Romanov Reflects 8 July, 1987

1986-1987: Moscow, Red Square

General Secretary Grigory Vasilyevich Romanov stared hard at the men seated around the conference table with him. Together, they made up the leadership core that would reenergize the rapidly failing Soviet Union and ascend the CCCP to new heights of power and global leadership. These men were all subordinate to Romanov, willfully accepting their places and roles in the new hierarchy of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. There was to be no sharing of power. When Romanov began planning for his eventual seizure of power shortly after being ousted by Mikhail Gorbachev in 1986, he deliberately kept his intentions from being known even by these men who were all close to him. Nothing was said until minutes before the bold undertaking was launched. As Romanov had fervently hoped, these men immediately realized the opportunity presented to them and gave their support without a second thought.

Now, here they were less than three months since Romanov took power, in a position that none of them, including the General Secretary, anticipated would come so quickly. He understood the precarious position the Soviet Union had been placed in, largely due to Gorbachev’s attempted reforms. Glasnost and Perestroika would only serve to speed up the demise of the Soviet Union. Romanov recognized this and it motivated him to move decisively to prevent his predecessor and rival from sending the motherland into an irrecoverable tailspin.

Lamentably, Romanov quickly discovered the true condition of his nation upon assuming control. The Soviet Union was essentially on life support. The degeneration of the state’s power had advanced farther than anyone outside Gorbachev’s circle fully understood. The nation had been sedentary for far too long. Its economic strength had been allowed to atrophy, and Soviet military power would not lagging very far behind. Support for the Party was diminishing, and for good reason, Romanov believed. The Party was doing nothing for its people! Animosity was reaching the critical level in the Southern and Baltic republics. And of course, there was still Afghanistan to contend with.

Outside of the CCCP, the situation was more desperate. The Eastern European satellites were in even worse condition. All that was needed for a complete collapse was one errant event. Poles, East Germans, Hungarians, and Czechs were frustrated and despondent. Their living conditions steadily diminished while to the west, their counterparts in West Germany, France, the Low Countries and beyond were enjoying unprecedented economic prosperity.

The writing on the wall was clear: Nothing short of extreme measures was going to save the Soviet empire from being consigned to the dustbin of history. Those measures were less than 24 hours in coming, Romanov noted with some sadness. He certainly had not wanted it to come to this. At least not this quickly. Regrettably, time was against him. The Romanov coup had instigated a chain of events that would consume the State if left untreated. World opinion was decidedly against him. Many governments refused to recognize the legitimacy of his government. The United States had denounced the coup and demanded that Gorbachev be reinstated. Beneath the surface, the US was licking its chops and preparing to use the situation to its advantage, Romanov was positive. Sure enough, evidence of US military preparations around the world began to trickle in after he was in power. In response, Romanov took a hard stance and challenged the US and Reagan, hoping to dissuade any opportunistic moves while the Soviet Union was undergoing transition.

That was not to be, and it became clear very rapidly the US was not going to give Romanov the time needed to consolidate his hold on power, and begin repairing the dry-rot that had become so prevalent in the Soviet Union.

Security was inextricably linked to expansion, Western scholars liked to contend. Romanov agreed, though the current position was more akin to security being linked to a consolidation of power. Conversely, that would not be possible until NATO and the United States were forced into compliance with the Soviet Union’s intended course into the future. And to bring that about meant war, while the Soviet military still held the advantage over the armies, navies, and air forces of the West. An advantage which would cease to exist come 1988.

Therefore, action had to be taken immediately.

 

 

 

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America’s Awakening 7 July, 1987 (Part 2)

Ronald Reagan

President Reagan addressed the nation from the Oval Office again at 3PM Eastern Time. This was the greatest speech of Reagan’s presidency and the one which will forever be attached with the man’s legacy. Quotes from the speech have appeared practically everywhere in one form or another in the post-war years, from memorial statues, to countless textbooks. The address has been immortalized, and rightfully so. Reagan’s words came at a pivotal moment. The gravity of the crisis was now sinking in, and for most Americans the realization was traumatic and horrifying. Reagan acknowledged this and through his words essentially told his fellow Americans that he was feeling similar emotions. Hearing the president admit he was every bit as worried as the average American was had a tremendously affirmative effect on people. They realized that they were not alone.

The heart of the address was, of course, the ‘choice we make today’ portion. Reagan laid out the two choices facing the United States. The country could stand aside, ignore its treaty commitments and allow the evil entity that was the Soviet Union to overrun Western Europe without lifting a finger to help. In that scenario, no American blood would be spilled on the battlefield, Europe would likely be spared a major war, and the horrors of nuclear war would not become reality. But at some point in the future, the enemy would arrive on America’s shores, likely after the rest of the world had been enslaved.

Or, the United States could assume its proper place as the leader of the free world, stand up for its ideals, and lead the defense of Western Europe. If war came, Reagan warned, it would be deadly, and wrought with destruction, and peril. Thousands would perish on the battlefield, and there was no guarantee the nation would be kept safe from the ravages of modern war. Despite the unknowns, and danger, Reagan believed we were compelled to defend Europe. Standing aside guaranteed the world would slide into the abyss once and for all.  “Europe,” he concluded bluntly and correctly, “Is worth fighting for.”

At the tail end of the speech, the president announced the immediate call up of 300,000 reservists, but stopped short of declaring a national emergency for the time being. Doing so would have contradicted the purpose of his speech. He wanted Americans cognizant and able to function, not consumed with fear and thus incapacitated. In this regard, Reagan was doubling down on his faith in Americans to do the right thing when it mattered the most.

That afternoon at Wrigley Field, the San Diego Padres were in town to play the Chicago Cubs. The game was delayed so the speech could be played over the stadium’s sound system for the sold-out crowd. Once it was over, a long moment of reflective silence followed. Wrigley had likely never been so quiet with a capacity crowd in attendance. It was to be temporary. The silence was broken by the PA announcer asking the crowd to rise for the national anthem. What followed was the most inspiring recital of the Star Spangled Banner ever by a sporting event crowd. After the anthem, an ear shattering cheer rolled through the historic stadium, sparking a seven minute long “USA! USA!” chant which was probably heard in Milwaukee.

Ronald Reagan had set the tone of the moment and America was responding. As the afternoon went on, a national resolve began to grow. The peace protests that had cropped up were soon dwarfed by anti-Soviet and pro-USA rallies. By 5 PM on the east coast, flag waving citizens began converging upon many military installations in spontaneous shows of support for the soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen who would soon be leaving for Europe. For officers and NCOs who served in Vietnam, the sight was almost overwhelming. This war…if it evolved to that…was not destined be another Vietnam. Troops were not going to be spat upon, or labeled as ‘baby killers.’ It was clear the American people would support the troops and the mission.

Unlike Vietnam, this war would be about national survival, and that made all the difference in the world.

July 5, 1987- NBC News Special Report

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Diplomatic efforts continue as the crisis between the United States and Soviet Union over Thursday’s naval action in the Mediterranean that left a US frigate damaged and a Soviet cruiser sunk continues to escalate. The US and Soviet Union have blamed each other for the incident that left 30 US sailors and 100 Soviets dead. General Secretary Romanov addressed his nation this morning and said the Soviet Union ‘stands ready to withstand further aggression by the United States.’ President Reagan, in an address earlier this eveing, has laid blame on the Soviet Union and warned Romanov not to test American resolve. In light of the current situation and heightened tension in Europe, Reagan announced that reinforcements from the US will begin leaving for Europe this evening and a call up reservists in the near future is probable.

June 12, 1987-NBC Nightly News

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While in West Berlin today, President Reagan responded to comments made last week by Soviet General Secretary Grigory Romanov about the increase in tension between the US and Soviet Union since Romanov’s unexpected rise to power in April. In a speech made in front of the Berlin Wall, Reagan expressed hope that Romanov will continue the policies that were being enacted by his predecessor but until concrete evidence is made available that this is the case, the United States will continue to regard the new general secretary and Soviet Union warily.