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

  • Interim goals . . .

Management of the NSSD 1–82 review will be the responsibility of an interagency review group . . . chaired by NSC staff and members will include Assistant Secretary level representation from the Department of State, Department of Defense, Central Intelligence Agency, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.5

Reagan’s First U.S. National Security Strategy Draft—April 1982. A few weeks after the above Study Directive was issued, an initial response also drawing on substantial earlier NSC coordinated work, was provided in April 1982 under the direction of the new National Security Advisor, William P. Clark. A Top Secret ninety-five page document titled U.S. National Security Strategy—April 1982, later declassified provides detailed analyses beyond the scope of this book. It begins with a ten page Executive Summary that provides readers a compact review of Reagan’s wide-ranging new grand strategy. Part’s I and II, in particular, were essentially adopted in abbreviated form in Reagan’s National Security Directive NSDD 32 that followed in May (see below). Part I on “National Objectives and the International Environment” that includes sections on the “Purpose of National Security,” the “International Environment,” and “Objectives of National Security Policy.” Part II on “Implementing Strategies” emphasizes the unusually integrative design of Reagan’s strategic approach. Thus

The overall national objectives of the United States are to be implemented through an interlocking set of strategies that principally include the following: diplomatic; information; economic/political; military. The full articulation of U.S. National Strategy requires the development and integration of each set of strategies into a comprehensive whole. The various instruments of U.S. national power and the strategies for their use do not stand alone; rather, they are inextricably linked and, to be effective, must be mutually supportive. Part I of this study provides the common starting point towards this end.6

Part III on the “Military Component of the National Security Strategy” covers the bulk of the strategy document’s text with seventy detailed pages including sections on “Threats to the National Security; Role of Allies and Others; Regional Military Objectives; Nuclear Forces; General Purpose forces; Security Assistance; and Force Integration.” Each topic reflects assessments and policies in sharp contrast with those of Reagan’s 1970s predecessors and important to the success of his strategy of “peace through strength” that ended generous accommodations, reversed Soviet momentum, and pressed the Soviet leaders and society to the point of collapse.

Soviet Cold War Gains and Vulnerabilities. Excerpts from Part III are illustrative of some of the neglected realities about Soviet gains and problems Reagan and his team took into account in their Cold War strategy.

[Soviet Gains] Throughout the 1980s the growing military might of the USSR, its gradually increasing capacity to operate far from its frontiers, and its willingness to provide military advisers and arms to radical governments and insurgency movements in the Third World will pose growing challenges to the US. The growth in Soviet strategic nuclear power and conventional military capability along its borders is especially striking. . . . During the 1970s, the Soviets achieved their long sought-after goal of superpower status alongside the US. However, Moscow did not regard “parity” or acceptance of “détente” as requiring adherence to a global code of conduct acceptable to Washington. Moscow has perceived the US as politically constrained not only by the trauma of Vietnam but by an inability to achieve domestic consensus on foreign policy. In turn, the Soviets have probed US resolve in the Third World. . . . The Soviets have also exploited détente to promote divisions between the US and its NATO allies, and, most importantly, to encourage neutralism in West Germany. . . .

[Soviets vs. MAD and for Strike Forces and Insurgencies] [The Soviets] have not accepted mutual vulnerability as a desirable or permanent basis for the US-Soviet strategic relationship. . . . They prefer possession of superior capabilities and have been working to improve their chances of prevailing in a conflict with the US. . . . The Soviets are attempting to prepare their leaders and military forces of the possibility of having to fight a nuclear war. . . . The Soviets have vigorously modernized and expanded their theater and peripheral nuclear forces. They are now in a better position to escalate a European conflict and have acquired increased capabilities to use peripheral strike forces opposite China and throughout the Eurasian periphery. Soviet leaders view their current strategic position as supporting the conduct of an assertive foreign policy and the expansion of Soviet influence abroad. . . . Complementing other efforts is Moscow’s involvement in support of revolutionary violence worldwide. . . . The USSR also directly or indirectly supports a number of national insurgencies and ethnic-separatist movements by providing them with arms, advice, military training, and political backing. . . . Overall, there will be increasing terrorist threats to US military and civilian personnel and facilities.

[Book pg. 176]