The “Reagan Doctrine” is announced

The “Reagan Doctrine” is announced

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In his State of the Union address, President Ronald Reagan defines some of the key concepts of his foreign policy, establishing what comes to be known as the “Reagan Doctrine.” The doctrine served as the foundation for the Reagan administration’s support of “freedom fighters” around the globe.

Reagan began his foreign policy comments with the dramatic pronouncement that, “Freedom is not the sole prerogative of a chosen few; it is the universal right of all God’s children.” America’s “mission” was to “nourish and defend freedom and democracy.” More specifically, Reagan declared that, “We must stand by our democratic allies. And we must not break faith with those who are risking their lives—on every continent, from Afghanistan to Nicaragua—to defy Soviet-supported aggression and secure rights which have been ours from birth.” He concluded, “Support for freedom fighters is self-defense.”

With these words, the Reagan administration laid the foundation for its program of military assistance to “freedom fighters.” In action, this policy translated into covertly supporting the Contras in their attacks on the leftist Sandinista government in Nicaragua; the Afghan rebels in their fight against the Soviet occupiers; and anticommunist Angolan forces embroiled in that nation’s civil war. President Reagan continued to defend his actions throughout his two terms in office. During his farewell address in 1989, he claimed success in weakening the Sandinista government, forcing the Soviets to withdraw from Afghanistan, and bringing an end to the conflict in Angola. Domestic critics, however, decried his actions, claiming that the support of so-called “freedom fighters” resulted only in prolonging and escalating bloody conflicts and in U.S. support of repressive and undemocratic elements in each of the respective nations.

READ MORE: The Myth That Reagan Ended the Cold War With a Single Speech

United States presidential doctrines

A United States presidential doctrine comprises the key goals, attitudes, or stances for United States foreign affairs outlined by a president. Most presidential doctrines are related to the Cold War. Though many U.S. presidents had themes related to their handling of foreign policy, the term doctrine generally applies to presidents such as James Monroe, Harry S. Truman, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, all of whom had doctrines which more completely characterized their foreign policy.

U.S. Shaping Assertive Policy for Third World : ‘Reagan Doctrine’ Would Actively Support Rebellions Against Unfriendly Leftist Regimes

The Reagan Administration is developing a sweeping new foreign policy doctrine that provides for a more assertive U.S. role in the Third World. From Nicaragua to Angola, from Afghanistan to Cambodia, Administration officials say, the United States should actively--and overtly--back rebellions against pro-Soviet regimes.

Born in the congressional fight over aid to the anti-Sandinista rebels in Nicaragua, the idea of publicly backing “freedom fighters” around the world has been elevated to a basic principle of foreign policy by President Reagan.

Hawks in the Administration, allied with hard-liners in Congress and conservative lobbying groups outside the government, are working to promote a steadily wider application of what some call the “Reagan Doctrine.”

“We must not break faith with those who are risking their lives--on every continent, from Afghanistan to Nicaragua--to defy Soviet-supported aggression and secure rights which have been ours since birth,” Reagan declared in his State of the Union Address this year. “Support for freedom fighters is self-defense.”

Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard L. Armitage, one of the architects of the new doctrine, said: “If a group is fighting a repressive regime and shares our values and our goals, then we have very little choice but to support them. For us, the issue is not whether freedom fighters deserve our support the real question is what support should be offered.”

There is also a continuing question within the Administration and among its outside supporters over exactly how a policy of support for anti-communist rebels should be carried out. At issue are such points as how much aid should be sent, to whom and how openly.

Senate conservatives, for example, advocate a major increase in overt aid for a wide range of insurgent movements. State and Defense Department officials, by contrast, tend to argue for more covert aid, and more caution.

“We’re still working on a doctrine on this,” a senior State Department official said. “I don’t think anybody had thought about it in global terms before. . . . It’s all been on a case-by-case basis.”

As the new doctrine gains public visibility, officials acknowledge that they will have to answer some fundamental questions. Among them:

--Should the United States adopt the Soviet strategy of promoting revolutions against governments it dislikes?

--How should the President choose which regimes to destabilize and which to leave alone?

--Will U.S. support for insurgencies hinder or encourage peaceful solutions?

Nonetheless, although the details are subject to debate, the Administration has clearly settled on the basic theme of a new policy toward Third World conflicts: The United States has a right and a duty to help rebels who take up arms against Marxist regimes--and an opportunity to help topple some governments.

“After years of guerrilla insurgencies led by Communists against pro-Western governments, we now see dramatic and heartening examples of popular insurgencies against Communist regimes,” Secretary of State George P. Shultz told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee earlier this year. “If we turned our backs . . . we would be conceding the Soviet notion that Communist revolutions are irreversible while everything else is up for grabs.”

Said a Defense Department official: “We’re talking about getting involved in insurgency now--rather than what we did in the ‘60s, which was mainly counterinsurgency. Socialism is not irreversible. . . . We do not rule out playing by the same kind of rules the Soviets do. Up until now, we haven’t been playing on a level field. We’d like to even it out a little bit.”

In the past, U.S. involvement in uprisings has been limited in scope and, normally, as clandestine as the CIA could make it. The United States supported an abortive insurgency in Albania in 1949, successful coups in Iran and Guatemala in 1954, the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961 and the opposition to Chile’s Marxist government in 1973. Those actions were neither publicly announced nor raised to the level of a general “doctrine.”

Today, however, Reagan Administration spokesmen say that the rash of new pro-Soviet regimes that came to power after the fall of South Vietnam in 1975--in Cambodia, Angola, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Nicaragua and Afghanistan--prompted spontaneous rebellions from their citizens, and that the United States has a moral duty to lend them at least political support.

Borrowing a phrase once used by Americans who complained that the U.S. government too often supported repressive regimes abroad, proponents of the Reagan Doctrine contend that it is putting this country “on the side of history.”

The basic premises of the new Reagan Doctrine have drawn little criticism from Democrats in Congress. Some have fought the President on aid to rebels in Nicaragua, but some, like liberal Rep. Stephen J. Solarz (D-N.Y.), have actually led the drive for more overt aid to insurgents in Afghanistan and Cambodia.

Administration officials suggest that Solarz “does that so he can attack us on Nicaragua without looking soft on communism.”

Solarz waves away that suggestion, saying: “In the debate between internationalism and isolationism, I definitely come down on the side of internationalism. We should not try to be the world’s policeman, but we can’t afford to be a naive bystander watching with indifference while the Soviet Union and its surrogates subvert countries.”

A few voices on Capitol Hill still inveigh against intervention in the Third World in tones reminiscent of the Vietnam War era.

“We’re doing things just because the Soviets and their surrogates are doing them, and that puts us in the same gutter with them,” said Rep. Jim Leach (R-Iowa), a moderate GOP maverick. “Where has American intervention ever helped in the Third World? I’d rather play on our field, by our rules.”

Leach acknowledged, though, that the tide is running against him. Last week, the Democratic-led House voted solidly to renew U.S. funding for the Nicaraguan rebels known as contras , reversing two years of opposition to the once-covert program. And the Senate voted to repeal the 1975 prohibition on aid to Angolan rebels, a measure that had been a landmark of anti-interventionist sentiment after Vietnam the House has yet to act on the issue.

The new doctrine of aiding anti-communist rebels, proponents say, is a logical outgrowth of the developments of the last decade. After the fall of Vietnam, pro-Soviet regimes came to power in Angola, Mozambique, Ethiopia and Nicaragua Communist Vietnam invaded neighboring Communist Cambodia and, in 1979, the Soviet Union itself invaded Afghanistan.

In all those countries, Administration officials say, the new pro-Soviet regimes proved to be belligerent and repressive, and pro-Western insurgencies formed to fight them.

An equally important factor may be the return of both the Democratic and Republican parties to the moralistic tradition of American foreign policy--the Democrats in the human rights crusade of Jimmy Carter, the GOP in the anti-communism of Ronald Reagan.

“The United States today is not the United States of a decade ago, one that was full of self-doubts,” the Pentagon’s Armitage said. “We’re a different nation now. We’re a very confident nation. Under Ronald Reagan, we’re a stronger nation. We aren’t afraid to stand up for what we believe in, and that includes human rights. . . . Under Communist regimes, human rights are not highly regarded.”

The political climate may have turned friendly to the kind of indirect intervention the Reagan Administration endorses, but debate continues over how many insurgencies the United States should sponsor, what kind of aid it should give and whether the U.S. role should be covert or publicly declared.

In a series of case-by-case decisions in the past, the Administration has come to adopt a patchwork of positions that senior officials concede is inconsistent:

--In Afghanistan, it secretly sent more than $380 million in military aid to the anti-Soviet rebels before pressure from Senate conservatives prompted it to acknowledge openly that it has supplied small amounts of “humanitarian aid” as well.

--In Nicaragua, the Administration began by secretly sending the contras more than $80 million in military aid, as well as CIA commando teams but found itself forced to go public with support for the contras after Congress--angry over a covert effort to mine Nicaragua’s harbors--cut the rebels off.

--In Cambodia, the Administration wanted to aid anti-communist rebels indirectly, through other Southeast Asian countries, but Solarz and others in Congress are insisting on at least a symbolic $5 million in direct, overt U.S. aid.

Conversely, in Angola, the Administration has been barred by law from helping pro-Western rebels, but officials say they have made no decision on whether they would want to do this. And in Ethiopia and Mozambique, the Administration has looked at anti-Soviet guerrilla movements and decided that they do not deserve U.S. support.

Conservatives such as Sens. Steven D. Symms (R-Idaho), Robert Kasten (R-Wis.) and Malcolm Wallop (R-Wyo.), backed by a growing number of would-be rebel lobbyists, want the Administration to increase its aid to insurgents, especially the Angolans and Mozambicans.

Kasten, chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations, is considering a proposal to give the President an unrestricted $50-million “rebel fund” for the insurgents of his choice.

The conservatives charge that the State Department has been resisting any expansion of rebel aid, despite Shultz’s frequent speeches on the subject. Some even say that the CIA has been insufficiently enthusiastic about the Afghan rebels. Wallop has proposed a new White House “office for freedom fighters” to take charge of promoting insurgents’ causes.

“The bureaucracy doesn’t always work the way it should,” Symms said. “Our overwhelming urge to be diplomats sometimes overcomes our ability to lay down the gauntlet.”

Prof. Charles A. Moser of George Washington University, one of the organizers of a new Resistance Support Alliance, said: “There’s great resistance from the State Department every time someone suggests adding another country to the list. George Shultz seems to be saying he’s glad to see these people fight for freedom, but he won’t do anything about it.”

State Department spokesman Edward P. Djerejian responded: “The idea that there’s an institutional resistance here to containing Soviet expansionism is nonsense. Our support for the Afghan rebels, our support for the Cambodian resistance and our policy in Central America should be clear on that point.”

On the other side of the issue, Democrat Solarz has contended that the Administration should finance rebel movements only in countries under foreign invasion--a test that would allow aid to the Afghans and Cambodians but not the Nicaraguans, Angolans or Mozambicans.

“We need to make these decisions in a conceptual framework that will not lead to us getting involved in all kinds of conflicts that may not be in our national interest,” Solarz said. “There are those who think the only criterion should be whether the rebels oppose the Communists. . . . That seems to me to be a formula for widespread interventionism.”

Solarz said he opposes aid to the Nicaraguan contras, for example, because “we would be supporting an effort to overthrow an internationally recognized government.”

Within the Administration, the debate is narrower. Officials say that Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger and the Pentagon are enthusiastic about expanded aid to rebels, while Shultz’s State Department is more cautious. Defense Department officials have supported overt aid, but Shultz and National Security Adviser Robert C. McFarlane are said to prefer covert aid.

“Covert action is carried out for the most part in cooperation with somebody else--some friendly government that is often weak, anxious and fearful of the cost of open dependence on us,” Donald R. Fortier, a McFarlane aide, said in a recent speech. “We have to be sensitive to (our allies’) weaknesses and vulnerabilities.”

Meanwhile, the Administration’s conservative allies--and prodders--are creating a new factor on Capitol Hill: a rebel lobby.

Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, former ambassador to the United Nations, and former Treasury Secretary William E. Simon are making speeches and raising money for the Nicaraguan contras. Moser and an assortment of other anti-communist activists have formed the Resistance Support Alliance.

And Lewis Lehrman--a millionaire conservative activist who airlifted Nicaraguan, Afghan and Laotian opposition figures into the Angolan bush two weeks ago for a first-ever convention of “freedom fighters"--has undertaken a new project: a professionally staffed Washington lobbying office for the rebels.

“These guys haven’t really been able to articulate to Congress how they should be helped,” said Jack Abramoff, a former Republican National Committee staff member and Lehrman aide. “We hope to give them some help on that. We see this as a contribution to the overall Reagan Doctrine. Every time we’ve worked with anybody in the Administration, we’ve gotten nothing but help. . . . It’s a trend, and we’re on the move.”

Doyle McManus has been a reporter for the Los Angeles Times in Washington, the Middle East and many other places for more than 40 years. Born in San Francisco, he’s a graduate of Stanford University.

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Reagan (2022 film)

Reagan is an upcoming biographical historical drama film directed by Sean McNamara, starring Dennis Quaid and David Henrie as United States President Ronald Reagan. The film also features Penelope Ann Miller, Kevin Dillon, Skip Schwink, Mena Suvari, Lesley-Anne Down and Jon Voight in supporting roles. The movie is based on the book The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism by Paul Kengor.

Principal photography on the film began on September 9, 2020 and included locations such as Guthrie, Oklahoma. [2]

Cold War timeline: 1980 to 1991

This Cold War timeline contains important dates and events from 1980 to 1991. It has been written and compiled by Alpha History authors. If you would like to suggest an event for inclusion here, please contact Alpha History.

January 4th: The United States halts wheat sales to the Soviet Union, a sanction imposed after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
January 23rd: US president Jimmy Carter promises to respond to any Soviet aggression against American allies in the Middle East. This position becomes known as the Carter Doctrine.
April 7th: The US severs diplomatic relations with Iran.
April 24th: The US military launch a failed attempt to rescue American civilians being held hostage by the fundamentalist regime in Iran. Eight American servicemen are killed.
March 8th: The Tbilisi Rock Festival begins in Georgia, the first rock music festival held in the Soviet Union. It continues for a week and is dubbed the “Soviet Woodstock”.
March 21st: President Jimmy Carter announces that the US will boycott the Olympic Games in Moscow (see July 19th).
May 4th: Josip Tito, the socialist leader of Yugoslavia, dies in Belgrade aged 88.
June 3rd: A device fault causes US defence computers in several locations to report an incoming attack from Soviet missiles. Cross checking soon exposes these reports as false alarms.
July 19th: The 22nd Summer Olympic Games begin in Moscow. A total of 65 nations refuse to attend, due to a US-led boycott in protest against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
August 31st: Seeking to end a series of general strikes, Poland’s communist government signs an agreement with the Lech Walesa-led Solidarnosc (‘Solidarity’) movement. It agrees to improve civil rights and allow the formation of non-communist unions.
September 22nd: War breaks out between the Islamic state of Iran, led by the Ayatollah Khomeini, and Ba’athist Iraq, led by Saddam Hussein. The Iran-Iraq War lasts almost eight years and claims up to 600,000 lives, some of them from the use of chemical weapons.
November 4th: Republican candidate and former California governor Ronald Reagan is elected president. Reagan defeats the incumbent president Jimmy Carter, winning 44 states to Carter’s six.

January 15th: Pope John Paul II meets with Lech Walesa and other members of the Polish reform group Solidarnosc.
January 20th: Ronald Reagan is inaugurated as the 40th US president. His inauguration speech focuses mainly on domestic and economic issues.
January 20th: After 444 days in captivity, the 52 American civilians held hostage in Iran are released.
March 30th: Two months after his inauguration Ronald Reagan is shot in the chest while leaving a Washington hotel. The gunman, John Hinckley, is found to be mentally unhinged and obsessed with actress Jodie Foster.
May 13th: While riding in an open-topped car through the Vatican, Pope John Paul II is shot four times in the abdomen and right arm. The gunman, Mehmet Ali Agca, is a Turkish Kurd with uncertain motives.
October 6th: Egyptian president Anwar Sadat is assassinated by Islamist military officers.
December 13th: The communist regime in Poland implements martial law and arrests leaders of the Solidarnosc trade union.

February 24th: Ronald Reagan unveils the Caribbean Basin Initiative, a plan to extend friendly economic terms to regional governments at risk from communism.
March 22nd: Ronald Reagan endorses a joint resolution of Congress, calling on the Soviet Union to “cease its abuses of the basic human rights of its citizens, in particular, the right to freely practice one’s religion and the right to emigrate to another country”.
April 2nd: Argentinian forces invade the Falkland Islands, a self-governing British territory in the South Atlantic Ocean. This leads to the Falklands War.
May 30th: Spain joins the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).
June 12th: A nuclear disarmament rally in Central Park, New York City attracts an estimated 750,000 people. They hear addresses from prominent peace activists and musicians.
June 14th: Argentina surrenders to British forces, bringing the Falklands War to an end and liberating the islands.
November 10th: Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev dies in Moscow after a heart attack. He is replaced two days later by former KGB chief Yuri Andropov.
November 14th: Solidarnosc leader Lech Walesa is released from detention and returns to Poland.

January: Deiter Gerhardt, a former officer in the South African Navy, is arrested for espionage in New York. His Soviet handler, Vitaly Shlykov, is arrested a fortnight later.
February 2nd: US president Ronald Reagan hosts a delegation of Afghan mujahideen or freedom fighters in the White House.
March 8th
: Reagan describes the Soviet Union as an “evil empire”.
March 23rd: Reagan unveils his Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI), a program to research and develop missile defence systems. The media later dubs it ‘Star Wars’ because it includes the use of space technology.
June 3rd: WarGames, a motion picture depicting a computer simulation that almost triggers World War III, opens in American cinemas.
July 7th: Samantha Smith, a 10 year old girl from Maine, visits the Soviet Union at the invitation of Yuri Andropov. Smith had earlier written to Andropov, asking if he intended to wage war on America.
September 1st: Soviet MiG fighters shoot down a civilian airliner, Korean Air Flight 007, after it overflew Soviet territory. The crash kills all 269 people on board.
September 5th: Ronald Reagan addresses the nation on the Soviet attack on Flight 007, calling it a “crime against humanity”.
September 6th: After days of denials, Moscow admits that Soviet fighters were responsible for shooting down Flight 007.
September 26th: A Soviet air force officer, Stanislav Petrov, averts nuclear war by ignoring computer reports of five incoming missiles. The reports are later found to be false, caused by cloud reflections.
October 5th: Polish unionist and political reformer Lech Walesa is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
October 25th: US forces land in Grenada to overthrow the communist military regime and expel Cuban troops there.
November 2nd: NATO’s Able Archer, an operation to test missile warfare firing procedures, leads to Soviet forces being shifted to high alert.
November 13th: The US deploys nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles at Greenham Common in Berkshire, England. The site is surrounded and blockaded by anti-nuclear weapons protestors, most of them women.
November 20th: The Day After, a movie depicting a nuclear attack on American cities, is aired on US television.
November 23rd: Soviet delegates walk out of arms reduction talks in Vienna, a protest against the deployment of US cruise missiles in Europe.

February 13th: Konstantin Chernenko becomes general secretary of the Soviet Union, following the death of Yuri Andropov.
May 13th: A fire sweeps through the Severomorsk naval base in remote northern Russia, burning for four days. It causes a series of munitions blasts that kill as many as 300 people and destroy much of the Soviet Union’s naval missile stockpile.
July 28th: The 23rd Summer Olympic Games commence in Los Angeles, California. These games are boycotted by the Soviet Union and 13 of its communist allies, announced in early May.
August 11th: While warming up for a radio address, Ronald Reagan quips that he had “outlawed Russia forever” and that “we begin bombing in five minutes”.
November 6th: President Ronald Reagan is elected for a second term, defeating Democratic candidate Walter Mondale. Reagan wins almost 59% of the popular vote and carries 49 of 50 states.
December 16th: UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher holds cordial meetings with Mikhail Gorbachev, a member of the Soviet Union Politburo and a future general secretary.

January 20th: Ronald Reagan is sworn in for his second term as US president.
February 6th: Reagan announces that his administration will arm and support “freedom fighters” against communist regimes. This becomes known as the Reagan Doctrine.
March 11th: Mikhail Gorbachev becomes general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
March 24th: Arthur Nicholson, a US Army intelligence officer, is shot dead by a Soviet sentry while photographing military equipment in East Germany. The incident causes a deterioration in US-Soviet relations.
May 20th: John Anthony Walker Junior, a warrant officer in the US Navy, is arrested for espionage. It later emerges that Walker had been providing intelligence information to the Soviets since 1968.
July 10th: French agents sink the Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior in Auckland Harbour, killing one man. The Rainbow Warrior had been involved in protests against French nuclear testing in the Pacific.
August 6th: On the 40th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Soviet Union declares a five-month moratorium (ban) on nuclear testing. The US refuses to reciprocate.
November 19th: Gorbachev and Reagan meet for the first time, at a three day summit in Switzerland. They agree to more meetings in the future.

January 28th: The US space shuttle Challenger explodes shortly after launch, killing all seven astronauts onboard.
February 25th
: After years of popular unrest, a series of demonstrations in the Philippines leads to the removal of dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
February 25th: Speaking at a Communist Party congress, Mikhail Gorbachev unveils the keywords of his reformist policy: glasnost and perestroika.
March 13th: Two US warships, USS Yorktown and USS Caron, enter the Black Sea and sail through waters claimed by the Soviet Union. This action, designed to challenge Soviet maritime law, leads to a diplomatic incident.
April 26th: The Soviet nuclear reactor at Chernobyl, Ukraine, explodes, killing 56 people and contaminating a large area. The Chernobyl disaster has long-lasting physical, social and economic consequences.
July 5th: The opening ceremony of the first Goodwill Games is held in Moscow. Created by American broadcaster Ted Turner, the Goodwill Games were designed to heal the acrimony created by the 1980 and 1984 Olympic boycotts.
October 11th: Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev meet for a second time, at a summit in Reykjavik, Iceland. This meeting fails to reach agreement on arms control.

January 5th: Ronald Reagan undergoes prostate surgery. Some sections of the media ponder whether Reagan may have to resign from office.
March 4th: Reagan addresses the nation on television and denies approving or ordering the sale of arms to Iran, in order to fund the Contras movement in Nicaragua.
May 17th: The American frigate USS Stark is attacked by an Iraqi jet, which fires two Exocet missiles. The blast kills 37 American sailors.
June: Soviet general secretary Mikhail Gorbachev announces new policies of open debate (glasnost) and economic reform (perestroika).
June 8th: Western musicians including David Bowie, Genesis and the Eurythmics perform in West Berlin, close to the Berlin Wall. A large crowd of East Berliners gather on the other side to listen and ignore police orders to disband.
June 12th: While visiting Berlin, Ronald Reagan delivers a speech that urges Soviet general secretary Gorbachev to “tear down this wall”.
August: American singer-pianist Billy Joel completes a brief tour of the Soviet Union, performing in Moscow, Leningrad and Tbilisi.
December 8th: Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev begin a three-day summit in Washington DC. They sign a treaty banning all medium-range nuclear missiles from Europe.

January 2nd: The Soviet Congress passes the first legislation implementing Gorbachev’s perestroika (economic reforms).
February 22nd: A naval clash between US and USSR vessels, after US ships enter Soviet waters in the Crimean Sea.
March 24th: A McDonald’s restaurant opens in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, the first in a Soviet bloc nation.
March 25th: In the Slovakian capital Bratislava, approximately 5,000 Catholics participate in a ‘candle demonstration’, demanding religious freedom.
April 14th: The US, USSR, Afghanistan and Pakistan sign the Geneva Accords. This agreement provides a timetable for the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan.
April 29th: McDonald’s Canadian branch signs an agreement with Moscow City Council, allowing for the opening of 20 restaurants in the Soviet capital.
May 15th: Moscow begins withdrawing Soviet troops from Afghanistan.
May 29th: Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev begin five days of talks in Moscow. They sign a treaty restricting intermediate-range nuclear forces.
July 1st: The Soviet Congress passes a further round of economic reforms, lessening the Communist Party’s control over economic policy.
July 19th: American singer Bruce Springsteen performs a four-hour concert in East Berlin. It is attended by an estimated 300,000 East Germans.
August 11th: Saudi-born mujahideen Osama bin Laden forms an Islamic military group called al-Qaeda.
September 11th: Approximately 300,000 people in Estonia protest for national independence from Moscow.
October 27th: Ronald Reagan orders that the US Embassy in Moscow be torn down and rebuilt, due to an infestation of KGB listening devices in its structure.
November 8th: Incumbent vice president George Bush wins the US presidential election, defeating Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis.
November 16th: The Estonian government passes a “sovereignty declaration”, proclaiming Estonian laws to be paramount over Soviet laws. It is, in effect, a declaration of independence from Moscow.

January 20th: George Bush is inaugurated as US president, replacing Ronald Reagan.
February 15th: The last Soviet troops are withdrawn from Afghanistan.
April 15th: The death of Hu Yaobang, a liberal-reformist official in the Chinese Communist Party. Students respond to Hu’s death with large gatherings in Tiananmen Square and elsewhere.
April 26th: The People’s Daily, the official state newspaper of communist China, publishes an editorial condemning the growing student demonstrations. The following day up to 100,000 students march through Beijing to Tiananmen Square.
May 2nd: The Hungarian government begins tearing down the barbed wire fence along its border with Austria.
May 16th: Mikhail Gorbachev makes a landmark visit to China in an attempt to normalise Sino-Soviet relations. Student gatherings, protests and hunger strikes continue during his visit.
May 20th: With student protests and calls for democratic reform growing, the communist government in China declares martial law.
June 3rd: Chinese military units are sent into Beijing to clear protestors from Tiananmen Square. Over the next 24 hours between 300 and 3,000 protestors are killed.
June 5th: Footage of a lone protestor, standing defiantly in front of a column of tanks in Beijing, is beamed around the world. It becomes an iconic image of protest against communist oppression.
June 18th: Poland completes two rounds of democratic elections, the country’s first free elections since World War II. Lech Walesa’s Solidarnosc wins 161 in the Polish lower house and almost all of the seats in its Senate.
August 24th: Christian-democratic politician Tadeusz Mazowiecki becomes prime minister of Poland.
October 18th: Hungary adopts a new constitution, allowing for multiple political parties and free elections.
October 18th: Erich Honecker is replaced as leader of the East German Communist Party.
October 25th: Gorbachev repudiates the Brezhnev Doctrine, the idea that Moscow could intervene in Soviet bloc nations if socialism was perceived to be under threat.
November 9th: The East German government announces that it will shortly open checkpoints in Berlin. This triggers the storming and eventual fall of the Berlin Wall.
November 20th: More than 200,000 Czechoslovakians gather in Prague to protest against the communist government there. Government leaders resign four days later.
December 2nd: Mikhail Gorbachev and US president George Bush begin a two-day summit in Malta. At its conclusion, they proclaim a new era of peace.
December 9th: Solidarnosc leader Lech Walesa is elected president of Poland.
December 25th: Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu is overthrown after 34 years in power. Ceausescu and his wife are swiftly executed.
December 29th: Playwright and anti-Soviet dissident Vaclav Havel is elected as the president of Czechoslovakia.

January 20th: Soviet troops occupy the Azerbaijani city of Baku after prolonged demonstrations for independence. A total of 130 protestors are killed.
January 31st: The first McDonald’s store opens in Moscow.
February 7th: The Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) votes to end the one-party state and allow other parties to participate in elections.
March 11th: Lithuania declares independence from the Soviet Union.
March 13th: Constitutional reform in the Soviet Union ends the Communist Party’s monopoly on political power. Gorbachev is elected president of the Soviet Union for a five-year term.
March 18th: East Germany holds the first free elections since its formation in 1949. The election is won by a coalition promising speedy reunification with West Germany.
May 4th: The Latvian government declares independence from the Soviet Union. This is not recognised by Moscow.
May 30th: US president George Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev begin a five-day summit in Washington DC. During this summit, they sign a treaty ending production of chemical weapons and agree to reduce current stockpiles.
July 16th: West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl meets with Mikhail Gorbachev. Together they reach agreement on a process for the reunification of Germany.
August: The Soviet Union receives its first connection to the Internet.
September 12th: East Germany and West Germany sign a peace treaty. This treaty is countersigned by the US, USSR, Britain and France, who surrender the role of occupying powers. This clears the way for German independence and reunification.
September 24th: Mikhail Gorbachev is given extraordinary powers for a period of 18 months, to effect major reforms to the Soviet economy.
October 3rd: Germany is formally reunified. The reunification of Germany does not please everyone: it is opposed by some politicians in Britain, France and Israel.
October 15th: Mikhail Gorbachev is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for easing Cold War tensions.
November 17th: Gorbachev proposes a significant restructuring of the Soviet government.
November 21st: Leaders of 34 nations, including the US and Soviet Union, sign the Paris Charter. Many historians consider this charter to be the de facto peace treaty that ends the Cold War.

January 1st: The government of Czechoslovakia announces a new policy approach, abandoning socialist economics.
January 13th: Soviet troops enter the Lithuanian city of Vilnius to restore the pro-Moscow government. Clashes between Soviet troops and unarmed Lithuanian demonstrates claim 14 lives.
March 3rd: Citizens in Estonia and Latvia vote overwhelmingly in favour of independence from the Soviet Union.
March 15th: World War II Allied powers relinquish all post-war rights, giving Germany full independence.
March 17th: More than three-quarters of citizens in nine Soviet republics vote in favour of maintaining the Soviet Union.
March 31st: More than 99 percent of citizens in Georgia vote for independence from the Soviet Union. Georgia formally declares its independence and leaves the USSR on April 9th.
June 12th: Boris Yeltsin is elected president of Russia.
July 1st: The formal dissolution of the Warsaw Pact.
July 31st: US president George Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev sign the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) in Moscow.
August 19th: Communists launch a coup attempt in USSR, arresting Gorbachev. The coup collapses after two days, due to popular opposition whipped up by Russian president Boris Yeltsin.
August 24th: Ukraine declares its independence from the Soviet Union. Over the following week, Belarus, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan will also declare independence and leave the USSR.
December 8th: Russia and 11 other Soviet bloc nations form the Commonwealth of Independent States.
December 25th: President George Bush delivers a Christmas speech and declares that the Cold War is over.
December 25th: Gorbachev resigns as leader of the Soviet Union.
December 26th: The Supreme Soviet meets to formally dissolve the Soviet Union.

Central America

The new policy of confrontation was also evident in what American conservatives called their 'backyard' in Central America and the Caribbean which had replaced South East Asia as the primary Cold War battlefield. Radical regimes established themselves in the 1970s in Nicaragua and Grenada, and by 1980 civil wars in El Salvador and Guatemala seemed likely to increase Soviet influence in a region traditionally under the influence of the US as far back the Presidency of James Monroe.

Reagan reversed Carters policy of restraint in the region, pouring in aid to support the military establishments of the front line nations. This received criticism when the pro US regimes in El Salvador and Guatemala committed brutal atrocities. There were massacres and death squads aimed at anyone from a Liberal, moderate or pro-Labour position, and especially against indigenous Indian populations.


In 1981 Robert McFarlane, then assistant to the Secretary of State proposed a coordinated covert political, economic, and military approach to the pro-Communist Sandinista government in Nicaragua and the insurgency in El Salvador. His proposal was approved in January, 1982, in "National Security Directive 17," which provided for a $20 million program against the Sandinista government and gave the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) responsibility for organizing a five-hundred-man "interdiction" force. [8] Democrats in Congress began voicing opposition in 1982 Reagan and Congress were in constant battle until 1987, when all five Central American heads of state signed a peace accord. Scholars debate whether it was the military role of the contras that brought about the negotiations, or the economic restrictions on Nicaragua, or the pressure from other nations. The Sandinistas and Contras signed a cease-fire agreement in 1988, and in 1991 democratic elections overthrew the Sandinista regime. [9]

Grenada 1983

A 1983 military coup in Grenada provided an opportunity for American troops to occupy it, leaving Nicaragua and Cuba the only socialist regimes left in the region. This attitude helped mold America's evolving anti terrorist policy, with the willingness to strike directly at terrorist sponsor states in spite of international law as displayed by the US bombing of Libya in 1986, Operation ELDORADO CANYON.

2. Morning in America

Many of the New Right’s concerns were symbolic and cultural. Reagan’s approach to government and the economy was similar. Once elected, Reagan focused less on eliminating government than on redirecting government to serve new ends. While New Deal Keynesian economics had focused on stimulating consumer demand, the Reagan administration’s supply-side economics claimed lower personal and corporate tax rates would encourage greater private investment and production. Supply-siders promised the resulting wealth would reach “trickle down” to lower-income groups through job creation and higher wages. Conservative economists predicted that lower tax rates would generate so much new economic activity that federal tax revenues would actually increase. Republican congressman Jack Kemp, co-sponsor of Reagan’s tax bill, promised that it would unleash the “creative genius that has always invigorated America.” The tax cut faced skepticism from Democrats and even some Republicans. Reagan’s vice president George H. W. Bush had called supply-side theory “voodoo economics” during the 1980 Republican primaries. But on March 30, 1981, Reagan survived an assassination attempt. Public support swelled for the hospitalized president and Congress approved a $675 billion tax cut in July. Federal taxes were reduced by more than one quarter and the top marginal rate fell from 70 percent to 50 percent. But Reagan remained a staunch anti-communist and ratcheted up tension with the Soviet Union. Congress also approved his request for $1.2 trillion in new military spending. The combination of lower taxes and higher defense budgets caused massive federal budget deficits and the national debt ballooned. By the end of Reagan’s first term it exceeded half of the nation’s GDP, compared to a third in 1981. The increase was staggering, especially for an administration that had promised to curb spending. Meanwhile, Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker continued his policy from the Carter years of combating inflation with high interest rates, which surpassed 20 percent in June 1981. The Fed increased the cost of borrowing money and stifled economic activity.

Reagan outlines his plan for Tax Reduction Legislation in a televised address from the Oval Office, July 1981

As a result, the United States experienced a severe economic recession in 1981 and 1982. Unemployment rose to nearly 11 percent, the highest figure since the Great Depression. Reagan also attacked unions during the strike of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO). During the 1980 campaign, Reagan had wooed organized labor, claiming to be “an old union man” who still held Franklin Roosevelt in high regard. Although PATCO had been one of the few labor unions to endorse Reagan, he ordered the striking air traffic controllers back to work and fired more than eleven thousand who refused. Reagan’s actions crippled PATCO the American labor movement. The unionized portion of the private-sector workforce fell from 20 percent in 1980 to 12 percent in 1990. Reductions in social welfare spending heightened the impact of the recession on ordinary people. Congress had followed Reagan’s lead by reducing funding for food stamps and Aid to Families with Dependent Children and removed a half million people from the Supplemental Social Security program for the physically disabled. Reagan also proposed cuts to social security benefits for early retirees. The Senate voted unanimously to condemn the plan, which Democrats framed as a heartless attack on the elderly. The New Right appeared to be in trouble.

Reagan nimbly adjusted to the political setbacks of 1982. Following the rejection of his social security proposals, Reagan appointed a bipartisan panel to consider changes to the program. In early 1983, the commission made its report and Congress quickly passed the recommendations into law, allowing Reagan to take credit for strengthening a program cherished by most Americans. The president also benefited from an economic rebound. Real disposable income rose and unemployment dropped in 1984. Meanwhile, the Fed’s high interest rates helped reduce inflation to 3.5 percent. Campaigning for reelection in 1984, Reagan cited the improving economy as evidence that it was “morning again in America.” His personal popularity soared. Most conservatives ignored the debt increase and tax hikes of the previous two years and rallied around the president. Former vice president Walter Mondale eventually secured the Democratic nomination but suffered a crushing defeat in the general election. Reagan captured forty-nine of fifty states, winning 58.8 percent of the popular vote.

In November 1983, Jesse Jackson became the second African American (after Shirley Chisholm) to mount a nationwide campaign for president.

Mondale’s loss seemed to many Democrats to call for breed of moderates who better understood the mood of the American people. The future of the party belonged to post–New Deal politicians who could appeal to upwardly mobile, white professionals and suburbanites. In February 1985, a group of centrists formed the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) to begin distancing the party from organized labor and Keynesian economics while cultivating the business community. Civil Rights activist and presidential candidate Jesse Jackson dismissed the DLC as “Democrats for the Leisure Class,” but the organization included many of the party’s future leaders, including Arkansas governor Bill Clinton. The DLC illustrated how thoroughly the New Right had transformed American politics: New Democrats looked a lot like old Republicans. Democrats regained control of the Senate in 1986 and prevented Reagan from eliminating social welfare programs, although Congress failed to increase benefit levels or raise the minimum wage. Some of Reagan’s most far-reaching victories were his judicial appointments. Reagan named 368 district and federal appeals court judges during his two terms. Reagan also appointed three Supreme Court justices: Sandra Day O’Connor, who to the dismay of the religious right turned out to be a moderate Anthony Kennedy, a solidly conservative Catholic who occasionally sided with the court’s liberal wing and archconservative Antonin Scalia. In 1987, Reagan nominated Robert Bork to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court. Bork had opposed the 1964 Civil Rights Act, affirmative action, and the Roe v. Wade decision. After acrimonious confirmation hearings, the Senate rejected Bork’s nomination by a vote of 58–42.

A Reagan Doctrine for the Twenty-First Century

President Reagan delivers his State of the Union message to a joint session of Congress, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 1985 / AP Matthew Continetti • October 9, 2015 5:00 am

From Sweden in the Baltic to Tartus in the Mediterranean, Russian forces are on the offensive. The consensus among U.S. officials not beholden to the White House is that Mitt Romney was right. Vladimir Putin’s Russia is the most dangerous threat to America.

And not only to America: Russia’s attempts to reclaim its empire spread conflict and misery, prolong war, destabilize the postwar alliance system that has brought security and prosperity to the world, and erode Western values such as freedom, equality, and individualism. Though Russia may no longer espouse global communist revolution, the consequences of its militarism and aggression are not limited to a small geographic area. The Comintern is gone. But the goals of dominating the Eurasian heartland, Finlandizing Europe, and isolating and challenging the United States have returned. The stronger Putin becomes, the more despotic, poorer, and more corrupt is the world.

Except for sanctions imposed after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the occasional scolding, President Obama has been uninterested in retaliating against imperialism and deterring further aggression. He holds the view that history will expose Putin as a pretender and fool, and that Russia will be bogged down in a Syrian quagmire just as it was bogged down in Afghanistan long ago. What Obama forgets is that the Soviet Union’s defeat in Afghanistan came about because the United States financed and equipped anti-Soviet forces—a course of action he has rejected since the Syrian uprising began in 2011.

Obama’s supporters note that there is no clear U.S. ally in the Syrian conflict. Obviously not, since the president did nothing to identify and assist potentially friendly anti-regime Sunnis when the war began. Nor has he aided fully those few groups—"Syrian Kurds close to Turkey, moderate forces supported by Jordan close to its border, and small number of other moderate Syrians"—that, at least rhetorically, the United States backs today.

Obama’s critics, meanwhile, are concerned with tactics. Both Hillary Clinton and Marco Rubio have called for America to impose a no-fly zone over Syria. They’re several years too late. A no-fly zone might have worked at the beginning of the conflict, as part of a strategy of coercive diplomacy to remove Bashar al-Assad and reach some sort of power-sharing agreement among Syrian tribes. Now, with Su-25s flying unrestricted over Syria, a no-fly zone would be greeted by the Russians as a nonstarter.

Worse, it would invite direct confrontation with the Russians, who are already buzzing NATO airspace from their new southern flank. Putin would like nothing more than to humiliate America over the skies of Raqqah. A no-fly zone is also superfluous. Our forces are already operating above parts of Syria—we could establish safe-havens at any time without asking for Russian permission. The problem isn’t our capabilities. It’s our lack of will.

What to do? The time has come for a revised strategy towards Russia, the greatest military and ideological threat to the United States and to the world order it has built over decades as guarantor of international security. We’ve faced a similar problem before. To create a freer and richer world, not the United States but Russia must be knocked back on its heels.

That is exactly what Ronald Reagan did in the final years of the Cold War. What is required today is a Reagan Doctrine for the twenty-first century—a comprehensive military, diplomatic, and cultural approach that elevates America’s stature and diminishes Russia’s.

I can hear liberals already: Reagan, they’ll say, was not a warrior but a peacemaker. Didn’t he negotiate with Gorbachev, didn’t he offer at Reykjavik to eliminate all ICBMs in exchange for the right of strategic defense? And so he did. But to focus only on Reagan’s diplomacy is to suffer from historical myopia. It is to ignore Reagan’s first term in favor of his second.

The hawkish policies Reagan enacted between 1981 and 1985 gave him the economic, political, and military leverage to become friends with Gorbachev later. And only with Gorbachev: During Reagan’s first term, three Soviet leaders preceded the author of glasnost and perestroika. The president didn’t meet with any of them. "They keep dying on me," he liked to say.

In their moral disapproval of force, in their fallacious belief that human beings of every nation and every government share the same values and interests, liberals forget that every diplomatic solution is based on the balance or preponderance of military power. It is the weaker party that seeks negotiations—just as Europe and the United States, consumed by wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, did after Russia’s invasion of Georgia. Just as President Obama, preoccupied with ending the Middle Eastern wars and resolving the financial crisis, attempted his reset with Russia. Just as Europe and the United States, in the grip of anomie and malaise, have sought to freeze the conflict in Ukraine and "de-conflict" the escalating war in Syria.

Let’s reverse the equation.

U.S. President Ronald Reagan, during a brief visit to London, June 8, 1982, makes his address to Britain's Houses of Parliament, in the Royal Gallery of the Palace of Westminster / AP

Like the strategy pursued by our fortieth president more than 30 years ago, a twenty-first-century Reagan Doctrine would have three parts:

Military buildup. President Reagan reversed the degradation and demoralization of the U.S. armed forces. The defense budget in his first term more than doubled. Yes, there was waste. But more important than the $400 toilet seat were the B1 bomber, the stealth fighter, the Trident submarine, and hundreds of F-14s and F-15s. Defense spending created jobs, inspired patriotism, and laid the foundation for American success in Operation Desert Storm and the Balkan wars. We use many of these platforms to this day.

The gusher of weapons scared our enemies. "The scale and pace of the American buildup under Reagan," writes Henry Kissinger in Diplomacy, "reinforced all the doubts already in the minds of the Soviet leadership as a result of debacles in Afghanistan and Africa, about whether they could afford the arms race economically and—even more important—whether they could sustain it technologically."

Who now holds such doubts? The trajectory of U.S. troop numbers and defense budgets is downward. The "sequester" is about to take a huge bite of the Pentagon’s resources. Our ability to fight in two theaters at once, a pillar of postwar American defense policy, is in doubt.

"Just as the threats have become visible and undeniable," write the authors of "To Rebuild America’s Military," a new American Enterprise Institute report, "the United States is continuing to cut the armed forces dramatically, having imposed the cuts through an extraordinary means—a law imposing arbitrary limits on parts of the federal budget and employing the mindless tool of sequestration—with no analysis whatsoever of the impact on the nation’s security."

The AEI scholars recommend a return to the level of defense spending proposed by Robert Gates, and the gradual build to "an affordable floor of 4 percent of gross domestic product that would sustain the kind of military America needs." These numbers might not be as shocking as Reagan’s. But at least they would reverse the hollowing out of the force. And they would grab the attention of the Kremlin.

Both left and right are likely to oppose more spending on the grounds of debt and deficits. For the left to make this critique is disingenuous—their leading economists say deficits do not matter in the current economic environment and call for an expansionary fiscal policy. What the right needs to understand is that deficit reduction and balanced budgets are worthy goals in a time of peace. And peacetime this is not.

President Ronald Reagan addressing the National Association of Evangelicals in a speech calling the Soviet Union an evil empire / Diana Walker/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)

Strategic Weapons. Vladimir Putin plays ICBM politics. His regime holds nuclear retaliation as its ultimate trump in negotiations—and while the Russians have not played this card, oh how they love to show it.

The U.S. response is naïve. Not to mention contradictory. It combines idealistic calls for nuclear abolition with hapless and toothless diplomacy that does little to stop Iran from spinning centrifuges, North Korea from building more bombs, and Russia from violating treaty commitments.

We forget we hold nuclear cards, too. This is a fact Reagan did not lose sight of. "The two strategic decisions which contributed most to ending the Cold War," writes Kissinger, "were NATO’s deployment of American intermediate-range missiles in Europe and the American commitment to the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI)."

Keep the Pershing IIs on hold (for now). But please update and modernize our nuclear forces, which exist in an embarrassing state of disrepair and neglect. And do not forget the importance of strategic defense: Development of anti-ballistic missile technologies would be a highly controversial, and highly important, part of any renewed defense buildup. The broadening of the missile shield reassures allies—and worries Russia.

Not only would a revitalized and advanced nuclear force, coupled with increased funding and enlargement of strategic defense, assert U.S. supremacy, deter adversaries, and develop innovative technologies. It would also bring political benefits to whoever proposed it.

When Reagan announced SDI in the spring of 1983, notes Kissinger, "The experts had all the technical arguments on their side, but Reagan had got hold of an elemental political truth: In a world of nuclear weapons, leaders who make no effort to protect their peoples against accident, mad opponents, nuclear proliferation, and a whole host of other foreseeable dangers invite the opprobrium of posterity if disaster ever does occur."

The president’s duty is to ensure that it does not—not by terrorists who desire weapons of mass destruction, not by the states that possess them.

Republican presidential nominee Ronald Reagan points to the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor in background as he campaigns at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, N.J., Sept. 1, 1980 / AP

Insurgency. It was Charles Krauthammer who coined the phrase "Reagan Doctrine" in an April 1985 essay for Time magazine. The article described Reagan’s support for anticommunist forces in Nicaragua, Angola, Afghanistan, and beyond. Some of those forces, like Solidarity in Poland, truly were democratic. Others, like the mujahedin, were the enemies of our enemy—and thus, in specific circumstances, worthy of our help.

It takes a set of moral blinders the size of the president’s ego not to recognize today’s Russia as America’s enemy. There is no other power as devoted to undermining U.S. authority and prestige and interests—from subverting the NATO alliance to replacing us as the dominant external power in the Middle East to hacking our technological infrastructure to harboring the fugitive Edward Snowden. As America has waned, Putin has waxed. And so for America to wax, Putin must wane.

We must arm his enemies. That means deadly weapons and massive financial aid to Ukraine. Forward bases in the Baltics. And the sending of arms and cash to the Syrian rebels his jets are strafing. Not even the liberal pretends that Putin is going after ISIS why should our government?

Imposing costs on Putin requires dealing with unsavory people. It risks unforeseen consequences, some potentially negative. But the actual consequences of the policy being pursued at the moment—ongoing war, regional destabilization, humanitarian chaos, Islamic radicalization, and erosion of U.S. leadership and credibility—are worse.

The insurgency launched by Reagan was not limited to arms. It also had an ideological component. "The Reagan Doctrine has been widely understood to mean only support for anticommunist guerillas fighting pro-Soviet regimes, but from the first the doctrine had a broader meaning. Support for anticommunist guerillas was the logical outgrowth, not the origin, of a policy of supporting democratic reform or revolution everywhere, in countries ruled by right-wing dictators as well as by communist parties," says Robert Kagan in A Twilight Struggle.

Speaking forthrightly and proudly of liberal values, and condemning their abuse within the Russian sphere of influence, is a requirement of any foreign policy associated with Ronald Reagan. As Secretary of State George Shultz put it in 1985: "The forces of democracy around the world merit our standing with them. To abandon them would be a shameful betrayal—a betrayal not only of brave men and women but of our highest ideals."

Standing with the forces of democracy is not the same as calling for elections everywhere. Elections are not the beginning of the policy. They are its endpoint. The beginning is in the rhetorical promotion of individual freedoms, in renewed financial support for nongovernmental organizations promoting civil society and an independent media, in education in the habits and traditions of the West.

The Kremlin spends hundreds of millions of dollars each year on a global propaganda network that spreads conspiracy theories, distorts reality, and incites suspicion and hatred of the United States and its representative democracy. And that is just Russia—China and Qatar have similar operations. We have nothing that bears comparison. The main Putin network, RT, has more employees than the Voice of America. We are disarming ourselves not only materially but also ideologically. This must end.

The agenda I have outlined would cost quite a bit of money. It would involve America with some morally suspect individuals. The debate over it would be heated. There would be reprisals.

But the Reagan Doctrine was all of those things, too. And it worked. "The Reagan Doctrine proclaims overt and unashamed American support for anti-Communist revolution," Krauthammer wrote in 1985. "The grounds are justice, necessity, and democratic tradition." Replace anti-Communist with anti-authoritarian, and what has changed? If we are to reestablish American ideals, American interests, and American pride, we must hurt the bad guys, and overtly and unashamedly revise the Reagan Doctrine for a new American century.


By 1982, the stagnation of the Soviet economy was obvious, as evidenced by the fact that the Soviet Union had been importing grain from the U.S. throughout the 1970s, but the system was so firmly entrenched that any real change seemed impossible. A huge rate of defense spending consumed large parts of the economy. The transition period that separated the Brezhnev and Gorbachev eras resembled the former much more than the latter, although hints of reform emerged as early as 1983. [3]

Andropov interregnum Edit

Brezhnev died on 10 November 1982. Two days passed between his death and the announcement of the election of Yuri Andropov as the new General Secretary, suggesting to many outsiders that a power struggle had occurred in the Kremlin. Andropov maneuvered his way into power both through his KGB connections and by gaining the support of the military by promising not to cut defense spending. For comparison, some of his rivals such as Konstantin Chernenko were skeptical of a continued high military budget. Aged 68, he was the oldest person ever appointed as General Secretary and 11 years older than Brezhnev when he acquired that post. In June 1983, he assumed the post of chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, thus becoming the ceremonial head of state. It had taken Brezhnev 13 years to acquire this post. Andropov began a thorough house-cleaning throughout the party and state bureaucracy, a decision made easy by the fact that the Central Committee had an average age of 69. He replaced more than one-fifth of the Soviet ministers and regional party first secretaries and more than one-third of the department heads within the Central Committee apparatus. As a result, he replaced the aging leadership with younger, more vigorous administrators. But Andropov's ability to reshape the top leadership was constrained by his own age and poor health and the influence of his rival (and longtime ally of Leonid Brezhnev) Konstantin Chernenko, who had previously supervised personnel matters in the Central Committee. [4]

The transition of power from Brezhnev to Andropov was notably the first one in Soviet history to occur completely peacefully with no one being imprisoned, killed, or forced from office.

Domestic policies Edit

Andropov's domestic policy leaned heavily towards restoring discipline and order to Soviet society. He eschewed radical political and economic reforms, promoting instead a small degree of candor in politics and mild economic experiments similar to those that had been associated with the late Premier Alexei Kosygin's initiatives in the mid-1960s. In tandem with such economic experiments, Andropov launched an anti-corruption drive that reached high into the government and party ranks. Unlike Brezhnev, who possessed several mansions and a fleet of luxury cars, he lived quite simply. While visiting Budapest in early 1983, he expressed interest in Hungary's Goulash Communism and that the sheer size of the Soviet economy made strict top-down planning impractical. Changes were needed in a hurry for 1982 had witnessed the country's worst economic performance since World War II, with real GDP growth at almost zero percent.

Foreign policies Edit

Andropov faced a series of foreign policy crises: the hopeless situation of the Soviet army in Afghanistan, threatened revolt in Poland, growing animosity with China, the polarization threat of war in the Middle East, and troubles in Ethiopia and South Africa. The most critical threat was the "Second Cold War" launched by American President Ronald Reagan and a specific attack on rolling back what he denounced as the "Evil Empire". Reagan was using American economic power, and Soviet economic weakness, to escalate massive spending on the Cold War, emphasizing high technology that Moscow lacked. [5] The main response was raising the military budget to 70 percent of the national budget, and supplying billions of dollars worth of military aid to Syria, Iraq, Libya, South Yemen, the PLO, Cuba, and North Korea. That included tanks and armored troop carriers, hundreds of fighter planes, as well as anti-aircraft systems, artillery systems, and all sorts of high tech equipment for which the USSR was the main supplier for its allies. Andropov's main goal was to avoid an open war. [6] [7] [8]

In foreign policy, the conflict in Afghanistan continued even though Andropov—who now felt the invasion was a mistake—half-heartedly explored options for a negotiated withdrawal. Andropov's rule was also marked by deterioration of relations with the United States. During a much-publicized "walk in the woods" with Soviet dignitary Yuli Kvitsinsky, American diplomat Paul Nitze suggested a compromise for reducing nuclear missiles in Europe on both sides that was ultimately ignored by the Politburo. [9] Kvitsinsky would later write that, despite his own efforts, the Soviet leadership was not interested in compromise, instead calculating that peace movements in the West would force the Americans to capitulate. [10] On 8 March 1983, during Andropov's reign as General Secretary, U.S. President Ronald Reagan famously labeled the Soviet Union an "evil empire". The same month, on 23 March, Reagan announced the Strategic Defense Initiative. Reagan claimed this research program into ballistic missile defense would be "consistent with our obligations under the ABM Treaty". However, Andropov was dismissive of this claim, and said that "It is time they [Washington] stopped . search[ing] for the best ways of unleashing nuclear war. . Engaging in this is not just irresponsible. It is insane". [11]

In August 1983, Andropov made an announcement that the country was stopping all work on space-based weapons. One of his most notable acts was in response to a letter from a 10-year-old American child from Maine named Samantha Smith, inviting her to the Soviet Union. She came but Andropov's severe illness was made public when he was too ill to see her. Meanwhile, Soviet–U.S. arms control talks on intermediate-range nuclear weapons in Europe were suspended by the Soviet Union in November 1983 and by the end of the year, the Soviets had broken off all arms control negotiations. [12] Massive bad publicity worldwide came when Soviet fighters shot down a civilian jet liner, Korean Air Flight KAL-007, which carried 269 passengers and crew. It had strayed over the Soviet Union on 1 September 1983 on its scheduled route from Anchorage, Alaska, to Seoul, South Korea. Andropov kept secret the fact that the Soviet Union held in its possession the black box from KAL 007 Which proved the pilot had made a typographical error when entering data in the automatic pilot. The Soviet system was unprepared to deal with a civilian airliner, and the shooting down was a matter of following orders without question. [13] Instead of admitting an accident, Soviet media proclaimed a brave decision to meet a Western provocation. Together with its low credibility explanation in 1986 of the meltdown of the nuclear reactor at Chernobyl, the episode demonstrated an inability to deal with public relations crises the propaganda system was only aimed at people who already were committed friends of the Soviet Union. Both crises were escalated by technological and organizational failures, compounded by human error [14]

US−Soviet relations deteriorated rapidly especially after March 1983, when Reagan dubbed the Soviet Union an "evil empire". The official press agency TASS accused Reagan of "thinking only in terms of confrontation and bellicose, lunatic anti-communism". Further Soviet outrage was directed at Reagan's stationing of intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Western Europe. In Afghanistan, Angola, Nicaragua and elsewhere, under the Reagan Doctrine, the US began undermining Soviet-supported governments by supplying arms to anti-communist resistance movements in these countries. [15]

President Reagan's decision to deploy medium-range Pershing II missiles in Western Europe met with mass protests in countries such as France and West Germany, sometimes numbering 1 million people at a time. Many Europeans became convinced that the US and not the Soviet Union was the more aggressive country, and there was fear over the prospect of a war, especially since there was a widespread conviction in Europe that the US, being separated from the Red Army by two oceans as opposed to a short land border, was insensitive to the people of Germany and other countries. Moreover, the memory of World War II was still strong and many Germans could not forget the destruction and mass rapes committed by Soviet troops in the closing days of that conflict. This attitude was helped along by the Reagan Administration's comments that a war between NATO and the Warsaw Pact would not necessarily result in the use of nuclear weapons. [16]

Andropov's health declined rapidly during the tense summer and fall of 1983, and he became the first Soviet leader to miss the anniversary celebrations of the 1917 revolution that November. He died in February 1984 of kidney failure after disappearing from public view for several months. His most significant legacy to the Soviet Union was his discovery and promotion of Mikhail Gorbachev. Beginning in 1978, Gorbachev advanced in two years through the Kremlin hierarchy to full membership in the Politburo. His responsibilities for the appointment of personnel allowed him to make the contacts and distribute the favors necessary for a future bid to become general secretary. At this point, Western experts believed that Andropov was grooming Gorbachev as his successor. However, although Gorbachev acted as a deputy to the general secretary throughout Andropov's illness, Gorbachev's time had not yet arrived when his patron died early in 1984. [17]

Chernenko interregnum Edit

At 71, Konstantin Chernenko was in poor health, suffering from emphysema, and unable to play an active role in policy making when he was chosen, after lengthy discussion, to succeed Andropov. But Chernenko's short time in office did bring some significant policy changes. The personnel changes and investigations into corruption undertaken under Andropov's tutelage came to an end. Chernenko advocated more investment in consumer goods and services and in agriculture. He also called for a reduction in the CPSU's micromanagement of the economy and greater attention to public opinion. However, KGB repression of Soviet dissidents also increased. In February 1983, Soviet representatives withdrew from the World Psychiatric Organization in protest of that group's continued complaints about the use of psychiatry to suppress dissent. This policy was underlined in June when Vladimir Danchev, a broadcaster for Radio Moscow, referred to the Soviet troops in Afghanistan as "invaders" while conducting English-language broadcasts. After refusing to retract this statement, he was sent to a mental institution for several months. Valery Senderov, a leader of an unofficial union of professional workers, was sentenced to seven years in a labor camp early in the year for speaking out on discrimination practiced against Jews in education and the professions. [18]

Although Chernenko had called for renewed détente with the West, little progress was made towards closing the rift in East−West relations during his rule. The Soviet Union boycotted the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, retaliating for the United States-led boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. In September 1984, [19] the Soviet Union also prevented a visit to West Germany by East German leader Erich Honecker. Fighting in the Afghan Democratic Republic also intensified, but in the late autumn of 1984 the United States and the Soviet Union did agree to resume arms control talks in early 1985.

In addition to the flailing economy, the prolonged war in Afghanistan, often referred to as the Soviet Union's "Vietnam War", led to increased public dissatisfaction with the Communist regime. Also, the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 added motive force to Gorbachev's glasnost and perestroika reforms, which eventually spiraled out of control and caused the Soviet system to collapse. [20]

After years of stagnation, the "new thinking" [21] of younger Communist apparatchik began to emerge. Following the death of terminally ill Konstantin Chernenko, the Politburo elected Mikhail Gorbachev to the position of General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) in March 1985. At 54, Gorbachev was the youngest person since Joseph Stalin to become General Secretary and the country's first head of state born a Soviet citizen instead of a subject of the tsar. During his official confirmation on 11 March, Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko spoke of how the new Soviet leader had filled in for Chernenko as CC Secretariat, and praised his intelligence and flexible, pragmatic ideas instead of rigid adherence to party ideology. Gorbachev was aided by a lack of serious competition in the Politburo. He immediately began appointing younger men of his generation to important party posts, including Nikolai Ryzhkov, Secretary of Economics, Viktor Cherbrikov, KGB Chief, Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze (replacing the 75-year-old Gromyko), Secretary of Defense Industries Lev Zaikov [ru] , and Secretary of Construction Boris Yeltsin. Removed from the Politburo and Secretariat was Grigory Romanov, who had been Gorbachev's most significant rival for the position of General Secretary. Gromyko's removal as Foreign Minister was the most unexpected change given his decades of unflinching, faithful service compared to the unknown, inexperienced Shevardnadze.

Further down the chain, up to 40% of the first secretaries of the oblasts (provinces) were replaced with younger, better educated, and more competent men. The defense establishment was also given a thorough shakeup with the commanders of all 16 military districts replaced along with all theaters of military operation, as well as the three Soviet fleets. Not since World War II had the Soviet military had such a rapid turnover of officers. Sixty-eight-year-old Marshal Nikolai Ogarkov was fully rehabilitated after having fallen from favor in 1983–84 due to his handling of the KAL 007 shootdown and his ideas about improving Soviet strategic and tactical doctrines were made into an official part of defense policy, although some of his other ambitions such as developing the military into a smaller, tighter force based on advanced technology were not considered feasible for the time being. Many, but not all, of the younger army officers appointed during 1985 were proteges of Ogarkov.

Gorbachev got off to an excellent start during his first months in power. He projected an aura of youth and dynamism compared to his aged predecessors and made frequent walks in the streets of the major cities answering questions from ordinary citizens. He became the first leader that spoke with the Soviet people in person. When he made public speeches, he made clear that he was interested in constructive exchanges of ideas instead of merely reciting lengthy platitudes about the excellence of the Soviet system. He also spoke candidly about the slackness and run-down condition of Soviet society in recent years, blaming alcohol abuse, poor workplace discipline, and other factors for these situations. Alcohol was a particular nag of Gorbachev's, especially as he himself did not drink, and he made one of his major policy aims curbing the consumption of it. [22]

Foreign policy Edit

In terms of foreign policy, the most important one, relations with the United States, remained twitchy through 1985. In October, Gorbachev made his first visit to a non-communist country when he traveled to France and was warmly received. The fashion-conscious French were also captivated by his wife Raisa and political pundits widely believed that the comparatively young Soviet leader would have a PR advantage over President Reagan, who was 20 years his senior. [23]

Reagan and Gorbachev met for the first time in Geneva in November. The three weeks preceding the summit meeting were marked by an unprecedented Soviet media campaign against the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), taking advantage of opposition at home in the US to the program. When it finally took place, the two superpower leaders established a solid rapport that boded well for the future despite Reagan's refusal to compromise on abandonment of SDI. A joint communique by both parties stated that they were in agreement that nuclear war could not be won by either side and must never be allowed to happen. It was also agreed that Reagan and Gorbachev would carry out two more summit meetings in 1986–87. [24]

Jimmy Carter had decisively ended the policy of détente, by financially aiding the Mujahideen movement in neighboring Socialist Afghanistan, which served as a pretext for the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan six months later, with the aims of supporting the Afghan government, controlled by the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan. Tensions between the superpowers increased during this time, when Carter placed trade embargoes on the Soviet Union and stated that the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was "the most serious threat to the peace since the Second World War." [25]

Economy Edit

East-West tensions increased during the first term of US President Ronald Reagan (1981–85), reaching levels not seen since the Cuban Missile Crisis as Reagan increased US military spending to 7% of the GDP. To match the military buildup, the Soviet Union increased its own military spending to 27% of its GDP and froze production of civilian goods at 1980 levels, causing a sharp economic decline in the already failing Soviet economy. [26]

The US financed the training for the Mujahideen warlords such as Jalaluddin Haqqani, Gulbudin Hekmatyar and Burhanuddin Rabbani eventually culminated to the fall of the Soviet satellite the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. [27] While the CIA and MI6 and the People's Liberation Army of China financed the operation along with the Pakistan government against the Soviet Union, [28] eventually the Soviet Union began looking for a withdrawal route and in 1988 the Geneva Accords were signed between Communist-Afghanistan and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan under the terms Soviet troops were to withdraw. [29] Once the withdrawal was complete the Pakistan ISI continued to support the Mujahideen against the Communist Government and by 1992, the government collapsed. US President Reagan also actively hindered the Soviet Union's ability to sell natural gas to Europe whilst simultaneously actively working to keep gas prices low, which kept the price of Soviet oil low and further starved the Soviet Union of foreign capital. This "long-term strategic offensive," which "contrasts with the essentially reactive and defensive strategy of "containment", accelerated the fall of the Soviet Union by encouraging it to overextend its economic base. [30] The proposition that special operations by the CIA in Saudi Arabia affected the prices of Soviet oil was refuted by Marshall Goldman—one of the leading experts on the economy of the Soviet Union—in his latest book. He pointed out that the Saudis decreased their production of oil in 1985 (it reached a 16-year low), whereas the peak of oil production was reached in 1980. They increased the production of oil in 1986, reduced it in 1987 with a subsequent increase in 1988, but not to the levels of 1980 when production reached its highest level. The real increase happened in 1990, by which time the Cold War was almost over. In his book he asked why, if Saudi Arabia had such an effect on Soviet oil prices, did prices not fall in 1980 when the production of oil by Saudi Arabia reached its highest level—three times as much oil as in the mid-eighties—and why did the Saudis wait till 1990 to increase their production, five years after the CIA's supposed intervention? Why didn't the Soviet Union collapse in 1980 then? [31]

By the time Gorbachev ushered in the process that would lead to the dismantling of the Soviet administrative command economy through his programs of uskoreniye (speed-up of economic development) and perestroika (political and economic restructuring) announced in 1986, the Soviet economy suffered from both hidden inflation and pervasive supply shortages aggravated by an increasingly open black market that undermined the official economy. Additionally, the costs of superpower status—the military, space program, subsidies to client states—were out of proportion to the Soviet economy. The new wave of industrialization based upon information technology had left the Soviet Union desperate for Western technology and credits in order to counter its increasing backwardness. [32]

Reforms Edit

The Law on Cooperatives enacted in May 1988 was perhaps the most radical of the economic reforms during the early part of the Gorbachev era. For the first time since Vladimir Lenin's New Economic Policy, the law permitted private ownership of businesses in the services, manufacturing, and foreign-trade sectors. Under this provision, cooperative restaurants, shops, and manufacturers became part of the Soviet scene.

Glasnost resulted in greater freedom of speech and the press becoming far less controlled. Thousands of political prisoners and many dissidents were also released. [ citation needed ] Soviet social science became free to explore and publish on many subjects that had previously been off limits, including conducting public opinion polls. The All−Union Center for Public Opinion Research (VCIOM)—the most prominent of several polling organizations that were started then— was opened. State archives became more accessible, and some social statistics that had been kept secret became open for research and publication on sensitive subjects such as income disparities, crime, suicide, abortion, and infant mortality. The first center for gender studies was opened within a newly formed Institute for the Socio−Economic Study of Human Population.

In January 1987, Gorbachev called for democratization: the infusion of democratic elements such as multi-candidate elections into the Soviet political process. A 1987 conference convened by Soviet economist and Gorbachev adviser Leonid Abalkin, concluded: "Deep transformations in the management of the economy cannot be realized without corresponding changes in the political system." [33]

In June 1988, at the CPSU's Nineteenth Party Conference, [34] [35] Gorbachev launched radical reforms meant to reduce party control of the government apparatus. On 1 December 1988, the Supreme Soviet amended the Soviet constitution to allow for the establishment of a Congress of People's Deputies as the Soviet Union's new supreme legislative body. [36]

Elections to the new Congress of People's Deputies were held throughout the USSR in March and April 1989. Gorbachev, as General Secretary of the Communist Party, could be forced to resign at any moment if the communist elite became dissatisfied with him. To proceed with reforms opposed by the majority of the communist party, Gorbachev aimed to consolidate power in a new position, President of the Soviet Union, which was independent from the CPSU and the soviets (councils) and whose holder could be impeached only in case of direct violation of the law. [37] On 15 March 1990, Gorbachev was elected as the first executive president. At the same time, Article 6 of the constitution was changed to deprive the CPSU of a monopoly on political power. [38]

Unintended consequences Edit

Gorbachev's efforts to streamline the Communist system offered promise, but ultimately proved uncontrollable and resulted in a cascade of events that eventually concluded with the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Initially intended as tools to bolster the Soviet economy, the policies of perestroika and glasnost soon led to unintended consequences.

Relaxation under glasnost resulted in the Communist Party losing its absolute grip on the media. Before long, and much to the embarrassment of the authorities, the media began to expose severe social and economic problems the Soviet government had long denied and actively concealed. Problems receiving increased attention included poor housing, alcoholism, drug abuse, pollution, outdated Stalin-era factories, and petty to large-scale corruption, all of which the official media had ignored. Media reports also exposed crimes committed by Joseph Stalin and the Soviet regime, such as the gulags, his treaty with Adolf Hitler, and the Great Purges, which had been ignored by the official media. Moreover, the ongoing war in Afghanistan, and the mishandling of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, further damaged the credibility of the Soviet government at a time when dissatisfaction was increasing.

In all, the positive view of Soviet lifelong presented to the public by the official media was rapidly fading, and the negative aspects of life in the Soviet Union were brought into the spotlight. [39] This undermined the faith of the public in the Soviet system and eroded the Communist Party's social power base, threatening the identity and integrity of the Soviet Union itself.

Fraying amongst the members of the Warsaw Pact countries and instability of its western allies, first indicated by Lech Wałęsa's 1980 rise to leadership of the trade union Solidarity, accelerated, leaving the Soviet Union unable to depend upon its Eastern European satellite states for protection as a buffer zone. By 1989, following his doctrine of "new political thinking", Gorbachev had repudiated the Brezhnev Doctrine in favor of non-intervention in the internal affairs of its Warsaw Pact allies ("Sinatra Doctrine"). Gradually, each of the Warsaw Pact countries saw their communist governments fall to popular elections and, in the case of Romania, a violent uprising. By 1990, the governments of Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland and Romania, all of which had been imposed after World War II, were brought down as revolutions swept Eastern Europe.

The Soviet Union also began experiencing upheaval as the political consequences of glasnost reverberated throughout the country. Despite efforts at containment, the upheaval in Eastern Europe inevitably spread to nationalities within the USSR. In elections to the regional assemblies of the Soviet Union's constituent republics, nationalists as well as radical reformers swept the board. As Gorbachev had weakened the system of internal political repression, the ability of the USSR's central Moscow government to impose its will on the USSR's constituent republics had been largely undermined. Massive peaceful protests in the Baltic republics such as the Baltic Way and the Singing Revolution drew international attention and bolstered independence movements in various other regions.

The rise of nationalism under freedom of speech soon re-awakened simmering ethnic tensions in various Soviet republics, further discrediting the ideal of a unified Soviet people. One instance occurred in February 1988, when the government in Nagorno-Karabakh, a predominantly ethnic Armenian region in the Azerbaijan SSR, passed a resolution calling for unification with the Armenian SSR. Violence against local Azerbaijanis was reported on Soviet television, provoking massacres of Armenians in the Azerbaijani city of Sumgait.

Emboldened by the liberalized atmosphere of glasnost, public dissatisfaction with economic conditions was much more overt than ever before in the Soviet period. Although perestroika was considered bold in the context of Soviet history, Gorbachev's attempts at economic reform were not radical enough to restart the country's chronically sluggish economy in the late 1980s. The reforms made some inroads in decentralization, but Gorbachev and his team left intact most of the fundamental elements of the Stalinist system, including price controls, inconvertibility of the ruble, exclusion of private property ownership, and the government monopoly over most means of production.

The value of all consumer goods manufactured in 1990 in retail prices was about 459 billion rubles ($2.1 trillion). [40] Nevertheless, the Soviet government had lost control over economic conditions. Government spending increased sharply as an increasing number of unprofitable enterprises required state support and consumer price subsidies to continue. Tax revenues declined as republic and local governments withheld tax revenues from the central government under the growing spirit of regional autonomy. The anti−alcohol campaign reduced tax revenues as well, which in 1982 accounted for about 12% of all state revenue. The elimination of central control over production decisions, especially in the consumer goods sector, led to the breakdown in traditional supplier−producer relationships without contributing to the formation of new ones. Thus, instead of streamlining the system, Gorbachev's decentralization caused new production bottlenecks.

The dissolution of the Soviet Union' was a process of systematic disintegration, which occurred in the economy, social structure and political structure. It resulted in the abolition of the Soviet Federal Government ("the Union center") and independence of the USSR's republics on 26 December 1991. The process was caused by a weakening of the Soviet government, which led to disintegration and took place from about 19 January 1990 to 26 December 1991. [41] [42] The process was characterized by many of the republics of the Soviet Union declaring their independence and being recognized as sovereign nation-states.

Andrei Grachev, the Deputy Head of the Intelligence Department of the Central Committee, summed up the denouement of the downfall quite cogently:

"Gorbachev actually put the sort of final blow to the resistance of the Soviet Union by killing the fear of the people. It was still that this country was governed and kept together, as a structure, as a government structure, by the fear from Stalinist times." [43]

The principal elements of the old Soviet political system were Communist Party dominance, the hierarchy of soviets, state socialism, and ethnic federalism. Gorbachev's programs of perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost (openness) produced radical unforeseen effects that brought that system down. [44] As a means of reviving the Soviet state, Gorbachev repeatedly attempted to build a coalition of political leaders supportive of reform and created new arenas and bases of power. He implemented these measures because he wanted to resolve serious economic problems and political inertia that clearly threatened to put the Soviet Union into a state of long-term stagnation.

But by using structural reforms to widen opportunities for leaders and popular movements in the union republics to gain influence, Gorbachev also made it possible for nationalist, orthodox communist, and populist forces to oppose his attempts to liberalize and revitalize Soviet communism. Although some of the new movements aspired to replace the Soviet system altogether with a liberal democratic one, others demanded independence for the national republics. Still others insisted on the restoration of the old Soviet ways. Ultimately, Gorbachev could not forge a compromise among these forces and the consequence was the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

To restructure the Soviet administrative command system and implement a transition to a market economy, Yeltsin's shock program was employed within days of the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The subsidies to money-losing farms and industries were cut, price controls abolished, and the ruble moved towards convertibility. New opportunities for Yeltsin's circle and other entrepreneurs to seize former state property were created, thus restructuring the old state-owned economy within a few months.

After obtaining power, the vast majority of "idealistic" reformers gained huge possessions of state property using their positions in the government and became business oligarchs in a manner that appeared antithetical to an emerging democracy. Existing institutions were conspicuously abandoned prior to the establishment of new legal structures of the market economy such as those governing private property, overseeing financial markets, and enforcing taxation.

Market economists believed that the dismantling of the administrative command system in Russia would raise GDP and living standards by allocating resources more efficiently. They also thought the collapse would create new production possibilities by eliminating central planning, substituting a decentralized market system, eliminating huge macroeconomic and structural distortions through liberalization, and providing incentives through privatization.

Since the USSR's collapse, Russia faced many problems that free market proponents in 1992 did not expect. Among other things, 25% of the population lived below the poverty line, life expectancy had fallen, birthrates were low, and the GDP was halved. There was a sharp increase in economic inequality between 1988/1989 and 1993/1995, with the Gini ratio increasing by an average of 9 points for all former socialist countries. [45] These problems led to a series of crises in the 1990s, which nearly led to the election of Yeltsin's Communist challenger, Gennady Zyuganov, in the 1996 presidential election. After the turn of the century, the economy of Russia has begun to improve greatly, due to major investments and business development and also due to high prices of natural resources.

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America has complex way of thinkng. As such, one hardly can decipher their intent or motives till the effects of their plan pops out. I think 9/11 is fraud and only an instrument for aggression and assuming exercise of world power privileges. anon261906 April 17, 2012

I think the Bush Doctrine can be compared with Adolf Hitler. anon184501 June 8, 2011

@Sauteepan: It has been shown numerous times that in the rush for war in Iraq, the Bush admin completely ignored evidence to the contrary and barely checked its facts. The decision to go to war in Iraq was made by Bush before the 9/11 attacks even happened and the Bush doctrine was 'developed' to keep America safe.

The Bush admin lied the country into a war that has cost Americans almost 5,000 soldiers, and over 100,000 Iraqis. anon173690 May 8, 2011

Can we assume that America is a "Terrorist Nation" because we have monetarily supported Pakistan, who in turn, has harbored and given safe haven to Osama bin Laden, literally in their midst? Mmmm. SauteePan January 30, 2011

@SurfNturf - I just want to say that it is true that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq which was President Bush’s reason for going to war.

However,the intelligence that he and all of the other European nations including Great Britain indicated that he did.

I think that any President would have considered the same options based on the information that he had at the time. At least with President Bush I felt that he had the safety of the American people at heart, but with Obama I don't feel that he does. surfNturf January 28, 2011

@Subway11 - I think you are right, but don’t forget that President Bush botched up the Iraq war too. He wanted to take out Saddam Husain because he thought that he had weapons of mass destruction and they did not find anything.

While I think President Bush did a lot of things for the right reasons the results were not always pretty. subway11 January 27, 2011

@Icecream17 - I could not agree with you more. It really doesn’t matter what you think of the Bush Presidency but the one thing that no one can deny is that he was spot on with regards to terrorism and keeping American’s safe.

The Bush war on terrorism opened American’s eyes to the fact that the world is not so safe and we need to take measures to protect our way of life. The actions on September 11th really changed our foreign policy forever. icecream17 January 25, 2011

The Bush Doctrine has really kept us safe. Since the institution of the Bush Doctrine we have not had a terrorist attack. There really should not be a distinction between a terrorist and countries that harbor terrorists.

I agree with President Bush calling North Korea, Iran, and Iraq the axis of evil nations. These countries were harboring terrorist and they should be called on the carpet for it. It was a bold move.

Strategic Defense Initiative

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Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), byname Star Wars, proposed U.S. strategic defensive system against potential nuclear attacks—as originally conceived, from the Soviet Union. The SDI was first proposed by President Ronald Reagan in a nationwide television address on March 23, 1983. Because parts of the defensive system that Reagan advocated would be based in space, the proposed system was dubbed “Star Wars,” after the space weaponry of a popular motion picture of the same name.

The SDI was intended to defend the United States from attack from Soviet intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) by intercepting the missiles at various phases of their flight. For the interception, the SDI would require extremely advanced technological systems, yet to be researched and developed. Among the potential components of the defense system were both space- and earth-based laser battle stations, which, by a combination of methods, would direct their killing beams toward moving Soviet targets. Air-based missile platforms and ground-based missiles using other nonnuclear killing mechanisms would constitute the rear echelon of defense and would be concentrated around such major targets as U.S. ICBM silos. The sensors to detect attacks would be based on the ground, in the air, and in space and would use radar, optical, and infrared threat-detection systems.

Though initial funding for the SDI had been approved by the U.S. Congress by the mid-1980s, the program aroused a heated debate among both arms experts and public officials over its military and political implications and its technical feasibility. Proponents of the SDI asserted that the overwhelming technological obstacles to its implementation could eventually be overcome and that an effective defensive system would deter potential Soviet attacks. Critics of the program argued variously that the scheme was unworkable, that it encouraged a further arms race, and that it undermined established arms-control agreements and weakened the prospects for further arms-control agreements. Testing continued on a number of SDI-related devices, but the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991 changed the conditions of such defense.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Adam Augustyn, Managing Editor, Reference Content.

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