Perhaps one of the most well-known American presidents of the 20th century, Ronald Reagan is considered to be one of the most accomplished presidents of the era. His decisions regarding economic, domestic, and foreign policies had lasting impacts on not only the local scale but also on the international scale. He adhered closely to his values, which guided him to and through his presidency. His staunch code was particularly apparent in foreign policy, especially in his unwavering dedication to the eradication of Communism.
The central focus of Reagan’s foreign policy was to combat, and ultimately dismantle, the bastion of Communism that was the Soviet Union (Cannon). He believed the détente policies of previous presidents, policies he had once supported, had failed, allowing Communism to spread rather than stay contained (Kaufman, 2011). He viewed Communist Russia as an “evil empire” pursuing global domination through any means necessary (Cannon). Reagan committed to a harsher stance towards the USSR, growing American military might to previously unheard of proportions. The idea behind this expansion was to push a supposedly frail Russian economy to the breaking point. In attempting to keep up with the U.S, the Russian economy would crumble, collapsing the Soviet regime (Cannon).
In order to strengthen the U.S. military, Reagan increased the defense budget to $253 billion, or nearly 7% percent of the nation’s GDP (Hilton). The development of the B-1 bomber, which had been halted by Carter due to its exorbitant cost and numerous production problems, was resumed. Research and development of many other weapon platforms grew as well, such as new ocean-based missiles systems and the legendary B-2 stealth bom...
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...away with them (Cannon).
Reagan had made it clear that he would not move in his stance on SDI, and as such, Gorbachev let it go, as he believed there to be more important things at hand. The success of the previous summits motivated the two sides in negotiating a treaty, and the INF treaty was signed in December of 1987, during Gorbachev’s visit to Washington (Cannon). This treaty was a massive breakthrough, as by removing medium range missiles from Europe, it was the first treaty to truly reduce the nuclear arsenal (Cannon).
When Reagan left the office, he left behind a legacy. He had in two terms repaired relations that had been consistently getting worse since WWII. He and Gorbachev were the first in a long line of leaders whom were willing to begin compromising. Reagan was one of a rare breed of leaders who know when to be unmoving, but also when to compromise.
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