Reagan Doctrine

The Reagan Doctrine was a strategy orchestrated and implemented by the United States under the Reagan Administration to oppose the global influence of the Soviet Union during the final years of the Cold War. While the doctrine lasted less than a decade, it was the centerpiece of United States foreign policy from the early 1980s until the end of the Cold War in 1991. Under the Reagan Doctrine, the U.S. provided overt and covert aid to anti-communist guerrillas and resistance movements in an effort to ‘rollback’ Soviet-backed communist governments in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Most notably, the mujahideen in Afghanistan and the contras in Nicaragua.

The doctrine was designed to serve the dual purposes of diminishing Soviet influence in these regions, while also potentially opening the door for capitalism (and sometimes liberal democracy) in nations that were largely being governed by Soviet-supported socialist governments. However, since the September 11 attacks, some critics have argued that, by facilitating the transfer of large amounts of weapons to various areas of the world and by training military leaders in these regions, the Reagan Doctrine actually contributed to ‘blowback’ by strengthening some political and military movements that ultimately developed hostility toward the United States, such as al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.

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