- Foreign policy of the Reagan administration
The Foreign policy of the Reagan Administration was the
foreign policy of the United Statesfrom 1981 to 1989 under President Ronald Reaganduring his Administration. It was characterized by a strategy of "peace through strength" followed by a warming of relations with the Soviet Union, once the reformer Mikhail Gorbachevrose to power, and a peaceful end to the Cold War.
As part of the policies that became known as the "
Reagan Doctrine," the United States also offered financial and logistics support to the anti- communistopposition in central Europe and took an increasingly hard line against communist governments in Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, and Nicaragua.
In early June 1982,
Israelinvaded Lebanonwith massive force, driving all the way to Beirutand putting the Palestinian fighters and residents, as well as the Lebanese civilian population of that city, under siege. On June 6, the United States joined a unanimous U.N. Security Council Resolution demanding that Israel withdraw from Lebanon and that the border cease-fire be observed by all parties. Amidst a great international furor the scene was set for a common American-French-Italian military intervention, Israel justified its breech of the previous cross-border cease-fire by citing the attempted assassination of the Israeli ambassador in Londonand a build-up of Palestinian armaments in South Lebanon.
In August, an agreement between the Lebanese government and the United States defined the mandate for a Multinational Force (including 800 U.S. Marines) as "to provide appropriate assistance to the Lebanese Armed Forces as they carry out" responsibilities for the safe evacuation of the departing
PLO, the safety "of the persons in the area" (generally interpreted to mean the Palestinian non-combatants remaining in Beirut), and to "further the restoration of the sovereignty and authority of the Government of Lebanon over the Beirut area." The deployment was to be for 30 days or less.
August 25, the Marines went ashore in Beirut, four days after the French troops arrived. The PLOevacuation was completed without significant incident. The Marines redeployed to their ships on September 10. Following September 16, hundreds of Palestinian civilians were massacred in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Beirut.
September 20a horrified President Reagan announced the formation of a new Multinational Force in consultation with France and Italy. He defined the mission as "enabling the Lebanese Government to resume full sovereignty over its capital." Reagan continued that for the Multinational Force "to succeed it is essential that Israel withdraw from Beirut." The president said that the purpose of this Force was "not to act as a police force, but to make it possible for the lawful authorities of Lebanon to do so themselves."
The deployment of the 1,800
United States Marinesbegan on September 29. A day before, President Reagan told a press conference: "And the Marines are going in there into a situation with a definite understanding as to what we're supposed to do. I believe that we are going to be successful in seeing the other foreign forces leave Lebanon. And then at such time as Lebanon says that they have the situation well in hand, why, we'll depart."
April 18 1983, a car bomb exploded at the U.S. embassy in Beirut, killing 17 U.S. foreign service and military personnel and over 40 Lebanese employees and citizens. The technique employed driving a vehicle packed with explosives to the front entrance for detonation there by a suicide bomber.
The result of intense American diplomatic efforts, on
May 17, Lebanon and Israel signed an agreement ending the State of War between the two countries and providing for a phased Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, contingent on the withdrawal of Syrian and Palestinian forces.
October 23, just after dawn, 241 US military personnel, mostly Marine enlisted men, died when a truck packed with explosives destroyed a Marine barracks at Beirut International Airport. At that same moment a similar explosion occurred in a French military barracks a few kilometers away, killing 56 French troops. The October 23 suicide bombers used the identical technique that had been used six months earlier to blow up the American embassy.
The attack was extremely demoralizing for the United States, and although Reagan initially stated he would "resist those who seek drive us out of that area", the continued Marine presence in Lebanon became very unpopular among the American public, who compared the military mission in the former French colony with the
Vietnam War. On February 7 1984, President Reagan announced that he had asked for a plan for redeployment of the Marines from Beirut to ships offshore. On February 7 and 8, more than 100 U.S. embassy employees and all embassy dependents were evacuated from Beirut. On February 26, redeployment of the last Marines serving with the Multinational Force from their positions in Beirut to ships offshore was completed.
The invasion of the Caribbean island
Grenadain 1983, ordered by President Reagan, was the first major foreign event of the administration, as well as the first major operation conducted by the military since the Vietnam War. President Reagan justified the invasion by stating that the cooperation of the island with communist Cubaposed a threat to the United States, and stated the invasion was a response to the illegal overthrow and execution of Grenadan Prime Minister Maurice Bishopby communist rebels. The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States(OECS) appealed to the United States, Barbados, and Jamaica, among other nations, for assistance due to the ongoing military rule in the country. In the end, U.S. forces suffered nineteen fatalities and 116 injuries, as the defenders were said to be well prepared, but the United States was victorious. Grenada's Governor-General, Paul Scoon, announced the resumption of the constitution and appointed a new government, and U.S. forces withdrew that December.
Nicaragua and Latin America
During the 1980s the Reagan administration sponsored an anti-Sandinista guerilla movement known as the
Contras(a proxy paramilitary based in Hondurasand Costa Rica, largely consisting of northern highlanders known as the Milpas and led by former Somozaregime soldiers) against the socialist Sandinistagovernment in Nicaragua. The resulting war killed over 50,000 people, mostly civilians.
Under the Carter Administration, the Sandinistas had received tacit U.S. support in their coup against the previously U.S.-backed right-wing
military dictatorshipof the Somoza dynasty, which had ruled the country for several decades. An interim coalition, Junta, took power in 1979 and in 1984 leader of the FSLN party, Daniel Ortegabecame Nicaragua's first elected President who ruled under the name of the Sandinista revolution. As the years progressed, the Ortega government was accused of becoming more authoritarian, with the more moderate factions of the coalition being expelled from government. Allegations of suppression of political dissent increased, as did accusations of state-sponsored human rights abuses. However, these accusations of human rights abuses were not accurate, according to Human Rights Watch: "Almost invariably, U.S. pronouncements on human rights exaggerated and distorted the real human rights violations of the Sandinista regime, and exculpated those of the U.S.-supported insurgents, known as the contras." [http://www.hrw.org/reports/1989/WR89/Nicaragu.htm] As well, Ortega was a supporter of Fidel Castro's Cubaand many members of the Sandinista government sought to model Nicaragua along similar lines. Cuba sent doctors and technicians to Nicaragua and the Soviet Union shipped some military equipment, including some Hind helicopters.
The leftist nature of the Sandinista government and its support for
Cubadistressed many in the Reagan administration, who viewed the country as a key Cold War battleground, in danger of becoming a Communistproxy state. As a result, covert support began to flow to the anti-Sandinista Contra rebels, whom Reagan had described as "the moral equal of our founding fathers."
Contras were condemned as terrorists by many and as freedom fighters by others. Under the direction of the CIA, the largest Contra army, the FDN, attacked collective farms and other civilian targets, as well as murdered, tortured and mutilated
civiliansand committed other war crimes, as documented by human rights organizations such as Amnesty Internationaland Human Rights Watch. [http://www.hrw.org/reports/1989/WR89/Nicaragu.htm] The Contras were also accused of being involved in illicit drug-trafficking. In 1986 a CIA-written training manual detailing methods of terrorism and assassination was discovered to have been issued to the Contras.
The proxy army followed Washington orders to attack "soft targets" such as farm cooperatives and health clinics instead of "trying to duke it out with the Sandinistas directly," "attack a lot of schools, health centers, and those sort of things" so that "the Nicaraguan government cannot provide social services for the peasants, cannot develop its project." as explained by General
John Galvin, commander of the U.S. Southern Command, who added that with these tactics, aimed at civilians lacking means of defense against armed terrorist bands, prospects for the contras should improve.
When asked in the
US Congressin April 1985 to define US policy in Nicaragua, former CIA Director Stansfield Turner responded “state-sponsored terrorism”.
The World Court would find that this constituted state sponsorship of
terrorismand an attempt to overthrow an elected government. Nicaragua decided to take their case to the World Court in Nicaragua v. United States. In an unprecedented decision in the history of world justice, the World Court sanctioned the U.S. for "unlawful use of force" for "sponsoring paramilitary activity in and against Nicaragua", ordering the U.S. government to pay billions of U.S. dollars in compensation. The World Court ordered Reagan to terminate his campaign, but the Reagan White House dismissed the ruling and then vetoed two Security Council resolutions affirming the Court ruling and calling on all nations to observe international law. The FSLN then took its case to the General Assembly and the General Assembly ruled in its favor, with only the US, Israel, and El Salvador dissenting. Father Miguel D'Escoto, Foreign Minister under the Sandinista government, supposes that the U.S. owes his country between 20 and 30 billion U.S. dollars. [http://www.democracynow.org/static/descoto.shtml]
Many, who supported the Reaganite view, claim the Sandinista regime was neither democratic nor harmless, but rather a Communist dictatorship in the making, supported both militarily and economically by
Cubaand the Soviet Union. The administration refused to participate in the World Court proceeding.
Due to the pressures of the covert Contra war, the Sandinista President of Nicaragua,
Daniel Ortega, eventually held the country's second elections, which he and his party lost, thus ending Nicaragua's brief period of socialist rule. Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, a former Junta member who led a 19-party "anti-Sandinista" alliance was elected in his place.
Through its desire to combat leftist governments and Marxist insurgencies in the region the Reagan administration was accused of sponsoring right-wing
military dictatorships throughout Latin America. The CIAand U.S.-based School of the Americas, similarly were accused by some as having trained Honduranand other Latin Americanmilitary officers and future death squad paramilitary members in torture and assassination techniques to fight insurgencies.
Reagan increased funding to many other Central and South American states throughout his two terms. Financial aid to Colombia's military and right-wing paramilitary groups skyrocketed in the eighties,Fact|date=March 2007 even as Colombia compiled one of the worst human rights records in the hemisphere. A similar situation existed for
El Salvador. Congress attempted to put constraints on aid to the government of El Salvador and make it contingent on human rights progress. Even as tens of thousands of civilians were slaughtered by government and governmentally-allied forces in the early eighties Reagan stated that El Salvador was making "progress." Elliott Abrams, an administration official indicted in the Iran Contra Affair, also denied the existence of human rights violations and massacres in El Salvador like the El Mozote massacre. When congress tried to renew the human-rights stipulation to aid for El Salvador Reagan vetoed the bill.
This pattern of funding right-wing military and paramilitary groups would continue in
Guatemala. In 1999 a report on the Guatemalan Civil Warfrom the UN-sponsored Commission for Historical Clarificationstated that “the American training of the officer corps in counter-insurgency techniques” was a “key factor” in the “genocide…Entire Mayan villages were attacked and burned and their inhabitants were slaughtered in an effort to deny the guerillas protection.” According to the commission, between 1981 and 1983 the Guatemalan government—financed and trained by the US—destroyed four hundred Mayan villages and butchered 200,000 peasants (1).
Panamathis funding was more covert. Manuel Noriega, the dictator of Panama, was on the payroll of the CIAas of 1967. By 1971 his involvement in the drug trade was well known by the DEA but he was an important asset of the CIA and so was well-protected. CIA Director George H. W. Busharranged to give Noriega a raise in 1976 to a six-figure salary. The Carter administration dropped the future dictator from its payroll but he was reinstated by the Reagan administration and his salary peaked in 1985 at $200,000 (2). Noriega allowed CIA listening stations in his country, provided funding for the Contras, and protected covert U.S. and U.S.-funded air shipments of supplies to the Contras(3).
Reagan offered controversial support to the rightist
El Salvadorgovernment throughout his term; he feared a takeover by the FMLN during the El Salvador Civil Warwhich had begun in the late 1970s. The war left 75,000 people dead, 8,000 missing and one million homeless; some one million Salvadorans, fleeing the war and government backed right-wing death squads, immigrated to the United States. He backed attempts at introducing democratic elections with mixed success.
Reagan escalated the Cold War with the
Soviet Union, marking a sharp departure from the policy of détenteby his predecessors Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Jimmy Carter. The Administration implemented a new policy towards the Soviet Union through "NSDD-32" ( National Security Decisions Directive) to confront the USSR on three fronts: decrease Soviet access to high technology and diminish their resources, including depressing the value of Soviet commodities on the world market; increase American defense expenditures to strengthen the U.S. negotiating position; and force the Soviets to devote more of their economic resources to defense. Most visible was the massive American military build-up.
The administration revived the B-1 bomber program that had been canceled by the Carter administration and began production of the MX "Peacekeeper" missile. In response to Soviet deployment of the
SS-20, Reagan oversaw NATO's deployment of the Pershing II missile in West Germany to gain a stronger bargaining position to eventually eliminate that entire class of nuclear weapons. Reagan's position was that if the Soviets did not remove the SS-20 missiles (without a concession from the US), America would simply introduce the Pershing II missiles for a stronger bargaining position, and both missiles would be eliminated.
One of Reagan's more controversial proposals was the
Strategic Defense Initiative(SDI). Reagan believed this defense shield could make nuclear war impossible, but the unlikelihood that the technology could ever work led opponents to dub SDI "Star Wars." Critics of SDI argued that the technological objective was unattainable, that the attempt would likely accelerate the arms race, and that the extraordinary expenditures amounted to a military-industrial boondoggle. Supporters responded that SDI gave Reagan a stronger bargaining position. Indeed, Soviet leaders became genuinely concerned.
Reagan supported anti-communist groups around the world. In a policy which became known as the
Reagan Doctrine, his administration funded "freedom fighters" such as the Contras in Nicaragua, the Mujahideen in Afghanistan, RENAMOin Mozambique, and UNITA in Angola. When the Polish government suppressed the Solidaritymovement in late 1981, Reagan imposed economic sanctions on the People's Republic of Poland.
Reagan argued that the American economy was on the move again while the Soviet economy had become stagnant. For a while the Soviet decline was masked by high prices for Soviet oil exports, but that crutch collapsed in the early 1980s. In November 1985, the oil price was $30/barrel for crude, in March 1986 it had fallen to $12. [ Glenn E. Schweitzer, "1989 Techno-Diplomacy: U.S.-Soviet Confrontations in Science and Technology " (1989) 63ff, 81. ]
Reagan's militant rhetoric inspired dissidents in the Soviet Empire, but also startled allies and alarmed critics. In a famous address on
June 8, 1982, he called the Soviet Unionan " evil empire" that would be consigned to the " ash heap of history." After Soviet fighters downed Korean Airlines Flight 007 on September 1, 1983, he labeled the act an "act of barbarism... [of] inhuman brutality."
March 3of 1983, Reagan predicted that Communism would collapse: "I believe that communism is another sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose — last pages even now are being written." [http://www.latimes.com/news/obituaries/la-reagan,1,4780792.story?page=6&coll=la-news-obituaries Los Angeles Times Obituary] He elaborated on June 8of 1982 to the British Parliament. Reagan argued that the Soviet Union was in deep economic crisis, and stated that the Soviet Union "runs against the tide of history by denying human freedom and human dignity to its citizens."
This was before Gorbachev rose to power in 1985. Reagan later wrote in his autobiography "An American Life" that he did not see the profound changes that would occur in the Soviet Union after Gorbachev rose to power. To confront the Soviet Union's serious economic problems, Gorbachev implemented bold new policies for freedom and openness called "
glasnost" and " perestroika".
End of the Cold War
By the late years of the Cold War, Moscow had built up a military that consumed as much as twenty-five percent of the Soviet Union's gross national product at the expense of consumer goods and investment in civilian sectors. (LaFeber 2002, 332) But the size of the Soviet armed forces was not necessarily the result of a simple action-reaction arms race with the United States. (Odom) Instead, Soviet spending on the
arms raceand other Cold War commitments can be understood as both a cause and effect of the deep-seated structural problems in the Soviet system, which accumulated at least a decade of economic stagnation during the Brezhnev years. ("see" Economy of the Soviet Union) Soviet investment in the defense sector was not necessarily driven by military necessity, but in large part by the interests of massive party and state bureaucracies dependent on the sector for their own power and privileges. (LaFeber 2002, 335)
By the time
Mikhail Gorbachevhad ascended to power in 1985, the Soviets suffered from an economic growth rate close to zero percent, combined with a sharp fall in hard currency earnings as a result of the downward slide in world oil prices in the 1980s. (LaFaber 2002, 331-333) (Petroleum exports made up around 60 percent of the Soviet Union's total export earnings.) (LaFeber 2002, 332) To restructure the Soviet economy before it collapsed, Gorbachev announced an agenda of rapid reform. ("see perestroikaand glasnost") Reform required Gorbachev to redirect the country's resources from costly Cold War military commitments to more profitable areas in the civilian sector. As a result, Gorbachev offered major concessions to the United States on the levels of conventional forces, nuclear weapons, and policy in Eastern Europe. Many US Soviet experts and administration officials doubted that Gorbachev was serious about winding down the arms race (LaFeber, 2002), but Ronald Reaganrecognized the real change in the direction of the Soviet leadership, and Reagan shifted to skillful diplomacy, using his sincerity and charm to personally push Gorbachev further with his reforms. ["Reagan and Gorbachev: How the Cold War Ended", Jack Matlock (2004).]
Reagan sincerely believed that if he could persuade the Soviets to simply look at the prosperous American economy, they too would embrace free markets and a free society. ["President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime", Lou Cannon (1991).] Gorbachev, facing severe economic problems at home, was swayed.
At the Berlin Wall, Reagan pushed Gorbachev further: "General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"
The East-West tensions that had reached intense new heights earlier in the decade rapidly subsided through the mid-to-late 1980s. In 1988, the Soviets officially declared that they would no longer intervene in the affairs of allied states in Eastern Europe. In 1989, Soviet forces withdrew from Afghanistan.
Reagan's Secretary of State George Shultz, a former economics professor at Stanford, privately instructed Gorbachev on free market economics. At Gorbachev’s request, Reagan gave a speech on free markets at Moscow University. ["The Cold War: A New History", John Lewis Gaddis (2005).] When Reagan visited Moscow, he was viewed as a celebrity by Russians. A journalist asked the president if he still considered the Soviet Union the evil empire. "No," he replied, "I was talking about another time, another era." [ [http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/ArticleNews/TPStory/LAC/20040610/COMARTIN10/TPComment/TopStories Gorby Had the Lead Role, Not Gipper] -
The Globe and Mail, June 10, 2004] In his autobiography "An American Life," Reagan expressed his optimism about the new direction they charted, his warm feelings for Gorbachev, and his concern for Gorbachev's safety because Gorbachev pushed reforms so hard. "I was concerned for his safety," Reagan wrote. "I've still worried about him. How hard and fast can he push reforms without risking his life?" Events would unravel far beyond what Gorbachev originally intended.
Make World Safe from Nuclear War
According to several scholars and biographers, including Paul Lettow (Ronald Reagan and His Quest to Abolish Nuclear Weapons), John Lewis Gaddis (The Cold War: A New History), and Richard Reeves (President Reagan: The Triumph of Imagination), Reagan quietly worked to make the world safer from the threat of nuclear war, which he also stated in his autobiography "An American Life." Reagan had morally opposed nuclear weapons since 1945 and sincerely feared the biblical Armageddon. He wrote in his autobiography that he believed John Kennedy's MAD policy (mutually assured destruction) to be wrong. He even proposed to Gorbachev that, if a missile shield could be built, that all nukes be eliminated and the missile shield technology shared.
Reagan had close friendships with many political leaders across the globe, especially Margaret Thatcher in Britain, and
Brian Mulroneyin Canada. In 1985 Reagan visited the Kolmeshohe Cemeterynear Bitburgat the urgent request of Chancellor Helmut Kohlof West Germany, to pay respects to the soldiers interred there. Controversy arose because 49 of the graves contained the remains of men who had served in the Waffen-SS. The cemetery also contained remains of about 2,000 other German soldiers who had died in both World Wars, but no Americans. Some Jewish and veterans' groups opposed this visit. Reagan went because of his need to support Kohl and ratify the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Reagan also visited the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where he cited Anne Frankand ended his speech with the words, "Never again." [ Samantha Power: , pg. 163 ]
Collapse of USSR after Reagan
According to David Remnick in his Pulitzer Prize-winning book "Lenin's Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire," Gorbachev's
perestroikaand glasnostreforms opened Pandora's Box of freedom. Once the people experiences reforms, they wanted more. "Once the regime eased up enough to permit a full-scale examination of the Soviet past," Remnick wrote, "radical change was inevitable. Once the System showed itself for what it was and had been, it was doomed." Without a tyrant in control anymore, like Gorbachev's predecessors, nothing could hold the Soviet Empire together anymore.
In December 1989, Gorbachev and
George H.W. Bushdeclared the Cold War officially over at a summit meeting in Malta. ["Cold War," "A Dictionary of World History". Oxford University Press, 2000. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press.] The Soviet alliance system was by then on the brink of collapse, and the Communist regimes of the Warsaw Pact were losing power. On March 11 1990 Lithuania, led by newly elected Vytautas Landsbergis, declared independence from the Soviet Union. The gate to the Berlin Wall was opened and Gorbachev approved. Gorbachev proposed to President George H.W. Bushmassive troop reductions in Eastern Europe. In the USSR itself, Gorbachev tried to reform the party to destroy resistance to his reforms, but, in doing so, ultimately weakened the bonds that held the state and union together. By February 1990, the Communist Party was forced to surrender its 73-year old monopoly on state power. Soviet hardliners rebelled and staged a coup against Gorbachev, but it failed. Boris Yeltsinrallied Russians in the street while Gorbachev was held hostage. By December 1991, the union-state had dissolved, breaking the USSR up into fifteen separate independent states. Boris Yeltsinbecame leader of the new Russia. ("see" Dissolution of the USSR) In her eulogy to Ronald Reagan at his funeral, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, whom Reagan worked very closely with during his tenure in office, said, "Others hoped, at best, for an uneasy cohabitation with the Soviet Union; he won the Cold War — not only without firing a shot, but also by inviting enemies out of their fortress and turning them into friends.... Yes, he did not shrink from denouncing Moscow's 'evil empire.' But he realized that a man of goodwill might nonetheless emerge from within its dark corridors. So the President resisted Soviet expansion and pressed down on Soviet weakness at every point until the day came when communism began to collapse beneath the combined weight of these pressures and its own failures. And when a man of goodwill did emerge from the ruins, President Reagan stepped forward to shake his hand and to offer sincere cooperation." For his role, Gorbachev received the first Ronald Reagan Freedom Award, as well as the Nobel Peace Prize.
Iran–Iraq Warbroke out following the Iranian Islamic revolution of 1979, the United States initially remained neutral in the conflict. However, as the war intensified, the Reagan administration would covertly intervene to maintain a balance of power, supporting both nations at various times. The U.S. mainly sided with Iraq, believing that Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeinithreatened regional stability more than Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. U.S. officials feared that an Iranian victory would embolden Islamic fundamentalistsin the Arabstates, perhaps leading to the overthrow of secular governments—and damage to Western corporate interests—in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Kuwait. After initial Iraqi military victories were reversed and an Iranian victory appeared possible in 1982, the American government initiated Operation Staunchto attempt to cut off the Iranian regime's access to weapons (notwithstanding their later shipment of weapons to Iran in the Iran-Contra Affair). The U.S. provided intelligence information and financial assistance to the Iraqi military regime. The U.S. also allowed the shipment of "dual use" materials, that could be used for chemical and biological weapons, ostensibly for agriculture, medical research, and other civilian purposes, but they were diverted for use in Saddam's weapons of mass destructionprograms.
April 18, 1988Reagan authorized Operation Praying Mantis, a one-day naval strike against Iranian naval ships, boats, and command posts in retaliation for the mining of a U.S. guided missile frigate. One day later, Reagan sent a letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate. [http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=35700] USS Simpson (FFG-56)is mentioned in firing on Iranian F-4 Phantom IIFighters built by the United States.
Perhaps his most controversial foreign action was the administration's support of the Contra rebels in Nicaragua; the attempts of certain members of the White House national security staff to circumvent Congressional proscription of covert military aid to the Contras ultimately resulted in the Iran-Contra Affair.
Two members of administration, National Security Advisor
John Poindexterand Col. Oliver Northworked through CIA and military channels to sell arms to the Iranian government and give the profits to the anti-Communist Contras guerillas in Nicaragua, who were engaged in a bloody civil war. Both actions were contrary to acts of Congress. Reagan professed ignorance of the plot, but admitted that he had supported the initial sale of arms to Iran, on the grounds that such sales were supposed to help secure the release of Americans being held hostage by the Iranian-backed Hezbollahin Lebanon.
Reagan quickly called for the appointment of an Independent Counsel to investigate the wider scandal; it found that the President was guilty of the scandal, only in that his lax control of his own staff resulted in the arms sales. The failure of these scandals to have a lasting impact on Reagan's reputation led Representative
Patricia Schroederto dub him the "Teflon President", a term that has been occasionally attached to later Presidents and their scandals. Ten officials in the Reagan Administration were convicted, and others were forced to resign. Secretary of Defense Casper Weinbergerwas indicted for perjuryand later received a presidential pardon from George H.W. Bush, days before the trial was to begin. In 2006, historians ranked the Iran-Contra affair as the ninth-worst mistake by a U.S. president. [ [http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20060218/presidential_errors_060218/20060218?hub=World U.S. historians pick top 10 presidential errors] - Associated Press, February 18 2006]
Upon becoming President, Reagan moved quickly to undermine Soviet efforts to subdue the government of
Afghanistan, which the Soviet Army had invaded in 1979.
mujahideenguerrillas were covertly supported and trained, and backed in their jihadagainst the occupying Soviets by the CIA. The agency sent billions of dollars in military aid to the guerrillas.
Reagan praised the mujahadeen as freedom fighters battling an evil empire, stating, "To watch the courageous Afghan freedom fighters battle modern arsenals with simple hand-held weapons is an inspiration to those who love freedom. Their courage teaches us a great lesson—that there are things in this world worth defending. To the Afghan people, I say on behalf of all Americans that we admire your heroism, your devotion to freedom, and your relentless struggle against your oppressors." (March 21, 1983 [http://www.reagan.utexas.edu/archives/speeches/1983/32183e.htm] ).
Korean Air Lines Flight 007
* [http://www.rescue007.org/ International Committee for the Rescue of KAL 007 Survivors]
* [http://www.reagan.utexas.edu/archives/speeches/1983/90583a.htm Address to the Nation on the Soviet Attack on a Korean Civilian Airliner]
author=Wise, Harold Lee
title= [http://www.insidethedangerzone.com Inside the Danger Zone: The U.S. Military in the Persian Gulf 1987-88]
location=Annapolis | publisher=Naval Institute Press
*Mireya Navarro, “Guatemala Study Accuses the Army and Cites US Role,” New York Times, February 27, 1999
*Larry Rohter, “Searing Indictment,” New York Times, February 27, 1999
* Michael Shifter “Can Genocide End in Forgiveness?” Los Angeles Times, March 7, 1999
*“Coming Clean on Guatemala,” editorial, Los Angeles Times, March 10, 1999
*Michael Stetz, “Clinton’s Words on Guatemala Called ‘Too Little, Too Late,’” San Diego Union-Tribune, March 16, 1999.
Frederick Kempe, "Divorcing the Dictator" (New York, Putnam, 1990), ppg 26-30, 162.
*Peter Dale Scott and Jonathan Marshall, "Cocaine Politics" (New York, University of California Press, 1991), ppg 65-70.
*Nigel Hey, "The SDI Enigma: Behind the Scenes of the Cold War Race for Missile Defense" (Dulles, Va., Potomac Books, 2006), 275 pp.
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