B. The Soviet War in Afghanistan—in order to prop up a Soviet satellite government in Afghanistan, the Soviet Union sent troops to that country in 1979.
a. Olympic Boycott—In response to this Soviet “aggression,” US President Jimmy Carter decided to boycott the Olympic Games scheduled to be held in Moscow in 1980. This was not a popular decision with Olympic athletes, of course, but it prevented the Soviet Union from gaining a larger propaganda victory—and revenue from the Games.
II. Re-igniting the Cold War
B. Arms build-up—in reaction to the events of Vietnam, and the move toward “normalization” of relations with the Soviet Union—as well at the economic stresses of the mid-1970s—had led to a diminishing amount of money spent on the military. Reagan reversed this trend, despite his promises to trim the federal budget—“Defense is not a budget item.”
a. “Winning the Cold War”—Reagan advocates claim that this policy was instrumental in the United States “winning” the Cold War, arguing that the economic pressure the arms build-up placed on the Soviet Union was a leading factor in the fall of the Soviet Union. The only problem with this argument is that there is no evidence that the Soviet Union made any attempt to meet this challenge with an arms build-up of their own. The demise of the Soviet Union, this suggests, came from economic problems that existed before the Reagan administration came to power.
C. Proxy Wars of Our Choosing
e. Iran-Contra Scandal--in Reagan's second term, information came to light that indicated that the United States--despite its proclaimed policy of not making deals for hostages--had in fact traded arms to Iran (of all places) in return for government officials there appealing to Hezbollah in southern Lebanon to release some American hostages. The money the United States made from selling arms to Iran was then funneled to anti-government forces in Nicaragua--the "Contras'--in direct violation of the Boland Act. Reagan denied any direct knowlege of these actions, but the investigation and scandal hungover much of the rest of his second term. Eventually, 11 members of the administration were initially convicted of violating the law; many of those were later released after successful appeals, and those who remained in prison were later pardoned at the end of Bush I's presidential term.
III. Reagan’s Second Term
a. Reykjavik Summit—meeting between Reagan and Gorbachev in Iceland; although no agreement was reached at the summit itself, this did lay the groundwork for the arms reduction agreements that were reached between the two countries.
IV. Fall of the Soviet Bloc
A. George H. W. Bush—with the end of Reagan’s second term, his vice-president George Bush was elected, and was president when the end of the Cold War occurred.
b. The End of History—a foreign policy scholar named Francis Fukuyama wrote a book by that title, since he predicted the spread of democracy (and capitalism) throughout the world since the threat of communism had been stifled.