Reagan and Communism

Kenadi McGee and Qiani Arrington

The Man Who Beat Communism

Until the early 1980s, the United States had relied on the qualitative superiority of its weapons to essentially frighten the Soviets, but the gap had been narrowed. Although the Soviet Union did not accelerate military spending after President Reagan's military buildup, their large military expenses, in combination with collectivized argiculture and inefficient planned manufacturing, were a heavy burden for the Soviet economy At the same time, Saudi Arabia increased oil production, which resulted in a drop of oil prices in 1985 to one-third of the previous level; oil was the main source of Soviet export revenues. These factors contributed to a stagnant Soviet economy during Gorbachev's tenure.

Shift to Diplomacy

Many historians say that the collapse of the Soviet Communism was inevitable. Reagan recognized the change in the direction of the Soviet leadership with Mikhail Gorbachev, and shifted to diplomacy, with a view to encourage the Soviet leader to pursue substantial arms agreements. Reagan's personal mission was to achieve "a world free of nuclear weapons", which he regarded as "totally irrational, totally inhumane, good for nothing but killing, possibly destructive of life on earth and civilization". He was able to start discussions on nuclear disarmament with General Secretary Gorbachev.

Gorbachev and Reagan

Reagan believed that if he could persuade the Soviets to allow for more democracy and free speech, this would lead to reform and the end of Communism.Gorbachev and Reagan held four summit conferences between 1985 and 1988: the first in Geneva, Switzerland, the second in Reykjavik, Iceland, the third in Washington, D.C., and the fourth in Moscow.

Speaking at the Berlin Wall on June 12, 1987, Reagan challenged Gorbachev to go further, saying:

"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!"
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Collapse of the Soviet Union

When Reagan visited Moscow for the fourth summit in 1988, he was viewed as a celebrity by the Soviets. 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". At Gorbachev's request, Reagan gave a speech on free markets at the Moscow State University. In his autobiography, An American Life, Reagan expressed his optimism about the new direction that they charted and his warm feelings for Gorbachev. In November 1989, ten months after Reagan left office, the Berlin wall was torn down, the Cold War was officially declared over at the Malta Summit on December 3, 1989, and two years later, the Soviet Union collapsed.

Sources:

  1. Knopf, PhD, Jeffery W. (August 2004). "Did Reagan Win the Cold War?". Strategic Insights (Center for Contemporary Conflict)
  2. "Giuliani's Obama-Nuke Critique Defies And Ignores Reagan",Huffington Post, 7 April 2010 "President Reagan's Legacy and U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy", Heritage Foundation, July 20, 2006
  3. "Hyvästi, ydinpommi," Helsingin Sanomat 2010-09-05, pp. D1-D2
  4. "Toward The Summit; Previous Reagan-Gorbachev Summits". The New York Times. May 29, 1988.
  5. "Modern History Sourcebook: Ronald Reagan: Evil Empire Speech, June 8, 1982". Fordham University. May 1998.
  6. Keller, Bill (March 2, 1987). "Gorbachev Offer 2: Other Arms Hints".The New York Times.
  7. "INF Treaty". US State Department.
  8. Talbott, Strobe (August 5, 1991). "The Summit Goodfellas". Time.
  9. "1989: Malta summit ends Cold War". BBC News. December 3, 1984.