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The National Security State in the 1970s and 1980s

analytical Essay
3165 words
3165 words
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The National Security State was challenged in the 1970s due to the diminished capacity of the United States to control world events, made evident by the defeat in Vietnam, and the unsustainable economic development that had started with president Lyndon B. Johnson and continued with president Richard Nixon. This challenge also impacted the Nixon administration and its decision-making process, including abuse of executive power, misleading the public, wiretappings of National Security Council employees, and justified it by saying “(…) freedom must sometimes be sacrificed for security.”

When Ronald Reagan took over the presidency after Jimmy Carter, he continued the defense buildup throughout the 1980s. The Reagan administration worked to reintroduce the use of force in pursuit of foreign policy goals , and did so directly and indirectly in Central America and in the Middle East. The Iran-contra affair and the Kirkpatrick doctrine signifies a continuation of the Nixon era, where misconduct and abuse of executive power was used as a justification, because it was all done in the name of the security.

The purpose of this essay is to analyze the state of the national security state in the 1970s and the 1980s. The primary focus will be on how Watergate and the Iran-contra affair could occur, and how these events affected the state of the national security state. Furthermore, a structure and agency perspective will be applied to the presidencies of Nixon and Reagan in order to investigate which parameters influenced the presidents to act as they did.

The United States as a hegemonic power was challenged in the 1970s due to a number of changes occurring all over the world. The Western European market was emergin...

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...ustified their misconduct and abuse of power, by arguing that they did it because of the National Security State, but what they really did was to undermine the importance of telling the truth, in a world built on mutual trust and respect.

Bibliography

Barnet, Richard J. “The Ideology of the National Security State”. The Massachusetts Review, Vol. 26, No. 4. 1985, pp. 483-500

Clyne-Canham, John. “Business as Usual: Iran-Contra and the National Security State”. World Policy Journal, vol. 9, No. 4. 1992, pp. 617-637

Freeman, Joshua B. American Empire. Penguin books. New York. 2013

Hanhimäki, Jussi M. Et al. Transatlantic Relations Since 1945. Routledge. New York. 2012

Morgan Ruth P. “Nixon, Watergate, and the study of the Presidency”. Presidential Studies Quarterly, Vol. 26, No. 1, The Nixon Presidency. 1996, pp. 217-238

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that the national security state was challenged in the 1970s due to the diminished capacity of the united states to control world events, made evident by the defeat in vietnam, and the unsustainable economic development.
  • Explains that ronald reagan continued the defense buildup throughout the 1980s. the iran-contra affair and the kirkpatrick doctrine signifies a continuation of the nixon era, where misconduct and abuse of executive power was justified.
  • Explains the purpose of this essay is to analyze the state of the national security state in the 1970s and the 1980s.
  • Explains that the united states as a hegemonic power was challenged in the 1970s due to changes occurring all over the world.
  • Explains that the state of the national security state was contested in this period of time due to the changing nature of world and the downfall of us economic superiority.
  • Explains that president nixon and secretary of state henry kissinger believed that the us could ensure its national security and promote its interests by establishing stronger diplomatic relations with the big powers.
  • Explains that the vietnam war proved more difficult than the nixon administration had anticipated. nixon continued the former president lyndon b. johnson’s military campaign in indochina, but stepped up the effort in laos and cambodia to disrupt vietnamese communist supply routes.
  • Explains that hunt hired burglars to install surveillance equipment at the democratic national committee headquarters in 1972, with the president's approval. the operation failed, and burglar james mccord wrote to sirica asking for leniency.
  • Opines that nixon's presidency enforced secrecy and misconduct, and expanded police and intelligence agencies with covert operational capacities, exempt from public oversight and promulgated an ideology that justified virtually any action by them in the name of anticommunism and national security.
  • Explains that the nixon administration had difficult times after nixon was reelected president in 1972, because of the domestic political climate. nixon did not have the political powers to force legislative change, as the majority of congress was democratic.
  • Analyzes how nixon's political landscape reinforced his belief in empowering the executive branch in order to accomplish his policy goals.
  • Argues that nixon's contempt for the law and his need for secrecy created an administration and staff that reinforced this belief of entitlement of the president to use executive power.
  • Analyzes how the watergate scandal forced nixon to resign from office, but also affected the american population's perception of the political system and their loss of faith in it.
  • Explains that reagan's foreign policy was inspired by neo-conservatives arguing for a hard-edged wilsonianism that pushed american economic and political systems onto the rest of the world.
  • Explains the reagan administration's policy of supporting anti-communist dictatorships in nicaragua. the cia helped the contras with operations and training.
  • Explains how the iran-contra affair started in 1985, when an arms dealer from iran approached the reagan administration with a plan for it to sell weapons to iran.
  • Analyzes how reagan's justification of the iran-contra affair should be viewed in context with everything that had happened prior to his presidency.
  • Argues that reagan followed a structure of policies created before his entry into the white house. reagan's path dependencies were clear as he continued the pursuit of challenging communism in central america and the middle east.
  • Analyzes how nixon and reagan acted differently because of their persona, ideals and morals, and political and historic setting, but one thing they had in common was the justification of doing ‘this’ in the name of the greater good.
  • Explains that barnet, richard j., “the ideology of the national security state”. the massachusetts review, vol. 26, no. 4.
  • Analyzes clyne-canham's book, "business as usual: iran-contra and the national security state".
  • Analyzes morgan ruth p. nixon, watergate, and the study of the nixon presidency in presidential studies quarterly.
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