Chapter 9 – The Strategy Gains Force: The Second Term

The America—1986 report specified Reagan’s objectives and successes in restoring America’s defense and foreign policy strengths and how these enabled him to press ahead in his second term. The report’s Defense Policy section reviewed: major security threats; comparison of categories of U.S. and Soviet forces; NATO and Warsaw Pact forces; Reagan’s strategic modernization programs (including ICBM, SLBM, bombers, C4, conventional, and strategic defense); the defense budget; and arms control (past failures, new U.S. and Soviet proposals compared, compliance issues, and the nuclear freeze). The Foreign Policy section reviewed Reagan’s changes from Carter-Mondale policies and includes topics on: U.S.-Soviet policies; the Geneva Summit and future summit plans; Sino-U.S. relations; Taiwan; Central America/Caribbean issues (sea-lanes, immigration, Soviet-Cuban intervention, building democracy, Grenada, Nicaragua, democracy and human rights); Middle-East search for peace (Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia); Africa; and South Africa.

First White House “Reagan Doctrine” Message to the Congress—February 1986. The first of two related White House messages transmitted to the Congress early in 1986 was transmitted on the President’s behalf on February 6, 1986. Titled A Message to the Congress on America’s Agenda for the Future, it summarized Reagan’s global strategy in what could be considered as formulating a “Reagan Doctrine.” The message’s “Part V. Expanding the Family of Free Nations” reviewed Reagan’s foreign affairs and defense strategies, including the following words on his “peace and freedom” objectives as well as his policies of hope, realism, and rebuilt strengths:

[Preamble] In the area of foreign affairs, America will continue to encourage democracy, freedom, and respect for human rights around the         world. We will be a strong and reliable ally to our friends, and a firm but hopeful adversary for those who, for now, choose not to be our             friends. With the former we hope for continued harmony; with the latter, for progress toward that most exclusive of goals, peace. . . .

[U.S.-Soviet Relations—A Relationship Based on Hope and Realism] Our relationship with the Soviet Union must be supported by the twin pillars of hope and realism. The United States and the Soviet Union are not alike; we are not two equal and competing Superpowers divided only by a difference in our “systems.” The United States is a free and open society, a democracy in which a free press and free speech flourish. The people of the Soviet Union live in a closed dictatorship in which democratic freedoms are denied. Their leaders do not respond to the will of the people; their decisions are not determined by public debate or dissent; they proclaim, and pursue, the goal of Leninist “revolution.”

And so the tensions between us reflect differences that cannot be wished away. But the future is not predetermined. . . .

[Restraint as Most Realistic Soviet Option] . . . We want restraint to be the Soviet leadership’s most realistic option and will see to it that our freedoms and those of our Allies are protected.

We seek a secure future at lower levels of arms, particularly nuclear forces, through agreements that are equitable and verifiable. The soundness of our proposals, our renewed military strength and our bipartisan determination to assure a strong deterrent create incentives for the Soviet Union to negotiate seriously.

We can move toward a better, more cooperative working relationship with the Soviet Union if the Soviet leadership is willing. This will require full Soviet compliance with the letter and spirit of both past and future agreements. . . . I am optimistic that if the Soviet leadership is willing to meet us halfway, we will be able to put our relations on a more cooperative footing in 1986. . . .

[Bolstering Defense Budgets] In spite of our current discussions, the Soviet leaders are continuing a massive military buildup that threatens the United States and our free world allies. Real arms reductions are possible only if the Soviets and others do not doubt our strength and ability to counter aggression.

Keeping America strong, free, and at peace is solely the responsibility of the Federal Government; it is Government’s prime responsibility. We have devoted 5 years trying to narrow a dangerous gap born of illusion and neglect. And we have made important gains.

In the past 5 years, our Administration has reversed the decline in defense funding that occurred during the 1970’s and has made significant progress in strengthening our military capabilities. Last year the Congress and I reached a deficit reduction agreement. We pledged together to hold real growth in defense funding to the bare minimum. My 1987 budget honors that pledge. . . . With the additional cuts under Gramm-Rudman-Hollings, FY 1986 budget authority for defense corresponds to more than a 5 percent real decline. This simply cannot continue. I am proposing 1987–1991 defense levels which provide the real program growth agreed to in last year’s Budget Resolution. . . .

[Supporting Strategic Modernization and Strategic Defense] The world must know that if America reduces her defenses, it will be because of a reduced threat, not a reduced resolve.

[Book pg. 196]