Ronald Wilson Reagan was inaugurated as the 40‘“ United States president in 1981, He served two terms. During the Reagan administration, the United States was involved in a state of political and military tension with Russia, known then as the Soviet Union. The USA and the USSR were the world‘s strongest nations at the time. This conflict was called the Cold War and lasted from 1947, post-World War II, to 1991 when the Soviet Union fell. The Cold War required United States diplomatic efforts because the US capitalistic ideology was threatened by communism, which was spreading to the Western hemisphere In communism, the government controls production, resources, land rights, and workers‘ rights. It is in direct opposition to capitalism, in which people and businesses control production and resources Ronald Reagan was an anticommunist, and at his 1985 State of the Union address, he invited the American population and Congress to go head to head with the Soviet Union.
Reagan saw the USSR and communism as evil Before his presidency, the Western foreign policy approach towards the USSR was détente. Détente means the easing of strained relations in political situations. The US use of detente began in 1969, and former presidents Nixon and Ford both supported this by signing treaties that regulated the use of threats, the use of force, and intervention in internal affairs. Many of the treaties were ratified and tensions between the two global superpowers continued to rise Reagan created his own policy, called the Reagan Doctrine. He believed that, in order to end the Cold War (with the United States on top) policies needed to be bold and assertive, The goal of this policy was to lessen the global influence of the USSR and finally end the Cold War.
There were no battles on American soil, Reagan instead waged war on the USSR through proxy groups in Third World countries which has been an early Cold War doctrine. These countries were seen as the most vulnerable to communism because of high poverty rates and a larger stratification between peasants and elites. In 1981, Reagan authorized the Central Intelligence Agency to finance paramilitaristjc groups in Latin America that would battle the pro-Soviet Sandinista movements. The Sandinistas were a political party in Nicaragua that overthrew the dictator at the time. The Sandinistas were supporters of communism and governed for ten years, Reagan financed the Contras, a right-wing guerilla force, The Reagan doctrine also supported rolling back Soviet gains. The rollback policy targeted Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Iran, Laos, Libya, Nicaragua, and Vietnam, all of which were Soviet-allied at the start of Reagan’s presidency.
This meant recapturing nations and making them democratic The Soviet Union had its own doctrine called the Brezhnev Doctrine which stated that socialist gains were irreversible, However, the United States, under Regan, refused to cede any ground to communismt For example, he aided forces in Afghanistan that were working to overthrow the pro-Soviet government in Kabul, The leader of the Soviet Union during Reagan’s second term, Mikhail Gorbachev, ended the occupation of Afghanistan after realizing that he could not overpower the US-funded and trained guerilla groups He provided guerillas in Asia, Africa, and Central America with funding and military assistance to battle the Soviets and get rid of anyone who supported communism, The Reagan doctrine and the Cold War affected many countries. Though it was seen as a nonviolent stalemate between the United States and the Soviet Union, the people of less powerful countries were involved in fatal battles and massacres as the United States attempted to overwhelm the influence of the USSR.
These countries still grapple with the effects of the Cold Wart Reagan told the United States people that they were fighting for freedom and democracy, and that the actions taken against the Soviet Union were self-defense. The greatest advantage of the Reagan Doctrine is that it was successful. It benefited the United States by increasing their global influence and providing new economic interests. It also gave democracy a global foothold. Most importantly it ended the Cold War. The Soviet Union fell ten years after Reagan‘s inauguration The doctrine continued into George HW. Bush‘s presidency but faded soon after the end of the Cold War. In 1990 the Sandinistas lost the Nicaraguan elections due to pressure from Contras. Resistance to pro-Soviet groups in Angola resulted in a negotiated settlement in which all USSR and Cuban troops were removed from the country. Cambodia‘s allied government with USSR collapsed as well.
Disadvantages would be the fact that Reagan made deals with terrorist in order to end the War, The United States government aided the Contras by diverting money to them from the sale of missiles to Iran. Iran, however, was the subject of an arms embargo due to the fact that they were holding several US. citizens hostage, making them terrorists. Funding of the Contras has also been prohibited by congress. This scandal is called the Iran-Contra scandal. Overall the Reagan Doctrine had its pros and cons. Reagan accomplished what he set out to do in the beginning of his presidency, which was the eliminate communism and end the Cold War so overall the doctrine can be viewed as a successful part of United States history.