Friday, March 9, 2018
Is Russia Targeting Ex-Spies in Great Britain?
THE REAL NEWS THIS WEEK IS BRITAIN'S RUSSIA PROBLEM. The problem comes in the form of poison gases. • • • RUSSIAN EX-SPY AND DAUGHTER GASSED IN SALISBURY. The BBC has daily reports about the attempted murder of ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia. British Home Secretary Amber Rudd called a nerve agent a "brazen and reckless attack." The BBC reported on Thursday that Both Skripal and his daughter are still critically ill after being found collapsed on a bench in Salisbury city center on Sunday. Counter-terrorism officers are working to find the origin of the nerve agent, which Secretary Rudd said was " very rare." The first responder police officer who was also injured by the gas, was in intensive care but is now "stable and conscious," Wiltshire's chief constable said. Kier Pritchard, the acting chief constable, said a "total of 21 people are being treated as a result of the ex-Russian spy poisoning. Multiple people have been treated, around 21 people, including the man and woman found on the bench. A number of those have been through the hospital treatment process, they are having blood tests, support and advice." • Addressing the House of Commons, Rudd said the attack was "attempted murder in the most cruel and public way," tledling MPs that it was an "outrageous crime," and that the government would "act without hesitation as the facts become clearer." She refused to speculate on whether the Russian state might have been involved in the attack, saying the police investigation should be based on "facts, not rumor." However, Secretary Rudd said the government was committed to bringing the perpetrators to justice "whoever they are and wherever they may be." A Downing Street spokesman described the attack as an "appalling and reckless crime" and said those responsible would face a "robust" response. • The latest poison gas attack of a Russian on British soil, apparently with a rare nerve agent, targeted former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, is the latest in a series of what the BBC labels "malevolent machinations on British soil, which has taken the lives of numerous enemies of Vladimir Putin. Until now, authorities in the U.K. haven't seemed too eager to even investigate these assassinations, let alone castigate the most obvious culprit. But something has changed this time, perhaps because Skripal's 33-year-old daughter was targeted or maybe because a British first responder is in the hospital himself." It is known that he and his 33-year-old daughter had visited the Mill pub and Zizzi restaurant in Salisbury on Sunday afternoon, before they were found collapsed on a bench near the Maltings shopping center. A witness, who saw the pair at the restaurant, told the BBC that Skripal was acting "very strange" and was "very agitated. He seemed to lose his temper...and he just started screaming at the top of his voice, he wanted his bill and he wanted to go." Police have yet to say if they know how and where the poison was administered. But, nerve agents are highly toxic chemicals that stop the nervous system working and shut down bodily functions. They normally enter the body through the mouth or nose, but can also be absorbed through the eyes or skin. Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Operations of the Metropolitan Police Service Mark Rowley -- a senior British police officer who is chairman of the National Police Chiefs' Council Counter-Terrorism Coordination Committee and National Lead for Counter-terrorism policing -- said there was no evidence of a widespread health risk to the public. • British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was forceful in his response to the attack : "No attempt to take innocent life on UK soil will go either unsanctioned or unpunished." Johnson accused Moscow of undermining "the fundamental basis of international order." • British police said government scientists had identified the nerve agent used, but would not make that information public at this stage. However, BBC quoted a source familiar with the investigation who told told the BBC it was likely to be rarer than the Sarin gas thought to have been used in Syria and in an attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995. And it was said not to be VX -- the nerve agent used to kill the half brother of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Malaysia last year, the use of which has led to the Trump administration placing new sanctions on North Korea. That the nerve agent is "very rare" will help the investigation narrow its focus. BBC explains : "Making nerve agents and delivering them requires considerable infrastructure and the more unusual the agent the easier it will be to locate which country, even which laboratory, might be involved. That combined with police leads on who delivered the agent will form the basis for a determination of responsibility, along with any other intelligence that can be gathered. It may take days -- even weeks -- for the government to be confident enough to make a public statement, because it will not want to risk getting any details wrong. But if suspicions about Russia are confirmed, then some kind of action seems inevitable." The shocking 2006 Litvinenko case shows that expelling diplomats alone may not be regarded as much of a deterrent to future acts. Economic sanctions on the Russian elite may have more bite, but would require greater political will. • Sergei Skripal, 66, had been living in Salisbury after being released by Russia in 2010 as part of a "spy swap" at the Vienna airport. Skripal is a retired Russian military intelligence colonel who was jailed for 13 years by Russia in 2006 after he was convicted of passing the identities of Russian intelligence agents working undercover in Europe to the UK's Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, and being paid $100,000 for it. In July 2010, he was one of four prisoners released by Moscow in exchange for 10 Russian spies arrested by the FBI. Skripal moved to Salisbury, where he kept a low profile for eight years after having been given refuge in the UK in 2010. • • • IS RUSSIA TARGETING EX-SPIES IN THE UK? UK Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said Russia was becoming an "ever greater threat," amid speculation the attack could have some element of state involvement. Willimason told ITV : "Russia's being assertive, Russia's being more aggressive, and we have to change the way that we deal with it because we can't be in a situation in these areas of conflict where we are being pushed around by another nation." • Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley sayq : "This is being treated as a major incident involving attempted murder, by administration of a nerve agent." He said Skripal and his daughter were "targeted specifically" : "Our role now of course is to establish who is behind this and why they carried out this act." • The BBC says that hundreds of detectives, forensic officers, analysts and intelligence officers are working on the case, which has drawn comparison with the killing of Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko with radioactive polonium-210 in London in 2006. A public inquiry concluded that Litvinenko's death was probably carried out with the approval of President Vladimir Putin. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told MPs on Tuesday the UK would respond "robustly" to any evidence of Russian "state responsibility" in the Skripal case. Russia has insisted it has "no information" about what could have led to the incident, but is open to co-operating with British police if requested. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said foreign media had used the case as part of an anti-Russian campaign. • • • WHAT IS THE RUSSIAN FSB. a long February 9 essay posted by the BBC said : "The letters are not just familiar to fans of spy thrillers. They have come to symbolise Vladimir Putin's grip on power in Russia. Russia's secretive security agency has gained notoriety around the world with its intelligence and counter-terror operations. But, with roots in the Soviet Union's KGB secret police, allegations of state-sanctioned killings and close ties to the president, it faces questions about its true nature and ambitions." • The Federal Security Service (FSB) was set up in 1995, tasked with tackling perceived threats to the Russian state. Mr Putin ran the FSB before he came to power. The BBC offered a list of FDB activities : "It co-operates with foreign police forces in fighting jihadists and some organised crime gangs. The FSB poured resources into fighting separatist rebels from Chechnya in two wars, in the 1990s and early 2000s. Russia has tense relations with several of its ex-Soviet neighbours. Part of the FSB's job is to prevent any pro-Western "color" uprisings in Russia like Georgia's 2003 Rose Revolution and Ukraine's 2004 Orange Revolution. In 2015 the FSB was involved in a Cold War-style spy swap with Estonia. A NATO member, Estonia accused Russia of having kidnapped Eston Kohver, the security official exchanged for a jailed Russian spy. In 2002 the assassination of an Arab jihadist commander in Chechnya, known as Khattab, was attributed to the FSB. His Chechen comrades said he had received a letter laced with poison. • But the Alexander Litvinenko murder case really put the FSB on the international map. Litvinenko had publicly accused fellow FSB officers of corruption in 1998. Litvinenko, an ex-FSB officer bitterly critical of President Putin, was poisoned in London with radioactive polonium-210 in 2006, while he was in asylum in the UK, after being branded a "traitor" in Russia. The official UK inquiry into his agonizing death concluded that the killers probably had approval from Putin and the then FSB chief, Nikolai Patrushev. Russia rejected the charges and made the main suspect named in the inquiry, Andrei Lugovoi, an MP and national hero. Litvinenko had accused the FSB of running a top-secret hit squad called URPO for assassinating enemies. One of its targets, he said, was the powerful oligarch Boris Berezovsky, who died in the UK years after Litvinenko in 2013 in an apparent suicide by hanging that has been seriously questioned. Just weeks before Litvinenko died, Russia passed a law giving the FSB authority to act against "extremists" and "terrorists" abroad. Other prominent Putin opponents, including journalists, have died mysteriously, fuelling speculation about FSB "hits." Often the victims had other enemies, however, who could have targeted them. The FSB can officially warn individuals against "creating the conditions" for crimes, and critics see that as evidence that the FSB is a KGB-style agency with the power of intimidation, enabling the state to stifle dissent. • In their book on the FSB titled The New Nobility, Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan say Mr Putin expanded the FSB's powers by enabling it to send agents abroad for special operations, including intelligence gathering. But, the BBC points out that Russia's equivalent of the British MI6 -- the main overseas spy service -- is the External Intelligence Service (SVR), and that qgents of the military spy service GRU, accused by CrowdStrike of hacking the Democrats in 2016, also gather intelligence abroad. • What is clear, according to the BBC, is that Putin has launched a new kind of International IT-based warfare, using cyber-spying and Internet interference : "The FSB is integral to Russia's new doctrine of information warfare, which includes shaping public opinion abroad via social media." In addition to the US accusations that the Russian state was linked to hacking and disinformation that targeted voters in the 2016 US presidential election, in March 2017 US authorities accused two FSB officers -- Dmitry Dokuchaev and Igor Sushchin -- of hacking Yahoo accounts and stealing the data of millions of users. The BBC says : "The FSB has powerful legal tools to monitor internet traffic. A technology called Sorm lets it snoop on emails and phone calls; data has to be kept for 12 hours, by law, for possible inspection; virtual private networks (VPNs) and other anonymisation tools are restricted." Writer Soldatov says Russian telecoms providers have to give the FSB direct access to data. The real scope of FSB surveillance at any one time is not clear, but Soldatov says that, as with the Communist KGB, the fear of being spied on is a powerful weapon in itself. • FSB headquarters in central Moscow is the Lubyanka -- a symbol of FSB power. The KGB interrogated political prisoners at the feared and hated Lubyanka in Soviet times. FSB's head Alexander Bortnikov reports directly to President Putin. In 2000, Mr Bortnikov's predecessor Nikolai Patrushev called his FSB operatives "modern nobles." Olga Kryshtanovskaya, a leading Russian sociologist, says that "we are witnessing a restoration of the power of the KGB" under Putin. During his first term as president, about one-third of government officials were "siloviki" - or "security guys", she said. Most of the elite -- including Bortnikov -- are now subject to EU and/or US sanctions because of Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea. Most have acquired huge fortunes and control key Russian resources. • In the 1990s, Putin oversaw foreign trade in St Petersburg and some of his associates from that time have been linked to organized crime. Those links are documented by US researcher Karen Dawisha in her book titled Putin's Kleptocracy. The allegations also surfaced in the Litvinenko inquiry and in a major Spanish police investigation into the Russian mafia. The Spanish prosecutor, Jose Grinda, told US officials that Russia's security services "control OC (organised crime) in Russia" and "the FSB is 'absorbing' the Russian mafia." Grinda's speech to came to light when WikiLeaks released it as "SPAIN DETAILS ITS STRATEGY TO COMBAT THE RUSSIAN MAFIA," dated February 8, 2010. Jose Grinda is a Special Prosecutor for Corruption and Organized Crime, who prosecuted the alleged OC network led by Zahkar Kalashov, the Georgian-born, Russian citizen who allegedly is a "vor v zakone," ("Thief in Law," the highest echelon of Russian OC leadership) and reportedly the most senior Russian mafia figure jailed outside Russia. • • • VLADIMIR PUTIN WAS STEEPED IN EAST GERMAN TACTICS. BBC journalist Chris Bowlby calls it "Vladimir Putin's formative German years" in his March 27, 2105, report. Bowlby wrote : "Anyone who wants to understand Vladimir Putin today needs to know the story of what happened to him on a dramatic night in East Germany a quarter of a century ago. It is 5 December 1989 in Dresden, a few weeks after the Berlin Wall has fallen. East German communism is dying on its feet, people power seems irresistible. Crowds storm the Dresden headquarters of the Stasi, the East German secret police, who suddenly seem helpless. Then a small group of demonstrators decides to head across the road, to a large house that is the local headquarters of the Soviet secret service, the KGB. 'The guard on the gate immediately rushed back into the house,' recalls one of the group, Siegfried Dannath. But shortly afterwards 'an officer emerged -- quite small, agitated.' He said to our group, 'Don't try to force your way into this property. My comrades are armed, and they're authorised to use their weapons in an emergency.' That persuaded the group to withdraw. But the KGB officer knew how dangerous the situation remained. He described later how he rang the headquarters of a Red Army tank unit to ask for protection. The answer he received was a devastating, life-changing shock. 'We cannot do anything without orders from Moscow,' the voice at the other end replied. 'And Moscow is silent.' " • Bowlby saws : "the phrase 'Moscow is silent' has haunted this man ever since. Defiant yet helpless as the 1989 revolution swept over him, he has now himself become 'Moscow' -- the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin. • "I think it's the key to understanding Putin," says his German biographer, Boris Reitschuster, adding, "We would have another Putin and another Russia without his time in East Germany." • Bowlby outlines Putin's time in East Germany and states : "The experience taught him lessons he has never forgotten, gave him ideas for a model society, and shaped his ambitions for a powerful network and personal wealth. Above all, it left him with a huge anxiety about the frailty of political elites, and how easily they can be overthrown by the people. Putin had arrived in Dresden in the mid-1980s for his first foreign posting as a KGB agent. The German Democratic Republic or GDR -- a communist state created out of the Soviet-occupied zone of post-Nazi Germany -- was a highly significant outpost of Moscow's power, up close to Western Europe, full of Soviet military and spies. Putin had wanted to join the KGB since he was a teenager, inspired by popular Soviet stories of secret service bravado in which, he recalled later, 'One man's effort could achieve what whole armies could not. One spy could decide the fate of thousands of people.' ' Butn Bowlby says that initially, much of Putin's work in Dresden was "humdrum." • Putin's then wife, Ludmila, later recalled that life in the GDR was very different from life in the USSR : "The streets were clean. They would wash their windows once a week," she said in an interview published in 2000, as part of First Person, a book of interviews with Russia's new and then little-known acting president. The Putins lived in a special block of flats with KGB and Stasi families for neighbours, though Ludmila envied the fact that : "The GDR state security people got higher salaries than our guys, judging from how our German neighbours lived. Of course we tried to economise and save up enough to buy a car." A former KGB colleague, Vladimir Usoltsev, tells about Putin spending hours leafing through Western mail-order catalogues, to keep up with fashions and trends. Biographer Reitschuster says : "He enjoyed very much this little paradise for him." East Germany, he says, "is his model of politics especially. He rebuilt some kind of East Germany in Russia now." • But in autumn 1989 this paradise became a kind of KGB hell. On the streets of Dresden, Putin observed people power emerging in extraordinary ways. In early October, hundreds of East Germans who had claimed political asylum at the West German embassy in Prague were allowed to travel to the West in sealed trains. As they passed through Dresden, huge crowds tried to break through a security cordon to try to board the trains, and make their own escape. After the Berlin Wall opened, on 9 November, the crowds became bolder everywhere -- approaching the citadels of Stasi and KGB power in Dresden. Bowlby saws that Vladimir Putin had undoubtedly assumed that the senior Soviet officers -- men he'd socialized with regularly -- would indeed send in the tanks. But, Moscow under Mikhail Gorbachev "was silent." The implosion of East Germany in the following months marked a huge rupture in his and his family's life. Ludmila said : "We had the horrible feeling that the country that had almost become our home would no longer exist. My neighbour, who was my friend, cried for a week. It was the collapse of everything -- their lives, their careers." One of Putin's key Stasi contacts, Major General Horst Boehm -- the man who had helped him install that precious telephone line for an informer -- was humiliated by the demonstrating crowds, and committed suicide early in 1990. This warning about what can happen when people power becomes dominant was one Putin could now ponder on the long journey home. • Putin worked for the mayor of St Petersburg (1990-96), then moved to Moscow and rose rapidly to the top. His home city, Leningrad, was now becoming St. Petersburg again. What would Putin do there? Bowlby says : "There was talk, briefly, of taxi-driving. But soon Putin realised he had acquired a much more valuable asset than a second-hand washing machine [a gift when he left Dresden]. In Dresden he'd been part of a network of individuals who might have lost their Soviet roles, but were well placed to prosper personally and politically in the new Russia." Professor Karen Dawisha of Miami University, author of "Putin's Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia?", says there are people he met in Dresden "who have then gone on...to be part of his inner core" -- they include Sergey Chemezov, who for years headed Russia's arms export agency and now runs a state program supporting technology; Nikolai Tokarev head of the state pipeline company, Transneft; and, Matthias Warnig, a former Stasi officer, believed to have spent time in Dresden when Putin was there, who is now managing director of Nordstream, the pipeline taking gas directly from Russia to Germany across the Baltic Sea. • Putin-watchers, according to Bowlby, believe events such as the uprising on Kiev's Maidan Square, have revived bad memories -- above all, of that night in Dresden in December 1989. Reitschuster says : "When you have crowds in Kiev in 2004, in Moscow in 2011 or in Kiev in 2013 and 2014, I think he remembers this time in Dresden. And all these old fears come up inside him." Bowlby concludes : "Inside him too may be a memory of how change can be shaped not only by force, or by weakness - but also by emotion. In 1989 he saw in Dresden how patriotic feeling, combined with a yearning for democracy, proved so much more powerful than communist ideology. So when wondering what Vladimir Putin will do next, it's well worth remembering what he's lived through already. One thing seems sure. While Vladimir Putin holds power in the Kremlin, Moscow is unlikely to be silent." • • • DEAR READERS, knowing and understanding your opposition is a fundamental pronciple in any work -- sports, finance, the law, war, politics. And, the last American President to truly understand the opposition was Ronald Reagan. As we watch the unfolding of the latest poison gas attack on Russians in Britain, we should remember that we are now at the 35th anniversary of President Reagan's "Evil Empire" speech. His speech is terribly relevant again. • On March 8, 1983, President Reagan was the headliner at the annual conference of the National Association of Evangelicals, in Orlando, Florida. President Reagan took aim at the "nuclear freeze" movement then sweeping the West. His objections were two-fold. First, he characterized it as counterproductive. By creating false hopes, it was undermining his strategy to eventually effectuate deep reductions in the nuclear arsenals of the world's two superpowers. Reagan believed the freeze movement was based on a false moral equivalency between the United States and its main Cold War adversary, the Soviet Union. Reagan rejected that construct, referring to the Soviet Union as "the focus of evil in the modern world." He then made news -- and history -- with this passage : "So in your discussions of the nuclear freeze proposals, I urge you to beware of the temptation of pride -- the temptation of blithely declaring yourselves above it all and label both sides equally at fault, to ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire, to simply remove yourself from the struggle between right and wrong and good and evil." • Nearly a year earlier, on June 8, 1982, President Reagan was invited ot speak ot the members of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster, where he outlined his vision of the status of the Cold War. The Soviet Union and the bloc of nations under its control, he said, were in the throes of "a revolutionary crisis" within their own borders. Their system, he added, was nearly bankrupt. President Reagan spoke out in ringing terms about the state of the world in 1982 : "We're approaching the end of a bloody century plagued by a terrible political invention -- totalitarianism. Optimism comes less easily today, not because democracy is less vigorous, but because democracy's enemies have refined their instruments of repression. Yet optimism is in order because day by day democracy is proving itself to be a not at all fragile flower. From Stettin on the Baltic to Varna on the Black Sea, the regimes planted by totalitarianism have had more than thirty years to establish their legitimacy. But none -- not one regime -- has yet been able to risk free elections. Regimes planted by bayonets do not take root. The strength of the Solidarity movement in Poland demonstrates the truth told in an underground joke in the Soviet Union. It is that the Soviet Union would remain a one-party nation even if an opposition party were permitted because everyone would join the opposition party....If history teaches anything, it teaches self-delusion in the face of unpleasant facts is folly. We see around us today the marks of our terrible dilemma -- predictions of doomsday, antinuclear demonstrations, an arms race in which the West must, for its own protection, be an unwilling participant. At the same time we see totalitarian forces in the world who seek subversion and conflict around the globe to further their barbarous assault on the human spirit. What, then, is our course? Must civilization perish in a hail of fiery atoms? Must freedom wither in a quiet, deadening accommodation with totalitarian evil? Sir Winston Churchill refused to accept the inevitability of war or even that it was imminent. He said, 'I do not believe that Soviet Russia desires war. What they desire is the fruits of war and the indefinite expansion of their power and doctrines. But what we have to consider here today while time remains is the permanent prevention of war and the establishment of conditions of freedom and democracy as rapidly as possible in all countries.' Well, this is precisely our mission today : to preserve freedom as well as peace. It may not be easy to see; but I believe we live now at a turning point. In an ironic sense Karl Marx was right. We are witnessing today a great revolutionary crisis, a crisis where the demands of the economic order are conflicting directly with those of the political order. But the crisis is happening not in the free, non-Marxist West but in the home of Marxism- Leninism, the Soviet Union. It is the Soviet Union that runs against the tide of history by denying human freedom and human dignity to its citizens. It also is in deep economic difficulty. The rate of growth in the national product has been steadily declining since the fifties and is less than half of what it was then. The dimensions of this failure are astounding: a country which employs one-fifth of its population in agriculture is unable to feed its own people....The constant shrinkage of economic growth combined with the growth of military production is putting a heavy strain on the Soviet people. What we see here is a political structure that no longer corresponds to its economic base, a society where productive forces are hampered by political ones....Wherever the comparisons have been made between free and closed societies...it is the democratic countries that are prosperous and responsive to the needs of their people. And one of the simple but overwhelming facts of our time is this: of all the millions of refugees we've seen in the modern world, their flight is always away from, not toward the Communist world. Today on the NATO line, our military forces face east to prevent a possible invasion. On the other side of the line, the Soviet forces also face east to prevent their people from leaving. The hard evidence of totalitarian rule has caused in mankind an uprising of the intellect and will...there is one unifying thread...rejection of the arbitrary power of the state, the refusal to subordinate the rights of the individual to the superstate, the realization that collectivism stifles all the best human impulses....We cannot ignore the fact that even without our encouragement there has been and will continue to be repeated explosion against repression and dictatorships. The Soviet Union itself is not immune to this reality. Any system is inherently unstable that has no peaceful means to legitimize its leaders. In such cases, the very repressiveness of the state ultimately drives people to resist it, if necessary, by force....Who would voluntarily choose not to have the right to vote, decide to purchase government propaganda handouts instead of independent newspapers, prefer government to worker-controlled unions, opt for land to be owned by the state instead of those who till it, want government repression of religious liberty, a single political party instead of a free choice, a rigid cultural orthodoxy instead of democratic tolerance and diversity....We in America now intend to take additional steps, as many of our allies have already done, toward realizing this same goal. The chairmen and other leaders of the national Republican and Democratic party organizations are initiating a study with the bipartisan American Political Foundation to determine how the United States can best contribute as a nation to the global campaign for democracy now gathering force. They will have the cooperation of congressional leaders of both parties, along with representatives of business, labor, and other major institutions in our society. I look forward to receiving their recommendations and to working with these institutions and the Congress in the common task of strengthening democracy throughout the world. It is time that we committed ourselves as a nation -- in both the public and private sectors -- to assisting democratic development....What I am describing now is a plan and a hope for the long term -- the march of freedom and democracy which will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash heap of history as it has left other tyrannies which stifle the freedom and muzzle the self-expression of the people. And that's why we must continue our efforts to strengthen NATO....Our military strength is a prerequisite to peace, but let it be clear we maintain this strength in the hope it will never be used, for the ultimate determinant in the struggle that's now going on in the world will not be bombs and rockets but a test of wills and ideas, a trial of spiritual resolve, the values we hold, the beliefs we cherish, the ideals to which we are dedicated....I've often wondered about the shyness of some of us in the West about standing for these ideals that have done so much to ease the plight of man and the hardships of our imperfect world. This reluctance to use those vast resources at our command reminds me of the elderly lady whose home was bombed in the blitz. As the rescuers moved about, they found a bottle of brandy she'd stored behind the staircase, which was all that was left standing. And since she was barely conscious, one of the workers pulled the cork to give her a taste of it. She came around immediately and said, 'Here now -- put it back. That's for emergencies.' Well, the emergency is upon us. Let us be shy no longer. Let us go to our strength. Let us offer hope. Let us tell the world that a new age is not only possible but probable. During the dark days of the Second World War...Winston Churchill exclaimed about Britain's adversaries, 'What kind of people do they think we are?'....So, let us ask ourselves, 'What kind of people do we think we are?' And let us answer, 'Free people, worthy of freedom and determined not only to remain so but to help others gain their freedom as well.' Sir Winston led his people to great victory in war...And he left us a message of hope for the future, as timely now as when he first uttered it, as opposition leader in the Commons nearly twenty-seven years ago, when he said, 'When we look back on all the perils through which we have passed and at the mighty foes that we have laid low and all the dark and deadly designs that we have frustrated, why should we fear for our future? We have come safely through the worst.' Well, the task I've set forth will long outlive our own generation. But together, we too have come through the worst. Let us now begin a major effort to secure the best -- a crusade for freedom that will engage the faith and fortitude of the next generation. For the sake of peace and justice, let us move toward a world in which all people are at last free to determine their own destiny." President Reagan's Speech to the House of Commons can be accessed at < https://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/evilemp.htm >. • To intellectual elites on both sides of the Atlantic, Reagan's formulation seemed simplistic in 1982. But, today, to the British police officers and bystanders who witnessed the results of a nerve gas attack in Salisbury this week, and to a government finally coming to terms with the implications of a modern Russia controlled by a former KGB colonel, the lines between good and evil are pretty clear. • President Trump sees those lines, too. His tough talk has brought North Korea to a still-to-be-proven apparent change of nuclear course. His tough talk has brought NATO to a more equal sharing of the burden of protecting Europe and the world. His tough talk has freed the US military to fight and win in the Middle East instead of having targets on their backs. His tough talk has opened the way for serious discussions about how "free" trade can be as free for the US as it is for the rest of the world. His tough talk has brought Americans to their feet to say 'yes, we want an America that is free, unfettered by political elites who drain off the results of our hard work while trying to silence us.' • President Reagan's challenge still rings true : “If not us, who? If not now, when?”