Ronald Reagan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


When Ronald Reagan was elected as the 40th president of the United States in 1980, hardly anyone foresaw the sweeping transformations that would occur in international relations throughout his presidency. Reagan arrived in Washington as the quintessential Cold Warrior in a period of renewed confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union.1 His acerbic rhetoric on the malaise and threat of the Soviet regime had made him one of the most assertive advocates of a more aggressive policy towards the USSR. Throughout his presidential campaign Reagan frequently argued that the Soviets had a grand design that sought to expand influence and foment revolutions in the Third World, while isolating the United States from its allies.2 Accordingly, the United States needed to upgrade its military capability and assert a more forceful policy regarding Soviet expansionism.3 Reagan’s outlook and policy proposals resonated with the growing belief in the United States that the Soviet Union had obtained a strategic advantage in the global balance of power, while America was in decline.4 Reagan’s first Secretary of State, Alexander Haig, voiced this general sentiment when he testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the previous administration’s apathy had consented to ‘the transformation of Soviet military power from a continental and largely defensive land army to a global offensive army, navy and air force fully capable of supporting an imperial foreign policy’.5 Not surprisingly, the Reagan administration’s initial years in the White House were characterized by a growing American bellicose attitude toward the Soviet Union.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMental Maps in the Era of Detente and the End of the Cold War 1968-91
EditorsSteven Casey, Jonathan Wright
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-349-56657-0
ISBN (Print)978-1-137-50096-0
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Mental Maps
  • Political Geography
  • international relations (IR)
  • American Foreign Policy


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