Current Events and U.S. Diplomacy

Running Head: Current Events and U.S. Diplomacy 1

Assignment 2: Current Events and U.S. Diplomacy

POL 300 – International Problems

Current Events and U.S. Diplomacy

The Reagan Doctrine

The term “doctrine” means “A statement of official government policy, especially in foreign affairs and military strategy” (“Doctrine”, n.d.). The phrase Presidential doctrine denotes an ideological platform that a president uses to advance a policy towards a country or region in order to accomplish foreign policy goals for the United States. Presidents like James Monroe, Harry S. Truman, Richard Nixon etc formulated their doctrines but among these presidential doctrines, the doctrine of President Reagan is noteworthy.

The presidential doctrine of Reagan, better known as the Reagan Doctrine can be considered as a “strategy orchestrated and implemented by the United States under the Reagan Administration to oppose the global influence of the Soviet Union during the final years of the Cold War. While the doctrine lasted less than a decade, it was the centerpiece of United States foreign policy from the early 1980s until the end of the Cold War in 1991” (“Reagan Doctrine”, n.d.). And that is the reason why the Reagan Doctrine’s significance in the realm of U.S. politics and U.S. foreign policy is immense. It is noteworthy that there was a primary reason behind the formation of this doctrine and it is also to be noted that “The doctrine served as the foundation for the Reagan administration’s support of “freedom fighters” around the globe” (“Feb 6, 1985: The “Reagan Doctrine” is announced”, n.d.). By freedom fighters Reagan meant all those democratic nations who were willing to fight against the spread of Soviet instigated communism. In other words the primary reason behind the formulation of the Reagan Doctrine was to restrict the Soviet Union’s expansion of communism in different parts of the world (“Feb 6, 1985: The “Reagan Doctrine” is announced”, n.d.).

Current Events and U.S. Diplomacy

But it must be noted that Reagan initiated the formulation of the doctrine in respond to some specific events which included the defiance of the rebels in nations like Afghanistan and Nicaragua against the Soviet regimes (Carpenter, 1986). Regan’s foreign policy was meant to crush the attempts of the Soviet Union to extend its domination and hence, he opted for the formulation of his doctrine to help the rebels who in different countries of the world who were trying to ousted the Soviet regimes (Carpenter, 1986). And in relation to this point it must be mentioned that in contrast to the previous Cold War doctrine of “containing”, Reagan’s Doctrine envisioned “American moral and material support for insurgent movements attempting to oust Soviet-backed regimes in various Third World nations” (Carpenter, 1986). Moreover, it must be stated that the Reagan Doctrine came into being as the result of the frustration of the U.S. administration over the Soviet advances in Africa, Central America, and Central Asia and “Just as the Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and Chinese leader Mao supported armed insurgencies against colonial or U.S.-aligned states, American power would now encourage and support rebels against communist states” (“The Reagan Doctrine”, n.d.).

Before the enactment of the Reagan Doctrine the relation between the Soviet Union and the United States was dilemmatic. The foreign policies of the U.S. towards the Soviet Union was of containment and the latter’s attitude towards the U.S. was a negative one definitely. The political relation between the U.S. and the Soviet Union was a deteriorating on the backdrop of this political tension between the two nations that President Ronald Reagan assumed office. In the pre-Reagan era the relation between the U.S. and the Soviet Union was deteriorated primarily

Current Events and U.S. Diplomacy

by the latter’s invasion of Afghanistan on December 26, 1979 (“United States Relation with Russia: The Cold War”, n.d.). As a response to this attack Washington declared the deferral of most cultural and economic exchanges between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, “cancellation of export licenses for high technology items, restriction of Soviet fishing rights in U.S. waters, suspension of grain exports, and a boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics” (“United States Relation with Russia: The Cold War”, n.d.). Even though the tension between the two nations was slightly minimized on September 25, 1980 through the agreement between Muskie and Gromyko to sustain neutrality of both the U.S. and the Soviet Union in the Iran-Iraq War (“United States Relation with Russia: The Cold War”, n.d.), the turmoil between these two countries was not resolved thoroughly.

The implementation of the Reagan Doctrine proved to be fatal both for the U.S. and for some of the rebels who were rendering efforts, with the aid of the U.S., to oust the Soviet supported regimes in their respective nations. The practical implementation of some of the policies of the doctrine instigated confusion in the U.S. political domain itself. For an example, to turn the doctrine’s theory into practice Reagan permitted the sale of arms to Iran, and the profit of such trade was meant to provide financial aid to the contras – the anti-Sandinista rebels who were covertly trained by the U.S. armed forces (“The Reagan Doctrine”, n.d.). Moreover, as the contras were both supported and strategically developed by the U.S. and were utilized against the Soviet aided regimes, the “Exposure of the Iran-Contra affair in late 1986 provoked a major congressional investigation. The scandal seriously weakened the influence of the president” (“The Reagan Doctrine”, n.d.). And moreover, the exposure of the negative side of the Reagan

Current Events and U.S. Diplomacy

Doctrine ultimately subsided the American preoccupation of Nicaragua in 1987 (“The Reagan Doctrine”, n.d.). But it must also be noted that it was due to the implementation of the Reagan Doctrine that nations like Nicaragua ultimately could claim peace because the doctrine paved the way for the commencement of national election in Nicaraguan in 1990 the outcome of which was that the “Nicaraguan opposition routed the Sandinistas, bringing an end to ten turbulent years of Sandinista rule” (“The Reagan Doctrine”, n.d.).

It must be noted that though for some the Reagan Doctrine’s effects were partially negative, judging from other perspectives, it can be said that this doctrine contributed a lot in changing the attitude of the Soviet Union. Reagan Doctrine’s effectiveness can be observed in the success of the Geneva summit in which Gorbachev showed much willingness to collaborate with Reagan in bringing about world peace (Farnham, 2001). And it can be said that it was the Reagan Doctrine which ultimately paved the way for the emergence of Gorbachev as the Soviet leader who in the Reykjavik summit showed more willingness to initiate arms control initiatives between both the Soviet Union (Farnham, 2001), and the U.S. and such willingness was definitely a marked deviation from the armed conflict policies of the Soviet Union. So, it can be said that to some extent the Reagan Doctrine contributed in the altering of the Soviet behavior in respect of the Soviet foreign policies.

References

Carpenter, T.G. (1986). U.S. Aid to Anti-Communist Rebels: The “Reagan Doctrine” and Its Pitfalls. Cato Policy Analysis No. 74. Retrieved September 6, 2013, from http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa074.html

Doctrine (n.d.). Retrieved September 6, 2013, from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/doctrine

Farnham, B. (2001). Reagan and the Gorbachev Revolution: Perceiving the End of Threat. The Eighties Club. Retrieved September 6, 2013, from http://eightiesclub.tripod.com/id404.htm

Feb 6, 1985: The “Reagan Doctrine” is announced (n.d.). Cold War. Retrieved September 6, 2013, from http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/the-reagan-doctrine-is-announced

Reagan Doctrine (n.d.). Retrieved September 6, 2013, from https://www.princeton.edu/~achaney/tmve/wiki100k/docs/Reagan_Doctrine.html

The Reagan Doctrine (n.d.). Retrieved September 6, 2013, from http://www.johntirman.com/Reagan%20doctrine.html

The Reagan Doctrine (n.d.). Retrieved September 6, 2013, from http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/disp_textbook.cfm?smtid=2&psid=3369

United States presidential doctrines (n.d.). Retrieved September 6, 2013, from https://www.google.co.in/#q=security+system+in+rabindra+bharati+museum

United States Relation with Russia: The Cold War (n.d.). U.S. Department of State. Retrieved September 6, 2013, from http://2001-2009.state.gov/r/pa/ho/pubs/fs/85895.htm