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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Describe the successes and failures of Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy
  • Compare the policies of Ronald Reagan with those of George H. W. Bush
  • Explain the causes and results of the Persian Gulf War
  • Discuss the events that constituted the end of the Cold War

In addition to reviving the economy and reducing the size of the federal government, Ronald Reagan also wished to restore American stature in the world. He entered the White House a “cold warrior” and referred to the Soviet Union in a 1983 speech as an “evil empire.” Dedicated to upholding even authoritarian governments in foreign countries to keep them safe from Soviet influence, he was also desperate to put to rest Vietnam Syndrome    , the reluctance to use military force in foreign countries for fear of embarrassing defeat, which had influenced U.S. foreign policy since the mid-1970s.

The middle east and central america

Reagan’s desire to demonstrate U.S. readiness to use military force abroad sometimes had tragic consequences. In 1983, he sent soldiers to Lebanon as part of a multinational force trying to restore order following an Israeli invasion the year before. On October 23, more than two hundred troops were killed in a barracks bombing in Beirut carried out by Iranian-trained militants known as Hezbollah ( [link] ). In February 1984, Reagan announced that, given intensified fighting, U.S. troops were being withdrawn.

Photograph (a) shows the bombed remains of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut. Photograph (b) shows the ruins of the U.S. Marine barracks at the Beirut airport.
The suicide bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut (a) on April 18, 1983, marked the first of a number of attacks on U.S. targets in the region. Less than six months later, a truck bomb leveled the U.S. Marine barracks at the Beirut airport (b), part of a coordinated attack that killed 299 U.S and French members of the multinational peacekeeping force in Lebanon.

Two days after the bombing in Beirut, Reagan and Secretary of State George P. Shultz authorized the invasion of Grenada, a small Caribbean island nation, in an attempt to oust a Communist military junta that had overthrown a moderate regime. Communist Cuba already had troops and technical aid workers stationed on the island and were willing to defend the new regime, but the United States swiftly took command of the situation, and the Cuban soldiers surrendered after two days.

Reagan’s intervention in Grenada was intended to send a message to Marxists in Central America. Meanwhile, however, decades of political repression and economic corruption by certain Latin American governments, sometimes generously supported by U.S. foreign aid, had sown deep seeds of revolutionary discontent. In El Salvador, a 1979 civil-military coup had put a military junta in power that was engaged in a civil war against left-leaning guerillas when Reagan took office. His administration supported the right-wing government, which used death squads to silence dissent.

Neighboring Nicaragua was also governed by a largely Marxist-inspired group, the Sandinistas. This organization, led by Daniel Ortega, had overthrown the brutal, right-wing dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza in 1979. Reagan, however, overlooked the legitimate complaints of the Sandinistas and believed that their rule opened the region to Cuban and Soviet influence. A year into his presidency, convinced it was folly to allow the expansion of Soviet and Communist influence in Latin America, he authorized the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to equip and train a group of anti-Sandinista Nicaraguans known as the Contras ( contrarevolucionários or “counter-revolutionaries”) to oust Ortega.

Questions & Answers

Isnt there any laws in place for gun control?
Ryan Reply
How would you characterize the former president’s reaction? What do you think he means by writing that the Missouri Compromise line “is a reprieve only, not a final sentence”?
Tonda Reply
Compare and contrast the steamboats of the antebellum years with technologies today. In your estimation, what modern technology compares to steamboats in its transformative power?
Tonda Reply
airplanes to jets. Another would be electric trains.
Darren
what are the impact of the missionaries on indigenous knowledge of black communities
Don Reply
What were the initial issues that lead to the introduction of legislation
Benedicta Reply
what is the main title of franklin D roosevelt
Allan Reply
the president of the USA
Yangduk
who abolish slavery
ABDOURAHMAN Reply
Abraham Lincoln
Yangduk
who was the fists empire in americans
Alex Reply
who organized the most massive attack in American History, which caused the Germans to begin to retreat in September 1918?
Jmora Reply
"Black Jack" Pershing
Victor
Is there answers anywhere to all of the critical thinking questions?
Heather Reply
What were the direct causes of the civil war
Trinity Reply
How did slavery issues effect the war
Trinity
How were politics involved
Trinity
north wanted to unify the south
Maleek
south wanted independence
Maleek
freeing slaves was just a way to recruit black soldiers to fight for north
Maleek
Lincoln couldn't let the south separate from the union , agriculture was way to valuable
Maleek
South felt North was opposing their interests and would be better off as a separate nation
Victor
progressive reforms under Theodore Roosevelt
Karpi Reply
TR was determined to pursue the public interest
Victor
what was the main thing suposed to happen when the tea party
Gavin Reply
Which plan resolved the issue of representation for the U.S. Constitution?
Nichole Reply
The plan which became known as the seventeenth amendmet.
WIlliam
amendmet because not an article of bill of rights.
WIlliam
Which of the primary features of grassroots Progressivism was the most essential to the continued growth
Ren Reply
The institution of a steady currency.
WIlliam

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Source:  OpenStax, U.s. history. OpenStax CNX. Jan 12, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11740/1.3
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