I just finished reading “Architects of Victory” by Joseph Shattan,
published by the Heritage Foundation. It traces the accomplishments of
six towering figures principally responsible for the West’s triumph over
the Soviet Communist Empire in the Cold War.
After arduous study, Shattan came to the conclusion that the ideas
and actions of these people were indispensable to achieving victory:
Winston Churchill, Konrad Adenauer, Harry Truman, Aleksandr
Solzhenitsyn, Pope John Paul II and Ronald Reagan.
The book’s six chapters are essentially mini-biographies of these
men, emphasizing their major contributions to the West’s victory.
You can be sure that this book will not achieve prominence in the
mainstream media because it debunks the anti-American conventional
wisdom (as portrayed, for example, in CNN’s documentary, “The Cold War”)
that President Truman started the Cold War, Reagan exacerbated it and
Mikhail Gorbachev finished it.
To be honest, I expected the book to be a dry, historical work. I
couldn’t have been more wrong.
Shattan describes the emotions this project evoked. “I had not
expected to find the entire experience so moving. Yet, how could anyone
not be deeply moved after prolonged exposure to each of these great
Believe me, Shattan’s passion in this enrapturing account is quite
He describes Churchill as the visionary who first recognized as early
as 1919 and reiterated in his 1946 “Iron Curtain” Speech in Fulton,
Missouri, that the West could not merely coexist with Soviet Communism
— it would have to confront and defeat it. Of Lenin and Trotsky he
wrote, “Theirs is a war against civilized society that can never end.”
Truman is credited for rejecting FDR’s conciliatory policies toward
Moscow and for the Greek-Turkish aid package, the Marshall Plan, the
Berlin Airlift and NATO, all of which were crucial in preserving the
integrity and security of Western Europe during these critical years.
Konrad Adenhauer was the West German leader who was instrumental in
aligning the pivotal West Germany with the West, over fierce internal
opposition from nationalistic and socialistic forces.
During the ’70s, America and the West were floundering aimlessly in
pursuit of a moral compass and foreign policy to replace the failed
strategy of containment. Their answer came from an unexpected source.
Deep inside the Iron Curtain bellowed the voice of Soviet dissident,
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who provided a gut-wrenching first-hand account
of the murderous and oppressive practices of the Soviet regime. His
courageous words breathed new life into the West’s demoralized and
slumbering Cold Warriors.
“Gulag Archipelago” and his other works laid the moral groundwork for
the third and final phase of the war where the West would resoundingly
triumph under the generalship of Ronald Reagan.
Pope John Paul II’s work in supporting Solidarity in his native
Poland contributed mightily to the implosion of the already overextended
Soviet empire. Shattan’s tribute is fitting. “It is ironic that the
empire built by Josef Stalin — who had asked mockingly at Potsdam how
many divisions the Pope had — was brought down, in no small measure by
a Pope who had nothing but words at his disposal.”
Ronald Reagan recognized the truth in what Churchill had trumpeted
when no one was listening: The Soviet Union was an evil empire that we
should engage and defeat. Accordingly, he adopted National Security
Decision Directive 75, which called on the U.S. to take the offensive in
the Cold War through “military strategy, economic policy, and political
Reagan’s ability to see the world clearly and his determination to
act on that vision ultimately brought the Soviet Empire to its knees.
What are the lessons?
The Cold War was indeed a war, a war that would have victors and
losers. Stalemate and neutrality were not options. Had the U.S. not
geared up and dedicated its full resources to fighting this war, we may
not have been victorious.
It was a war whose stakes can hardly be overstated. Hanging in the
balance was nothing less than the survival of Western civilization and
its historically unparalleled experiment in freedom, democracy and
capitalism. It was a titanic struggle between the forces of good and
This book and the message it conveys provide a great antidote to our
modern complacency, the prevailing mindset that is characterized by a
tragic apathy for the liberties we enjoy and the values that undergird