Chapter 9 – The Strategy Gains Force: The Second Term

1986 Developments. Major events in 1986 that gave special context to Reagan’s presidency and Cold War strategy included: the Reagan Doctrine; the U.S. Space Shuttle “Challenger” disaster; U.S. sanctions and an air strike against Libya in response to Libyan acts of terror (April); the nuclear accident in Chernobyl, Ukraine, and Soviet cover-ups; intense political debate on U.S. policy in Nicaragua and El Salvador; the Reykjavik summit (October); the Iran-Contra scandal (November); and the U.S. mid-term elections (November).

1986 Major Reagan Freedom Speeches. Reagan’s major speeches on freedom given in 1986 are further reviewed and extensively cited in Chapter 16 on Reagan’s Freedom Strategy. These speeches include Reagan’s Remarks at CPAC, January 30, 1986; Remarks to Directors at U.S. Institute of Peace, February 26, 1986; Address to the Nation on National Security, February 26, 1986; Remarks at the Heritage Foundation, April 22, 1986; Remarks in Glassboro, June 19, 1986; and an Address to U.N. General Assembly, White House Fact Sheet, September 22, 1986.

Reagan’s New Year Address to the Soviet People. Reagan’s Address to the Soviet People on January 1, 1986 took advantage of the unusual Presidential opportunity to reach the Soviet people uncensored in discussing his summit meeting with Gorbachev and America’s policy priorities on arms reduction, strategic defense, and human rights. Thus:

Purpose and Priorities] Our purpose was to begin a fresh chapter in the relations between our two countries and to try to reduce the                   suspicions and mistrust between us. . . . Speaking frankly and seriously about the most important issues of our time: reducing the massive             nuclear arsenals on both sides, resolving regional conflicts, ensuring respect for human rights as guaranteed under international agreements         and other questions of mutual interest. . . .

[Strategic Defense (SDI)] Both the United States and Soviet Union are doing research on the possibilities of applying new technologies to the cause of defense. If these technologies become a reality, it is my dream that, well, to one day free us all from the threat of nuclear destruction. . . .

[Human Rights and “Sacred Truth”] I also discussed the American people’s strong interest in humanitarian issues. Our democratic system       is founded on the belief in the sanctity of human life and the rights of the individual—rights such as freedom of speech, of assembly, of               movement, and of worship. It is a sacred truth to us that every individual is a unique creation of God, with his or her own special talents,             abilities, hopes and dreams. Respect for all people is essential to peace. (headings added)6

Gorbachev’s New Year Address to America. While Reagan’s address was both elevating and provocative in reaching out to the Soviet people over the heads of their government, Gorbachev’s Address to the American People, also on January 1, 1986, was uninspired, with statements like “the gap dividing us is still wide, to bridge it will not be easy, but we saw in Geneva that it can be done.”7

Reagan Remarks at CPAC: Liberals, Eisenhower, etc.—January 1986. Reagan’s Remarks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington D.C. on January 30, 1986 encouraged his audience to hold true to conservative values that Reagan shared and that were proving successful in turning around the faltering America that Reagan had inherited from President Jimmy Carter and in continuing to build America’s national and international strength. Reagan’s remarks include critiques of “what the Washington liberals really believe about foreign policy, the naiveté and confusion of mind.”8 In commenting on President Eisenhower’s famous 1961Farewell Address warning about a developing U.S. military-industrial complex, Reagan cited Eisenhower’s explicit, but long-ignored warning in the same speech about Soviet Communism: “We face a hostile ideology-global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method.” Here Reagan noted: “the pundits haven’t been quoting that part of his speech."

Republican Party Briefing Book on Reagan’s Achievements—January 1986. A Republican Party Report—“America—1986”: Our Strength Restored, the Peace Sustained, published in January 1986 by the Republican National Committee, was subtitled “Five Years of Achievement: A Fact Book of the Reagan Administration’s Foreign and Defense Policies.” The report is provided in this book’s Internet Document Library. It is a “must-read” for students of the Cold War and Reagan because of its precise reviews of Reagan’s “peace and freedom strategy” elements as set forth in his first term and carried forward robustly in his second term. The format is that of a briefing book of topical charts (clearly involving Department of Defense and NSC participation) that adapts the Administration’s best declassified public information and public diplomacy materials to present an unusually clear and accurate picture of detailed U.S. policy considerations and chronologies.

[Book pg. 195]