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The Reagan EraA History of the 1980s$
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Doug Rossinow

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231169882

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231169882.001.0001

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An Aggressive Foreign Policy

An Aggressive Foreign Policy

(p.66) Four An Aggressive Foreign Policy
The Reagan Era

Doug Rossinow

Columbia University Press

This chapter discusses Reagan’s foreign policy. In his first two years as president, Reagan succeeded in resetting U.S. foreign policy on a newly aggressively rightward course. Carter had become more hawkish in his last year as president, but his support for the global right had been tempered by human rights concerns. Reagan, instead, almost embraced a no-enemies-to-the-right stance. Violent and ethically compromised regimes traditionally allied with the United States received fresh and unqualified support, as evidenced by his trip to South Korea for his first state visit as president. South Korea was a key bastion of U.S. military power, home to about forty thousand U.S. troops. Shortly after Reagan came to power, the country received new fighter aircraft from the United States, despite president Chun Doo Hwan’s seizure of power in 1979–1980. Reagan nearly doubled the level of U.S. aid to Ferdinand Marcos, who had suspended democracy in the Philippines in 1972 and he had ruled as a dictator since then. Relations with the Soviet Union had also become frostier. Yet, by late 1982, there were indications already that Reagan realized he might have to temper his tone regarding superpower relations in light of popular anxiety over nuclear brinkmanship.

Keywords:   foreign policy, foreign relations, South Korea, state visit, Philippines, Soviet Union, Ferdinand Marcos, president Chun Doo Hwan

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