D-Day and Ronald Reagan
An Interview with Mark Weber
American Dissident Voices broadcast
June 12, 2004
by Kevin Alfred Strom
This week marks two milestones in American history: the 60th
anniversary of D-Day and the death of Ronald Reagan. With us to
discuss these issues today is one of the most incisive historical
minds our nation has produced, the courageous researcher,
scholar, and publisher, the Director of the Institute for
Historical Review, Mr. Mark Weber. Welcome, Mark.
Mark Weber: Thank you very much, Kevin. That's very generous.
It's a pleasure being on the show again.
KAS: Mark, not far from where I sit, in Bedford, Virginia, is the
National D-Day Memorial, where wreath-laying ceremonies took
place a few days ago commemorating the 60th anniversary of D-Day.
Americans of the World War II generation, and their children,
remember that day, I think, as a milestone in the fight to
preserve American freedom. And some of my younger listeners may
only have a vague idea of what it was all about. What was D-Day,
Mark -- and was it a milestone in history as it's presented?
MW: D-Day, of course, was the American-British landing in
Normandy, France, on June 6th, 1944. As a purely historical event
it was important because it was the largest naval operation in
history. But it's presented in our media -- and quite a lot in
just the last few days -- as a kind of central turning point of
World War II. There's a natural tendency among everyone and every
society to project the present back onto the past, and that's
nowhere more evident than in how we look at D-Day, because it was
the very important great military operation by the United States
in the Second World War in Europe. But the way that landing is
presented is very misleading.
For one thing, the D-Day invasion did not decisively change the
outcome of the Second World War. Now I know that sounds
incredible, given all that we've heard about that, but the D-Day
landing took place less than a year before the end of the war in
Europe. The war ended in Europe in May, 1945; the D-Day landing
was in June, 1944. The decisive battles of the Second World War
had already been fought, on the Eastern Front. And in the
emphasis on D-Day is a kind of playing down of the much more
important military role that the Soviet forces played in World
War II. Very few people realize that 80% -- four fifths -- of the
German forces in World War II were defeated not on the Western
Front, but on the Eastern Front by the Soviet forces. Germany's
decisive battles had already been fought -- and lost -- on the
Eastern Front, such as in Stalingrad, which ended in early 1943.
And then the final major German offensive of the Second World War
was the Battle of Kursk, the largest tank battle in history,
about which we hear very little in America; and that was in the
summer of 1943. So when the American, British, and Canadian
forces landed on Normandy in June 1944, German forces were
already largely destroyed. And Germany was fighting a very, very
desperate defensive war. That's why, when the American forces
landed on D-Day, I think there were only two German airplanes
that could take to the air to fight off the landing armada. The
German Air Force was very, very hard-pressed, what was left of
it, to even defend the German homeland, which was under intense
Allied bombardment from the air at that time, and of course on
the Eastern Front.
So the battle of D-Day is important in our media, in large
measure, because it comports with a kind of American-centric view
of the Second World War. But in fact the role of the Soviet Union
is one that many Americans, and especially American leaders,
would like to forget.
And that brings us to Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan is remembered,
in terms of foreign policy achievements, largely as a man who
opposed Communism. But during the Second World War, the most
important American ally in that conflict was in fact the Soviet
Union. To put it another way, no country did more to defend the
Soviet Union, to help the Soviet Union, than did the United
States during World War II. And Ronald Reagan spent World War II
as a propagandist for the American military. That is, in his
actual deeds as a man working in Hollywood, he helped the
American war effort which was at that time in alliance and
concert with the Soviet Union.
But that's forgotten a lot today because we want to uphold, and
American leaders want to uphold, this kind of myth that one the
one side of the Second World War were the 'bad guys,' the tyrants
-- that is, the Germans and the Japanese; and that on the other
side, the Allied side, were the 'good guys.' But that in fact is
not only simplistic, it's just simply wrong. During the Second
World War, the most tyrannical regime in the world at that time
-- the Soviet Union -- was on the Allied side. And the most
imperialistic regime in the world at that time -- that is, the
British Empire -- was also on the Allied side in that conflict.
While looking at history in simplistic terms of 'good guys' and
'bad guys' may make people feel good, and it comports with how we
like to have our motion pictures end and our books and so forth,
it doesn't correspond with reality in real historical terms.
KAS: The legacy of D-Day, in broad terms, is the legacy of the
Second World War. That's how we see it from our media-saturated,
from our -- as you say -- American-centric view. Maybe D-Day
wasn't a watershed in the conduct of the war, but that war was a
watershed in diminishing traditional Americans' power over our
own country, in increasing globalism, and in increasing Jewish
power. And it was a watershed in breaking down the old order in
Europe, destroying not only German power, but French and British
power as well. And it brought about the complete collapse of
Eastern Europe, which was swallowed up by Communism for almost
half a century.
MW: Right. There are several points to be made in that regard, I
think. And it again, I think, relates to Ronald Reagan. Ronald
Reagan is remembered as the great American conservative
president. But his idea of conservatism was really just to
present the best view of American history during the Second World
The greatest and most decisive conflict of the twentieth century
was the Second World War, in which the United States fought
openly for a 'New World Order' in which the United States and the
Soviet Union, above all, would rule the entire world. When
Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin met at Teheran, Iran in 1943,
and then at Yalta in 1945, the three men did what they accused
the Axis leaders of wanting to do: That is, they decided the fate
of the entire planet. And, in that, the United States regarded
the Soviet Union as not only a worthy ally, but a trustworthy
ally, an ally with which Roosevelt and the United States were
willing and even eager to cooperate in ruling the entire world.
You know, the wrongness of the simplistic view of how the Second
World War was fought is pointed up in the tragedy of Poland. In
1939, Britain and France declared war on Germany because Germany
had attacked Poland. And, supposedly, British and French concern
for the sovereignty of Poland was the reason for the declarations
of war against Germany. (By the way, this was a war that Germany
and Hitler wanted at all costs to avoid. They didn't want war
with Britain and France.) At the end of that terrible conflict,
six years later, in 1945, Poland was no more free than it was in
1939. It was swallowed up and brutally occupied by the Soviet
Union. So the principles that Britain and France proclaimed when
they declared war on Germany in 1939 -- and which America
proclaimed in fighting the Second World War -- were betrayed by
the Allied leaders in how they actually conducted the war. They
not only permitted but they actively cooperated with the Soviet
Union in expanding its tyranny over half of Europe -- including
Poland, which was the first victim of the Second World War.
KAS: How does Jewish power fit into all of that?
MW: Ronald Reagan, throughout his presidency, was very pro-Israel
and very pro-Jewish. He's not alone, of course. Every American
president since Harry Truman has been committed to supporting the
state of Israel and its policies. Now fortunately for Reagan,
there was no great war in the Middle East as there was in 1967 or
1973. And, also fortunately for Reagan's legacy, there was no
conflict like the current situation in Iraq. Nevertheless, Ronald
Reagan was entirely subordinate to and supportive of Israel and
its policies, even though this meant supporting Israel in actions
which were violations not only of the principles that we as
Americans try to uphold, but even of American law.
Specifically, in 1982, when Reagan was President, Israel invaded
Lebanon. It invaded Lebanon on the deceitful basis of a pretext
that the Israeli ambassador in London had been shot by a member
of the PLO. In fact, the person who shot the Israeli ambassador
in London was not even with the PLO. But on the basis of that
pretext, Israel invaded Lebanon, costing thousands of lives and
creating hundreds of thousands of refugees. Enormous destruction
was the result. And Ronald Reagan supported Israel in this.
One of the speakers several years ago at an IHR conference was US
Congressman Pete McCloskey. And he spoke out at the time on the
floor of the House about Israel's violation even of American law
in that conflict. But Ronald Reagan put America's 'special
relationship' with Israel above even his oath as President to
uphold American law. This was pointed up in the case of that
conflict, in which America helped and cooperated with Israel in
this completely illegal, horrible, destructive invasion of
And this is a parallel with the present. In the aftermath of the
Lebanese fiasco, the United States sent military troops to
Lebanon. And Reagan made a big issue at the time about 'staying
the course' and how we were 'going to have troops there until
Lebanon was a free and democratic country,' and how this was part
of a big campaign to bring 'democracy' and 'stability' to that
part of the world -- pre-echoes of exactly the same kind of
rhetoric we've heard from the White House during the past year
with regard to the war in Iraq.
But in 1983, when a Marine barracks was blown up, and 240 some
American Marines were killed, Reagan cut his losses, abandoned
all his rhetoric, and just simply pulled the American troops out.
For all his rhetoric, Reagan was a very pragmatic man. He was not
one to let principles stand in the way of political expediency.
And he was willing to cut his losses when things went wrong or
things went bad. And if he was President, and had engaged in a
fiasco like the one we're dealing with now in Iraq, he would have
long ago cut his losses and pulled out, and saved face in the
best possible way -- whereas George W. Bush seems incapable
emotionally of admitting a mistake.
To go back to the legacy of D-Day: Especially for Americans, it
is simply the legacy of World War II. And it wasn't simply a
defeat for Germany in World War II; it was, in a sense, the
defeat of Europe -- because the great victorious powers of the
Second World War were the Soviet Union and the United States,
which together imposed a hegemony and occupation over Europe. And
the European homeland, the European heart, ceased to have any
independent political power or even cultural vitality of its own,
and was subordinate to the United States in the West and the
Soviet Union in the East.
Now the legacy of that whole period is receding into the past,
because the Soviet Union has disappeared as a power and a force
-- but the cultural and intellectual legacy persists, because
Europeans have been browbeaten by decades of propaganda.
The Second World War was the triumph in 1945 of the principles of
egalitarianism and universalism -- and those principles are
fundamentally at odds with any kind of patriotic or conservative
And that's part of the paradox or contradiction of the Reagan
legacy. He's remembered as a conservative -- but what did he
KAS: Good question.
MW: What did he actually conserve? This morning on the radio, in
a tribute to Ronald Reagan, one commentator said "He was a
president who made us feel good about ourselves." Well, that's
true. But that's about all he did. He made us feel good.
But in terms of conserving or preserving anything of real
substance, Ronald Reagan presided over America's forward advance
-- or, should I say, backward advance -- in the same direction
she had been going since the 1940s and has been going ever since.
When Ronald Reagan was elected, many conservatives thought that
Reagan was going to make good on his rhetoric and dismantle, for
example, the unconstitutional portions of the federal government
such as the Department of Education, which had no constitutional
validity. There's nothing in the Constitution to permit the
federal government to be involved in education.
KAS: Yes, I can remember all of that. In 1980, Mark, it was
almost a sense of euphoria -- he was going to reclaim America, he
was going to remake America back into the Old America that people
felt had been betrayed and abandoned.
MW: Exactly. But, to the amazement of many of his conservative
followers, he did none of that. He didn't dismantle the federal
government; he expanded it. The irony is that his actual policies
were in contradiction to his supposed principles as a
conservative and to his rhetoric. But most Americans didn't
really care. The hard core of his supporters, those patriotic
Americans, were satisfied with the mere trappings and symbols and
mythology of America rather than the reality.
KAS: We've seen that in the celebrations of his life that we've
witnessed since he died. For many people, I think he still
embodies the Old America -- the America he helped destroy while
he was paying lip service to it. Do you think that, now that he's
gone, Americans are going to wake up from their illusion that
we've really had a continuity of government?
MW: Whatever the harmful effects of his policies, it's hard to
dislike Reagan, because he was such an affable guy. Apparently,
in his private life, he was kind, courteous to people, and wasn't
deceitful; that is, really, he believed the things that he said.
What Americans are mourning, I think, this week with the death of
Ronald Reagan is not merely a man, but an America that's past and
which he personified. The America that Ronald Reagan believed in,
that he came out of, is an America that's gone. It's an America
of Norman Rockwell paintings. It's an America of 'Leave it to
Beaver' television. It's an America of 'It's a Wonderful Life.'
It's an America that really existed to some degree before the
Second World War, up until the 1940s or 50s. But it's an America
that just doesn't exist any more. The Los Angeles that Ronald
Reagan lived in in the 1940s or 50s -- that Los Angeles is gone
forever. California itself is changing dramatically. And what
many Americans are mourning with his passing, I think, is that
America that's gone.
Now will Americans wake up? I think a number of commentators have
made this point: the President that we now have, who also calls
himself a conservative, isn't able to pull it off the way that
Ronald Reagan could, not merely because he's not as smooth as
Ronald Reagan, but because the reality is now harder and harder
to avoid -- the reality that the America that so many Americans
nostalgically look back upon is really gone.
Having said that, though, I think that the majority of George
Bush's hardcore supporters are still impressed by -- and loyal to
-- the mythology or the trappings of America, which are very
different from the reality.
KAS: I remember Ronald Reagan signing the 'Martin Luther King'
holiday bill. I remember his unkept promises to roll back the
intrusive judicial and other federal power over us. I remember
his giving an award to Elie Wiesel; his continuation -- and
expansion -- of the anti-European-American policies of all the
previous administrations going back to the Roosevelt
administration. It's hard not to see Reagan, from my point of
view, as man who -- perhaps -- did believe in the Old America,
but who just wasn't quite bright enough to understand that his
employers, those who 'handled' him, who organized his campaigns,
who were behind him all the time, were destroying that Old
MW: Ronald Reagan personifies that contradiction, that paradox --
the belief that, somehow, the Old America that he believed in and
was part of could be kept in place and preserved while at the
same time supporting and promoting policies that inevitably must
destroy that very America. That's the tragedy of it all --
presuming he was sincere.
I saw Ronald Reagan speak in person only once, and that was at a
large gathering of 'Holocaust survivors,' of all places, in
Washington, DC. And, as he usually was, he was very eloquent on
that occasion. But what he did was give a tremendous boost during
his administration to Jewish power, a power that was working and
has been working feverishly to tear down and corrode the very
America that Ronald Reagan loved and represented. As you say: Was
he stupid? -- or just ignorant, or whatever?
I think it's part of the mythology of America that people of
whatever background can come to this country and through some
kind of magic can be made into part of the America of motion
pictures and Norman Rockwell paintings.
KAS: Well, some ethnicities melt better than others...
MW: Well, of course (laughter). No group -- no ethnic group, no
religious group -- in America is so determined to preserve and
hold onto its identity and further the interests of its own group
as are Jews. No group is as self-aware, as focused, as determined
as are Jews in America. And that's not surprising, because Jews
have been focused, determined, and have had a very high sense of
purpose and identity for centuries. In fact, if Jews didn't have
such a very very strong sense of self -- of peoplehood -- they
would have long ago disappeared as a people, under the pressures
of assimilation and so forth. In America, as in every other
country where Jews have settled in large numbers, they persist in
-- and insist on -- furthering their own interests, even as those
interests clash and compete with the interests of the people
among whom they live, here in this country and elsewhere.
KAS: Well, if Ronald Reagan understood that about his employers,
then he was a much more subtle person than I took him to be. I
tend to think that he was a man with a magnetic personality but a
nearly empty mind. That made him a perfect 'leader'-type for
those who surrounded him. After all, did he not take Jewish
direction in Hollywood, and in his radio network jobs; and all
through his career as a politician, was he not surrounded by
MW: Margaret Thatcher, who of course is going to be here in the
United States for the Reagan funeral, and who was an ally of
Ronald Reagan when she was Prime Minister of Britain, said
privately on one occasion that he was a great guy, but there was
very little between his ears. I don't think Reagan did understand
these larger things. But what drove him, what kept him going, was
a kind of mythology about America. And it's a kind of attractive
mythology. In life, I think that most people -- certainly most
people in any kind of electorate or collective -- prefer a
pleasant lie to an unpleasant truth. And Ronald Reagan was a
master at telling people the pleasant untruth that they wanted to
KAS: You at the Institute are trying in some sense to give people
enough perspective to see some of those dangers ahead. Can you
tell us what lesson you'd like to leave my listeners with on
MW: The best guide to the future is an understanding of the past.
And that means not just American history, but world history. This
is very difficult here in the United States, in many ways,
because this is a country in which there's a kind of national
mythology that America is an exception from history. The idea
that we can be an exception from history is childish. And it's
only through an understanding of history, of the past, that we
can have a real understanding of our present plight and think
wisely and intelligently about the future.
The power of historical consciousness is an immensely important
one. It's one of the reasons Jews are as successful as they are.
In fact, their entire religion underscores and emphasizes their
sense of history -- of Jewish peoplehood. It's a distorted, kind
of mythologized history -- but nonetheless, it's a sense of
Americans, as a people, have a great deal of difficulty with
that, because we are encouraged in this country to think of
ourselves as individuals. And people who think of themselves as
individuals are not going to think much about history, because as
individuals, we simply die. A historical consciousness also
carries with it an awareness of the continuity of history -- that
we are part of something larger than ourselves. That's one of the
reasons history is so important, and why the work of the IHR
[http://www.ihr.org ] is so important. Fostering historical
awareness and historical consciousness is a task of very very
KAS: Mark, I want to thank you for the work you're doing for
Ernst Zundel [ http://www.zundelsite.org ], of course; I also
want to thank you for what is always a bracing intellectual
adventure being on the show and talking with me; and I want to
thank you for the work you're doing to bring the truth to light
through the Institute for Historical Review.
MW: Thank you very much, Kevin, and it's always a pleasure to be
on your show and I admire your work as well.
KAS: Thank you.