Part II Summary
Part II’s three chapters provide an overview of key turning points and documents of Ronald Reagan’s revolutionary new Cold War “grand strategy” grounded in his life experiences and political pilgrimage rooted in America’s freedom faith and in his unbreakable opposition to the world’s totalitarian enemies of peace and freedom. As a presidential candidate, Reagan worked with an unprecedented bi-partisan coalition of individuals and institutions determined to replace faltering U.S. Cold War strategies and responsibly to reduce nuclear dangers and to end U.S. retreat and confusion in the face of increasingly aggressive Soviet military buildups, violations of arms control and human rights treaties, and global imperialist actions. Preceded by years of major public speeches and commentary, Reagan’s strategy was outlined in his 1980 campaign platform and early presidential directives as a strategy of “peace and freedom” and “peace through strength.” It was further developed through his early decisions and NSC-coordinated Interdepartmental system put in place during his first term and gained additional force in his second term as he continued to press the Soviet leadership.
The Reagan Revolution: Idealism and Realism that Changed the World. Reagan’s strategy and presidential leadership were uniquely powerful in combining moral idealism and historical realism to meet the core U.S. Constitutional imperatives “to provide for the common defense” and to “to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” Without assuring these two national imperatives, it is impossible to achieve the other U.S. Constitutional imperatives known to every American: “to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, and promote the general welfare.” The Reagan Revolution reaffirmed America’s freedom principles and rebuilt her eroded strengths—moral, military, economic, diplomatic, and intelligence. It also rallied support of global anti-Communist resistance movements through “soft power” efforts including inspirational speeches and unprecedented public diplomacy programs. Reagan’s leadership overcame strong political and media opposition at home, and in 1984 won a strong reelection mandate to continue his successful policies through a second term. His sustained strategy radically changed the predominant “politically correct” moral and strategic assumptions and terms of the Cold War. He rejected second-term advice to ease U.S. pressure on the Soviet leaders. Instead, he maintained U.S. resolve, supported anti-Communist resistance, and by largely peaceful means collapsed the totalitarian Soviet ideology, regime and empire even as he reduced the weapons and risks of superpower war.