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Reagan Presidency - The Cold War

Reagan Presidency - The Cold War

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1980s America - Reagan Presidency - Cold War cause and effect storyboard

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  • To counteract Soviet Influence in the waning years of the Cold War, Reagan ordered a large build-up of domestic defenses. He took a firm stance against what he deemed the "evil empire", aiming to prevent communist influence in the Western Hemisphere. In his second term, however, Reagan developed good relations with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. They worked together to reduce arms and have glasnost, or political openness.
  • Initially, because of Reagan's military build-ups, the Soviet Union criticized him heavily. In addition to this, his defense spending greatly increased the federal deficit. Programs like his Strategic Defense Initiative, or SDI, aimed at improving military defense technology. Yet, with his positive relations later on, Reagan helped bring peace between the Soviets and America, which won him much praise.
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  • Looking to undermine the Marxist-communist government in Nicaragua, the United States trained counterrevolutionaries, or Contras, to combat them. The training was funded by secret arms sales to Iran that were meant to encourage the release of American hostages. All of this was in the name of fighting and overthrowing communist influence in the Americas, which Reagan believed threatened American interests.
  • In 1984, Congress discovered information about these secret missions, and banned aid to the Contras. The actions and accusations then became public in 1986. Reagan's administration faced much criticism, and ultimately, Reagan claimed no knowledge of the missions. Oliver North, the marine lieutenant who oversaw the missions, took all the blame.
  • On June 12th, 1987, Reagan arrived in West Berlin. Before his arrival, many Berliners adamantly voiced their opposition to his arrival. Regardless, Reagan arrived and gave his infamous, "Tear down this wall!" speech in reference to the Berlin Wall, which had become an international symbol of the divide between the Soviet East and Democratic West. In his speech, he made claims to end the arms race and liberate the divided city.
  • Reagan's speech at the Brandenburg Gate had little impact or significance at the time. However, in 1989, the Berlin Wall did fall, and many looked to Reagan's speech as a preemptive indicator that the wall should and would come down. There is dispute as to how much influence Reagan's words actually had; however, the speech remains one of his most famous in regards to the ending of the Cold War.
  • Reagan experienced much turmoil in the Middle East, especially in regards to preventing further Soviet influence on the region. Under Reagan, the U.S. government funded Afghani guerrilla forces to fight Soviet occupation of the country. In addition, Reagan had forces positioned in Lebanon to help keep peace in the region due to the threat of civil war.
  • The U.S. presence in Lebanon resulted in a terrorist attack against a Marine base in 1983, killing 241 American servicemen. In response, Reagan sanctioned bombings against Syrian forces in Lebanon, and eventually withdrew all forces. Ultimately, due to the United States' funding of the Afghan militant forces, it gave birth to al-Qaeda, who would go onto attack the U.S. on September 11, 2001.

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