Handout 1 - Reagan And The Cold War: A Document-Based Question

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Handout 1 - Reagan and the Cold War: A Document-Based QuestionSuggested reading period: 15 minutesSuggested writing time: 45 minutesDirections: The following question requires you to construct a coherent essay that integrates yourinterpretation of the documents and your knowledge of the time period addressed in the question.High scores will be earned only by essays that both cite key pieces of evidence from the documentsand draw on outside knowledge of the period.Question: Did President Ronald Reagan’s Cold War policies serve to heighten or to reduce tensions withthe Soviet Union?Document A: Excerpt from the “Evil Empire” speech, by Ronald Reagan, 1983“As good Marxist-Leninists, the Soviet leaders have openly and publicly declared that the only moralitythey recognize is that which will further their course, which is world revolution . . . Morality is entirelysubordinate to the interests of class war. And everything is moral that is necessary for the annihilationof the old, exploiting social order and for uniting the proletariat.Well, I think the refusal of many influential people to accept this elementary fact of Soviet doctrineillustrates an historical reluctance to see totalitarian powers for what they are . . .Let us pray for the salvation of all of those who live in that totalitarian darkness—pray they will discoverthe joy of knowing God. But until they do, let us be aware that while they preach the supremacy of thestate, declare its omnipotence over individual man, and predict its eventual domination of all peopleson the Earth, they are the focus of evil in the modern world.”

Document B: Lyrics of “Russians,” by Gordon Sumner and Serge Prokofieff, 1985In Europe and America there’s a growingfeeling of hysteria.Conditioned to respond to all the threatsIn the rhetorical speeches of the Soviets.Mister Krushchev said, “We will bury you.”I don’t subscribe to this point of view.It’d be such an ignorant thing to doIf the Russians love their children too.How can I save my little boy fromOppenheimer’s deadly toy?There is no monopoly on common senseOn either side of the political fence.We share the same biology, regardless ofideology.Believe me when I say to you,I hope the Russians love their children tooThere is no historical precedentTo put the words in the mouth of the president?There’s no such thing as a winnable war,It’s a lie we don’t believe anymore.Mister Reagan says, “We will protect you.”I don’t subscribe to this point of view.Believe me when I say to you,I hope the Russians love their children tooWe share the same biology, regardless ofideology.But what might save us, me and you,Is if the Russians love their children tooDocument C: Political cartoon by Steve Greenberg, 1987

Document D: Excerpt from the “Tear Down This Wall” speech by Ronald Reagan, 1987“I understand the fear of war and the pain of division that afflict this continent—and I pledge toyou my country’s efforts to help overcome these burdens. To be sure, we in the West must resistSoviet expansion. So we must maintain defenses of unassailable strength. Yet we seek peace; sowe must strive to reduce arms on both sides. Beginning ten years ago, the Soviets challenged theWestern alliance with a grave new threat, hundreds of new and more deadly SS-20 nuclear missiles,capable of striking every capital in Europe. The Western alliance responded by committing itself to acounterdeployment unless the Soviets agreed to negotiate a better solution; namely, the elimination ofsuch weapons on both sides. For many months, the Soviets refused to bargain in earnestness. As thealliance, in turn, prepared to go forward with its counterdeployment, there were difficult days—days ofprotests like those during my 1982 visit to this city—and the Soviets later walked away from the table.But through it all, the alliance held firm . . . Because we remained strong, the Soviets came back tothe table. And because we remained strong, today we have within reach the possibility, not merely oflimiting the growth of arms, but of eliminating, for the first time, an entire class of nuclear weapons fromthe face of the Earth.”Document E: Lyrics of “Reagan’s In,” by Wasted Youth, 1981Reagan’s in we’re going for goodWe’ll fight and kill the best we couldNo one cares if we dieReinstate the draft and tell us liesYou fight a war where no one winsWhere people die and bodies burnReagan don’t care, he won’t fightHe’ll try and send us with all his mightThere he goes another oneKill that man his values are wrongIt ain’t movies it’s not T.V.It’s pretty rough man you will seeAll this s*** it’s just no useMen unite don’t be abusedYou have to go it’s not your choiceSure we’ll go but hear our voiceReagan’s in we’re going for goodReagan’s in we’re going for goodShootKillShootKillShootKillShoot and die!

Document F: Lyrics of “Human Error,” by Subhumans, 1981There’s a bomb going off in BelfastThere’s a war in VietnamThere’s a T.V. documentaryTo help you understandBut the other channel is betterCos it doesn’t tax your mindRelax in the ignorance of your homeAs man destroys mankindAnd the rest of the world has gone to sleepBecause they couldn’t care lessThe world is going, so am IIt’s such a bloody messThere’s an arms race in AmericaThe race that no one winsIf somebody pushed the buttonThe accidental sinMeanwhile baby wonders“What’s a nuclear war?”And mummy says to tell the truth, I’m really not quitesureAnd the rest of the world was ignorantBecause they weren’t told moreThe pamphlet said ‘Just stay at home, avoid thethreat of warThe computer pressed the buttonThe rain was full of leadAnd more bombs dropped on BelfastAnd Vietnam went deadThe T.V. DocumentaryOutlined the possible causeIt was just a human errorBecause man invented warAnd the rest of the world has gone to hellBecause they never cared moreThe children cried before they diedSo this is nuclear warDocument G: Excerpt from “The End of History?” by Francis Fukuyama, 1989“In watching the flow of events over the past decade or so, it is hard to avoid the feeling thatsomething very fundamental has happened in world history. The past year has seen a flood of articlescommemorating the end of the Cold War, and the fact that ‘peace’ seems to be breaking out in manyregions of the world . . .What we may be witnessing . . . is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particularperiod of post-war history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’sideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of humangovernment.”

Document H: Lyrics of “Ronnie, Talk to Russia,” by Prince Rogers Nelson, 1981Ronnie talk to Russia before it’s too lateBefore it’s too lateBefore it’s too lateRonnie talk to Russia before it’s too lateBefore they blow up the worldYou go to the zoo, but you can’t feedguerrillasCan’t feed guerrillasLeft-wing guerrillasYou can go to the zoo, but you can’t feedguerrillasWho want to blow up the worldRonnie if you’re dead before I get to meet yaBefore I get to meet yaBefore I get to meet yaRonnie if you’re dead before I get to meet yaDon’t say I didn’t warn yaRonnie talk to Russia before it’s too lateBefore it’s too lateBefore it’s too lateRonnie talk to Russia before it’s too lateBefore they blow up the worldBefore they blow up the worldDon’t ya blow up my worldDon’t you blow up my world

commemorating the end of the Cold War, and the fact that ‘peace’ seems to be breaking out in many regions of the world . . . What we may be witnessing . . . is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s

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