Dissertations and Theses

Date of Award


Document Type




First Advisor

Ravi Kalia

Second Advisor

Yaari Seligman

Third Advisor

Laurie Woodard


Ronald Reagan, Zaire, Panama, Pakistan, Cold War, CIA



During the Cold War, the Reagan administration justified American support to the Noriega dictatorship in Panama, the Mobutu dictatorship in what was then called Zaire, and the regime of Zia ul-Haq in Pakistan, by stating that it was necessary to overcome the Soviet Union. While the alliances with these regimes did help to bring about the collapse of the Eastern Bloc in 1989, each of these three regimes also acted against US interests via the promotion of drug smuggling or militancy, or forging other alliances with powers potentially hostile to American interests .[1] However, Soviet quagmires in these three regions were not the only reason for the breakup of the USSR.[2] This project will assess the costs and benefits of supporting these regimes, and will evaluate the effectiveness of the overall strategy of supporting dictatorships to achieve short and long term goals

[1] David Van Reybrouck, Congo: the Epic History of a People (New York: HarperCollins, 2010) 528, Frederick Kempe, Divorcing the Dictator: America’s Bungled Affair with Noriega (New York: G.P Putnam’s Sons, 1990) 195, Steve Coll, Ghost Wars: the Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan and bin Laden from the Soviet Invasion to September 10th, 2001 (New York: Penguin Books, 2004) Chapter 31.

[2] Philip Longworth, Russia: The Once and Future Empire from Pre-History to the Present (New York: St Martin’s Press, 2005) Chapter 14



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