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

continuing through the NSC documents reviewed above. The NSDD reflects Reagan’s long experience with Cold War history, his bipartisan 1980 campaign coalition and advisory network, and his growing national security and leadership experience as president.
NSDD 75 also reflects Reagan’s appointment of stalwart supporters not only from Republican ranks but also from political Independents and from the “Scoop” Jackson section of the Democratic Party to senior Administration positions. They included Jeane Kirkpatrick as Ambassador to the United Nations, Paul Nitze as a senior Arms Control advisor and ambassador, Richard Perle and Fred Ikle as senior Department of Defense officials, and Richard Pipes, the Harvard professor of Russian history who had headed the influential “Team B” Report intelligence assessment of 1976 undertaken during the Ford administration (see Chapter 5). On the NSC Staff, Pipes was senior director for Soviet Affairs for Reagan’s first two years and headed the team most directly responsible for the preparation and coordination of NSDD 75. The directive is a focused statement of slightly over eight pages, divided into sections, several of which are cited and reviewed below, with other topical sections reviewed in the related topical chapters of this book’s historical narrative. The directive sets Reagan’s new three-pronged strategy and the key elements required to build American and Free World strength to undermine and roll-back the Soviet ideology, regime, and empire.
Opening Section. NSDD 75’s opening section demonstrates Reagan’s revolutionary policy goals and tone through an unapologetically pro-U.S. “strength and freedom” strategy that takes a morally-based, hard-line, anti-Communist position in seeking the defeat of Soviet imperialism:
[Three Elements] U.S. policy toward the Soviet Union will consist of three elements: external resistance to Soviet imperialism; internal pressure on the USSR to weaken the sources of Soviet imperialism; and negotiations to eliminate, on the basis of strict reciprocity, outstanding disagreements. Specifically, U.S. tasks are:
1. [Contain and Reverse Soviet Expansionism] To contain and over time reverse Soviet expansionism by competing effectively on a sustained basis with the Soviet Union in all international arenas—particularly in the overall military balance and in geographical regions of priority concern to the United States. This will remain the primary focus of U.S. policy toward the USSR.
2. [Promote Soviet Change, Pluralism] To promote, within the narrow limits available to us, the process of change in the Soviet Union toward a more pluralistic political and economic system in which the power of the privileged ruling elite is gradually reduced. The U.S. recognizes that Soviet aggressiveness has deep roots in the internal system, and that relations with the USSR should therefore take into account whether or not they help to strengthen this system and its capacity to engage in aggression.
3. [Negotiations] To engage the Soviet Union in negotiations to attempt to reach agreements which protect and enhance U.S. interests and which are consistent with principle of strict reciprocity and mutual interest. This is important when the Soviet Union is in the midst of a process of political succession.
[Soviet Costs and Benefits] In order to implement this threefold strategy, the U.S. must convey clearly to Moscow that unacceptable behavior will incur costs that would outweigh any gains. At the same time, the U.S. must make clear to the Soviets that genuine restraint in their behavior would create the possibility of an East-West relationship that might bring important benefits for the Soviet Union. It is particularly important that this message be conveyed clearly during the succession period, since this may be a particularly opportune time for external forces to affect the policies of Brezhnev’s successors. (headings added)11
Excerpts from Three NSDD 75 Sections—Ideological Components. Three excerpts indicate the strategy’s strong ideological components in dealing with both external and internal Soviet affairs, as seen by Reagan in what critics would have deemed “politically incorrect” moral-ideological terms.
A Section on Political Action begins with the statement that: “U.S. policy must have an ideological thrust which clearly-affirms the superiority of U.S. and Western values of individual dignity and freedom, a free press, free trade unions, free enterprise, and political democracy over the repressive features of Soviet Communism.”
A Section on Official Dialogue opens with the guidance that: “The U.S. should insist that Moscow address the full range of U.S. concerns about Soviet internal behavior and human rights violations, and should continue to resist Soviet efforts to return to a U.S.-Soviet agenda focused primarily on arms control.”
A section on U.S.-Soviet Cooperative Exchanges opens as follows: “The role of U.S.-Soviet cultural, educational, scientific and other cooperative exchanges should be seen in light of the U.S. intention to maintain a strong ideological component in relations with Moscow . . . [to] advance the U.S. objective of promoting positive evolutionary change within the Soviet system.” (emphasis added)12
[Book pg. 179]