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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 In February 1984, Reagan announced that, given intensified fighting, U.S. troops were being withdrawn.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

What does chasquis mean?
mary Reply
i need help
Maria
chasquis (also chaskis) were the messengers of the Inca empire. Agile, highly trained and physically fit, they were in charge of carrying the quipus, messages and gifts, up to 240 km per day through the chasquis relay system.
NAEEM
How did imperialism Effect America
Melinda Reply
when did the most distinguished leaders meet
Osvaldo Reply
what is the main idea of the passage
The Reply
what major industries emerged in the decades after the Civil war
ComicHickory Reply
Does militia men still exist in U.S.A?
Shakeel Reply
To contrast the steamboat of the antebellum to today’s technology?
Nyrah Reply
contrast the steamboats of the antebellum years with technologies today.
Nyrah
I love reading books about history.
David
I reading what happened earlier so much
melanda
I meant I love to read a lot
melanda
omg I never noticed this until now.
sunny
what advantages did people in urban areas have over rural areas?
HAILEY Reply
what factors helped cause the dust bowl
HAILEY
They had easy availability of food water. They had more comfortable life style as compare to people in rural areas. Better education was at there disposal
Shakeel
why did northerners lose thier resolve to pursue reconstruction
bambi Reply
what is taring and feathering?
Dominic Reply
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
I would say the Internal Combustion engine was as if not more transformative the the Steam power which it replaced. The ability of the Steamboat to rapidly move large amounts of goods through the water ways that weave there way from town to town increased our fledgling country's economy. I can draw direct coraleris with the National highway system built during the 1950's that were soon clogged with Transport trucks using I.C.E.
Pancho
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

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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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