Reagan & Iran-Contra Scandal

Tatum Hausmann

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Reagan’s Political Rise

Reagan grew up in Dixon Illinois. After graduating from Eureka College in 1932, Reagan worked as a sports broadcaster at an Iowa radio station. In 1937 he took a Hollywood screen test and won a contract from a movie company. Over the next 25 years he made over 50 movies. When he was a broadcaster and actor, Reagan learned how to speak publicly and how to project, skills that proved valuable when he entered politics. In 1947 Reagan became president of the actors union. By 1964 Reagan had become such a popular national speaker that Berry Goldwater asked him to make a political speech on behalf of Goldwater’s presidential campaign. His speech impressed wealthy entrepreneurs in California. They convinced him to run for governor of California in 1966. Reagan won the election and was reelected in 1970. Ten years later, he won the Republican presidential nomination.

Reagan’s Domestic Policies

Ronald Reagan believed that the key to restoring the economy and overcoming problems in society was to get Americans to believe in society was to get Americans to believe in themselves again. He expressed this idea in his Inaugural Address.


Reagan's Domestic Policies

Reagans first priority was the economy which was suffering from a combination of high unemployment and high inflation. Reagan combined monetarism (thought that inflation was caused by too much money) and supply side ( thought that the economy was weak because taxes were too high). He encouraged the Federal Reserve to keep interest rates high and asked congress to pass a massive tax cut. Critics called Reagan's approach Reaganomics. They believed his policy would help corporations and wealthy Americans, while only a little bit would trickle down to the average American.

Iran Contra Scandal

Although Congress had prohibited aid to the Nicaraguan contras, individuals in Reagan’s administration continued to illegally support the rebels. These officials secretly sold weapons to Iran in exchange for the release of American hostages being held in the Middle East. Profits of the sales were then sent to the contras. News of the illegal operations broke in November 1986.

Policy of Nuclear Weapons

Despite Reagan's decision to deploy missiles in Europe, Reagan generally disagreed with the military strategy known as nuclear deterrence, sometimes called mutual assured destruction. Reagan believed that mutual assured destruction was immoral because it depended on the threat to kill massive numbers of people. He also felt that if nuclear war did begin, there would be no way to defend the US. In March 1983, Reagan proposed the Strategic Defense Initiative. This plan, Nicknamed Star Wars, called for the development of weapons that could intercept and destroy incoming missiles.


Relationship with USSR

By 1987 Reagan was convinced that Gorbachev wanted to reform the Soviet Union and end the arms race. While some politicians distrusted the soviets, most people welcomed the Cold War taw and reduction in the danger of nuclear war. In December 1987 the two leaders signed the Intermediate- Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. It was the first treaty that called for the destruction of all nuclear weapons. With the economy booming, the American military strong, and relations with the Soviet Union rapidly improving. Ronald Reagan’s second term came to an end.

All facts were from the book