The Regan Doctrine
Ronald Reagan was the United States president at a time when the world was grappling with issues of suppressing oppression and embracing sovereignty. This was a global situation that required the diplomatic solution of the Americans. The global situation was dire in that there were the freedom fighting outfit ‘Contras’ in Nicaragua that sought military aid against oppression and attacks from the then Sandinista regime that was leftist in its political ideologies. This was in the geopolitical region of the Americas, or to be specific, South America. Similar to this predicament were the Afghan rebels who were deeply entrenched in the mountains as they opposed the Soviets who had occupied their territorial land. There was a need for the United States to react to this situation due to the potential spread of communist ideologies which the Soviets had embarked on in the geopolitical region of the Middle East. In Africa, again the Angolan forces were battling against the then regime which was deemed inhumane and oppressive. These armed forces, who were anti-communists in their ideologies, also sought the diplomatic assistance of the United States to help them fight it out in the country’s civil war. Whether in South America, Middle East Asia, or Africa, the situation during Reagan’s reign was such that the American diplomatic intervention was necessary (Kengor & Schweizer, 2005).
The global political events during Reagan’s regime influenced Ronald Reagan to formulate and implement the diplomatic doctrine of supporting freedom fighters across the globe. In his own words, Reagan was of the opinion that freedom was not a preserve of the few but a universal right of all God’s children. He outlined the mission of the United States as being the defense and nurturing of freedom and democratic policies in the world. In being more specific, Ronald Reagan stipulated that America had to stand by and support its democratic allies whenever they were in the universe. He called upon Americans not to lose faith in the freedom fighters all over the world who were risking their precious lives on a daily basis to fight for their freedom. This was particularly aimed at the Soviet Union, whose aggression around the world was aimed at promoting Soviet policies and communist tendencies. The underlying belief from Reagan and his administration was that supporting freedom fighters and promoting the democratic space was in itself an act of self-defense against anyone who threatened the globe against the two principles of democracy and freedom. He put his words into action by providing military support, besides the diplomatic stance, to various combatants around the world fighting for freedom (John, 2015).
Reagan claimed the success of his diplomatic doctrine by alluding to the fact that he had succeeded in weakening the Nicaraguan government of Sandinista, thereby claiming a moral victory for the Contras. The then-American president also claimed victory as the Soviet Union forces were forcefully withdrawn from Afghanistan by the rebels who received both military and diplomatic support from Reagan’s administration. The president had eventually got what he had always wanted, which was to put a strong resistance against the Soviets, thus forcing a pullout from Afghanistan by Gorbachev’s forces. This was a huge blow to communism, as it was later confirmed through the disintegration of the USSR and the Soviet empire. Reagan, in his last presidential speech of 1989, also claimed that his diplomatic policy was successful in ending the African conflict in Angola and preventing further bloodshed in the nation’s protracted civil war. This doctrine also played a pivotal role in resuscitating the operations of C.I.A around the world. This was at a time when deep mistrust and a public erosion of confidence in the organization was at an all-time high (Scott, 1996).
The advantages of the Reagan doctrine, like stated above, stat with the global return to operations by the covert agency, the C.I.A. Reagan’s administration can also be credited with the downfall of the Soviet Union which disintegrated into different countries with diverse political ideologies. This was a huge boost to the United States as it marked the end of of the immediate threat of communism (John, 2015).
The Soviet withdrawal of their armies in Afghanistan was just a tip of the iceberg. Reagan’s doctrine also succeeded in both Nicaragua and Angola, where the Contras eventually weakened the Sandinista administration and the civil war came to an end respectively. On the negative side, it is Reagan’s doctrine that fuelled the Russians to embark on revenge against America and her interests through the fiercely contested Cold War. In fact, it is claimed that the Reagan doctrine rolled back all the advantages that the Americans had gained by avoiding the Russian encroachment in foreign territorial lands. Critics also argue that this diplomatic stand retarded any stability and growth of pro-Americanism with its diplomatic doctrine in Nicaragua. It is also claimed that the Soviet Union had internal wrangles and a stagnating economy, factors which contributed to its eventual fall as opposed to the widely held notion that it was Reagan who was responsible for the demise of the USSR empire (Amstutz, 2005).
Amstutz, M. R. (2005). International Ethics. Rowman & Littlefield.
John, A. L. (2015). A Companion to Ronald Reagan. Massachusetts: Wiley Blackwell.
Kengor, P., & Schweizer, P. (2005). The Reagan Presidency: Assessing the Man and his Legacy. Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield.
Scott, J. M. (1996). Deciding to Intervene: The Reagan Doctrine and American Foreign Policy. Durham [u.a.: Duke Univ. Press.