Year
1985

The “Reagan Doctrine” is announced

In his State of the Union address, President Ronald Reagan defines some of the key concepts of his foreign policy, establishing what comes to be known as the “Reagan Doctrine.” The doctrine served as the foundation for the Reagan administration’s support of “freedom fighters” around the globe.

Reagan began his foreign policy comments with the dramatic pronouncement that, “Freedom is not the sole prerogative of a chosen few; it is the universal right of all God’s children.” America’s “mission” was to “nourish and defend freedom and democracy.” More specifically, Reagan declared that, “We must stand by our democratic allies. And we must not break faith with those who are risking their lives—on every continent, from Afghanistan to Nicaragua—to defy Soviet-supported aggression and secure rights which have been ours from birth.” He concluded, “Support for freedom fighters is self-defense.”

With these words, the Reagan administration laid the foundation for its program of military assistance to “freedom fighters.” In action, this policy translated into covertly supporting the Contras in their attacks on the leftist Sandinista government in Nicaragua; the Afghan rebels in their fight against the Soviet occupiers; and anticommunist Angolan forces embroiled in that nation’s civil war. President Reagan continued to defend his actions throughout his two terms in office. During his farewell address in 1989, he claimed success in weakening the Sandinista government, forcing the Soviets to withdraw from Afghanistan, and bringing an end to the conflict in Angola. Domestic critics, however, decried his actions, claiming that the support of so-called “freedom fighters” resulted only in prolonging and escalating bloody conflicts and in U.S. support of repressive and undemocratic elements in each of the respective nations.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Anastasia arrives in the United States

On February 6, 1928, a woman calling herself Anastasia Tschaikovsky and claiming to be the youngest daughter of the murdered czar of Russia arrives in New York City. She held a press conference on the liner Berengaria, explaining she was here to have her jaw reset. It was broken, ...read more

Honda Insight debuts as Prius competitor

On this day in 2009, the Honda Insight, billed as “the world’s first affordable hybrid,” goes on sale in Japan. Honda took some 18,000 orders for the car within the first three weeks, pushing Toyota’s Prius, known as the world’s first mass-produced hybrid vehicle, out of the ...read more

Elizabeth becomes queen

On this day in 1952, after a long illness, King George VI of Great Britain and Northern Ireland dies in his sleep at the royal estate at Sandringham. Princess Elizabeth, the oldest of the king’s two daughters and next in line to succeed him, was in Kenya at the time of her ...read more

Mussolini fires his son-in-law

Wary of his growing antiwar attitude, Benito Mussolini removes Count Galeazzo Ciano, his son-in-law, as head of Italy’s foreign ministry and takes over the duty himself. Ciano had been loyal to the fascist cause since its inception, having taking part in the march on Rome in ...read more

Johnson meets with South Vietnamese Premier

Accompanied by his leading political and military advisers, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson meets with South Vietnamese Premier Nguyen Cao Ky in Honolulu. The talks concluded with issuance of a joint declaration in which the United States promised to help South Vietnam “prevent ...read more

ICCS take up positions

Supervisors from the International Commission of Control and Supervision (ICCS), delegated to oversee the cease-fire, start to take up their positions. The cease-fire had gone into effect as a provision of the Paris Peace Accords. The ICCS included representatives from Canada, ...read more

Tennis great Arthur Ashe dies of AIDS

On February 6, 1993, tennis champion Arthur Ashe, the only African-American man to win Wimbledon and the U.S. and Australian Opens, dies of complications from AIDS, at age 49 in New York City. Ashe’s body later laid in state at the governor’s mansion in Richmond, Virginia, where ...read more

Ronald Reagan is born

On this day in 1911, President Ronald Wilson Reagan is born in Tampico, Illinois. Ronald Reagan, the 40th president of the United States, served for two terms from 1981 to 1989. Known as The Great Communicator, he was the first actor to be elected president after two centuries of ...read more

Dalton Gang commits its first train robbery

The members of the Dalton Gang stage an unsuccessful train robbery near Alila, California–an inauspicious beginning to their careers as serious criminals. Bob, Emmett, and Grat Dalton were only three of Lewis and Adeleine Dalton’s 10 sons. The brothers grew up on a succession of ...read more

Of Mice and Men is published

On this day, John Steinbeck’s novella Of Mice and Men, the story of the bond between two migrant workers, is published. He adapted the book into a three-act play, which was produced the same year. The story brought national attention to Steinbeck’s work, which had started to ...read more

Austrian superstar Falco dies

The bus accident that killed Johann Hölzel went largely unnoticed in the English-speaking world, but in the Strasses and Allees of his native Vienna, February 6, 1998, was something like the Day die Musik Died. Johann Hölzel, after all, was not the name by which most of the world ...read more

Ronald Reagan born

As the 40th president of the United States, the former movie star was called the “Great Communicator” for his ability to get through to ordinary Americans and give them hope and optimism for their own future and that of their country. Despite his lifelong opposition to “big” ...read more

Infamous school teacher goes back to prison

A judge reinstates the suspended sentence of school teacher Mary Kay Letourneau and sends her back to prison for seven years after she is caught violating a no-contact order with her former student Vili Fualaau, when she is found in a vehicle with the boy. Letourneau first met ...read more

John Pegram killed

On this day in 1865, Confederate General John Pegram, age 33,is killed at the Battle of Dabney’s Mill (also called Hatcher’s Run), Virginia. Pegram graduated from West Point in 1854, and served in various posts in the West before resigning his commission at the start of the Civil ...read more

Franco-American alliances signed

During the American War for Independence, representatives from the United States and France sign the Treaty of Amity and Commerce and the Treaty of Alliance in Paris. The Treaty of Amity and Commerce recognized the United States as an independent nation and encouraged trade ...read more