International Relations Questions


  1. Ronald Reagan came up with a strategy dubbed “the Reagan doctrine” implemented and orchestrated under his administration to oppose Soviet Union global influence towards termination of Cold War. There are some of the key features that were associated with this doctrine. To begin with, it was characterized by the United States covert and overt aid provision to the resistance movements and communist resistance to try and roll back communists soviet governments in Asia, Latin America, and Africa. It was designed in a manner that it distinguishes influences from the Soviet in those regions. Other features include containment of the United States official policy towards communism, the spread of communism towards elimination of existing governments, and encouraging democracy and capitalism in those governments.

“The Reagan Doctrine” came into being when President Reaganassumed office having declared a bold commitment to “roll back”Soviet achievements in third world countries without having to riskthe cost or trauma of intervention of Vietnam style. As this policyadopted his name, it took its cue ironically in the 1970s forinsurgency lefties in Central America and Africa. According to Gurtov(2006) the doctrine’s hints surfaced in 1985 during the president’sState of Union Address at the time when he affirmed that the peoplemust not lose faith to those who risks their lives from eachcontinent from Nicaragua to Afghanistan, to defy aggression fromSoviet to secure his people’s rights (Gurtov, 2006).

The doctrine began due to a number of reasons. Another reason wasbecause of Cold War tension that had ensued between the United Statesand the Soviet Union. Ronald Reagan entered office and described theSoviet as “evil empire” and declared a space for missile defensesystem that was critique has a “Star War.” The president and hisadvisers viewed the conflict from the Cold War lens. From hisdetermination, he entered office having been insecure of a possiblethreat. The doctrine started following a number of events prior toits inception in 1985. These events prompted him to prevent anycommunist takeovers. In 1983, the prime minister of Grenada, a smallisland nation, Bishop Maurice, was assassinated and a radical Marxistauthority took over. Cuban troops and Soviet money came to Grenadaafterwards. They began construction of airfield that was capable oflanding military aircrafts, and the Reagan administration wasprompted to remove the communist and bring back pro-American regimes.U.S troops invaded Grenada in October 25th and capturedand killed 750 Cuban military while establishing a new government.This invasion gave a clear warning across the region that Reagan’sadministration could not entertain communism. The Reagan Doctrine wasthen began in 1985 when while pledging to address the state,President Reagan declared his unwavering support to anti-communistsrevolutions (Gurtov, 2006).

Since its inception, it has since signaled a shift in the UnitedStates foreign policy. Ronald Reagan the president then had promisedthat it could become a program that could have far-reachingimplications of foreign policy. The strength of U.S’s case on rebelmovements differs greatly from country to country however, thepreponderance evidences suggests three general important conclusions.First, the doctrine in some instances have warrant official UnitedStates endorsement to the insurgency and perhaps diplomaticrecognition. Secondly, the doctrine has no case to justify compellingaid programs, especially the military assistance of Americangovernment part. Thirdly, organizations and private individuals thatwish to support compatible foreign movements with ideologies havebeen able to do so without harassment or restrictions from thegovernment. It is evident that the Reagan doctrine has beenprivatized which has attracted feasible existing policies(Vanderbush, 2009).

  1. Then, the President Nixon with his adviser on security matters Henry Kissinger decided to follow up on a policy of global détente with the Soviets in February 1972 following an ironical ironclad policy that contained communism. They had flown to China to hold a historical meeting with Mao Zedong who was the chairman then. The trip concerned the United States about-face. While in China, both Nixon and Kissinger discovered that containment could have an effect of driving USSR and China together into a more monolithic communistic bloc (Burns, 1987). Both decided to undertaking and initiative to pursue the policy to normalize the relationship with the two countries.

Following this, in spite of the hard-line, the posture of theanti-West, with China involved welcomed communications open lineswith the United States to develop allies with the Soviet Union thathad distrusted more than it did to the United States. The meetingbetween President Nixon and Moa was that the United States agrees toacknowledge the existence of the communist government as the Chinagovernment while in Beijing. With this, it reversed the United Statesformer policy of acknowledging the government of Chiang Kai She whowas i9n exile in Formosa Island in Taiwan as China’s legitimategovernment. The meeting also resulted to the United States agreeingto support China’s acknowledgement of the United Nations, pursuecultural and economic changes. Since then, the policy changed and thegovernments started trading with each other, a development that hassince increased as time went by while benefiting the nations’economies. It was not until 1978, that United States and China bothannounced a communiqué joint that they would recognize formallybetween one another and thus they opened official diplomaticrelationship.

In 1972, Nixon had another opportunity to visit the Soviet, which wasjust three months after he visited China. This time round, he wentthere to also exercise his negotiation skills. However, Nixon and histeam differed with the Soviets on their motives. During the meeting,Soviet Premier, Leonid Brezhnev presented Nixon with the idea ofnuclear talks, while Nixon’s real agenda was that he wished USSR topurchase grain from the United States. The Premier was concerned thatthe United States-China partner could leave the USSR in the cold.

Nixon had specifically had flew to USSR capital by deftly playingwith what the press had dubbed it “China Card” with theintentions of achieving diplomatic recognition by carryingnegotiations with the Soviets on trade, nuclear reduction, andbalance between China and United States and partly USSR. The UnitedStates motives differed but succeeded in defusing catastrophicsuperpowers over Southeast Asia. From this, a visit to the USSRushered in Nixon’s presumed era of “detente”, which is a Frenchword that means “relaxation of government’s tension” (Gurtov,2006). The policy had a motive to establish governing rules on therelations among China, the Soviet Union, and the United States(Vanderbush, 2009).

“Detente” produced a mixed reaction although it was successfulsince Nixon had diplomatically passed through two of the greatCommunist powers by helping the Vietnam War. However, “detente”did not terminate the arms race that had been the United States’,and the global great hope for SALT agreement.

  1. On 11th September, 2001, the Islamic terrorists supported and funded by the Al-Qaeda organization attacked the United States. By nightfall, both the World Trade Center adjacent buildings had collapsed and the Pentagon experienced a significant change. Over 3 thousand Americans lost their lives including all the individuals aboard the aircraft. Then the President George W. Bush addressed the country with a firm message aiming at reassuring the American Citizens of the American spirit and promised immediate action for those involved.

From comparison between foreign policy that was in place and that oneafter the attacks of 9/11, there were significant features that werechanged. During the presidential elections of 2000, George W. Bushhad promised to use the American military force only for eliminationof potential threat to United States’ security. Immediately afterattacks of 9/11, he highlight the changes in his new look foreignpolicy. While it was dubbed “The Bush Doctrine”, its key featurefocused on getting rid of foreign leaders and those organizationsthat threatened the United States integrity (Zelizer, 2010).

The Bush doctrine included another key feature that included adifferent clause that allowed the use of unilateral preventive war tohappen in an effort to counteract any potential threat of anotherpossible attack. His doctrine was also characterized by declarationof “war on terror” that sought to face the government of Talibanthat resided in Afghanistan then since it had offered protection andrefuge to the leader of al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden. Its doctrine alsoreflected on preventing the future attacks in its internationalinterests and the United States.

Subsequently, George W. Bush gave Taliban government an ultimatum tohand over Osama bin Laden to the American officials but they refusedpointing out lack of evidence to support the claims. As a result, helaunched a mission dubbed “Operation Enduring Freedom” whichbecame a feature of his doctrine.

Following the early allied success in the war against Taliban inAfghanistan, its foreign policy began to fade. This was characterizedby insurgency of pro-Taliban in 2003. This insurgency plagued GeorgeBush’s policies on administration and security within the UnitedStates. During his presidency, corruption and crime characterizedAfghanistan at the time, and insurgency members took advantage ofthis situation by putting an effort to eliminate the nation’sdemocratic undertakings.

The Bush doctrine was influenced by a number of features. Theseinclude: Focus on terror, preventive warfare, humanitarianassistance, and questionable allies.

Focus on terror: President Bush gave a speech nine days later bychanging the direction of the foreign policy by making terrorism hemain focus. The speech was best remembered by this remark: “We willfollow up on nations that offer safe haven or aid,” every nationacross all the regions now has the decision to make to either stickwith us or with the terrorists” (Gurtov, 2006).

Preventive warfare: After Iraq’s invasion, United States policybroadens to add preventive warfare. The public were informed ofSaddam Hussein’s rule that they could soon produce nuclear materialand atomic weapons.

Humanitarian assistance: The United States became subject to theforeign policy demands and also has been militarized. Most of theNGOs also fell under close scrutiny from the federal for complianceto the United States anti-terrorism policies.

Questionable allies: Even after the 0/11 attacks, the United Statescontinued to forge its tendency for questionable alliances. TheUnited States had to first secure good relations with Pakistan beforeinvading the neighboring Afghanistan in order to fight the Talibansince they were al-Qaeda ally.


Gurtov, M. (2006). Superpower on crusade: The Bush doctrine in USforeign policy. Boulder, Colo: Lynne Rienner Publishers.

Vanderbush, W. (2009). The Bush Administration Record in LatinAmerica: Sins of Omission and Commission?. New Political Science‚31 (3), 337-359.

Zelizer, J. E. (2010). The presidency of George W. Bush: A firsthistorical assessment. Princeton, N.J: Princeton UniversityPress.

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