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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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The World at the Brink

(p.101) Six 1983
The Reagan Era

Doug Rossinow

Columbia University Press

This chapter describes how the world was at the brink of nuclear war in 1983. Reagan was convinced that his confrontational foreign policy would pave the way for a strategic balance of global forces favorable to America. But the road that he chose to travel in foreign affairs proved rocky and dangerous, and 1983 was the year when events got out of his control. The result was worldwide fear and tension of a kind that Americans aged twenty and younger had never before witnessed. This was a year of turmoil, featuring a cascade of dramatic, sometimes violent, events on many fronts. The chapter details events such as Reagan’s aggressive actions in the Caribbean basin, which spurred his preoccupation with the spread of revolution in that region; the internal struggle over U.S. foreign policy; Reagan’s proposed Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), a research program aimed at developing technology to identify and destroy incoming ballistic missiles from the Soviets; the bombing of the US embassy in Beirut; and the US invasion of Grenada.

Keywords:   nuclear war, foreign policy, foreign relations, Caribbean basin, defense policy, Strategic Defense Initiative

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