Presidential Doctrine Paper – The Reagan Doctrine

2136 words - 9 pages

Beginning with the creation of the Monroe Doctrine in 1823, up to the current Obama doctrine, presidential doctrines have dominated United States foreign policy. A presidential doctrine highlights the goals and positions for United States foreign affairs outlined by the sitting president. Many of the country’s major foreign policy successes or disasters can be explained by tracing the doctrines of sitting or previous presidents and analyzing their evolution and eventual impact on world events. After established, a presidential doctrine often takes on a life of its own. This can be explained by the military resources and human capital involved in carrying out these doctrines. Future ...view middle of the document...

During the late 1970s, after the pull out from Vietnam, the United States was becoming viewed less as a dominant super power. In 1979, just before Reagan took office, the Iran hostage crisis occurred in which fifty two American citizens were held hostage for over a year after a group of Iranian students took over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran to voice their displeasure with American intervention in their political system and their perceived undermining of the Iranian Revolution. The United States was facing blowback at a high level from other countries and its own population alike. Reagan made it clear that he intended to let the world know that the United States was still a capable super power. While the defense industry and Pentagon budgets had been slowly declining since the end of World War II, Reagan brought defense spending to an all-time high, both stimulating the American economy and triggering an arms race with the Soviet Union.
In his second term’s state of the union address, President Reagan pledged his support to anti-Communist revolutions in what would become known officially as the "Reagan Doctrine." The Reagan Doctrine made its goal to eradicate, or rather “roll back” the spread of communism across the globe, as well as to help small nations implement liberal democracy. At least one part of the Reagan Doctrine pre-dated the Reagan Presidency in this regard. Beginning in 1979, President Carter and his administration provided military assistance to Afghanistan's Mujahideen, a freedom-fighting opposition group, in an effort to drive the Soviets out of the nation, or at least present some sort of resistance to and raise the military and political cost of Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. President Reagan expanded this program as part of the Reagan Doctrine of aiding anti-Soviet resistance abroad. To execute this policy, Reagan sent the CIA to equip the Mujihadeen forces against the Communist forces. Reagan asserted America’s right to support those who opposed communism wherever they might be, breaking with the doctrine of containment which had ruled US Soviet relations for decades. The previous doctrine originally adopted by the Truman administration allowed communism where it already existed, but would use all force necessary to prevent any further expansion. In other words, communism would be "contained" where it currently existed, but would not be allowed spill over into other regions. The creation of the Reagan Doctrine found the focus shifting from this previous idea of containment to eliminating any existing Communist governments altogether. In addition to the eradication of these Communist governments, the United States also sought to encourage capitalism and democracy in those places. While the Reagan Doctrine lasted for less than a decade, it was the centerpiece of United States foreign until the end of the Cold War in 1991.
During its first century of existence, the United States’ foreign policy centered on North...

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