Garry Kasparov on the Westminster Legacy

Garry KasparovIn 1946, with the world in tatters and Josef Stalin closing his fist, the United States created the structures that fought the Cold War.

In 1982, Ronald Reagan delivered his historic speech at Westminster and launched the mission that would bring that war to a victorious close less than ten years later.

Thirty-five years ago, when Reagan spoke in London, democracy faced an existential competitor: the totalitarian Communism of the Soviet Union. And yet, the American president spoke boldly not about defending his country or its allies, but of standing up for the rights and lives of the citizens of that very enemy, and for the citizens of oppressed nations everywhere.

It was a message that was felt very keenly by all of us behind the Iron Curtain.

It gave us hope.

Today, the free world once again faces many enemies, and billions of people still live under dictatorship.

But unlike in 1982, democracies now hold overwhelming economic and military advantages, not only the moral high ground. Our only existential threat is our own complacency.

Once again, a rallying cry is required. We could do no better than to look to President Reagan’s words that day in London: “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.”

Garry Kasparov is the Chairman of the Human Rights Foundation