The Reagan Reversal: Foreign Policy and the End of the Cold War

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University of Missouri Press, 2000 - History - 191 pages
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It is often assumed that Ronald Reagan's administration was reactive in bringing about the end of the cold war, that it was Mikhail Gorbachev's "new thinking" and congenial personality that led the administration to abandon its hard-line approach toward Moscow. In The Reagan Reversal, Beth A. Fischer convincingly demonstrates that President Reagan actually began seeking a rapprochement with the Kremlin fifteen months before Gorbachev took office. She shows that Reagan, known for his longstanding antipathy toward communism, suddenly began calling for "dialogue, cooperation, and understanding" between the superpowers. What caused such a reversal in policy? Fischer considers three explanations for the reversal. First, she considers the possibility that the administration reversed course simply to cater to public opinion during an election year. Second, she investigates whether new personnel, namely Secretary of State George Shultz and National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane, took control of U.S. policy and made changes more in line with their personal views. Third, Fischer considers the possibility that Reagan himself redirected U.S. policy out of his fear of nuclear war. This is the explanation Fischer defends as most significant.

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THE REAGAN REVERSAL: Foreign Policy and the End of the Cold War

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Much energy is expended here demonstrating that Ronald Reagan's policy toward the Soviets was pro- rather than reactive beginning in 1984. According to Fischer (Political Science/Univ. of Toronto ... Read full review

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About the author (2000)

Beth A. Fischer is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto and is coauthor of The Constitution and American Foreign Policy.

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