Exit with Honor: The Life and Presidency of Ronald Reagan

By William E. Pemberton | Go to book overview

8
Engaging the Soviets, 1981-1985

In foreign affairs Ronald Reagan used the rhetoric of realpolitik, but he was, said one analyst, a "hard-line romantic" who envisioned possibilities for change that many experts ridiculed. His entire foreign policy, wrote CIA deputy director Robert Gates, was aimed at reversing history. He was a hard-line anticommunist, yet he joined with Mikhail Gorbachev to bring the cold war to an end. He directed the biggest defense buildup in history, yet he disconcerted his arms control experts by envisioning a world free of nuclear weapons and by taking the first important steps toward achieving that goal. It was ironic, wrote Press Secretary Marlin Fitzwater, that Robert Kennedy rather than Ronald Reagan paraphrased the lines, "I dream things that never were and ask 'Why not?'"1

Reagan spoke with patriotic fervor, but he acted cautiously. He understood the American need to "stand tall" in the world, but he also responded to the public fear of getting involved in another Vietnam-style disaster. Observers divided his national security team into pragmatists and ideologues, or, to some, the accommodationists and the "crazies." The pragmatists, led by George Shultz, included Robert McFarlane, Michael Deaver, James Baker, Nancy Reagan, and George Bush. The ideologues included Caspar Weinberger, William Clark, William Casey, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Richard N. Perle, and Edwin Meese. Such labels as pragmatists and ideo-

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Exit with Honor: The Life and Presidency of Ronald Reagan
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • THE RIGHT WING IN AMERICA ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • Series Editor's Foreword xi
  • Preface xiii
  • 1 - Growing Up in the Heartland, 1911-1937 3
  • 2 - Finding Fame and Fortune in Hollywood, 1937-1966 21
  • 3 - The Turn Toward Conservatism, 1947-1980 44
  • 4 - Governing California, 1967-1974 64
  • 5 - Changing the National Agenda, 1981 85
  • Managing Big Government, 1981-1985 105
  • 7 - Facing Defeats, Winning Victories, 1982-1989 125
  • 8 - Engaging the Soviets, 1981-1985 149
  • 9 - Coping with Scandal, Exiting with Honor, 1985-1989 172
  • 10 - Evaluating Reagan 198
  • Notes 215
  • Bibliography 259
  • Index 283
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