A Conversation with Peter M. Robinson | The Fall of the Berlin Wall | President Ronald Reagan's Principled Leadership | Virtue — Essential for a Functioning Democracy

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November 12th, 2022

40 mins 20 secs

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About this Episode

Join America's Roundtable Radio co-hosts Natasha Srdoc and Joel Anand Samy in a conversation with Peter M. Robinson, Murdoch Distinguished Policy Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Host of Uncommon Knowledge™ — Hoover's Video Series Program and Former Special Assistant and Speechwriter to President Ronald Reagan.

Peter Robinson is the Murdoch Distinguished Policy Fellow at the Hoover Institution, where he writes about business and politics, edits Hoover's quarterly journal, the Hoover Digest, and hosts Hoover's video series program, Uncommon Knowledge™.

Robinson spent six years in the White House, serving from 1982 to 1983 as chief speechwriter to Vice President George Bush and from 1983 to 1988 as special assistant and speechwriter to President Ronald Reagan. He wrote the historic Berlin Wall address in which President Reagan called on General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall!"

The conversation will begin by focusing on the 33rd anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. On November 9, 1989, five days after a major peaceful protest in East Berlin which gathered half a million people, the communist rulers gave permission for gates along the Berlin Wall to be opened. The fall of Communist Eastern Europe was hastened by the principled leadership of President Ronald Reagan joined by then-UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Pope John Paul II, Germany's Helmut Kohl, Vaclav Havel, leaders within Poland, and other countries in the Soviet block yearning for freedom.

The historic day reminded the world of a speech that was delivered on June 12, 1987 by President Ronald Reagan when he shared these words:

"_Behind me stands a wall that encircles the free sectors of this city, part of a vast system of barriers that divides the entire continent of Europe. . . . Standing before the Brandenburg Gate, every man is a German, separated from his fellow men. Every man is a Berliner, forced to look upon a scar. . . . As long as this gate is closed, as long as this scar of a wall is permitted to stand, it is not the German question alone that remains open, but the question of freedom for all mankind. . . .

General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate.

Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate!

Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!_"

—Ronald Reagan, address at the Brandenburg Gate, June 12, 1987

Topics covered on America's Roundtable:

— Reflecting on the 33rd Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall.

— President Ronald Reagan's principled leadership and his clear articulation of moral clarity based on timeless principles and values.

—Peter Robinson shares the real story behind the speech in Berlin, how the message captured the realities on the ground during the Cold War, and the opposition by advisors opposing Reagan's challenge to Gorbachev.

— The Unfinished Work in advancing freedom and the rule of law in Eastern Europe.

— Brief observations of the US midterm elections and public policies in America.

Bio | Peter M. Robinson

Peter M. Robinson is the Murdoch Distinguished Policy Fellow at the Hoover Institution, where he writes about business and politics, edits Hoover's quarterly journal, the Hoover Digest, and hosts Hoover's video series program, Uncommon Knowledge™.

Robinson is also the author of three books: How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life (Regan Books, 2003); It's My Party: A Republican's Messy Love Affair with the GOP, (Warner Books, 2000); and the best-selling business book Snapshots from Hell: The Making of an MBA (Warner Books, 1994; still available in paperback).

In 1979, he graduated summa cum laude from Dartmouth College, where he majored in English. He went on to study politics, philosophy, and economics at Oxford University, from which he graduated in 1982.

Robinson spent six years in the White House, serving from 1982 to 1983 as chief speechwriter to Vice President George Bush and from 1983 to 1988 as special assistant and speechwriter to President Ronald Reagan. He wrote the historic Berlin Wall address in which President Reagan called on General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall!"

After the White House, Robinson attended the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. (The journal he kept formed the basis for Snapshots from Hell.) He graduated with an MBA in 1990.

Robinson then spent a year in New York City with Fox Television, reporting to the owner of the company, Rupert Murdoch. He spent a second year in Washington, D.C., with the Securities and Exchange Commission, where he served as the director of the Office of Public Affairs, Policy Evaluation, and Research. Robinson joined the Hoover Institution in 1993.

The author of numerous essays and interviews, Robinson has published in the New York Times, Red Herring, and Forbes ASAP, the Wall Street Journal, and National Review Online. He is the editor of Can Congress Be Fixed?: Five Essays on Congressional Reform (Hoover Institution Press, 1995).

Further reading:

“Tear Down This Wall” | How Top Advisers Opposed Reagan's Challenge to Gorbachev—But Lost

Visit Uncommon Knowledge

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