Great Britain’s Iron Lady passed away a year ago today, on April 8, 2013. Her death, at the age of 87, left a huge void on the world stage, one that may never be filled. Margaret Thatcher was a political titan who transformed her home nation from the “sick man of Europe” into a resurgent economic power. Implementing conservative policies that emphasized individual liberty and economic freedom, Thatcher lifted a nation ravaged by Socialism off its deathbed, restoring Britain’s prosperity and self-confidence.
She was also a fearless leader internationally, standing shoulder to shoulder with Ronald Reagan in opposition to the Soviet Union, demonstrating how strength and resolve can bring down empires of tyranny. She saw the Anglo-American Special Relationship as vital to the defense of freedom, and the security of the free world.
Lady Thatcher was the sworn enemy of Socialism at home and Communism abroad, and a formidable opponent of all forms of tyranny and terrorism. She rejected any notion of weakness in the face of aggression, famously remarking that “dictators can be deterred, they can be crushed—but they can never be appeased.” When faced with an invasion and occupation of the Falkland Islands in 1982 by the fascist Galtieri regime in Argentina, she assembled and launched a naval task force in just 48 hours, sending it 8,000 miles across the world. Within just 11 weeks the Falklands were liberated.
Margaret Thatcher firmly believed in American leadership. She never lost faith in the world’s superpower, describing herself as “an undiluted admirer of American values… I believe they will continue to inspire not just the people of the United States but millions upon millions across the face of the globe.” It was her view that a world without America at the helm was a dark and dangerous place.
The leadership lessons of the Iron Lady are just as valid today as they were when she was prime minister in the 1980s. At home the United States faces immense challenges, with spiraling levels of public debt, a rising culture of welfare dependency, and the relentless growth of big government, suffocating economic freedom and stifling liberty. Internationally, America must deal with a growing array of threats to its national security, from the rise of a nuclear-armed Iran to a resurgent Russia that seeks to flex its muscle in its “near abroad.” At the same time, Islamist terrorism continues to pose a clear and present danger to the free world, with al-Qaeda remaining a deadly threat.
Margaret Thatcher demonstrated how conservative principles of limited government, low taxation, and individual responsibility could turn a country around. She also showed how firm leadership, personal and political courage, and a strong commitment to rebuilding the nation’s defenses are essential to standing tall on the world stage, and facing down the enemies of freedom. Thatcher’s legacy will live on long after her death, and her vision and ideals must remain an inspiration to all who believe in robust American leadership.