Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Edwin Martini

Second Advisor

Dr. Howard Dooley

Third Advisor

Dr. Kenneth Steuer

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


My thesis is an examination of the Cold War during the 1980s, with a focus on arms dealing and diplomacy under President Ronald Reagan from 1981-1989. I chose to write about three specific case studies based on the unique intersections of American diplomatic goals in relation to geography, the sophistication of weapons technology involved, and geopolitical considerations. The purpose of this thesis is to explain why and how the Reagan administration was able to carry out three separate arms deals, and in turn, how those deals fit into the broader, global Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. My conclusions are based on primary source research done at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. I argue that the Soviet Union-related policies of the Reagan administration, as first outlined in National Security Decision Directive 75 in January 1983, acted as an accelerant to, not the catalyst of, the rapid and precipitous decline of Soviet power and influence which occurred while Reagan was in office. Understanding why and how the Cold War ended is important not only to historians, but society in general because of the lessons to be learned about conflict and cooperation between major powers.