The Reagan Doctrine: War and Coercive Diplomacy

  • John Dumbrell
Part of the American History in Depth book series (AHD)


On 29 April 1985, Secretary Shultz gave a speech at the State Department to mark the tenth anniversary of the fall of Saigon. Against the advice of Dick Childress, NSC staff specialist on Vietnam, Shultz offered the most sustainedly upbeat account of the recent war yet attempted by a senior figure in the Reagan Administration. While admitting that ‘mistakes’ were made in ‘how the war was fought’, Shultz declared that there could now be no question as to the morality of US intervention. America’s ‘sacrifice was in the service of noble ideals — to save innocent people from brutal tyranny’. The Secretary of State emphasised that this interpretation of the war inevitably ‘affects our conduct in the present, and thus, in part, determines our future’. Reagan himself added that US troops in Vietnam had been ‘fed into the meatgrinder’ by leaders who had no ‘intention of allowing victory’. He agreed with Richard Nixon that 1973 was actually an American victory.


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Copyright information

© John Dumbrell 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Dumbrell
    • 1
  1. 1.Keele UniversityUK

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