I’m telling the story of Ronald Reagan’s Evil Empire Speech today, in part to remind political newcomers that Reagan wasn’t the one- or two-dimensional smiling old man of "The Reagans" TV movie, and in part to let anyone who cares compare the way he took on the Soviet Union with the way a new generation of democrats is taking on the remaining dictators.
Let me make my case in a nutshell. It is the highest liberal cause that the human race be freed of dictatorships, the sooner the better.
Some dictatorships are worse than others, but all are bad and ultimately deadly. Totalitarian regimes are worse than authoritarian regimes, and the most dangerous form of government is a totalitarian dictatorship with nuclear weapons, for it can inflict any manner of dictatorial abuse behind its nuclear shield.
No two democracies went to war with each other in the entire 20th century, and in those same 100 years, dicatorships killed more of their own people than all the world’s wars combined. The lesson learned: Democracy is much safer for the world community and for individuals. Democracy also happens to be more fun.
As imperfect as it is, democracy is infinitely better suited to human nature. Its openness and accountability are what make it so much safer. The secrecy, unpredictability and unaccountability of dictatorships are what doom their subjects to enslavement or death.
All nations have the right to be free. And all free nations have an obligation to do what they can (short of suicide, of course) to liberate everyone who suffers a dictator’s abuse.
Reagan acted on that liberal obligation, and it was a good thing he did.