Mars Attacks?

by John Holbo on June 15, 2006

I vaguely recall an anecdote about Reagan (?) meeting with Brezhnev/Gorbachev (?) and amiably suggesting that the US and USSR would easily set aside their differences, fighting shoulder to shoulder if aliens invaded the earth. Can anyone give me a cite? I’m writing something about Carl Schmitt, friend/enemy, you understand.



eudoxis 06.16.06 at 12:09 am

Was it from this speech?

I couldn’t help but — one point in our discussions privately with General Secretary Gorbachev — when you stop to think that we’re all God’s children, wherever we may live in the world, I couldn’t help but say to him, just think how easy his task and mine might be in these meetings that we held if suddenly there was a threat to this world from some other species, from another planet, outside in the universe. We’d forget all the little local differences that we have between our countries, and we would find out once and for all that we really are all human beings here on this Earth together. Well, I don’t suppose we can wait for some alien race to come down and threaten us, but I think that between us we can bring about that realization.


binglebang 06.16.06 at 12:11 am

On pages 40-43 of Lou Cannon’s “Reagan: the Role of a Lifetime.” It’s Gorbachev, and the Amazon search inside will let you see the quote.


John Holbo 06.16.06 at 12:27 am

Thanks! That was fast. (CT blegs get results!)


Carter 06.16.06 at 12:59 am

“The article [in the New Republic by senior editor Fred Barnes] described a luncheon in the White House between the President and Eduard Shevardnatze…”Near the end of his lunch with Shevardnadze,” wrote Barnes, “Reagan wondered aloud what would happen if the world faced an ‘alien threat’ from outer space. ‘Don’t you think the United States and the Soviet Union would be together?’ he asked. Shevardnadze said yes, absolutely. “And we wouldn’t need our defense ministers to meet,’ he added.”


Dick fitzgerald 06.16.06 at 1:00 am

Wasn’t there something in Frances Fitzgerald’s Way Out There in the Blue?


blah 06.16.06 at 1:04 am

Here’s more:

Reagan’s staff kept most of the wigginess from spilling over into the public arena. “Here come the little green men again,” Powell used to tell his staff whenever the subject arose of Reagan’s preoccupation with how an alien invasion would unify the earth. Powell, Cannon writes dryly, “struggled diligently to keep interplanetary references out of Reagan’s speeches.” They couldn’t be kept out of informal conversations, though–much to the bafflement of Mikhail Gorbachev, who, when Reagan started in about invasions from outer space at the 1985 summit in Geneva, politely changed the subject.


blah 06.16.06 at 1:13 am

Here’s another cite:

For instance, the theme of The Day the Earth Stood Still was on display at a 1985 meeting between Reagan and Gorbachev. Lou Cannon, in his biography of Reagan, The Role of a Lifetime, reports as follows:

“In Hollywood he became an avid science-fiction fan, absorbed with a favorite theme of the genre: the invasion from outer space that prompts earthlings to put aside nationalistic quarrels and band together against an alien invader.

Reagan liked this idea so much that he tried it out on Gorbachev in their first meeting at Geneva in 1985, saying that he was certain the United States and the Soviet Union would cooperate if earth were threatened by an invasion from outer space. Reagan’s idea was not part of the script, and it startled his advisors.

It may have also startled Gorbachev, who did not have at his fingertips the Marxist-Leninist position on the propriety of cooperating with the imperialists against an interplanetary invasion. In any event, Gorbachev changed the subject…

(Colin) Powell… knew more than he ever wanted to know about Reagan’s preoccupation with what Powell called “the little green men” and he struggled diligently to keep interplanetary references out of Reagan’s speeches. Powell was convinced that Reagan’s unique proposal to Gorbachev had been inspired by a 1951 science-fiction film, The Day The Earth Stood Still…”


Bob B 06.16.06 at 1:26 am

Most unfortunately, the entry for Ronald Reagan in the Oxford Dictionary of Political Quotations (OUP 2004) does not include reference to this informal understanding with the Soviets about a joint military response in the event of invasions by aliens from outer space. The entry does, however, include an illuminating report in the NY Times of 13 August 1984 relating to a microphone test by Reagan on 11 August 1984 prior to a broadcast. As recorded, Reagan said:

“My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you I just signed legislation which outlaws Russia forever. The bombing begins in five minutes.”


maidhc 06.16.06 at 1:50 am

“I’m no linguist, but I have been told that in the Russian language there isn’t even a word for freedom.”
-Ronald Reagan, 29 Oct., 1985


Reagan also claimed to have taken part in the liberation of the concentration camps in WWII, although his military records show that he never left the US. He also liked to tell a story about a B-17 ball turret gunner (12/12/1983) that, while not matching any of the 434 Medals of Honor awarded during WWII, seemed to be taken from the 1944 movie A Wing and a Prayer.


abb1 06.16.06 at 2:07 am

Oh my god. I did not know that. What a sorry manifestation of earthofascism.

Suppose the Martians are democratic? Suppose they come here to liberate the Earth, promote economic solarization and establish a free market for human digestive fluids? What American (other than a bunch of despicable dead-enders) would object to having this new liberty?

Or suppose the Martians have already built the workers’ paradise and they come to Earth to redistribute and share human digestive fluids among all hard-working creatures? Who does Mr. Shevardnatze think he is to tell them ‘Nyet’?

Amazing, truly amazing.


bad Jim 06.16.06 at 2:49 am


joe o 06.16.06 at 3:10 am

That was part of the plot of the Watchmen which came out soon after Reagan’s speech.


Meteor Blades 06.16.06 at 3:36 am

Reagan’s staff didn’t work hard enough to keep the wigginess out of the public arena. The man’s real venture into the extraterrestrial was the Strategic Defense Initiative, which has since sucked tens of billions of tax dollars into a pipe dream.


Glenn Bridgman 06.16.06 at 4:09 am

Damnit, Joe O got there first. Reagan as Ozymandias?


goatchowder 06.16.06 at 4:10 am


The Lone Rager 06.16.06 at 4:13 am

(Working on the assumption that this is true…)

For all that Reagan’s faith in astrology and militaristic religion have been mocked, it’s heartening to learn of his ultimate faith in mankind – that, in the spirit of our shared humanity, black and white can come together and gang up on green.

Assuming that ET isn’t a commie, of course.


Christmas 06.16.06 at 4:38 am

11, 14: Reagan and Ozymandias both swiped that one from Klaatu.


Scott Martens 06.16.06 at 4:44 am

Reagan never did seem to be able to draw the line between old movies and his memories of things he’d actually seen and done. I suppose that was part of his appeal: rather than being a real person, with actual beliefs and ideas, he was merely a compendium of images from the national collective psyche that could be evoked in response to appropriate stimulus. Real people’s brains undergo a reality check before invoking some implausible myth construct, but Reagan just went with the flow. Aliens, vulgar Whorfism, clippings from Reader’s Digest – it didn’t matter what it was, as long as the scene called for it.


abb1 06.16.06 at 6:02 am

Interesting fella this Carl Schmitt guy, if you believe the wikipedia.


Linda 06.16.06 at 6:12 am

It’s really a nice felling when I come to know Reagan’s ultimate faith in mankind.


Alan Peakall 06.16.06 at 6:51 am

Abb1 @ 10,

While you are at Wikipedia, note that J. Posadas thought along the same lines!


abb1 06.16.06 at 7:00 am

Long live Posadas!


Adam Kotsko 06.16.06 at 9:05 am

Humanity has no enemies, at least not on this planet.


Jacob T. Levy 06.16.06 at 11:15 am

Don’t writeon Schmitt. Somehow you’ve avoided having the Zizekian abyss gaze back into you, but I don’t know anyone who works on Schmitt who avoids the equivalent!


Belle Waring 06.17.06 at 8:05 am

c’mon, you guys, Reagan was totally right! if aliens invaded earth we’d be teaming up with the soviets before you could say “hasta la vista, alien motherf%$#&^s!!! and jacob, thanks for trying to keep my husband on the straight and narrow. sometimes it’s hard for me to keep the wigginess from spilling out into the public arena ;P

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