Chapter 8 – Setting the New Cold War Strategy: The First Term - Statements and Decisions

[Soviet Threat] The key military threats to U.S. security during the 1980s will continue to be posed by the USSR and its allies and clients. Despite increasing pressures on its economy and the growing vulnerabilities of its empire, the Soviet Union continues to expand and modernize its military forces. . . . [The Soviet Union remains aware of the catastrophic consequences of initiating military action directly against the U.S. or its allies. As a result,] conflict resulting from regional tensions that could again involve us in a war with a Soviet client is much more likely than a direct conflict with the USSR. [In a conflict with a Soviet client, however, the risk of direct confrontation with the Soviet Union remains.]

[Instabilities and Survival] Unstable governments, weak political institutions, inefficient unproductive economies . . . and the persistence of traditional conflicts and the prevalence of violence, create opportunities for Soviet expansion in many countries of the Developing World. (headings added)9

NSC Study Directive—August 1982. NSSD 11—82 U.S. Policy Toward the Soviet Union, issued on August 21, 1982, establishes a range of realistic geopolitical terms of reference, drawing on prior work, to be prepared by October 1 for a new strategy for mobilizing U.S./Western forces to assess Soviet strength and vulnerabilities and to radically change the Soviet threat and system—in political, economic, military, and ideological areas. The study’s major tasks were set as follows:
[To] assess the nature of the Soviet threat to U.S. national security interests in the short and long terms, with emphasis on its non-military aspects, and recommend appropriate U.S. policy responses, by:
  • Analyzing the determinants of Soviet foreign policy and domestic policies of concern to the U.S. and other outside powers;
  • Assessing Soviet strengths and weaknesses;
  • Identifying key elements of likely continuity and change in the Soviet system and Soviet policies; and
  • Determining the political, economic, military and ideological means at our disposal for achieving favorable changes in Soviet international behavior, including assessment of the costs and obstacles involved in using them.
The Review will proceed on the premise that Soviet international behavior is determined not only by the external environment but also by political, economic, social and ideological features of the Soviet system itself. . . . The review will deal with the following subjects:
1. The likelihood of changes in the Soviet system. . . .
2. Soviet vulnerabilities and strengths: the sources of strains and tensions within the Soviet system and the bases for continuity . . . [including] economic, . . . political,. . . social, . . . imperial, . . . Communist movements, . . . heresies and deviations, . . . [and] international challenges. . . .
4. Meeting the Soviet challenge in the Short and Long Terms, . . . three-five years and ten years, . . . and to ascertain the means at the disposal of the United States, its Allies and other mobilizable forces to influence the evolution of Soviet policies and the Soviet regime in directions favorable to our interests: political . . . economic .. . ideological . . . high-level dialogue . . .
5. Shaping the Soviet environment: the military balance . . . Allied cooperation . . . Third World cooperation . . .
6. Recommended Policies for the U.S. . . . leverage . . . applied against Soviet vulnerabilities to induce Soviet restraint in the short and long term.10
8. NSDD 75: Reagan Confirms the New U.S. Cold War Strategy—January 1983
Clearly influenced by the Republican Platform of the 1980 campaign and preceded by the official 1982 National Security Directives reviewed above, NSDD 75—U.S. Relations with the USSR was issued on January 17, 1983 as the single most authoritative document of Reagan’s revolutionary Grand Strategy that won the Cold War and changed the course of history. It is a “must read” that should be studied in its entirety as a core document for understanding Reagan, the Reagan Revolution, and Reagan’s winning strategy to roll back the core elements of Soviet power on key Cold War issues.
A Culmination of Reagan’s Strategy. At the beginning of his third year as President, Reagan issued NSDD 75, expressing the quintessential Reagan in his best “Let Reagan be Reagan” mode of combining idealism and realism in addressing key dimensions of power and instruments of statecraft—including ideological, political, military, economic, diplomatic, intelligence, and more. The directive is the culmination of senior-level discussions and documents beginning in Reagan’s speeches and platform of the 1980 election campaign, and 
[Book pg. 178]