Date of Award

Spring 5-20-2023

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)


Chris Dietrich

Second Advisor

Caley Johnson, Ph.D.


Globalization has ushered in an unprecedented era of connected national politics, economies, and populations. Strong ties have intertwined the fates of nations and brought about a new era of international cooperation. However, the rise of populist and isolationist movements in the past two decades threatens to change the geopolitical landscape and diplomacy around the globe. As the United States loses its hegemonic role to the quickly growing economy of China, it is imperative that American foreign policy reflects the need for continued cooperation and support. This raises the question of the effectiveness state diplomacy and summitry has in easing tensions between world leaders. Examining the period of summitry between President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev offers insight into how effective their meetings where in reducing tensions and easing anti-communist rhetoric. President Reagan was the first president in 10 years to meet with a Soviet leader. His Presidency also offers a unique opportunity to compare his first term which hosted no summits with the Soviet, to his second term which saw four meetings between himself and Gorbachev. By observing primary sources detailing Reagan’s shift in rhetoric and utilizing existing literature, I compare the Presidential rhetoric regarding the Soviet Union before and after the first two summits in Geneva and Reykjavik with Gorbachev and Reagan. I found that summitry did in fact have an immediate impact on Soviet rhetoric and worked to strengthen the relationship between the two leaders.