President Reagan and the World

President Reagan and the World

President Reagan and the World

President Reagan and the World

Synopsis

Did Ronald Reagan and his policies engineer the defeat of international communism, the breakup of the Soviet Union, and the elimination of decades of nuclear confrontation? Or, did the Reagan presidency simply benefit from decades of bipartisan military, economic, and political opposition to Soviet policies? Both positions are explored by Reagan aides and leading scholars of the period.

Excerpt

It is not surprising that the foreign policy of the Reagan administration generated the same disparate analyses as did its domestic policy. And, similarly, creditable arguments can be advanced for two principal but different points of view.

Some will tell you that Ronald Reagan and the Reagan policies engineered the defeat of international Communism: the breakup of the Soviet Union and attendant elimination of decades of threats of nuclear confrontation and nuclear war. In more explicit terms, it is argued that, as he characterized the Soviet Union as the "evil empire," Reagan restored the strength of the American military, and with his plan for "Star Wars," made clear to the Soviets, or at least to Gorbachev at their summit in Iceland, that the United States could militarily outproduce and scientifically outdevelop the Soviet Union, causing Gorbachev to recognize that, competitively, the days of Soviet expansion and Soviet military domination were over. Put another way, by making it economically unmanageable for the Soviet Union to compete further or even to maintain the Soviet empire, and at the same time meet the domestic needs of its citizens, the demise of that empire and its military prowess inexorably followed. Reagan's foreign policy moves elsewhere in the world are viewed as ingredients in furthering this process.

In various forms, this view is found among the papers and speeches presented at the conference and published in this volume. On the other hand, and also found among the papers and speeches published here, is a different analysis--that Reagan was only the beneficiary of decades of bipartisan military, economic, and political opposition to Soviet policies and particularly Soviet expansionism. It is argued that the collapse of the Soviet Union, from failure to modernize its industries, from reliance on military production to the exclusion of consumer goods and services, and from the cost of occupying other territories, including the Afghanistan war, came to a climax during the Reagan . . .

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