Thursday, July 01, 2004

Ronald Reagan and the Soviet Union Homepage

Ronald Reagan and the Soviet Union Homepage Examines the final years of the Cold War, with a particular focus on Ronald Reagan's policy towards the Soviet Union.

From the site:

Undoubtedly, the foreign policy of the United States has been marked by its multi-faceted scope of intentions, policy shifts, and images throughout the last two centuries. Though it remains a relatively young country, it has been a major factor in weighing the balance of power in the world, during peacetime and in periods of war. Ronald Reagan, perhaps more than any other president of the United States, has shifted this balance of power to a point where the international community is no longer divided in two. This makes him, from a foreign policy perspective, one of the most interesting presidents in the history of the United States.

As a result of the United States’ aspiration for independence and its desire to depart from European values and ideals, the Monroe doctrine came into existence in 1823. The policy of isolationism advocated by the doctrine, would create a diplomatic barrage between the United States and Europe which would last well into World War I. The isolationist policy enacted by the United States for over a century was then supplanted by the Truman doctrine in the aftermath of World War II, during a time when the Soviet military and political threat was becoming a reality. Now that the United States’ security interests were at stake, it was neither plausible, nor possible, to passively linger on. Containment through economic aid and direct military involvement in countries threatened by communist take-over was the result, and presaged the advent of the Cold War. The threat of nuclear war escalated, reaching its climax with the Cuban missile crisis. A few decades later, the Soviet Union’s nuclear capabilities succeeded that of the United States’, SALT II was a failure, and the domino effect assured the collapse of democracies around the world. Thus was the situation when Ronald Reagan assumed power in 1981. Immediately, though, the newly-initiated president took a much harder approach to communism. He was incredulous of containment policy[1], reluctant to negotiate treaties with the Soviet leaders on the basis of distrust, and, as opposed to former presidents, regarded the Cold War as winnable. This brought about the space programme SDI. His anti-Soviet rhetoric reflected his innate desire to depart from detente, and embark on a much sterner course. In the first few years of his presidency, military spending reached levels not seen since the Korean War, American-Soviet relations were cold indeed, and the prospects of arms limitations seemed dim. Reagan’s clearest departure from 1970’s policy was to be found in what some observers dubbed the Reagan doctrine. The Reagan doctrine was premised on the assumption that direct military, economic and political pressure against communist governments, would strain the Soviet Union’s military and economic system to a point where they could not compete.

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