Part IV Summary


Part IV’s five chapters focus on Reagan’s international freedom strategy as in the 1980s he broke self-imposed Western diplomatic taboos of the 1970s “détente” period to take on the Soviet ideological and imperial challenge, to speak truth to power, and to utilize a full range of the instruments of U.S. statecraft to work with America’s democratic allies and anti-Communist resistance forces opposing the Soviet Union and its militant proxies on key fronts of the global Cold War. These fronts included Afghanistan, Latin America, Africa, Poland and Eastern Europe, and the Soviet Union itself. He identified the backward-looking Communist ideology’s irreconcilable hostility to human freedom and peaceful progress as the chief cause of the conflict between the nuclear superpowers. And he believed it could be successfully countered, even collapsed, by reasserting America’s and Western freedom principles and rebuilding confidence and strength to apply moral and strategic pressure the ossified Soviet leadership could not withstand.
Objectives and Instruments. The following chapters focus on the Reagan freedom strategy that included: ideological combat, strengthened alliances, innovative negotiations proposals, unprecedented public diplomacy, and recrafted intelligence initiatives. These efforts exposed and countered aggressive Soviet actions including human rights suppression, espionage, and “active measures” involving propaganda, disinformation, front groups, and agents of influence. As Reagan’s freedom strategy challenged Kremlin authority, power, and momentum at the points of greatest stress, the world experienced what Reagan’s opponents had thought impossible—the downward spiraling, and largely peaceful collapse of the Kremlin’s Communist ideology, its imperial “Socialist Camp,” and finally the Soviet regime at the heart of an evil empire, even while Reagan was reducing the risks and weapons of superpower war.
Wilson through Truman Strategies. The Communist ideological blueprint created tens of millions of victims and rising threats to the cause of peace, freedom and progress but was not well understood by U.S. and Western leaders even in the face of compelling historical realities. As reviewed in Chapter 2, Woodrow Wilson’s post-First World War food assistance programs were ended by Soviet charges of interference, even as Lenin and Stalin collaborated with Weimar Germany to help it break the Versailles Treaty. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s diplomatic recognition of the Soviet Union in 1933 was exploited with Moscow’s intensified subversion and espionage. Stalin’s collaboration with Nazi Germany betrayed democratic socialists in Spain and Germany and culminated in the Hitler-Stalin Pact that launched the Second World War in 1939 with a dual invasion of Poland. At the same time, Stalin’s 1941 Neutrality Pact with Imperial Japan facilitated Japan’s attacks on the United States and other nations. Once the Nazi invasion of Soviet Russia forced Stalin to resist the Nazis through four years of war, the U.S. provided enormous “Lend Lease” aid to Moscow while also winning major victories against Axis forces in key war fronts from which Soviet forces were absent. The Soviets, however, did not moderate their totalitarian objectives, but betrayed their wartime pledges made at Potsdam to Roosevelt and Truman. They violently imposed new Communist regimes in their occupied captive nations, and stepped up their aggressive actions against democracies throughout the globe.
Truman through Carter Strategies. President Harry Truman’s post-Second World War policies of U.S. military demobilization and his proposals for atomic controls and Marshall Plan aid to Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union were met with Soviet policies of arms buildups, captive nations, and rejection. Moscow stepped up terror, “active measures” subversion and aggression from Europe to Asia, including Korea, and throughout the Third World. Yet, Presidents Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, and Lyndon Johnson’s U.S. nuclear deterrence strategies of “massive retaliation” and Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD), and the overall U.S. Cold War strategy of “containment” did not produce Soviet democratic reforms or adherence to international agreements and law, and did not reverse Soviet global imperial momentum. Nor did the variants of the U.S. “détente” strategy of Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, as accommodationist U.S. policies increasingly reduced U.S. leverage on the Soviet leaders. Each of these strategies failed to build effectively on U.S. freedom principles, strengths and alliances, or understand, moderate, or effectively counter the Soviet Union’s totalitarian Marxist-Leninist nature and growing threat to international peace and freedom. Until Ronald Reagan took on and took down the Communist totalitarians.

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