After reading your short answers comparing Reagan’s 1st and 2nd terms regarding foreign policy, and it made me wonder what you think is the turning point of Reagan’s presidency, especially with regards to the Cold War and the Soviet Union.
Schools of history fall into a couple of areas regarding the end of the Cold War:
Gorbachev is the main reason why the Cold War ended. It was his reforms (glasnost and perestroika), different from the previous Soviet leaders, that prompted Reagan to renew negotiations over reducing / eliminating nuclear weapons;
Gorbachev was the reason why Reagan considered the Zero Option in Europe – Gorbachev proposed the Zero Option (for all nuclear weapons) at the Reykjavik Summit which eventually turned into the INF Treaty in 1987 that eliminated all intermediate range nuclear missiles (especially those in Europe).
It was Reagan playing hard ball with the Soviets / Gorbachev over SDI when Gorbachev proposed the Zero Option at the Reykjavik Summit in 1986, that Reagan refused to abandon SDI, which led to the INF Treaty (in a roundabout way).
SDI’s introduction was the pivotal moment of the Reagan presidency because it forced the Soviets back on their heels, wondering how to counter it, and if there could be anything done about it.
Reagan’s refusal to entertain detente and cast the Soviet Union as the “evil empire”, plus a massive increase in military spending caused the Soviets to match us or risk losing the edge it had in conventional and nuclear weapons.
But there is also some unconventional thinking about the Reagan / Bush administrations and how they helped end the Cold War:
The CIA’s aid to the mujahideen in Afghanistan helped sink the Soviets deeper into an unwinnable war, forcing the Soviets to use their best troops, and spend oodles of money that it didn’t have.
While the Berlin Wall collapsed and the Eastern European countries and Soviet Republics broke away (1989-1991), President Bush did everything he could to encourage them to put democracy first and Communism second. He did not ask for military aid to be sent to these countries, but he supported their break w/ the Soviets. Even during the hard-line coup in the Soviet Union in August 1991, President Bush and his administration fought hard to support Russian President Boris Yeltsin in his resistance to the Communists.
So which event or person or concept was the most pivotal to ending the Cold War and why?
Explain your answer in 300 words or more. Due Thursday, Dec. 1 by class.
Tim O’Brien’s book, The Things They Carried, focuses on the members of Alpha Company as they hump across Vietnam and also how they dealt with civilian life (“Speaking of Courage”).
1. The things that the soldiers carried in battle were not just physical things but mental / emotional as well. Henry Dobbins wore his girlfriend’s pantyhose around his neck as a comforter. But after the war is over and done with, the soldiers, like Lt. Cross, carry guilt and pain around with them.
2. The novel is also about truth, especially with the story, “How to Tell a True War Story,” which seems contradictory in many cases. But maybe that’s what the truth really is in a war-time environment – unclear.
3. The novel also captures loneliness and isolation experienced by the American soldiers while in the Vietnamese jungle. Though the soldiers are surrounded by their comrades in arms, many don’t feel a connection to each other. Could this be because they’ve been drafted into a war they don’t want to fight? Or that war is the most loneliest experience – do or die on the battlefield?
4. How does shame or the idea of letting another person down motivate Tim and other soldiers in the stories?
“They carried the soldier’s greatest fear, which was the fear of blushing. Men killed, and died, because they were embarrassed not to. It was what had brought them to the war in the first place, nothing positive, no dreams of glory or honor, just to avoid the blush of dishonor. They died so as not to die of embarrassment.”
Pick two of the four topics to write about and also include a brief assessment of the book.
300 words minimum for your total response. Due by Wednesday, Nov. 9 by class (yep, Wednesday).
Also, PBS American Experience films, Tesla (airing Tuesday, Oct. 18 at 9pm) and the Battle of Chosin (airing Tuesday, Nov. 1 at 9pm) are available for extra credit. Your job is to submit a paper, minimum one page typed single spaced, summarize the film with details (1/2 page minimum) and then connect the film to the APUSH universe (minimum 1/2 page).
I’m huge on reading. I’m always working my way through a novel or non-fiction book of some kind. This summer I read 22 books, a little on the low side for me, but this was partially because the first month was taken up with five books I had to read for two of my Masters’ classes (one on great American texts and another one on the history of American women).
Here are a few books I read this summer:
Days of Rage by Bryan Burroughs – this is a fascinating look at the revolutionary underground movement that staged hundreds if not thousands of bombings and dozens of bank robberies to support their revolutionary movement from 1970- 1984. This non-fiction book collects the stories of the Weathermen, Black Liberation Army (even more radical than the Black Panthers), the Symbionese Liberation Army, FALN (Puerto Rico’s independence movement), and other groups that planted bombs in the Capitol, the Pentagon, and in buildings all across the nation. What kinda shocked me in the present context we are living in with terrorism, and the seemingly passive attitudes towards these deluded radicals. Bombings and bomb threats were so common place that it didn’t seem to phase most Americans that this was going on (I compare it to the random mass shootings that occur so frequently in American society in the past few years). These bombers thought that they could begin a revolution in the United States and overthrow the current government for a socialist / Communist one and that the majority of Americans would follow their lead. These radicals weren’t hippies by any stretch of the imagination; they were, for the most part, white, middle-class college students who were fired up by the Civil Rights and anti-war movements and had hoped to make a change.
Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins – this is being made into a movie coming out this fall, and it’s an intense thriller and whodunnit. I bought the book after I saw the trailer for the movie, and to me, this book reminds me of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. The main character, Rachel, in this book is an alcoholic divorcee who is struggling with how her life has fallen apart after her divorce and because of her drinking. During her daily commute on a train, the train slows down on this one part and next to it she sees this lovely couple who are sitting on their back porch enjoying breakfast or an after-work cocktail. Rachel imagines a fantasy life for them, and it all shatters when the woman in the house goes missing and her husband is the main suspect. Rachel thinks that she might have info that helps the investigation and goes to the police. The book is told from shifting viewpoints and is very riveting. Did not see the ending coming. https://youtu.be/KkoEE1i0CX8
Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance – JD had grown up as an upwardly mobile hillbilly family in Ohio, out from Kentucky, but the past is hard to shake. Demons like parental conflict, addiction, bad decisions, and abuse follow him and his sister. His mother goes from boyfriend to boyfriend and addiction and rehab all over again. I identified too well with JD, having had an alcoholic father. I also realize how lucky I was that my mother never tried to replace my father by remarrying, though that must have been extremely difficult for her. JD still deals with his mom on heroin whereas my father had been sober for twenty plus years but emotionally unavailable. Good book.
What I would like you to do is share something of what you read this summer (or extend it into last year or the upcoming school year if you were too busy doing APUSH work this summer). Tell me in your own words what you read, the author, a summary of the book, and whether or not you’d recommend it and why.