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The Evil Empire. Catchy name, right?



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5. The Evil Empire. Catchy name, right?

In 1981 America elected a new President – Ronald Regan, who was to change the dynamic of the Cold War in the 1980s. Reagan believed that détente had failed. Epically. He wanted to take a tough stance with the Soviet Union and deal with them from what he called ‘A position of strength’ – basically meaning that America would always get what it wanted, otherwise, they weren’t going to do anything with the Soviets!


5. The Calm and sensible approach from Ronald Reagan


This new approach to the cold war leads to a number of developments in the early 1980s

  • US defence spending increased dramatically. Reagan planned to spend 1 trillion dollars on number missiles/launchers and bombers

  • Soviet defence spending increased to try and keep up – which was to have a dramatic effect in the late 1980s

  • Regan labelled the Soviet Union as the ‘Evil Empire’ in 1982. This was to start a public name calling contest between the 2 countries. The best the Soviets came up with was describing Reagan as ‘insane, a liar and like Hitler’. Good times.

  • Reagan moved away from the idea of MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) and instead liked the idea of NUTS (Nuclear Utilization Target Selection). What this really means is he thought that the US could win a small scale Nuclear War against the Soviet (which was NUTS) rather than any Nuclear War actually resulting in the end of the world (which was MAD) Simple, right?

  • Regan gave the Soviet Union the so called ‘Zero Option’ – he would not put new American missiles in Western Europe if the Soviets destroyed all their SS20 missiles. When the Soviets refused, Regan used this as an excuse to put more missiles than he originally planned in!




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