Chapter 7 – The Revolution Begins: The 1980 Election Campaign and the Reagan Coalition

Pope John Paul II, Britain’s Margaret Thatcher, West Germany’s Helmut Kohl, Poland’s Lech Walesa, Czechoslovakia’s Vaclav Havel, and Soviet dissidents like Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Andrei Sakharov. Such formidable voices were no doubt encouraged to join in Reagan’s relentless pressure on the Kremlin’s leaders to reassess their totalitarian faith, system, and militant focus to the point of final collapse.

Senior Reagan Staff and Advisors. Reagan’s senior campaign and transition staff included a number of long-time advisors, who coordinated an extensive platform, advisory, and planning effort. Among those active on national security issues were Richard Allen (his first National Security Advisor), Edwin Meese, Martin Anderson, William Clark (his chief of staff as governor and second National Security Advisor), William Casey (Reagan’s Campaign Manager and his first CIA director), and Jeane Kirkpatrick (his first Ambassador to the UN). Nationally-known experts in areas of defense, foreign policy, and intelligence included William Van Cleave, William Graham, Fred Ikle, John Lehman, Alexander Haig, and Edward Rowny. From the U.S. Congress, they included Republicans like Senator John Tower and Congressman Jack Kemp. Reagan’s senior staff and network of advisors on defense, foreign policy, arms control, intelligence, and other national security issues included long-term associates and new networks of experts and institutions. In dealing with the Soviet Union and the Cold War all shared Reagan’s determination to defend democratic values and to change the “politically correct,” but demonstrably ineffective, U.S. Cold War strategies of “containment” and “détente” and Jimmy Carter’s weak policies in particular. Together, they became important catalysts in opening the path to the Reagan’s presidency and to the Reagan Revolution.

Many who backed Reagan were independent in their party affiliation, and associated with non-partisan policy institutions like the committee of the Present Danger supportive of Reagan’s emerging Cold War strategy. Reagan campaign lists of Foreign Policy Advisors and Defense Policy Advisors include a broad spectrum of experts that later joined the Reagan administration’s national security transition teams, departments, and agencies.

4. Key Catalysts for the Reagan Revolution in National Security

Several organizations and their efforts proved to be critical catalysts for the Reagan Revolution strategic and moral firepower.

“Team B”—1976. A team of experts appointed by President Ford and known as “Team B” completed the top secret, later declassified “Team B” Report on “Soviet Strategic Objectives, An Alternative View” in December 1976, shortly before Carter’s inauguration in January 1977. Their key findings are reviewed in Chapter 6. While the report was secret, the existence of the team and its report was widely known, and its findings were widely understood as avoiding “mirror imaging” and leaving no doubt about aggressive Soviet objectives and actions that severely threatened the United States and global peace.

The team’s catalytic importance came from its bipartisan experts drawn from a range of respected academic, intelligence, labor and other institutions. The team was established at the suggestion of the head of President Ford’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB), Leo Cherne, a Democrat. It was given access to all available U.S. intelligence materials and was asked to provide the president a “competitive” (i.e., non-CIA) intelligence assessment of Soviet policies. Headed by Harvard Professor of Russian history, Richard Pipes (a Democrat), it included, among others: Lt. Gen. Daniel Graham (former head of the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency), Pentagon official Andrew Marshall (the “inventor” with Albert Wohlstetter, of the Department’s “net assessment” process); Democrat Paul Nitze, (former Deputy Secretary of Defense and Secretary of the Navy); William Van Cleave (nationally known university professor and defense strategist); Ambassador Seymour Weiss (a senior expert on strategic issues), and Paul Wolfowitz (a Democrat working at the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency). Jimmy Carter ignored the report and the team, and most team members became supporters of Reagan’s new Cold War strategy of “peace through strength” and “peace with freedom.”

The Committee on the Present Danger (CPD)—1976. A key private sector institutional catalyst for shaping and supporting the new Reagan strategy was the bipartisan “Committee on the Present Danger” (CPD) established during the Team B process and a potent force throughout Carter’s presidency and beyond. According to its founding statement, it was established as “a nonprofit nonpartisan, educational organization founded on November 11, 1976 by 141 private citizens devoted to the Peace, Security, and Liberty of the Nation.” Its prominent membership included Richard Allen and numerous Team B members, and its statement titled Common Sense and the Common Danger drew national attention with its opening words of warning and action including the following:

[Book pg. 157]