Chapter 9 – The Strategy Gains Force: The Second Term

We will continue vigorously to pursue our strategic modernization program in my 1987 budget—to modernize our bomber, ICBM, and missile-submarine forces so as to assure effective and stable deterrence.

Our Administration will also actively continue research into new technologies in search of secure strategic defense systems. The Strategic Defense Initiative offers the prospect of finding such systems, which threaten no one, to keep the peace, protect the United States and our allies in greater safety, and ultimately to eliminate the threat of nuclear weapons by making nuclear-armed missiles obsolete. . . .

[Rolling Back Tyranny, Support for a World of Hope and Freedom Fighters] The United States continues to pursue a world of hope             where people are free to choose the political system by which they will be governed. We seek to roll back the tide of tyranny; we seek to             increase freedom across the face of this planet, for serving the cause of freedom also serves the cause of peace. It is for this reason that                 Americans have always supported the struggle of freedom fighters. It is also why I put forward my “regional initiative” at the United Nations       last fall—a three-stage plan for ending a series of dangerous wars that have pitted a series of governments against their own people and their       neighbors. . . . America must actively wage the competition of political ideas—between free government and its opponents—and lend our           support to those who are building the infrastructure of democracy. . . . In Afghanistan, we must continue to help the forces fighting a Soviet         invasion and an oppressive Communist regime. . . . In Latin America the trend toward elected civilian governments continues. . . . However,       Communist subversion and the insidious spread of narcotics trafficking continue to menace the region. . . . The Central American                         democracies need our help. (headings added)10

Other sections of the February 6 White House message on Reagan’s international strategy are addressed in chapters to follow and include “Alliances and Friendships” (Chapter 16) and “Countering Terrorism and Espionage” (Chapter 20).

Address to the Nation on National Security: Reversing Communist Gains—February 1986. A Reagan Address to the Nation on National Security on February 26, 1986 spoke to Reagan’s freedom strategy and included the following words on his strategy’s gains during the five years since his inauguration in 1981:

We need to remember where America was 5 years ago. We need to recall the atmosphere of that time: the anxiety that events were out of control, that the West was in decline, that our enemies were on the march. . . . So, here’s what we did: We set out to show that the long string of governments falling under Communist domination was going to end, and we’re doing it. . . . In these last 5 years, not one square inch of territory has been lost, and Grenada has been set free. . . . El Salvador is a democracy, and freedom fighters are challenging Communist regimes in Nicaragua, Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, and Ethiopia.11 [See Chapter 16 for additional citations.]

Second White House “Reagan Doctrine” Message to Congress—March 1986. Following the February 6 speech cited above, a second complementary Reagan Doctrine: White House Message to Congress on Freedom, Regional Security, and Global Peace was transmitted on March 14, 1986. The full text of the message is beyond the scope of this citation, but is in the Internet Document Library, and should be considered a “must-read” for students of the Cold War and Ronald Reagan. It reviews traditional U.S. post-Second World War national security goals and applies these in specific foreign policy areas. Thus:

Four Fundamental [U.S.] Goals:

  • We have sought to defend and advance the cause of democracy, freedom and human rights throughout the world.
  • We have sought to promote prosperity and social progress through a free, open, and expanding market-oriented global economy.
  • We have worked diplomatically to help resolve dangerous regional conflicts.
  • We have worked to reduce and eventually eliminate the danger of nuclear war.

Sustained by a strong bipartisan consensus, these basic principles have weathered contentious domestic debates through eight administrations, both Democratic and Republican. They have survived the great and rapid changes of an ever-evolving world.

There are good reasons for this continuity. These broad goals are linked together, and they in turn match both our ideals and our interests. No other policy could command the broad support of the American people.

[Book pg. 197]