Chapter 9 – The Strategy Gains Force: The Second Term

3. 1985 Developments, Reagan Speeches, and the Geneva Summit

This section constitutes the first of several general overviews in this chapter for each second-term year concerning Reagan’s strategy, summits, major addresses, and reports. More detailed topical reviews and citations are provided in the chapters that follow in Parts III and IV, on specific policy areas including defense, arms control, support of anti-Soviet resistance groups, and intelligence.

1985 Context. Major events in 1985 that provide context for Reagan’s presidency and Cold War strategy developments include: resumption of U.S.-Soviet arms control negotiations; Gorbachev’s March replacement of Chernenko as Soviet leader; Senate approval of the MX-Peacekeeper missile program; the Nicaragua peace plan and House support for U.S. assistance to the Contras; the hijacking of TWA Flight 847; Reagan’s cancer operation; the U.S. Soviet Geneva Summit; and the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act on balancing the U.S. budget.

1985 Reagan Freedom Speeches. Reagan’s key freedom speeches in 1985 include, beyond his Second Inaugural Address reviewed above some of the most powerful of his presidency. Such speeches are reviewed and extensively cited in Chapter 16 of this book, including: Remarks at Bitburg Air Base, Germany, May 5, 1985; Remarks at Hambach, Germany, May 6, 1985; Address to the European Parliament, Strasbourg, France, May 8, 1985; Address to the Portuguese Parliament, Lisbon, May 9, 1985; and Address at U.S. Naval Academy Commencement, May 22, 1985.

Geneva Summit—November 1985. Following ministerial-level diplomatic consultations and a series of new Reagan freedom speeches and exchanges of correspondence with Mikhail Gorbachev, it was agreed early in 1985 that the two leaders would hold a summit meeting in Geneva, Switzerland in the fall. This would be the first U.S.-Soviet summit since June 14, 1979, when Jimmy Carter and Leonid Brezhnev met in Vienna. Five years before that meeting, Gerald Ford and Brezhnev’s met in Vladivostok in the Soviet Far East on November 23, 1974. These two post-Nixon “détente” summits had produced signatures on Carter’s proposed Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT II) (Chapter 6) and Ford’s proposed U.S. and Soviet Vladivostok Agreement (Chapter 5). Both agreements received heavy criticism of their provisions, especially because of aggressive Soviet actions, including violations of the key treaties signed with President Nixon in 1972 (see Chapter 5), raised increasing doubts about the assumptions of U.S. “détente” strategy. Neither agreement was implemented.

Geneva Summit Arms Control Focus and Documents. Arms control was the main focus of discussions at the Reagan-Gorbachev summit meeting held in Geneva from November 19–21, 1985 where negotiations were underway on Reagan’s far-reaching arms control proposals under the superpowers’ agreed new “umbrella” Nuclear and Space Talks (NST) format. The negotiations included Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) reviewed in Chapter 11; Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START) (Chapter 12); and Defense and Space, including on the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) (Chapter 13). Other key issues discussed in Geneva are reviewed in the following topical chapters: Afghanistan (Chapter 17), Latin America (Chapter 18), and Poland and Eastern Europe (Chapter 19).

Two Geneva Summary Documents. Two documents that provide a useful introductory review of the summit and Reagan’s approach to key superpower policy topics are a thoughtful pre-Geneva NSC press briefing by a senior Administration official in a Background Briefing on the Geneva Summit, and Reagan’s Address to a Joint Session of Congress on “The Geneva Summit a Fresh Start” on November 21, 1985. The briefing (presumably by the National Security Advisor) provides both historical context and a review of the summit issues. Reagan’s address to Congress a week later demonstrates top-down presidential communication skills, beginning with his comment that: “there were over 3,000 reporters in Geneva, so it’s possible there will be 3,000 opinions on what happened. So maybe it’s the old broadcaster in me, but I decided to file my own report directly to you.” The President’s address was subsequently published with sub-headings including: “History and Context of the Summit,” “Confronting Major Issues,” “Building a More Stable Relationship,” and “Limits and Possibilities.”5

4. 1986 Developments: Reagan Speeches, the “Reagan Doctrine,” Updated National Security Strategy, and Reykjavik Summit

This section provides a brief overview of major developments of Reagan’s Cold War strategy, key speeches and reports during 1986.

[Book pg. 194]