FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT: RONALD REAGAN'S MORAL AND RELIGIOUS RHETORIC AND SOVIET POLICY, 1981-1989
Parsons, Caroline Keller
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This thesis contributes to the historiography on President Ronald Reagan, political rhetoric, U.S.-Soviet Relations, 1980s politics, and religion in foreign policy. It examines the consistency and purpose of Reagan's religious and moral rhetoric in an attempt to gain an understanding of Reagan's rhetoric as it pertained to his Soviet policies. It draws largely from speeches, articles, summit meetings, interviews, personal correspondences, radio broadcasts, press conferences, political insider's memoirs, and Reagan administration documents that laid out foreign policy strategies for dealing with the Soviet Union. I argue that throughout his two terms as president, while there was variance over time in some aspects of his rhetoric (<i>i.e.<i>, his characterization of the Kremlin), Ronald Reagan's rhetoric consistently pointed to religion and morality as central aspects of the Cold War and central causes of East-West tensions. He also consistently pointed to the Soviet system as the greatest moral evil facing the world, and his Soviet policies and interactions with Soviet leaders reflected his perception that religion and morality were at the heart of the Cold War and East-West relations.This thesis intends to provide a better understanding of the worldview Reagan presented in his public rhetoric and of the ways his foreign policy actions were, overall, consistent with that worldview. This study defines Reagan's public rhetoric as a tool of persuasion that sought to reshape public and private perceptions of the East-West relationship, the Cold War, and America's role in it.