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

NSDD 75—Eight Strategic Priorities to Maximize U.S. Leverage for Soviet Reversals and Change. Under a penultimate section titled “Priorities in the U.S. Approach: Maximizing Restraining Leverage over Soviet Behavior,” NSDD 75 speaks to the “interrelated tasks of containing and reversing Soviet expansion and promoting evolutionary change within the Soviet Union itself.” It calls for “incentives (positive and negative) for the new [Soviet] leadership to adopt policies less detrimental to U.S. interests” and summarizes a new U.S. and Western strategy with “a strong military capable of action across the entire spectrum of potential conflicts and guided by a well conceived political and military strategy.” Furthermore, “This military strategy will be combined with a political strategy attaching high priority to the following objectives” (similar to the 11 “priorities” listed in NSDD—32 above):
  • [U.S. Defense] Sustaining steady, long-term growth in U.S. defense spending and capabilities—both nuclear and conventional . . . the most important way of conveying to the Soviets U.S. resolve and political staying-power;
  • [Western Consensus] Creating a long-term Western consensus for dealing with the Soviet Union . . . strong leadership in developing policies to deal with the multifaceted Soviet threat to Western interests . . . pushing Allies to spend more on defense . . . serious effort[s] to negotiate arms control agreements consistent with U.S. military strategy and necessary force modernization plans . . . a unified Western approach to East-West economic relations;”
  • [China] Maintenance of a strategic relationship with China . . . ;
  • [Ideological/Political Offensive] Building and sustaining a major ideological/ political offensive which, together with other efforts, will be designed to bring about evolutionary Change of the Soviet system. This must be a long-term and sophisticated program given the nature of the Soviet system.
  • [Afghanistan] Effective opposition to Moscow’s efforts to consolidate its position in Afghanistan . . . [and] keep pressure on Moscow for withdrawal and ensure that Soviet costs on the ground are high;
  • [Middle-East and East Asia] Blocking the expansion of Soviet influence in the critical Middle East and Southwest Asia regions . . . seek a political solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict and . . . bolster U.S. relations with moderate states in the region . . . and a sustained U.S. defense commitment to deter Soviet military encroachments;
  • [Poland and Eastern Europe] Maintenance of international pressure on Moscow to permit a relaxation . . . of the current repression in Poland and a longer-term increase in diversity and independence throughout Eastern Europe . . . impose costs on the Soviet Union . . . maintain a U.S. policy of differentiation among East European countries;
  • [Cuba] Neutralization and reduction of the threat to U.S. national security interests posed by the Soviet-Cuban relationship . . . use a variety of instruments, including diplomatic efforts and U.S. security and economic assistance . . . retain the option of using . . . its military forces to protect vital U.S. security interests against threats which may arise from the Soviet-Cuban connection. (headings added)13
NSDD 75 Conclusion. The concluding section of NSDD 75, with the title “Articulating the U.S. Approach; Sustaining Public and Congressional Support,” recognizes the revolutionary nature of the Reagan strategy and the difficult political battles and counter-pressures on the long path ahead. Thus:
The policy outlined above is one for the long haul. It is unlikely to yield a rapid breakthrough in bilateral relations with the Soviet Union. In the absence of dramatic near-term victories in the U.S. effort to moderate Soviet behavior, pressure is likely to mount for change in U.S. policy. There will be appeals from important segments of domestic opinion for a more “normal” U.S.-Soviet relationship, particularly in a period of political transition in Moscow.
It is therefore essential that the American People understand and support U.S. policy. This will require that official U.S. statements and actions avoid generating unrealizable expectations for near-term progress in U.S.-Soviet relations. At the same time, the U.S. must demonstrate credibly that its policy is not a blueprint for an open-ended, sterile confrontation with Moscow, but a serious search for a stable and constructive long-term basis for U.S.-Soviet relations.14
Other NSDD 75 Aspects. Readers are encouraged to read Chapter 9 of this book for a review of the continuation of Reagan’s strategy during his second term and Chapter 16 on Reagan’s international Freedom Strategy against the Soviet Empire that expands the review of NSDD 75 beyond the excerpts above. Additional NSDD 75 parts include a section titled “Shaping the Environment: Arenas of Engagement,” further divided
[Book pg. 180]