Part II -- THE REAGAN REVOLUTION IN U.S. COLD WAR STRATEGY AN OVERVIEW

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

into sections on “Functional” and “Geopolitical” arenas, as well as such key sections as “The Third World” and “The Soviet Empire.” In addition to the present review and chapters listed above, the NSDD 75 foundational Cold War policy texts are reviewed in the individual topical chapters in Part III on U.S. Defense and Arms Control Strategy and Part IV on countering Soviet Imperialism and Soviet Intelligence Operations.
 
9. A Note on Reagan’s Private Correspondence with Soviet Leaders before Gorbachev (Brezhnev, Andropov, Chernenko)
 
The U.S. National Archives has declassified Reagan’s formerly secret private correspondence with the four Soviet leaders, who as Chairmen of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPUSSR) were also the premiers or heads of the Soviet government and state. The letters generally repeat the respective public positions of the writers and their governments and urge the recipient to adopt, or at least move in the direction, of their own side’s position on specific issues.
 
Volume. During Reagan’s first term he wrote twenty-one such letters, of which twelve were to Leonid Brezhnev, none to Yuri Andropov, and nine were to Konstantin Chernenko, who died on March 10, 1985. During this period Reagan received fourteen letters from Brezhnev, two from Andropov, and seven from Chernenko. During Reagan’s second term (discussed in the next chapter), he wrote eighteen letters to Mikhail Gorbachev, who became Premier on March 25, 1985 and replied with the same number of letters.
 
Substance. A detailed review of this correspondence is beyond the scope of this book, but it is clear that the Soviet letters are heavily propagandistic. Reagan, for his part, specifically addresses numerous specific issues: human rights, defense build-ups, the U.S. Strategic Defense Initiative, arms reduction proposals, Poland, Afghanistan, Latin America, and Soviet propaganda and subversion. Several of Reagan’s letters are cited in the narrative’s topical chapters that follow and all of his letters are listed in this book’s Internet Document Library as a special collection, under the title of List of Reagan Correspondence with Soviet Leaders and available at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.
 
10. A Short Summary of Reagan’s Economic Warfare Strategy against the Soviet Union
 
Reagan’s economic warfare strategy against the Soviet Union was a core, often highly technical, element of his new Cold War strategy, but is beyond the scope of this book in terms of a detailed review of developments and documents.
 
At this point, it is important to note that Reagan radically changed overall U.S. policy from the weak economic aspects of the U.S. détente strategy of the 1970s that had enabled Soviet economic and military planners to rely on large flows of U.S. technology and funds. During the “détente” period of the 1970s U.S. administrations wrongly assumed that more Western trade and credits could produce more benign Soviet behavior. Thus, the Kremlin continued to receive and rely on a continuous flow of advanced U.S.-Western technology, hard currency loans, and other bailouts for its struggling economy.
 
Reagan Changes the One-Way Street. The realities of détente’s largely one-way street became evident as the Soviet Union insisted that the West’s trade with the East must be delinked from Soviet political practices—including serious evidence that Moscow was violating treaties, suppressing human rights, and acting increasingly aggressively throughout the globe. In the area of high-technology, business sales to the Soviets and/or outright thefts by the Soviet KGB had increased, narrowing the Soviet high-tech gap, and adding significant capabilities to Soviet military power. Yet as this situation worsened, President Carter, in particular, this had eased U.S. terms and had terminated the Council on International Economic Policy (CIEP), established by President Nixon to provide high-level oversight and advice on such problems. In sharp contrast with the policies of his 1970s predecessors, Reagan’s 1980 Election Platform, his NSC staff, and a series of presidential directives summarized below addressed financial and trade issues as potentially highly effective instruments of U.S. economic warfare that could be leveraged to exploit core Soviet-East Bloc vulnerabilities and force changes in Soviet policies and capabilities.
 
Reagan’s 1980 Platform and “Linkage.” The Republican Platform—1980  released in July contains sections on both domestic and economic issues that proved foundational in establishing Reagan’s new Cold War strategy. They address the serious effects of Carter’s weak economy on U.S. national security policies, and 
 
[Book pg. 181]

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