Confronting the Enemy: A Lesson from Ronald Reagan

Future president's 1964 appeasement remarks ring true in struggle vs. ISIS.

By The Editors Published on February 5, 2015

As Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater prepared to challenge incumbent President Lyndon Johnson in the 1964 presidential election, an actor named Ronald Reagan gave a series of speeches on Goldwater’s behalf.  On Oct. 27, 1964, Reagan delivered an address called “A Time for Choosing,” which changed the course of not only his own life, but the lives of millions in the country he would eventually lead.

Goldwater was crushed in the 1964 election, but Reagan’s stirring speech prompted his successful 1966 run for governor in California.  Reagan would lose a tough 1976 Republican presidential primary race to sitting President Gerald Ford before winning two landslide presidential victories in 1980 and 1984.

As a Jan. 31 Fox News segment highlighted, Reagan’s “A Time for Choosing” address is more relevant than ever in the wake of a debate over how to confront the butchers and killers of ISIS, al Qaeda and the Taliban.

“Admittedly, there’s a risk in any course we follow other than this, but every lesson of history tells us that the greater risk lies in appeasement, and this is the specter our well-meaning liberal friends refuse to face—that their policy of accommodation is appeasement, and it gives no choice between peace and war, only between fight or surrender,” the future president said in the speech, a full text of which can be found here. “If we continue to accommodate, continue to back and retreat, eventually we have to face the final demand—the ultimatum.”

“You and I have the courage to say to our enemies, ‘There is a price we will not pay,'” Reagan said later in the speech. “There is a point beyond which they must not advance.”

“You and I have a rendezvous with destiny,” Reagan famously said in conclusion. The Fox News segment and Reagan’s historic address are well worth your time.



Ronald Reagan, “A Time for Choosing”


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