Debating the Reagan Presidency (Debating Twentieth-Century America)

Debating the Reagan Presidency (Debating Twentieth-Century America)

Michael W. Flamm

Language: English

Pages: 224

ISBN: 0742561402

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The presidency of Ronald Reagan has become a Rorschach Test for politicians and citizens alike. While many conservatives see the Reagan era of the 1980s as the high-water mark for their movement and a time of national recovery from the difficulties of the 1970s, many liberals maintain that the rosy Reagan legacy is based largely on myth, and that in fact his eight years as president caused serious harm to the country. John Ehrman and Michael W. Flamm give due attention to the lasting controversies surrounding the Reagan record and provide a balanced view of the fortieth president's foreign and domestic policies. Students are encouraged to draw their own conclusions by reading key primary documents.

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where hate has roots reaching back to the dawn of history,” observed a rueful Reagan in his memoir. “It’s a place where the senseless spilling of blood in the name of religious faith has gone on since biblical times, and where modern events are forever being shaped by momentous events of the past, from the Exodus to the Holocaust.”39 The Middle East was a place where for centuries dreams of peace had died, replaced by visions of martyrdom. The 1980s would prove no exception. The cycle of violence

strategy. Weinberger contended that “preemptive . . . retaliation would be analogous to firing a gun in a crowded theater in the slim hope of hitting the guilty party.”62 Moreover, it was unclear to the secretary of defense how to define what type of terrorism— state, state-sponsored, or random—would warrant deterrent action. What about states that unwittingly or unwillingly harbored terrorists? And how would other nations in turn perceive unilateral American measures—and the American soldiers

passage from the New Testament. Not surprisingly, perhaps, the meetings went poorly. After three days of fruitless discussions, the Americans departed hastily when they learned that their mission was no longer secret. News of the rendezvous had leaked, and within months thousands of leaflets with photos of McFarlane were circulating in Tehran. In November 1986, a Lebanese magazine made international headlines when it reported what had happened and the speaker of Iran’s parliament confirmed most

revealed how informed and involved he was: “It is a complex undertaking with only a few of us in on it. I won’t even write in the diary what we’re up to.”99 Two days later, on December 7, Reagan again met with his national security team. The same individuals offered the same arguments with the same result—the president vowed to ship missiles to Iran and free the hostages despite vocal opposition from Shultz and Weinberger. “The weapons will go to the moderate leaders in the army who are essential

which had divided Eastern and Western Europe since the mid-1940s. When Reagan took office in 1981, the Cold War seemed like a permanent and perilous reality. Few expected any sudden shift in the status quo. Most believed that the United States and the Soviet Union would continue to wage a global struggle for political and military influence and dominance. “The dictatorship of the Communist Party remains untouched and untouchable,” predicted Robert Gates, a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) deputy

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