Talk:Ronald Reagan

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    Featured articleRonald Reagan is a featured article; it (or a previous version of it) has been identified as one of the best articles produced by the Wikipedia community. Even so, if you can update or improve it, please do so.
    Main Page trophyThis article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page as Today's featured article on February 6, 2008, and on June 11, 2024.
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    On this day... Facts from this article were featured on Wikipedia's Main Page in the "On this day..." column on June 12, 2004, June 5, 2005, January 2, 2014, January 2, 2018, and January 2, 2024.
    Current status: Featured article

    Current consensus


    NOTE: It is recommended to link to this list in your edit summary when reverting, as:
    [[Talk:Ronald Reagan#Current consensus|current consensus]] item [n]
    To ensure you are viewing the current list, you may wish to purge this page.

    01. There is a consensus to call Ronald Reagan a politician instead of a statesman in the first sentence of the lead section. (RfC December 2016)

    02. Obsolete
    There is a consensus against adding the proposed text to the Honoring German war dead at Bitburg, Germany section: In fact, some of Waffen-SS soldiers buried at Bitburg had been members of the 2nd SS Panzer Division, nicknamed "Das Reich," which had committed war crimes, although it has been estimated that none of the individual soldiers buried at Bitburg personally participated. (RfC April 2018) Since July 2020, the section no longer appears in the article.

    03. There is a consensus to exclude Reagan's successful push for the United States Senate ratification of the Genocide Convention. (RfC July 2018)

    04. There is a consensus to include in the Iran-Contra affair section, a very brief mention of the aspect of drug trafficking on the part of some Nicaraguan Contras. (RfC September 2019)

    05. There is a consensus to add a subsection about Reagan addressing apartheid and a general consensus on the subsection's wording. (October 2019)

    06. Superseded by #10
    There is no consensus to include in the lead section, a clause in the sentence on Reagan's first term stating that during the said term, he largely ignored the burgeoning AIDS crisis. (RfC April 2020)

    07. There is no consensus to include in the lead section, a sentence, immediately preceding the ones on the Soviet Union, stating Reagan resisting calls for stringent sanctions against the apartheid regime in South Africa and vetoed a sanctions bill but was overridden by Congress. (RfC April 2020)

    08. Disputed
    Beginning in July 2019, there was a discussion about the integration of Reagan's remarks in a 1971 audio recording with Richard Nixon in the narrative of the body, but the closure and outcome is disputed. A similar discussion beginning in June 2020 was archived without closure or a clear consensus. Furthermore, there was not enough discussion on specific wordings or placements for a consensus to emerge on those matters. (February 2020, RfC June 2020)

    09. There is a consensus that File:Official Portrait of President Reagan 1981.jpg should remain as the lead image. (RfC May 2021)

    010. Supersedes #6. There is a consensus to include in the lead section, a clause about Reagan's response to the AIDS epidemic. There is no consensus to include a full sentence there, including Reagan also headed a delayed governmental response to the AIDS epidemic during his tenure. (RfC May 2023)

    nuclear weapons and grammar reverts


    @Vanamonde93 I see that all of my edits have been reverted with reference to a Talk discussion.

    Please point me to that discussion. I'm pretty new to editing and don't know how to unearth it.

    I'm pretty surprised by these reverts since most of my edits were fixes to things like minor grammar issues and removal of a sentence fragment that seemed to be an orphan from editing over the years.

    I'm also surprised to see my edits characterized as "without explanation." Would you give an example of how I should have explained these edits?

    Regarding the substantive deletion that I made in the apartheid section related to supposed nuclear weapons cooperation between the Reagan administration and South Africa, is there actually an objection to my doing that? My reasons for deleting that sentence are provided in my description of the edit. Uhoj (talk) 17:32, 29 January 2024 (UTC)[reply]

    @Vanamonde93 Ok I found the discussion about the apartheid subsection. Seems like the part I removed about nuclear weapons was added after that consensus was reached and apart from that conversation. Am I reading that right? Uhoj (talk) 17:41, 29 January 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    Even if it came after, that addition is reliably sourced and provides important context of US-South African relations during this time period. I think it ought to stay in the article.Rja13ww33 (talk) 17:57, 29 January 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    @Rja13ww33 Hmmm, I actually removed it because I couldn't verify it. I can't see the entire reference because it's behind a paywall, but what the abstract says is pretty general and importantly makes no mention of nuclear weapons except that the U.S. was trying to prevent their proliferation, which kind of sounds like the the opposite of weapons cooperation:
    During the Reagan years, anti-communism and the Cold War formed a major component of US foreign policy and dictated a closer nuclear relationship between the US and South Africa, coupled with US non-proliferation efforts vis-à-vis South Africa.
    So, since I couldn't verify nuclear weapons cooperation from this source I turned to South Africa and weapons of mass destruction. That article details earlier non-weapons cooperation, and also discusses South African attempts to use their covert weapons program to force the U.S. into defending them. But I don't see anything in there about the U.S. ever assisting the South African weapons program.
    Would you point me to a source that explains the supposed weapons ties? Uhoj (talk) 18:15, 29 January 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    I have no objection to edits like these, and you can reinstate them if you wish as far as I am concerned. This removes content relevant to the appointment itself that isn't covered by later content. This weakens the language used, in my view, though I'm open to discussion. And as to your final removal, a paywall is not a valid reason to remove something; if you read the entire text, and that doesn't support the sentence, then it would be a different matter. Vanamonde93 (talk) 18:38, 29 January 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    @Vanamonde93 Thanks for getting back to me so quickly!
    Early in his presidency, Reagan appointed Clarence M. Pendleton Jr., known for his opposition to affirmative action and equal pay for men and women, as chair of the United States Commission on Civil Rights to criticism for politicizing the agency.
    I couldn't figure out how to connect "to criticism for politicizing the agency" with the rest of the sentence, but I take your point that I should have tried harder. I imagine that it was meant to go something like "In response to this appointment, Reagan faced criticism for politicizing the agency." In searching for something to support this I read Clarence M. Pendleton Jr., and while that mentions how controversial Pendleton was, I don't see anything about "politicizing" specifically. A general Google search for (reagan "politicizing" pendleton) didn't surface anything clear either.
    How should I proceed given that what's there currently is just a fragment of a sentence, but that I can't find a reference to expand it into a full sentence?
    Re: apartheid intro
    How about this for getting some of the strength back while still improving the readability?
    Popular opposition to apartheid increased during Reagan's first term in office and the Disinvestment from South Africa movement achieved critical mass after decades of growing momentum. Criticism of apartheid was particularly strong on college campuses and among mainline Protestant denominations.
    Re: paywall
    Agreed on it being behind a paywall not being a reason to cut it. But, the abstract of the reference does seem to say something rather different than what's being claimed here. In any case, I'll try and dig up the full reference. Uhoj (talk) 19:24, 29 January 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    @Vanamonde93 I'm still hoping to get your feedback regarding my reply to you from the 29th before I make additional edits. Uhoj (talk) 12:41, 1 February 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    @Uhoj: I hadn't replied because I'd felt it covered by by previous reply; you just have to read the sources used before raising concerns about verifiability. As to the language about Pendleton, the link is fairly clear to me; there was some criticism at the time of appointment, and subsequent assessment of Pendleton's actions while holding the appointment, which are different but connected matters. Vanamonde93 (talk) 17:00, 1 February 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    @Vanamonde93 Thanks for replying. I've changed the part about Pendelton to make it a complete sentence while incorporating your point that there was criticism both during and after the appointment, while also being more specific about the reason for that criticism. Uhoj (talk) 17:31, 1 February 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    Read: [1]. We can't throw out RS because everyone cannot access it. Secondly, the fact that South Africa's nuclear weapons program was relevant to US-South African relations (and the Cold War) at this time is fairly well documented. See [2] and also: 'ARMAMENT AND DISARMAMENT South Africa's Nuclear Weapons Experience'.Rja13ww33 (talk) 18:48, 29 January 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    Thanks for the PDF link! I took a look through it and what I found is:
    There were a range of efforts in the mid-to- late 1970s to deny South Africa sensitive nuclear goods. Most significantly, the United States cut off nuclear assistance for the Safari-1 research reactor in 1976 and enrichment services for the Koeberg nuclear power reactors in 1978
    with a footnote saying:
    During the Reagan administration, certain limited nuclear assistance occurred.
    I couldn't find further elaboration in this PDF to expand that into nuclear weapons assistance. Looking around the PDF more generally I don't see anything that supports "closer ties...pertaining to nuclear weapons."
    Re: 'ARMAMENT AND DISARMAMENT South Africa's Nuclear Weapons Experience'
    Is there something specific in there about Reagan's administration and "closer ties...pertaining to nuclear weapons"?
    I'm sure that South Africa's nuclear weapons program was relevant to US-South African relations (and the Cold War). But I'm still not finding support for "closer ties...pertaining to nuclear weapons." Unless "closer ties" means the U.S. generally trying to disuade the weapons program via diplomacy.
    Do you have access to [3] and if so, would you be up for quoting the part that supports "closer ties...pertaining to nuclear weapons"? Uhoj (talk) 19:27, 29 January 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    The line is paraphrased from the abstract (i.e. of 'Sunset over Atomic Apartheid...'). We say: "The anti-communist focus of Reagan's administration lent itself to closer ties with the apartheid regime of South Africa, particularly with regards to matters pertaining to nuclear weapons." The source says: "During the Reagan years, anti-communism and the Cold War formed a major component of US foreign policy and dictated a closer nuclear relationship between the US and South Africa, coupled with US non-proliferation efforts vis-à-vis South Africa." I'm not sure there is much of a difference between those two statements. (Although the latter could be considered a bit more detailed.) If it is deemed that there is.....perhaps a direct quote would be best.Rja13ww33 (talk) 19:42, 29 January 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    Since there's disagreement about the meaning of that abstract, and since it sounds like that's the best reference that any of us has access to at the moment, I guess I'll go to the library in a few days / weeks and try to retrieve the full reference. Uhoj (talk) 01:40, 30 January 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    Personally, I see no issue with quoting from the abstract. It is done all the time on here.....and a lot of the time the abstract summarizes things pretty well.Rja13ww33 (talk) 18:54, 1 February 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    Thanks for working with me to get this right. Haven't had a chance to go to the library yet, but it's on my to-do list. No objection if you want to quote the abstract temporarily until we come up with something better. Uhoj (talk) 21:12, 1 February 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    I got ahold of Sunset over Atomic Apartheid and here's what it actually says about Reagan:
    • Civilian nuclear reactors were built in South Africa during the 1960's by French and American companies.
    • In 1978 Jimmy Carter barred U.S. companies from selling fuel to South Africa for their reactors. This was an attempt by Carter to push South Africa to join the NPT and to allow international inspections of South Africa's nuclear facilities. However, South Africa did neither.
    • South Africa built their first nuclear weapon in 1979, prior to Reagan taking office.
    • The CIA assessed that South Africa already had nuclear weapons in 1979.
    • Like Carter's administration, Reagan's pushed South Africa to sign the NPT. As a reward to South Africa, Reagan was offering to remove the prohibition on nuclear fuel sales enacted by Carter. However, South Africa sidestepped this offer by getting the fuel through another route that the U.S. Government could not block.
    • 3 sales of dual-use equipment by American companies to South Africa were approved: vibration test equipment, a supercomputer, and 95 grams of Helium-3
    • No evidence is presented that these dual-use items were used by the South African weapons program.
    • George H.W. Bush continued the policies of the Reagan administration.
    So, Carter tried to prevent South Africa from building nuclear weapons by sanctioning them, but failed. Reagan knew that South Africa probably already had weapons and tried to keep the South African weapons program under control by slightly loosening the failed restrictions of Carter. Bush did the same as Reagan.
    In summary, Reagan's policies were continuous with those of both his predecessor and his successor and did not involve any closer ties pertaining to nuclear weapons. Rather, his administration tried to negotiate controls on South Africa's weapons.
    I'm thinking of cutting the sentence here and maybe adding something to Constructive engagement > Assessments along the lines of:
    Furthermore, just as Carter's Non-Proliferation Act failed to prevent South Africa from building a nuclear bomb, Constructive Engagement attempted, but failed, to prevent expansion of the weapons program.[1] Uhoj (talk) 01:24, 19 February 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    You may be right....but saying the main part of a article contradicts the abstract is OR (something we are not supposed to do). That's why a direct quote (from one or the other) may be best. Rja13ww33 (talk) 03:59, 19 February 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    Disagree. I'm not saying that the abstract contradicts the body. I'm saying that we're currently misrepresenting the abstract. The abstract says nothing about Reagan having nuclear weapons ties with South Africa and neither does the body of Sunset Over Atomic Apartheid.
    To quote the abstract here would draw attention to it by way of formatting and length. We have already seen that the abstract is confusing and can be interpreted in multiple ways. Drawing attention to an ambiguous sentence is a poor solution.
    How about in the second paragraph we say:
    The Reagan administration developed constructive engagement[2] with the South African government as a means of encouraging it to gradually move away from apartheid and to give up its nuclear weapons program.
    That's well-supported by the abstract and body of Sunset Over Atomic Apartheid and other sources.
    Or, if you're aware of sources that clearly say that Reagan assisted the South African weapons program then I'm happy with saying that. I've searched for such sources and came up empty. Uhoj (talk) 16:14, 19 February 2024 (UTC)[reply]
    That sounds pretty close to what is there already....but maybe you ought to make the proposd change and then lets see how it looks.Rja13ww33 (talk) 18:23, 19 February 2024 (UTC)[reply]


    1. ^ Van Wyk, Martha (August 7, 2009). "Sunset over Atomic Apartheid: United States–South African nuclear relations, 1981–93". Cold War History. 10 (1): 51–79. doi:10.1080/14682740902764569. S2CID 218575117. Retrieved February 10, 2023.
    2. ^ Thomson 2008, p. 113.