Diplomatic doctrine of Ronald Reagan during Cold War

US President: Ronald Reagan

Time in office: 1981-1989

Diplomatic doctrine: Sponsor anticommunist guerrilla who are trying to over throw pro-Soviet.

Situation that required diplomatic efforts

President Reagan had brought a shift in the US policy to deal with the expanding Communist Soviet Union. He adopted to a doctrine that was later known as Reagan Doctrine, which involved in supplying active support to any guerilla movements in the world that were fighting against the Soviets (Lagon, 1994). This doctrine also consisted of preventing the Soviets from attaining the latticed technologies, decreasing the value of Soviet commodities and increase American defense expenditure to counter the increasing military capabilities of the Soviet Union.  Before Reagan, there was a support of weapons supply to anti Soviet countries but this support was not proving to be affective as Soviets were trying to expand their influence and were already present in Afghanistan with their troops supporting the then pro-Soviet Afghan government against a civil guerrilla war. Governments in Angola, Cuba and Nicaragua were already considered to be communist. US was feeling the heat of its influence being openly challenged by the Soviets. President Reagan had decided to confront the expansionist ideology of Communist Soviet Union. Providing political, moral, financial and any weaponry support to any guerillas fighting against pro-communist governments was adopted and implemented during President Reagan’s era in full swing.

Diplomatic doctrine

The diplomatic doctrine consisted of active support to any guerilla fighters who were fighting against Soviet Union’s supported governments. The most lethal weapon that was used during the Reagan Presidency to win against the Soviets was religion (Gunn, 2008). People all over the world were ensured that Soviet Union was in favor of abolishing any religion they come across and therefore, it was the duty of all the believers of these religions to fight in any way possible against the Soviets. Over here, I would like to focus on Afghan war in which Islam was used as a weapon and guerillas fighting against the pro-soviet Afghan governments were trained and facilitated by the US via CIA. These fighters were called “The Mujahedeen” Arabic word for the holy warriors (Gasper, 2001).

Specific diplomatic actions taken

Ronald Reagan diplomatic efforts consisted of finding support for the guerillas fighting the Afghan government. This support consisted of finances, man power and moral support. For this reason, America started to provide financial support to Afghanistan’s neighboring country, Pakistan who would provide training camps to the guerillas that would fight against the Soviet troops who were supporting the Afghan government in establishing the writ of the government. Arab countries, especially Saudi Arabia was also one of the major financer of the Afghan War. Ronald Reagan also traveled the world, especially the Muslim countries to encourage them to send people to fight alongside the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan. The people would use Pakistan as a stop to get trained for the war by the CIA and Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI.

Effects of diplomatic actions

The diplomatic action taken by the Reagan administration proved really fruitful. Many Muslim cleric issues “fatwas” making fighting the Afghan war a religious duty for all the Muslims in the world.  It is important to mention here that many Arab countries emptied their prisons and send the criminals who were serving sentences in jail to fight the war alongside Mujahedeen in Afghanistan (Bearden, 2001). Billions of dollars were flowing to Pakistan to support the training of the Mujahedeen. Thousands of people were trained to cross border to Afghanistan and fight the “holy war”.  People like Osama Bin Laden and Aiman Alzawaheri are the product of this “holy war”.

Advantages of the diplomatic doctrine

The Afghan war and other international measures taken by the Reagan administration like preventing the Soviets from attaining high technologies and decreasing the value of their commodities had gotten the Soviets on their feet. In 1985, Gorbachev became the chairman of Soviet Politburo. President Reagan started to negotiate with Gorbachev. Soviet Union had become weak and it was unable to sustain its existence. In 1989, Soviet Union’s army was called off from Afghanistan and on December 26, 1991, Soviet Union was officially dissolved. Looking at these results, we can say that Ronald Reagan’s diplomatic doctrine worked and it resulted in a win for the American and its Allies against the Soviet Union. This also resulted in the spread of communism in the world that was considered an ideology which was challenging the capitalist ideology.

Disadvantages of the diplomatic doctrine

The main disadvantage of the diplomatic doctrine was to predict the exact outcome of supporting guerillas fighting the Soviets. Especially in Afghanistan. Also it seems that there was no backup plan if the doctrine would go wrong, which eventually did when the same “holy warriors” started to get involved in terrorist activities and targeting American interests around the world. The doctrine only guided American towards winning a war against the Soviets, it did not predict or manage the aftermath when thousands of people would are highly trained by the CIA would return from the Afghan war. Remember, this was not a regular army but different groups of guerillas fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan. I think that USA needed to have a plan to rehabilitate these people back in their countries and communities so that they did not go on looking for another adventure.