12 Apr 2022


The Cold War and U.S. Diplomacy

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The issue of creating diplomatic relations on a worldwide scale has been a key area of concern for every incoming President of The United States (POTUS). The U.S. is a very significant figure in the international arena with its president considered as the leader of the free world. The various respective presidents have always had a doctrine that defined their stance on foreign policy (Roskin & Berry, 2010). However, there are a few outstanding doctrines that made landmark contributions in the history of America. One of these is the president Reagan’s Doctrine which consequentially led to the downfall of the Soviet Union (Pontuso, 2011). The doctrine had significant impact on the Cold War and elevated the US ratings with regard to international diplomacy. 

President Ronald Reagan took office in 1981 as the 40th POTUS (Diggins, 2008). At this time, the Cold War had been rampant with both the U.S. and the Soviet Union pushing to obtain a much stronger and relevant position of influence over the world. There was a lot of tension between both States. When Reagan took office, he purposed to put an end to the Cold War and thus came up with his doctrine. The Reagan Doctrine was more of an additional strategy to his predecessor’s (President Carter) doctrine (Diggins, 2008). It implicated that the U.S. would provide any support whatsoever to any anti-communist groups in the world. President Reagan proved his determination to seeing the successful implementation of the doctrine over the years by supporting anti-communist guerrillas in both overt and covert ways (Roskin & Berry, 2010). 

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A Situation That Required U.S. Diplomatic Efforts during President Reagan’s Time in Office:

Towards the end of 1979, the Soviet Union took to invade Afghanistan with the aim of spreading its communist influence (Pontuso, 2011). It was initially not clearly anticipated that the Soviet would have had any interest in Afghanistan. The Soviet seemed to have been on a quest to conquer areas where oil was being produced especially in the Middle East. President Carter, who was sitting at the time, hesitated in offering support to the Afghanistan people. President Reagan, however, took to office with a different kind of zeal to see their reign in the country ended. His government provided support to the Afghan freedom fighters (Mujahedeen) to overthrow the Soviet Rule and do away with the illegal occupation of Soviets in their country (Pontuso, 2011). 

The insurgents were trained by the CIA in Pakistan. They were equipped with guerrilla training where they acquired skills to be able to face the enemy (Pontuso, 2011). They were also provided with Chinese-made weapons to supplement their militia activities. The main purpose of this was because the U.S. did not want to be held at fault for assisting them (Pontuso, 2011). Additionally, the U.S. also provided moral support for the resistant movements. They assured them of a constant provision of quality weaponry at all times. This kind of diplomatic action became the foundation of President Reagan’s legacy. 

The Diplomatic Doctrine of President Reagan, With Reference To Specific Actions or Events That Occurred:

President Reagan had very strong anti-communist views before he even took to Office (Lord and Dale, 2007). This explains his dire urge to see the end of communism at all costs and his fearless declaration of support to anti-communism. His doctrine did not only serve well in Afghanistan but also in other areas around the world. For instance, he supported and aided in the overthrowing of Anastasio Somoza of Nicaragua in 1979 (Pontuso, 2011). The doctrine was also applied effectively in Angola and Cambodia, both of which the Soviet was trying to adopt into its communist system. By assisting the insurgencies, the U.S. played in the background and enabled these countries to kick out communism as well as offered them an opportunity to be in control of their nation. 

During the Afghanistan insurgency, the Reagan Doctrine took a major turn when it decided to provide the Mujahedeen with missiles (Pontuso, 2011). The Mujahedeen had experienced a lot of hardships in trying to suppress the Soviet because of the communist’s added air advantage. With this missiles, they were able to bring down their jet fighters and limit them to the ground. This made them be able to use their CIA training to infringe the Soviets completely. Ironically, America’s most wanted criminal of all times, Osama Bin Laden, was one of the trainees of the Mujahedeen (Lord and Dale, 2007). He had been part of the Mujahedeen. Nevertheless, the Regan Doctrine is remembered for bringing an end to communism and the Soviet Union in general. 

Effects of the Reagan Doctrine to the U.S. and the World

Following the pressure from the insurgencies in Afghanistan, the Soviet ended its rule in the country in 1989 (Diggins, 2008). President Mikhail Gorbachev of the Soviet called it to an end after he saw that there was nothing more they could do following the U.S. support of Mujahedeen. The war in Nicaragua consequently came to an end in 1990 with Somoza out of power (Pontuso, 2011). Soviet rule and occupation in Cambodia were also terminated.

The U.S. emanated as the global superpower upon bringing an end to the Soviet (Diggins, 2008). Both nations had been in a battle for supremacy and control of the world. Despite there being attempts by other presidents to bring to an end the Soviet domination, President Reagan was the only one who orchestrated a fearless run through his doctrine. It was initially feared that coming out openly to oppose communism would result in a nuclear conflict between the two. 

Advantages and Disadvantages of the Reagan Doctrine .

Being at the helm of the president’s legacy, the Reagan Doctrine had its merits and demerits. The most significant advantage was that it led to the decline of the Soviet Union (Diggins, 2008). America realised that it had lagged in fear of a nation that could not match up to its metal (Roskin & Berry, 2010). The U.S. found an opportunity to expand its military technology. Additionally, it also exposed the negative side of communism and upheld capitalism as the best and most viable political system. The end of the Soviet Union also led to the eventual demise of the Cold War that had lasted for close to 45 years. 

However, the Regan Doctrine had its drawbacks, some which were not visualised until the beginning of the 21st Century. The countries that it aided to eliminate Soviet rule were not concerned about the U.S. interests and were only concerned about eradicating the Soviets from their countries (Diggins, 2008). They also armed people who had questionable records in regards to human rights violations thus strengthening them. Apart from Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein also benefited from this doctrine and used it to acquire massive weaponry. Later on, both individuals became enemies of the U.S, and a lot of resources were wasted in tracking them down. 


In conclusion, the Reagan Doctrine was a huge step in the defining moment of American history. It set a stage for the future presidents to embrace in matters of foreign policy and prepared a simple way to for them. Despite its shortcomings in aiding in the building of most wanted criminals, it is important to look at the bigger picture and see the threat it eliminated. It was one bold move that got the work done.


Diggins, J. P. (2008). Ronald Reagan: Fate, Freedom, and the Making of History . New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company Limited.

Lord, C. & Dale, H. (2007). Public Diplomacy and the Cold War: Lessons learned. Heritage . Retrieved on 2 February 2017 from http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2007/09/public-diplomacy-and-the-cold-war-lessons-learned.

Pontuso, J. (2011). Reagan Doctrine. First Principles Journal . Retrieved on 2 February 2017 from http://www.firstprinciplesjournal.com/articles.aspx?article=713&theme=frmar&loc=b.

Roskin, M. & Berry, N. (2010). IR: The New World of International Relations . London: Pearson.

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