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How Was Reagan's Foreign Policy Different From Nixon's? Whose Was More Successful?
President Nixon's foreign policy is in many ways different from the foreign policy of President Reagan. Nixon used many risky strategies to improve the relationship between the US and the communist countries. He actively tried to improve relations with China, and thereby, wanted to influence the improvement of relations with the Soviet Union. He was also the first American President to visit China. Nixon had done a lot to make peace in the world; however, he rarely succeeded in this. For example, he was planning to end the war in North Vietnam by using his good relations with China and USSR. Yet, his nuclear threats, which were primarily intended to establish peace and to end the war, resulted in the prolongation of the war. He was also the first one to use the political strategy called triangulation, which helped him to influence several countries at the same time. At the time, when Israel was attacked by Egypt and Syria, Nixon decided to support Israel. That led to the imposing of an oil embargo by the Arabs, and that resulted negatively on the US economy because the States depended on the foreign oil. Moreover, Nixon depraved the relations with Chile by opposing its president, Salvador Allende. Nixon had made a lot of decisions during his presidency, which cannot be considered right.
Compared to Reagan, Nixon was not as good material for the presidency. He was prone to speak all his thoughts out loud, which is not very good for a public image. He always tried to follow every existing policy, not letting anything out of his hands. That made his voters very confused about whether he was a conservative or a liberal. Eventually, his haziness led him to a failure in the political arena.
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Nonetheless, Nixon claimed that the success of American foreign policy directly depends on the prosperity of American society and the strength of the economy. He was absolutely right in thinking that the key to an effective policy outside the country is health and success within the country. Nixon also had controversial ideas about dealing with Iraq and Iran problem. He claimed that to prevent armed conflicts, the USA and the Western countries should try to cooperate with the Muslim world, instead of confronting it (McGovern 167).
Ronald Reagan, unlike Nixon, was more self-contained. His self-containment and conservatism were the reason, why he managed to survive Iran-Contra when Nixon failed during Watergate. Nixons foreign policy was not even a little as successful as Reagan's. Reagan was more reasonable in dealing with other countries. Reagan managed to release Iran Hostages captured at the time of Carter. Besides, one of his greatest achievements was that he ended the Cold War.
While Nixon was trying his best to improve the relationship with China and the Soviet Union, Reagan acted strictly against communistic countries. He even found his personal foreign policy strategy The Reagan Doctrine. It was implemented to oppose the immense influence of the Soviet Union during the end of the Cold War.
Reagan, during his presidency, was prone to change his beliefs concerning other countries, as it happened with his attitude to the Soviet Union. He possessed contradictory and distinct thought patterns, which resulted in different policy predispositions (Shimko 357). The reason, why Reagan opposed the Soviet Union, was his fear of this powerful country. He considered it an enemy of the United States. His anti-communistic position had changed during his second period when he realized that the United States and the Soviet Union both follow one goal peace. Reagan was simply obsessed with the idea that Soviet countries are the enemies, who want to destroy the world's free enterprise system and to create one Socialistic society.
Reagan supported the idea that all the wars that America has ever taken part in have occurred for noble causes. He justified the involvement in Vietnam, as being another noble cause. Talking about the small newly freed countries, Reagan said that they needed the help of the US to survive, to open their borders for foreign trade, and to develop their economy (Glad 44).
The major difference between Nixon's and Reagan's presidency was the ability of Reagan to communicate with the American people. Nixon had a lot of reasonable ideas concerning foreign policy, but somehow he did not manage to turn them into reality. Reagan, in his turn, was more decisive and stubborn. Both presidents can be considered prominent figures of the political arena. Reagan stood apart from all the Democrats and Republicans, like Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon, which let him achieve great success both in foreign and domestic policy. He did not agree with the ideas of Nixon and Kissinger, whose goal was to find a common ground with Soviet countries, and not to defeat them. Nevertheless, with Michael Gorbachev coming to power in the USSR, Reagan decided to warmer the relations with the Soviet Union.
Both presidents had a great impact on international relations. Nixon was acting the way he thought was right, and Reagan continued ruling the country according to his prejudices and opinions about what was better for America. Still, Ronald Reagan's foreign policy is considered nowadays more successful, because of the range of factors.