ologies and regimes. Second, the Soviet Union was not being deterred from a wide range of aggressive actions by the U.S. nuclear deterrence doctrine of “Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD)” established in the 1960s, which relied on a morally and strategically questionable nuclear “balance of terror.” Third, the Soviet leaders were not substantially moderated in their actions or reformed in their totalitarian thinking and regime structures through U.S. “détente” accommodations of the 1970 that proved largely unilateral. The totalitarians in the Kremlin simply exploited U.S. and Allied concessions and benefits and violated their own pledges through unprecedented asymmetric military buildups, the “Brezhnev Doctrine,” “Wars of National Liberation,” and stepped-up Soviet “active measures” operations conducted by the Communist Party and Soviet intelligence agencies through espionage, propaganda, disinformation, front groups, and agents of influence.
Reagan’s Revolutionary Strategy. As President and Commander-in-Chief, Reagan led his administration and the Western democratic allies in a new Cold War strategy that radically reassessed and replaced the core assumptions and terms of “containment,” “MAD,” and “Détente” strategies. He knew far better than his critics that if peace and freedom were to survive in a nuclear age, the militant Soviet ideology and empire had to be exposed, stopped, and rolled back. Dormant U.S. and Western democratic principles and instruments of power needed to be rebuilt to put sufficient pressure on Moscow’s closed minds and system to achieve radical regime changes throughout the Soviet empire. Reagan’s proactive revolutionary Cold War strategy built on America’s morally-grounded freedom principles and institutions, and on the blessings and responsibilities of liberty. He rebuilt inherent U.S. national strengths and employed neglected elements of statecraft to bring the Cold War to a peaceful end even as he reduced the weapons and risks of superpower war. To do so, he had to overcome constant strong opposition from Congressional, media, and academic establishments and from some of his own diplomats and bureaucracy who considered his actions as anti-Communist and anti-Soviet “provocations” likely to lead to hardened Soviet views and potentially to nuclear war.
Reagan’s Leadership. Reagan’s extraordinary executive leadership during two presidential terms informed and inspired strong bipartisan popular support after years of U.S. and Western retreat and malaise. He personally engaged in shaping, directing, and articulating a comprehensive new U.S. Cold War strategy that integrated the core elements of U.S. strength, innovation, and statecraft toward the ultimate objective of, by generally peaceful means, freeing people and nations from an ideology and regime he predicted would end in “the dustbin of history.” These elements included defense, arms control, international economics, diplomatic negotiations, public information and public diplomacy, and intelligence—with the latter notably including both overt and covert support of anti-Communist reform and resistance forces on both sides of the Iron Curtain. Reagan’s engagement, resolve and witness were unprecedented in bringing formidable truths and realities to bear against Soviet power. As Reagan rallied the American people, their democratic friends and allies, and those around the world seeking peace and freedom, he placed unprecedented pressure on four Soviet leaders from the geriatric Leonid Brezhnev, to former KGB chief Andrei Andropov, to the Party bureaucrat Konstantin Chernenko, to the intellectual, and often indecisive, Mikhail Gorbachev.
Reagan’s Achievement. As detailed throughout this book, Reagan prohibitively raised the Soviet costs of empire through new defense, arms control, and diplomatic strengths and initiatives, notably including “soft power” information, public diplomacy, and intelligence programs in support of anti-Communist resistance forces, with few U.S. “boots” in foreign conflicts. He understood that such multifaceted pressures could force the Soviet leaders toward reassessments, rethinking, and moderate reforms that could pry open, unravel and finally break the totalitarian chokehold of the Soviet ideology, regime and empire. Reagan’s critics and the hard-pressed Soviet leaders had not conceived the possibility of Reagan’s unique Cold War leadership, strategy and impact. Yet he set the stage for the end of the Third World War of the twentieth century that had at times appeared likely to end in defeat for the democratic cause or in nuclear catastrophe. He opened new doors and paths to global peace and freedom which makes the Cold War history recounted in this book and its documents critically important to understanding the past and particularly relevant today.
Inside the Cold War Book and Website. Inside the Cold War and its associated internet website,
InsidetheColdWar.org, uniquely integrate four historical/academic components. First, the Book is designed to be read either as a continuous historical narrative or as a four-part, twenty-chapter seminar or course with each chapter containing a list of subtopics, a summary, historical context, bold paragraph headings, and underlined titles to indicate a document’s availability on the associated website. Second, the website provides a downloadable University-level Academic Course Outline with chapter summaries and subtopics indicated for each chapter. Third, the website contains a digital text of the book with underlined document references
[Book pg. vi]