Reagan and Sdi

Topics: Cold War, Strategic Defense Initiative, Mikhail Gorbachev Pages: 24 (9490 words) Published: April 19, 2006
When President Ronald Wilson Reagan was elected in 1980 not many people would understand his significance as Reagan would be Re –elected again in 1984.Reagan would be remember for many thing during his eight years in the White House but most of all Reagan would be remembered for his cold war policy. Although critics of the President past and present have looked at Reagan as a figure head nothing could be further from the truth, especially in regards to his cold war policy and The Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). Critics have claimed Reagan had no intention of having such a missile defense system and that it was just floated out in a political move. Reagan was criticized by democrats, the press and even some of his party members. Though Reagan did seek advice on SDI and Cold War Policy for cabinet members and outside sources it was Reagan and Reagan alone who made all final decision. Yes SDI and some of the Cold War Policies did rub people in his administration the wrong way and cause many internal battles but again it was Reagan who set the agenda for the 1980's on the Cold War and SDI. On March 23, 1983 President Ronald Reagan gave an address to the nation regarding his budget defense for that year. The text of his speech was about the Soviet Unions strength and the unwillingness of the congress to pass his budget. But with the following words the speech would change the course of American foreign policy and cause debate in his cabinet for years to come. "Wouldn't it be better to save lives then avenge them? Are we not capable of demonstrating our peaceful intentions by applying all our abilities and our ingenuity to achieve a truly lasting stability? I think we are. Indeed we must. After careful consultation with my advisers including the Joint Chiefs of Staff, I believe there is a way. Let me share with you a vision of the future which offers hope. It is that we embark on a program to counter the awesome Soviet missile threat with measures that are defensive." With that Ronald Reagan started a course that would change U.S. arms control policy and cause a debate inside the Reagan administration. This system he spoke of would be called the Strategic Defense Initiative. This was a system which would shoot down incoming Russian Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. Prior to this speech the United State policy with regards to nuclear weapons and attack regarding the Soviet Union had always been MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction). This meant if the United States or its allies were attacked by the Soviet Union they would respond with the destruction of the Soviet Union also. There was no defensive measure for stopping nuclear attack just reaction. This had been the policy of the U.S. since the sixties. Also playing a part in this whole program was the ABM treaty.

"The ABM treat was signed was signed at Moscow on May 26, 1972 and ratified by the United State Senate on August 3, 1972. In the Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems the United States and the Soviet Union agree that each may have only two ABM deployment areas, so restricted and so located that they cannot provide a nationwide ABM defense or become the basis for developing one. Each country thus leaves unchallenged the penetration capability of the others retaliatory missile forces. Precise quantitative and qualitative limits are imposed on the ABM systems that may be deployed. Both Parties agreed to limit qualitative improvement of their ABM technology." This treaty would cause severe internal debate inside the country and the administration it self in regards to SDI.

So with the announcement of SDI it was felt the United States would be defying the ABM treaty but Reagan as a clever politician as he was mad sure he made the point in his speech to mention the ABM treaty "Tonight, consistent with our obligations of the ABM treaty and recognizing the need for closer consultation with our allies, I'm taking an important first step. I am...
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