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In Search of a Winning Grand Strategy: Ronald Reagan’s First Term, 1981-5

Robb, Thomas K. and Cooper, James (2023) In Search of a Winning Grand Strategy: Ronald Reagan’s First Term, 1981-5. The International History Review. pp. 1-23.

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Historians have long engaged in a spirited discussion as to explaining the factors that brought about the end of the Cold War. The literature that focuses on the role played by US President Ronald Reagan’s administration has been vehemently contested. Much of this literature, whether supportive or critical of the president’s role, is divided on whether the president actually created and pursued a grand strategy. Moreover, much of the literature, fails to stipulate what a grand strategy actually is conflating planning, actions, and goals. Informed by political science this article delineates between the various types of grand strategy and in doing so postulates that President Reagan did establish a grand plan. By drawing upon recently declassified materials and engaging more keenly the interconnections between domestic political considerations and national security factors this article sheds new light on how the president’s grand strategy came into being. As argued below, Reagan’s grand strategy was as much a product of internal bureaucratic politics and reflected broader internal domestic political pressures as much as it was predicated upon Reagan’s reading of the international strategic situation which confronted the United States. This work therefore builds upon the wider historiographical interpretation which champions the primacy of domestic politics in better understanding the driving forces behind US grand strategy.

Item Type: Article
Status: Published
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/07075332.2023.2245848
Subjects: E History America > E151 United States (General)
School/Department: School of Humanities
URI: https://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/8349

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