and position exercising dominion. No free society tolerates that for long.

Harry April 8, 2013 at 11:34 am

“For all the encomiums about how Thatcher righted the economic ship of England, industrial output in Britain fell precipitously during her term in office.”
I don’t know about industrial production statistics, but the overall economy did improve tremendously. Previous to her time Britain had been referred to as the “sick man of Europe”.

Joshua Morris April 8, 2013 at 1:01 pm

If only 1/10 of our Congress had the boldness to stand on principle like she did.

George Chidi April 8, 2013 at 5:20 pm

If only 1/10 of our Congress had the boldness to seek compromise like she did.

Baker April 8, 2013 at 9:23 pm

Ha, George. George is feisty. He’s gonna do just fine.

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