The Reagan administration not only pursued democratization in hostile states but also pressured allied authoritarian regimes to reform and occasionally supported “soft” regime changes to defuse internal tensions in countries that were important for U.S. strategic interests. The convergence between mid-level officials, autonomous democracy promoters, and key policymakers was most fruitful when these groups believed that U.S. interests would be vulnerable without political intervention. Evaluations of the stability and legitimacy of the existing governments influenced judgments about whether to pursue regime reform, either by keeping the existing elites in power within new democratic structures or by seeking to empower opposition groups and facilitating the rise of new elites. A critique of this approach is an essential addition to our understanding of the Reagan administration’s policies vis-à-vis allied states.

You do not currently have access to this content.