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Ronald Wilson Reagan Case Study


Retired colonel remembers resurgence of military pride

Reagan inherited a military demoralized by public opposition to the Vietnam War. He increased military spending by up to one-third, started new weapons programs, including the "star wars" missile-defense system, and accelerated military technology.

DENVER When Ronald Reagan became president, Dick Rauschkolb was a midcareer Air Force officer teaching Middle Eastern history at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

For many in the military, Rauschkolb recalls, it was an electric moment. "Morale increased right off the bat," he says. When Iran released 52 American hostages minutes after Reagan's first inauguration in 1981, it was "a signal we had a strong president."

Rauschkolb, 56, now a retired colonel

who is communications director for the academy's Association of Graduates in Colorado Springs, had a ringside seat in the second Reagan administration. He served as the deputy military assistant to Adm. William Crowe, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Reagan was a friend to the armed services and quickly won their respect, Rauschkolb says. "It was clear Ronald Reagan supported the troops," he says. "He understood the sacrifices they were making, and he took steps to make sure they were taken care of with the (higher) defense budgets he proposed."

Rauschkolb credits Reagan with ending a period in which the United States, he says, "almost had an attitude of appeasement" in world affairs. For

example, Reagan blamed Libya for the 1986 bombing of a West Berlin discotheque that killed three people, including a U.S. serviceman. The United States retaliated by bombing targets in Libya.

Rauschkolb also praises Reagan for standing up to Soviet leaders, winning arms-control agreements and setting the stage for the collapse of the Soviet Union.

"He was a tough negotiator," Rauschkolb says. "The strategic arms reductions he negotiated with (Soviet leader Mikhail) Gorbachev changed the whole nuclear waterfront. And the big thing was the end of the Cold War. He toed a hard line, made the tough decisions and he won."

By Tom Kenworthy

Inner cities struggling to rebound from 'despairing time'

Reagan angered civil rights activists and advocates for the poor by ridiculing "welfare queens," trying to cut school-lunch programs and vetoing economic sanctions against South Africa's apartheid government.

CHICAGO The Rev. Richard Tolliver arrived at St. Edmund's Episcopal Church in the Washington Park neighborhood six months after

Ronald Reagan left office.

It was a bleak place.

Decline began in the 1970s with a middle-class exodus. But Tolliver says the death of Washington Park was cemented by the Reagan administration's social, economic and urban policies.

Reagan cut the budget of the Department of Housing and Urban Development by more than a third in his first year. By 1989, the black

poverty rate was triple that for whites. A decade earlier, it had been double that of whites.

enterprise. In 1986, the government began giving tax credits to urban redevelopers.

It was a short lifeline, but Tolliver grabbed it anyway. He formed the non-profit St. Edmund's Redevelopment Corp. in 1990. Since then, Tolliver has scraped together $51 million to rebuild 455 units in 14 buildings. A rehab of a 56-unit housing project across from the church is underway.

Houses were boarded up. Crack cocaine was rampant. Gangs ruled the streets. Liquor stores provided the only commerce. The population shrank from 90,000 in 1970 to fewer than 19,000 in 1990. "It was a neighborhood that had been completely written off," he says.

" Reagan was an astute politician. He calculated that his support was not from African-Americans, many of whom live in the inner cities, so he wrote them off," Tolliver, 58, says. Reagan effectively turned over much of the responsibility for the economic health of inner cities to private

He found that banks were reluctant to provide financing. A parishioner persuaded the president of a local black-owned bank to step up. "If it weren't for that bank, none of this would be here," he says.

By Debbie Howlett

Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

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