The Reagan Revolution Free Essay
The Reagan Revolution and the End of the Cold War (1980-2001)
During World War II, the Soviet Union and the United States had worked together in order to fight against Germany. However, both countries resumed the part of being unfriendly rivals in conflicts between the communist countries and the free world in their immensely different economic and political beliefs, democracy and capitalism against Soviet communism after the war. During the presidencies of such American Presidents as Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower, Americans began to live in the Nuclear Age, being under constant threat of nuclear war. Conflicts between the United States and the Soviet Union continued on almost every continent in the 1960’s and 1970’s. However, the situation has changed during the presidency of Ronald Reagan. In spite of the fact that Ronald Reagan contributed exceptionally positively to the ending of the Cold War, the president’s part, however, was only one of the number of essential factors that led to this event.
Ronald Reagan became America’s 40th president. Reagan’s moral frankness and military buildup enabled America as well as its allies to defeat Soviet communism. However, Reagan’s positive contributions were not always caused by taking a hard-line stance. The notion that both moral clarity and military strength can exert pressure on totalitarian regimes leading into collapse was often embraced as a lesson of the years of Ronald Reagan.
The Cold war is often seen as a great-power competition. Noam Chomsky (1985) saw the Cold War.
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The system in which each superpower exploits the threat of its Great Satan to mobilize its own population and often recalcitrant allies to support brutal and violent measures in its own. […] At the same time each superpower expands its own deterrent force to guarantee a space within which it is free to resort to violence; for us, much of the world. (pp. 340-341).
However, Reagan’s ideas can be seen as components of the explanation for American success or failure to those who view the Cold War not only as a great-power competition but also as a war of ideas.
The national mood in America changed dramatically during Ronald Reagan’s presidency. Reagan was trying to make the feelings of low spirit, which had increased by the late 1970’s, disappear as well as encourage optimism about the future of the United States. The president’s positive outlook definitely lifted the spirits of millions of Americans. Ronald Reagan’s contribution to the renewing of self-confidence of the United States is one of the president’s most essential legacies in the domestic arena.
The president’s belief that communism was about to crumble contributed to making Reagan’s approach differ from that of the others. However, it was not solely Ronald Reagan’s responsible for winning the Cold War. However, it can be argued that Reagan made not a big difference as the internal weaknesses of communism had become truly pronounced so that the Soviet Union would have collapsed in any case (Knopf, 2004). According to Knopf (2004), people who credit the president with defeating the Soviet Union, as usual, emphasize such basic qualities of Ronald Reagan’s leadership as clarity of language and vision as well as the pressure caused by his hawkish policies. Therefore, the president’s policies appear distinct in part according to the way how Reagan saw the world. Ronald Reagan emphasized the moral failings as well as the weakness of the Soviet system and communism in general, and underlined the potential of the United States.
The threat of nuclear war made both the United States and the Soviet Union prudent in order to avoid direct military clashes. Thus, according to Knopf (2004), the Cold War in its later decades was characterized by proxy struggles. In such struggles all sides aided clients in number of regional and internal conflicts in the developing world (Knopf, 2004). The Soviet Union became more assertive in the Third World conflicts in the late 1970’s. It was done in the belief that America would be unwilling to intervene after the country’s experience in Vietnam. However, in response to such an event, the administration of Ronald Reagan announced that it would confront communist forces no matter where they were engaging in the Third World. It was a policy known as the Reagan Doctrine (Knopf, 2004) for which Reagan administration became often criticized. The controversial doctrine was created in order to diminish Soviet influence in Africa, Asia and Latin America as part of Reagan administration’s Cold War strategy.
In fact, a great number of conservatives reject any criticism of Reagan whom they call their hero; however, there is an articulate minority lamenting that the president did not go far enough. In addition, despite some liberals have regrets about the way Reagan changed and ruined the United States, the others consider him to be “a disengaged do-nothing dunce” (Troy, 2009, p. 13).
Throughout the early 1990’s, many people seemed to remember Reagan’s loses but not his gains and wins. According to Gil Troy (2009), “debacles including Iran-Contra scandal, $200 billion worth of savings and loan bankruptcies, and the $2.8 trillion budget deficit by 1989” (p. 13) were the factors which tainted Reagan’s legacy. The 40th president of the United States was the one who encouraged Americans to believe in their strength to change the world.
Despite the fact that Reagan contributed exceptionally positively to the ending of the Cold War, the president’s part, however, was only one of numerous essential factors that led to the victory of democracy. Reagan created necessary pressure that hastened the collapse of the Soviet system and raised America’s spirit. In spite of all controversies, Ronald Reagan’s legacy remains the one that shapes politics, economics, diplomacy and culture of the United States.