Republicans who almost seem to be itching to fight wars — or at least type on their laptops while other people fight them — often say they are adhering to Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy. Peace through strength, better dead than red. They don’t much like it when less hawkish Republicans invoke Reagan.
But Reagan’s actual foreign policy was more complicated than authors of the thousandth call for a “neo-Reaganite foreign policy” would have it. Yes, he built up the military and invaded Grenada. He also, as the American Conservative Union’s Donald Devine writes in America’s Way Back, “actively committed fewer U.S. ground forces on foreign soil than any modern chief executive other than Jimmy Carter.”
Reagan, writes George Mason University professor Colin Dueck, “generally avoided protracted, failed, or militarily improbable entanglements abroad.”