President Reagan's Human Rights Record Essay

Pages: 3 (913 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: American History


150-152). The shock and outrage being felt by many Americans as the brutal scenes of oppression flashed across their television screens seemed to have little impact on the New Right, including Reagan' policy of constructive engagement.

The Decline of Communism and the 'End' of the Cold War

President Reagan's policy towards the South African government during the Cold War is consistent with one of his more famous speeches. On June 12, 1987, standing in front of the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin, President Reagan (1987) made a speech challenging the Soviet General Secretary, Mikhail Gorbachev, to open the gates of the Berlin wall and unite a divided city and nation. Reagan went further in his speech, calling the Soviet experiment a failed one and resulting in destitution and hunger. He contrasted failure of communism with the economic success of Western countries, like the United States, as experiencing prosperity never before seen in human history. He called the boundaries between the West and the Soviet block a scar, one manned by machine guns, guard towers, and attack dogs. Midway through the speech, President Reagan called upon Secretary Gorbachev to "Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" (Reagan, 1987).

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If we follow the logic offered by Bush (1985) then Reagan's speech in front of the Brandenburg Gate moved the New Right closer to its goals of U.S. political supremacy on the global stage; however, at the same time it eventually undermined the New Right's justification for continuing the global military expansion as the Cold War came to an end.


TOPIC: Essay on President Reagan's Human Rights Record Assignment

If Reagan was anything, he was consistent. The two examples presented here seem to reveal a U.S. president who claimed to value human rights, but failed miserably when Congress asked him to come to the aid of oppressed South Africans. With this in mind, his speech in front of the Brandenburg Gate seems more like a victory lap than a human rights President taking a stand against the 'Evil Empire.' The take home message seems to be when international human rights conflict with the New Right agenda, Reagan chose the latter. For this reason, President Reagan should not be considered a good president.


Bruce, D. (2005). Interpreting the body count: South African statistics on lethal police violence. South African Review of Sociology, 36(2), 141-59.

Bush, R. (1985). Reagan and state terrorism in Southern Africa. Crime and Social Justice, 0 (24), i-x.

Reagan, R.W. (1986, Sep. 26). Message to the House of Representatives returning without approval a Bill concerning apartheid in South Africa. Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Accessed 6 Feb. 2014 at

Reagan, R.W. (1987, Jun. 12). Remarks on East-West relations at the Brandenburg Gate in… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "President Reagan's Human Rights Record" Essay in a Bibliography:

APA Style

President Reagan's Human Rights Record.  (2014, February 7).  Retrieved December 1, 2021, from

MLA Format

"President Reagan's Human Rights Record."  7 February 2014.  Web.  1 December 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"President Reagan's Human Rights Record."  February 7, 2014.  Accessed December 1, 2021.