Turnmeyer – POL300 – The Reagan EraOn Friday October 16, 1981, President Ronald Reagan wrote in his personal diary, “Central America is really the world’s next hotspot. Nicaragua is an armed camp supplied by Cuba and threatening a communist takeover of all of Central America.” (The Reagan Diaries, 2007) For the next eight years as Commander-in-Chief, this mindset would shape his perspective on the small Third World country about the size of North Carolina. The Administration’s policies, actions, and attitudes toward Nicaragua and other perceived hostile nations became known as “Reagan Doctrine.” The defeat of the Nicaraguan Revolution became the “cornerstone of the Reagan Central American policy and the test case of Reagan Doctrine.” (U.S. Intervention in the Nicaraguan Elections and American Foreign Policy in the Post-Cold War Era, 1992)Reagan Doctrine was not a label coined by President Reagan or his administration. It was a term used later by his critics to define his foreign policy strategy for countries around the world. The Reagan Doctrine was a strategy to aid anti-communist, or more specifically, anti-Soviet insurgencies in the Third World during Reagan’s two terms as president from 1981-1989. The primary goal was to overthrow Marxist regimes and/or prevent Marxist regimes from becoming established.Reagan wasted no time getting started in the implementation of his foreign policy. The Administration’s first comprehensive “U.S. National Security Strategy,” which was a document approved by the President in May of 1982, stated the objective to “contain and reverse the expansion of Soviet control and military presence throughout the world, and to increase the costs of Soviet support and use of proxy, terrorist and subversive forces.” (Presidential Studies, 2006) Reagan made staunch calls for public support in his efforts. In the State of the Union Address in 1985, for example, he stated that the U.S. must “not break faith with those who are risking their lives—on every continent, from Afghanistan to Nicaragua—to defy Soviet-supported
Turnmeyer – POL300 – The Reagan Eraaggression.” One year later he boldly remarked that “America will support with moral and material assistance your right not just to fight and die for freedom, but to fight and win freedom…in Afghanistan, in Angola, in Cambodia, and in Nicaragua.” (Political Science Quarterly, 2007) In most of these nations, the aggressive policies and actions of Reagan caused severe damage. In Nicaragua for example, the economy was decimated by U.S. sanctions and manipulation of its banking institutions. The Administration, supported by Congress, funded a war against the Sandinista National Liberation Front (Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional, or FSLN). It was a war fought by various Nicaraguan rebel groups, labeled the Contras, which sought to overthrow the Sandinistas, who came to power after the revolution in 1979.