Round Two for Reagan
Reagan was opposed by Democrat
and V.P. candidate
first woman to appear on a major-party presidential ticket, but won handily.
Foreign policy issues dominated Reagan’s second term, one that saw the rise of
, a personable, energetic leader who announced two new Soviet policies:
“openness,” which aimed to introduce free speech and political liberty to the Soviet Union, and
or “restructuring,” which meant that the Soviets would move toward adopting free-market economies similar
to those in the West.
At a summit meeting at Geneva in 1985, Gorbachev introduced the idea of ceasing the deployment
of intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF). At a second meeting at Reykjavik, Iceland, in November 1985,
there was stalemate. At the third one in Washington D.C., the treaty was finally signed, banning all INF’s
The final summit at Moscow saw Reagan warmly praising the Soviet chief for trying to end the
Also, Reagan supported
’s ousting of Filipino dictator, Ferdinand Marcos.
He also ordered a lightning raid on Libya, in 1986, in retaliation for Libya’s state-sponsored terrorist
attacks, and began escorting oil tankers through the Persian Gulf during the Iran—Iraq War.
VII. The Iran-Contra Imbroglio
In November 1986, it was revealed that a year before, American diplomats led by
had secretly arranged arms sales to Iranian diplomats in return for the release of American hostages
(at least one was) and had used that money to aid Nicaraguan contra rebels.
This brazenly violated the congressional ban on helping Nicaraguan rebels, not to mention
Reagan’s personal vow not to negotiate with terrorists.
An investigation concluded that even if Reagan had no knowledge of such events, as he claimed,
he should have. This scandal not only cast a dark cloud over Reagan’s foreign policy success, but also
brought out a picture of Reagan as a somewhat senile old man who slept through important cabinet
Still, Reagan remained ever popular.
VIII. Reagan’s Economic Legacy
Supply-side economics claimed that cutting taxes would actually increase government revenue, but
instead, during his eight years in office, Reagan accumulated a $2 trillion debt—more than all his
presidential predecessors combined.
Much of the debt was financed by foreign bankers like the Japanese, creating fear that future
Americans would have to work harder or have lower standards of living to pay off such debts for the