Rollback: Reagan’s Cold Warriors, the Restoration of American Power, and the Seeds of Hubris

Project Expert

Bruce Hoffman

Shelby Cullom and Kathryn W. Davis Visiting Senior Fellow for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security

About the Project

My project seeks to assess how terrorism affects governmental policy and decision-making. It focuses on the Ronald Reagan presidency which, for the first time in U.S. history, identified terrorism as the among nation’s most serious security concerns. The challenges facing the Reagan administration in the 1980s are not dissimilar to those confronting the United States today: the increase of terrorism motivated by religion; the proliferation of violent non-state actors clandestinely supported by foreign governments; and, questions about the efficacy of military force as well as the value of “soft power” alternatives, including public diplomacy and information operations. Using newly available material from official archives, personal papers collections, and interviews with many key figures from that era, I hope to shed new light on how governments can most effectively respond to terrorism and identify potential lessons applicable to current U.S. counterterrorism efforts. The main product of this research will be a book—with accompanying articles, policy papers, and opinion pieces derived from it.