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

this case, the disputes were generally between officials in the Department of State and the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, representing traditional arms control criteria, and those in the Department of Defense and the National Security Council staff, representing the new, more clearly national-security-based arms control criteria set by Reagan’s new strategy. The narrative in Part III on the Reagan Revolution in defense and arms control, especially in Chapter 15 on Soviet violations, further reviews NSDD 65 and related Reagan decisions on Arms Control organization. It should be noted that in this unusually contentious policy area, Reagan also established a new NSC-led Senior Arms Control Policy Group, and reestablished and tasked a presidentially-appointed General Advisory Committee on Arms Control (GAC) to coordinate with the NSC and to provide a comprehensive examination of Soviet treaty violations of the past twenty-five years. Such organizational steps significantly increased the authority of NSC staff for a more flexible role in getting presidentially mandated work done on clarifying interagency disputes, assessments, options, and work schedules in areas including negotiations, verification, and Congressional and public diplomacy issues.

NSDD 84—Safeguarding National Security Information, issued on March 11, 1983, complements Executive Order 12356 (see Chapter 20) in defining and tightening rules on dealing with classified information.

6. A Note on Intelligence Documents

The President, NSC, cabinet heads, and departments all assign and receive intelligence products provided by the U.S. intelligence community. This process and examples of key intelligence documents declassified by the U.S. National Archives are detailed throughout the individual topical chapters of this historical narrative, especially in Chapter 20 on taking on the Intelligence Wars and Soviet Intelligence Operations. Many such declassified documents are provided in the Internet Document Library associated with this book. The documents notably include major National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs) and National Intelligence Studies (NISs).

7. Reagan’s Emerging Grand Strategy and Early NSC Strategy Documents—1981 to 1982

During Reagan’s first year in office he and his administration built on and expanded the extensive, in-depth effort that had gone into his presidential campaign’s national security policy planning for the platform, speeches, and the transition period between election and inauguration.

As Reagan’s senior personnel choices in the Cabinet departments were only slowly confirmed by the U.S. Senate, his National Security Council staff directed by National Security Advisor Richard Allen and strongly supported by Presidential Counselor Edwin Meese, took the lead in responding both to short-term presidential requirements and developing long-term direction and coordination processes for interagency work and terms of reference responsive to Reagan’s policy guidance. Early attention focused on assigning work on intelligence and interagency assessments, policy options papers, speech drafts, press guidance, Congressional testimony, meetings with Allies, arms control, defense modernization, public diplomacy, anti-Communist resistance forces, and intelligence. The NSC documents reviewed below reflect key early formal Reagan actions on his overall Cold War strategy that culminated in the January 1983 NSDD 75—U.S. relations with the USSR, reviewed in the next section of this chapter.

Reagan’s First Directive on an Overall National Security Strategy—February 1982. A year into the NSC’s process of presidential study and decision directives on topical assessments and options papers, Reagan issued an NSC Study Directive NSSD 1—82 U.S. National Security Strategy on February 5, 1982. It outlined the objectives and components of a comprehensive classified National Security Strategy document to be prepared under NSC Staff direction consistent with the following terms:

To produce a National Security Decision Directive (NSDD), Subject: U.S. National Security Strategy, for consideration by the National Security Council and, in turn, for decision by the President. . . . The review will include, as a minimum . . .

  • Fundamental U.S. national security objectives.
  • Regional security objectives.
  • Impact of Soviet military power and international behavior on U.S. National Strategy.
  • Role of Allies in U.S. National Strategy.
  • Strategic Forces . . .
  • General Purpose Forces . . .
  • Security Assistance Policies and objectives.

[Book pg. 175]