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The Policies and Actions Which Help/hindered U.S-Soviet Relations During the Administrations Of: Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr.

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Events, Policies and Actions Which Help/Hindered U.S-Soviet Relations during the Administrations of: Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr.

American Government-MWF

Cyle Parker

Dr. Charles P. Willie

March 7, 2004

Events, Policies and Actions between the United States and the USSR during the Carter, Regan and Bush Sr. Administrations

The relationship between superpowers has always been complex. There is the natural inclination to achieve dominance on the world stage, while trying to keep a stable relationship with other world powers. The United States and the USSR had been recognized as superpowers since the end of World War II. The United States' Manhattan Project led to atomic bombs being dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. In 1949, the USSR surprised the world by breaking the United States' monopoly on atomic weapons and exploding their own atomic bomb. In 1952, the United States developed and exploded a thermonuclear weapon, also known as the hydrogen bomb. The next year, the USSR followed suit by detonating their own hydrogen bomb.

The countries had major ideological differences. The American system of free-market capitalism was in stark contrast to Soviet communism. The American economy was built, made and sustained by self-made men who had brought themselves from "rags-to-riches". This idea was encouraged and glorified by Horatio Alger in books while people like John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie were living examples. The USSR's communist ideology was based on the belief that every person should have the same social status as everyone else with no people of a higher caste so to speak.

Both countries began to stockpile nuclear weapons and the period known as the "Cold War" began when World War II ended. It was a period of espionage and counter-espionage between the two countries, each trying to get political and technological advantage over the other. This unofficial conflict lasted until the dissolution of the USSR in 1991 during the Bush Sr. administration.

This essay will examine the events, policies and actions during each of the Carter, Reagan and Bush Sr. administrations that eased tensions between the countries or kept them apart.

Carter Administration

James Earl Carter Jr. was born on October 1, 1924 in Plains, Georgia1. He had 3 siblings, 2 sisters (Gloria and Ruth) and a brother named William1. He was a southern Democrat, also sometimes known as a Dixie-Crat. Following his high school education in his home town, Carter attended the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md1. He ran for presidential office on the Democratic ticket in 1976, as the former Governor of Georgia2. He defeated the incumbent Gerald Ford who was Republican. President Carter's agenda was mainly one of domestic issues such as unemployment and Civil rights.

Carter's stance on foreign affairs was one of diplomacy3. He received worldwide attention in 1977 when supported human rights movements in the USSR and other nations1. U.S. Ð'- Soviet relations were strained when the Soviets deployed medium-range nuclear weapons in Europe3. A huge blow was dealt to this relationship when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in late 1979 and early 1980 and U.S.-Soviet relations were at their lowest point in some time1.

As a result of this invasion by the Soviet Union, the U.S placed an embargo on American grain to the USSR3. The U.S also sent weapons to the group of rebels (known as the Taliban) fighting the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Weapons such as the stinger anti-air missile were given to help the Taliban. Carter also pressed for a U.S. boycott of the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, which was carried out by the American athletes. President Carter gave the go ahead on a new missile system, know as the MX2. This further strained international relations as only a new nuclear weapons system can.

Things were not all bad between the U.S. and the Soviet Union during Carter's presidency. In 1979 the Carter administration and Soviet officials negotiated a treaty to limit the use of nuclear arms by the U.S. and the USSR.1. It was known as the S.A.L.T. II treaty because it resulted from the second round of Strategic Arms Limitations Talks1. The treaty would not take effect however unless it was approved by the U.S. Senate (the decision was postponed due to invasion of Afghanistan1.) Many people believed that this treaty was important in slowing the arms race1.

Reagan Administration

Ronald Wilson Reagan was born in 1911 and died in 20044. He was seen as an icon of American greatness and traditional values by many of his constituents4. Reagan had first become famous as an actor in Hollywood movies4. Reagan was known for his considerable personal charm and his identification with conservative groups4. After having been elected as Governor of California he set his political sights on the White House in the 1980 presidential election and defeated Jimmy Carter handily5.

The Reagan administration was staunchly against the Soviet Union and all of the influence that it projected around the world. In March 1983, Reagan famously labeled the USSR. "an evil empire"6. Jeane Kirkpatrick, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N, devised a formula for directing the U.S. crusade on "leftists"6. Governments globally were placed in two categories, authoritarian and totalitarian; the U.S deemed itself to be more compatible with authoritarian governments6. Using this formula the U.S. successfully stopped or overthrew many leftist regimes or governments around the world to so hinder the possible global spread of communism6.

The Reagan administration did much too unease the Soviet Union. They sent large quantities of military supplies to traditionalist Muslim guerillas that were fighting modernizing communist governments supported by the Soviet Union6. Military arms, money and advisors were also sent to: Angola, El Salvador, Grenada and most controversially, Nicaragua6.

In Nicaragua a major campaign was mobilized to overthrow the Sandinista government5. Besides money, weapons and training, the U.S. also planted mines in Nicaraguan harbours6. The U.S also sold arms to Iran and then used the money to help the contras who were fighting Sardinista6. This was a huge scandal because at the time the U.S had a policy against selling weapons to Iran and other supporters or terrorism6. All of these actions greatly increased Soviet-American



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