[edited by] David E. Kyvig
<p>Essays by seven historians. John Lewis Gaddis argues that Reagan's record of dealing with the Soviets is equal or superior to that of Nixon and Kissinger; Akira Iriye praises the administration for improving relations with Japan; but the essays on Western Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Central America range from tempered to slashing criticism. A consensus on the foreign policy of the Reagan years will be a long time in coming. "Foreign Affairs" <p>The final curtain having fallen on the administration of the first actor president, historians are now faced with the formidable task of assessing the foreign relations of the Reagan presidency and placing them into a larger historical context. The task of appraising Ronald Reagan as foreign policymaker is difficult because it involves making sense of his apparent inconsistencies. This collection of essays represents the attempts at such an assessment by six distinguished historians of international stature. <p>The contributors address U.S. relations with the Soviet Union, East Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, Western Europe, and Africa. They differ markedly in their appraisals. John Lewis Gaddis asserts that Reagan's Soviet policy was not only successful, but was rationally determined and pursued from the outset of his administration. Akira Iriye finds much to admire in the Reagan administration's relations with East Asia, particularly with respect to economic diplomacy. In contrast, Geir Lundestad is far less complimentary about Reagan's relations with Western Europe, and the three scholars who deal with the less-developed areas of the globe offer generally negative appraisals of Reagan's record. Philip S. Khoury argues that the administration further inflamed the volatile Middle East; Susanne Jonas finds Reagan's Central America policy ultimately destructive of U.S. interests in the region; and Robert Rotberg concludes that Reagan's administrators allowed Africa's fundamental racial conflicts and economic difficulties to fester. Together these six scholars draw an overall picture of the U.S. government more consistent in its regional preoccupations than in its ideology. Many aspects of Reagan's foreign relations will require further investigation before they are clear. For the moment, however, this volume offers a sound first historical evaluation of the Reagan administration's foreign relations. It will appeal to historians, political scientists, specialists in international relations, and general readers interested in the United States and the world in the 1980s.