The Reagan Administration’s Efforts to Promote Human Rights and Democracy in the Soviet Union
This chapter explores the complexities of how the Reagan administration promoted human rights and democracy in the Soviet Union. It situates the administration’s campaign to promote Soviet internal reform within a larger effort to forge a dynamic détente with Moscow from an unquestioned ‘position of strength.’ Taking this approach has the advantage of showcasing the diverse array of steps that officials took to promote democracy and pluralism in the USSR. It also helps demonstrate that Reagan’s policies did not force Mikhail Gorbachev to embrace democracy. Instead, as the chapter shows, the administration made its most important contributions to transforming the USSR by using the provisions of the Final Act to hold Soviet policymakers accountable for their behaviour and helping reformers build liberal democratic institutions.