By Arthur I. Cyr (auth.)
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Additional resources for After the Cold War
Eisenhower toward the end of his tenure was beleaguered by the same intense Cold War that had provided the funda mental challenge to foreign policy, and certainly domestic tranquillity, at the start of his administration. Reagan’s tenure was capped by the dra matic reforms of Mikhail Gorbachev in the Soviet Union, moving the nation away from Communism and the Cold War, by so doing opening the door to a vast international transformation and an enormous American foreign policy success. PATTERNS OF CONTINUITY In foreign policy, the Reagan administration represented a very great de parture stylistically and substantively from the Carter years, but more broadly there was ultimately considerable continuity with the past.
Both Nato very explicitly, and the European Union more implicitly, have received legitimacy and direction over time as a result of the military threat of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact. Nato was designed spe ciﬁcally to confront and mitigate the perceived military danger of the other side in the early days of the Cold War. The European Community was above all a reaction to the dreadful costs of nationalism gone berserk in the two world wars. Yet a more indirect incentive as well for seeking the Community, perhaps especially for Washington, was to use an economic ally prosperous Europe as the primary bulwark to counter the threat of communism.
This very comparison, however, makes the point that Reagan did not represent a total departure from the past in foreign policy. If Reagan was in some ways comparable to JFK in emphasis on ex panded defence, and a broadly assertive anti-communist foreign policy, he was very different from the earlier president in terms of his attitude toward government. The Kennedy years had been a high point of commitment to ‘public service’ as a worthy ideal. Emanating from the New Deal, but also the earlier Republican Roosevelt, Theodore, who consistently emphasized the role of government as positive good, the Kennedy administration seems in retrospect a sort of symbolic high water mark for favourable leadership and popular sentiment about public service.