The Communist Crusade: How Covert Operations in Nicaragua Undermined the War on Drugs

  • Vanessa Aase


One of the legacies of the Ronald Reagan Presidency was how his staunch anti-communist demeanour shaped American foreign diplomacy. Yet, a lesser-studied connection is established regarding how Reagan’s international priorities influenced his domestic policies. In particular, this paper examines the case study that the overlapping but mutually incompatible goals of undermining communist influence in Nicaragua and domestically waging a “successful” war on drugs provide. As a result, Reagan’s approaches to domestic and foreign policy are better understood as counterweights that mutually reinforce, contradict, and collide to create asymmetrical impacts. Reagan’s Cold War involvement in Nicaragua reveals that marginalised and radicalised peoples suffered at the hands of foreign policy prioritisations. Reagan’s overriding desire to eliminate the “evil” empire encouraged the administration to turn a blind eye to Nicaraguan anti-communist sympathisers who imported illicit drugs into America to fund the war effort. In turn, the American victory in the United States’ ongoing War on Drugs proved increasingly elusive. Ultimately Reagan’s paradoxical policies illuminate the danger of justifying and prioritizing foreign policy under the rationale of the ends justifying the means.

How to Cite
Aase, Vanessa. 2024. “The Communist Crusade: How Covert Operations in Nicaragua Undermined the War on Drugs”. the Ascendant Historian 3 (June), 11-18.