Advertisement

Ronald Reagan — ‘America is Back’

  • Trevor B. McCrisken

Abstract

When Ronald Reagan took office in January 1981, the domestic challenges of inflation, unemployment, interest rates and energy shortages dominated the American political agenda. Despite the American hostages in Iran being released as he was inaugurated, Reagan was also confronted with problems on the international scene that had contributed to his predecessor’s failure to secure a second term. The Soviet occupation of Afghanistan continued and Soviet troops now seemed poised to cross the Polish border to curb the growing power of Solidarity. In the US, the Committee on the Present Danger, of which Reagan was a member, warned of an alleged window of vulnerability in US strategic strength and pressed for a more vigilant and aggressive focus on the perceived Soviet threat to American security interests. The Reagan administration was determined to meet these challenges and thereby restore American power and strength in world affairs, resolve the economic crisis at home, and renew the self-confidence of the American people. To achieve these ends Reagan would appeal, not unlike his predecessors, to the traditional belief in American exceptionalism to which he subscribed wholeheartedly.

Keywords

Foreign Policy American People Reagan Administration Cruise Missile Soviet Policy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    Lou Cannon, President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime ( New York: Touchstone, 1991 ) 793.Google Scholar
  2. See Alexander M. Haig, Jr., Caveat: Realism, Reagan, and Foreign Policy (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1984).Google Scholar
  3. Haig, Caveat, 85. Although Reagan did not give a major foreign policy speech during his first year in office, his Secretaries of State and Defense did, most notably Alexander Haig, ‘Address by the Secretary of State (Haig) Before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, Washington, April 24, 1981’, and Caspar Weinberger, ‘Address by the Secretary of Defense (Weinberger) at the United Press International Luncheon of the American Newspaper Publishers Association Meeting, Chicago, May 5, 1981’, American Foreign Policy Current Documents 1981 (Washington, DC: Department of State, 1984) 35–42.Google Scholar
  4. 47.
    See Haig, Caveat, 26–7, 87; Caspar Weinberger, Fighting for Peace: Seven Critical Years in the Pentagon ( London: Michael Joseph, 1990 ) 25.Google Scholar
  5. 49.
    Frances FitzGerald, Way Out There in the Blue: Reagan, Star Wars and the End of the Cold War (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000) 330–1.Google Scholar
  6. 57.
    Robert Jay Litton and Richard Falk, Indefensible Weapons: The Political and Psychological Case Against Nuclearism ( New York: Basic Books, 1982 ).Google Scholar
  7. 62.
    Mikhail Gorbachev, Perestroika: New Thinking for Our Country and the World (New York: Harper & Row, 1987) 243.Google Scholar
  8. 64.
    See Peter Schweizer, Victory: The Reagan Administration’s Secret Strategy that Hastened the Collapse of the Soviet Union ( New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1993 ).Google Scholar
  9. 65.
    Raymond L. Garthoff, The Great Transition: American-Soviet Relations and the End of the Cold War ( Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 1994 ) 764–5.Google Scholar
  10. 66.
    Richard Ned Lebow and Janice Gross Stein, We All Lost the Cold War ( Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994 ) 370.Google Scholar
  11. 72.
    Reagan, ‘Radio Address to the Nation on American International Broadcasting, September 10, 1983’, Public Papers, 1983, 1250.Google Scholar
  12. 77.
    Beth A. Fischer, The Reagan Reversal: Foreign Policy and the End of the Cold War ( Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 1997 ).Google Scholar
  13. 87.
    Quoted in Arnold R. Isaacs, Vietnam Shadows: The War, Its Ghosts, and Its Legacy ( Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997 ) 49.Google Scholar
  14. 96.
    Colin L. Powell with Joseph E. Persico, My American Journey ( New York: Random House, 1995 ) 207–8.Google Scholar
  15. 101.
    Caspar W. Weinberger, Fighting for Peace: Seven Critical Years in the Pentagon (New York: Warner Books, 1990) 441–2. NB: This is the US edition of Weinberger’s memoirs, which includes an appendix on the Weinberger Doctrine not included in the British edition cited elsewhere in this chapter.Google Scholar
  16. 106.
    Walter LaFeber, Inevitable Revolutions: The United States in Central America, 2nd edn (New York: W. W. Norton, 1993) 237–8, 282–3, 292–4, 305–7; LaFeber, American Age, 720–1.Google Scholar
  17. 107.
    Quoted in Robert Dallek, Ronald Reagan: The Politics of Symbolism, new edn (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999 ) 166.Google Scholar
  18. 130.
    Smith, Monroe Doctrine, 178–84; Hugh O’Shaughnessy, Grenada: Revolution, Invasion and Aftermath ( London: Sphere, 1984 ).Google Scholar
  19. 155.
    William Schneider, ‘“Rambo” and Reality: Having It Both Ways’, Eagle Resurgent? The Reagan Era in American Foreign Policy, ed. Kenneth A. Oye, Robert J. Lieber and Donald Rothchild ( Boston, MA: Little, Brown, 1987 ) 59.Google Scholar
  20. 157.
    Margaret Thatcher, The Downing Street Years ( New York: Harper Perennial, 1995 ) 328–33.Google Scholar
  21. 172.
    Geir Lundestad, ‘The United States and Western Europe Under Ronald Reagan’, in David E. Kyvig, ed., Reagan and the World ( Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1990 ) 54.Google Scholar
  22. 181.
    John E. Rielly, ed., American Public Opinion and US Foreign Policy 1987 ( Chicago: Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, 1987 ) 32–3.Google Scholar
  23. 199.
    Robert Kagan, A Twilight Struggle: American Power and Nicaragua, 1977–1990 ( New York: Free Press, 1996 ) 355–6.Google Scholar
  24. 201.
    Holly Sklar, Washington’s War on Nicaragua (Boston: South End Press, 1988) 168–70, 314;Google Scholar
  25. 203.
    See Cannon, Reagan, 589–738; John Tower, Edmund Muskie and Brent Scowcroft, The Tower Commission Report: The Full Text of the President’s Special Review Board ( New York: Times Books, 1987 )Google Scholar
  26. Lawrence E. Walsh, Firewall: The Iran-Contra Conspiracy and Cover-up ( New York: W. W. Norton, 1997 ).Google Scholar
  27. 205.
    Louis Harris, Inside America (New York: Vintage, 1987) 310–11, 421.Google Scholar
  28. 212.
    Reagan, ‘Farewell Address, January 11, 1989’, Public Papers, 1988–1989, 1718–23.Google Scholar
  29. 213.
    Jerry Hagstrom, Beyond Reagan: The New Landscape of American Politics ( New York: Penguin, 1988 ) 13.Google Scholar
  30. 214.
    Kevin Phillips, The Politics of Rich and Poor: Wealth and the American Electorate in the Reagan Aftermath (New York: Random House, 1990) esp. 3–31; see also Hagstrom, Beyond ReaganGoogle Scholar
  31. Lewis H. Lapham, Money and Class in America: Notes and Observations on the Civil Religion ( London: Picador, 1989 ).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Trevor B. McCrisken 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Trevor B. McCrisken
    • 1
  1. 1.University of WarwickUK

Personalised recommendations