Reagan Vindicated…

Dear Editor,

It is amusing that Professor Gier begins his rant about lying Republicans with a whopper of his own discredited over thirty years ago. (“The Republican Reign of Error,” February 11, 2016.)

With “pants on fire,” the bumbling Reagan, says Gier, “ignorantly claimed” in a 1982 news conference that submarine-launched nuclear missiles ‘can be recalled.’” Mr. Gier either didn’t fact check himself or he simply chose to ignore the facts.

Walter Mondale first made this accusation in a 1984 presidential debate, claiming Reagan said, about ballistic missiles launched from submarines: “you could fire them, and you could recall them…” In response, Reagan vigorously denied saying that, adding “How anyone could think that any sane person would believe you could call back a nuclear missile, I think is as ridiculous as the whole concept has been.”

An honest reading of that press conference vindicates Reagan. He said no such thing. He was discussing the relative destabilizing influence of land based ICBMs versus missiles launched from aircraft, ships, or submarines. The latter, he said, lumping them together, can be recalled once sent on a mission. (The technology to communicate worldwide with a submarine, even one-way with a low data rate, is formidable, but was developed for just this purpose.) Nowhere does he even hint that missiles, once launched from any of the three, could be recalled, any more than an ICBM could be.

I found these transcripts in a matter of minutes, and assume the professor did, too. (Debate transcripts are at the website of The Commission on Presidential Debates, and Reagan’s press conferences are at The American Presidency Project.) I think, in fact, that it is the professor who is pantsless with a scorched bum, not the president.

Alan Barber


Response from Nick Gier:

On rereading Reagan’s words I think that Mr. Barber is correct. I now challenge him to respond to all the errors in Green and MacColl’s book “Ronald Reagan’s Reign of Error.”

-Nick Gier.

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