Presentation Title

SDI and Its Role in the Reagan Administration’s Soviet Policy Reversal, 1983-1984

Author(s)

Jack MooreFollow

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Keywords

Ronald Reagan, SDI, Soviet Union, Foreign Policy, Reversal, Security Dilemma

Department

Political Science

Major

Political Science

Abstract

The Reagan administration’s Soviet policy shifted markedly in January 1984, when President Reagan giving a speech speaking of his desire to cooperate with the Soviet Union, working directly with Soviet leaders, achieving arms reduction treaties, and leaving behind the hardline approach used in the first three years of his presidency. This paper examines the role the Strategic Defense Initiative played in sparking this policy change, framing it as a security dilemma. Though archival research was impossible due to the COVID-19 pandemic, already published materials are examined, and counterfactual analysis is used to examine SDI’s role in the policy change called the Reagan Reversal, and to explore whether the Reversal was a change in policy, or part of the administration’s “quiet diplomacy” plan all along something debated in the relevant literature. SDI is found to be a clear example of a security dilemma, and one of several events which caused the reversal, and counterfactual analysis shows that the Reversal was a change in policy and not part of the plan of “quiet diplomacy”.

Faculty Mentor

Dan Caldwell

Funding Source or Research Program

Political Science Honors Program

Presentation Session

Session B

Start Date

23-4-2021 2:30 PM

End Date

23-4-2021 2:45 PM

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Apr 23rd, 2:30 PM Apr 23rd, 2:45 PM

SDI and Its Role in the Reagan Administration’s Soviet Policy Reversal, 1983-1984

The Reagan administration’s Soviet policy shifted markedly in January 1984, when President Reagan giving a speech speaking of his desire to cooperate with the Soviet Union, working directly with Soviet leaders, achieving arms reduction treaties, and leaving behind the hardline approach used in the first three years of his presidency. This paper examines the role the Strategic Defense Initiative played in sparking this policy change, framing it as a security dilemma. Though archival research was impossible due to the COVID-19 pandemic, already published materials are examined, and counterfactual analysis is used to examine SDI’s role in the policy change called the Reagan Reversal, and to explore whether the Reversal was a change in policy, or part of the administration’s “quiet diplomacy” plan all along something debated in the relevant literature. SDI is found to be a clear example of a security dilemma, and one of several events which caused the reversal, and counterfactual analysis shows that the Reversal was a change in policy and not part of the plan of “quiet diplomacy”.