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

[Some Soviet Problems] The Soviets face severe economic problems. . . . Contributing to this bleak economic outlook are slow growth in the labor force, slowing growth of energy production, prolonged foreign exchange stringencies, greater costs in extracting raw materials, and continuing difficulties in introducing new technology. Living standards in the USSR will probably stagnate owing to the growing defense burden and inefficient investment practices. . . . Productivity growth will also decline unless drastic economic reforms are introduced—an unlikely prospect. These problems will force Moscow to make difficult choices among priorities. While it will be increasingly difficult for it to sustain growth in military spending, the primacy of the military will continue in Soviet planning. . . . The Soviets have several external problems. Hostility with China and turmoil along the USSR’s borders (e.g., Poland and Afghanistan) reinforce its obsession with the need for order and friendly regimes along its frontiers. The potential for ideological contamination of its allies and friends, due to recent events in Poland and Afghanistan, also gives them cause for concern. Moreover, internal unrest and insurgency have come to plague a number of Soviet clients; these countries continue to consume scarce resources. . . . They are concerned that the US could eventually deploy effective ABM systems. (headings added)7

NSDD 32: U.S. Strategy Objectives and Survival Etc.—May 1982. NSDD 32—U.S. National Security Strategy, issued on May 20, 1982, reviews and adopts key elements of the NSC response to the National Security Study Directive 1—82 as provided the National Security Strategy—1982 document summarized above. NSDD 32, full of verbs denoting strong action, opens with eleven objectives:

The national security policy of the United States shall be guided by the following global objectives:

  • [Military] To deter military attack by the USSR and its allies against the U.S., its allies, and other important countries across the spectrum of conflict; and to defeat such attack should deterrence fail.
  • [Influence] To strengthen the influence of the U.S. throughout the world by strengthening existing alliances, by improving relations with other nations, by forming and supporting coalitions of states friendly to U.S. interests, and by a full range of diplomatic, political, economic, and information efforts.
  • [Contain and Reverse] To contain and reverse the expansion of Soviet control and military presence throughout the world, and to increase the costs of Soviet       support and use of proxy, terrorists, and subversive forces.
  • [Neutralize] To neutralize the efforts of the USSR to increase its influence through its use of diplomacy, arms transfers, economic pressure, political action,           propaganda, and disinformation.
  • [Foster, Weaken, Encourage] To foster, if possible in concert with our allies, restraint in Soviet military spending, discourage Soviet adventurism, and weaken the Soviet alliance system by forcing the USSR to bear the brunt of its economic shortcomings, and to encourage long-term liberalizing and nationalist tendencies       within the Soviet Union and allied countries.
  • [Arms Control, Tech Transfer] To limit Soviet military capabilities by strengthening the U.S. military, by pursuing equitable and verifiable arms control             agreements, and by preventing the flow of militarily significant technologies and resources to the Soviet Union.
  • [Foreign Markets, Energy] To ensure the U.S. access to foreign markets, and to ensure the U.S. and its allies and friends access to foreign energy and mineral     resources.
  • [Access] To ensure U.S. access to space and the oceans.
  • [Proliferation] To discourage further proliferation of nuclear weapons.
  • [Aid, Trade, Humane Development] To encourage and strongly support aid, trade, and investment programs that promote economic development and the growth of humane social and political orders in the Third World.
  • [International Economic System] To promote a well-functioning international economic system with minimal distortions to trade and investment and broadly     agreed and respected rules for managing and resolving differences.

In addition to the foregoing, U.S. national security policy will be guided by the operational objectives in specific regions. (headings added)8

      Following this statement of objectives, NSDD 32 cites a spectrum of growing Soviet vulnerabilities and threats, as well as increasing global instabilities that in the 1980s posed the greatest strategic challenge to the United States since World War II. Yet, in terms of the Reagan Revolution’s new approach to Cold War policy, it prophetically projects a “fundamentally different East-West relationship by the end of this decade.” Thus:

[Book pg. 177]