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Ronald Reagan 1911-2004: Noam Chomsky, Helen Caldicott & Robert Parry on Iran-Contra, the Nuclear Race and Covert Wars from Central America to Africa

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    On Saturday, former President Ronald Reagan died after suffering for more than a decade from the mind-destroying illness of Alzheimer’s disease. He was 93 years old.

    Ronald Reagan served as president through much of the nuclear race between the United States and the Soviet Union, as well as the Cold War. He defeated President Jimmy Carter in a 1980 election that was marked by the secret arms-for-hostages deal. Reagan left office on a high note on Jan. 20, 1989. The last Gallup Poll of his presidency gave him a 63 percent approval rating, the highest for any departing president since FDR.

    Among Republicans and other conservatives, Reagan’s presidency is remembered as a revolution. Current president George Bush has evoked his name consistently throughout his time in power. The network and newspaper coverage of his death has brought forth a chorus of praise from Democrats and Republicans.

    Much of the reporting and commentary has represented a dramatic revision of the history of the Reagan years in office. We spend the hour focusing on the policies of Reagan’s administration and the history of his 8 years in power with MIT professor and author Noam Chomsky, veteran investigative journalist Robert Parry whose reporting led to the exposure of what is now known as the “Iran-Contra” scandal and Dr. Helen Caldicott, one of the world’s most respected anti-nuclear activists.

    This week is expected to be dominated by services honoring and remembering Reagan. Services honoring the former president will take place in Washington, D.C. and California, and span five days. Today his family is gathering for private services at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. Afterward, the body will lie in repose at the library through Tuesday for public visitation. The body will be flown to Washington on Wednesday, where it will lie in state in the Rotunda of the Capitol for public viewing through the night and all day Thursday.

    On Friday morning, Reagan’s body will be taken by motorcade through Washington to the National Cathedral for funeral services expected to be attended by numerous heads of state, some of whom will be in the country for the G-8 economic summit earlier in the week on Sea Island, Georgia. President Bush will deliver the principal eulogy, but it is unclear who else will speak. That afternoon the body will be returned to California for a private funeral and burial at the library planned for sunset.

    Throughout his career, Reagan was known as a vehement anti-communist, labeling popular movements against military regimes throughout Central America and Africa as part of the communist menace. He even labeled Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress a notorious terrorist organization.

    Perhaps his most famous quote came on June 12, 1987, in front of the Brandenburg Gate near the Berlin Wall where he said, “Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

    • Dr. Helen Caldicott, one of the world’s most respected anti-nuclear activists. She is the president of the Nuclear Policy Research Institute. She founder and headed both Physicians For Social Responsibility and Women’s Action For Nuclear Disarmament. She has written a number of books, including Nuclear Madness-What You Can Do, Missile Envy and The New Nuclear Danger: George W. Bush’s Military-Industrial Complex
    • * Noam Chomsky*, one of America’s best known dissidents. He is the author of dozens of books, including his recent books Hegemony or Survival and 9/11. Chomsky was one of the most prolific analysts and critics of Reagan’s policies.
    • Robert Parry veteran investigative journalist. For years he worked as an investigative reporter for both the Associated Press and Newsweek magazine. His reporting led to the exposure of what is now known as the “Iran-Contra” scandal. His website is His latest piece is called “Rating Reagan: A Bogus Legacy.”

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