Chapter 10 - Reagan Combines U.S. Defense and Arms Control Strategies

[Arms Control Objectives] The U.S. will enter into arms control negotiations when they serve U.S. national security objectives. At the same time, U.S. policy recognizes that arms control agreements are not an end in themselves but are, in combination with U.S. and Allied efforts to maintain the military balance, an important means for enhancing national security and global stability.

[Arms Control Linkage with Soviet Actions] The U.S. should make clear to the Allies as well as to the USSR that U.S. ability to reach satisfactory results in arms control negotiations will inevitably be influenced by the international situation, the overall state of U.S.-Soviet relations, and the difficulties in defining areas of mutual agreement with an adversary which often seeks unilateral gains.

[Arms Control, Force Modernization and Balanced and Verifiable Reductions] U.S. arms control proposals will be consistent with necessary force modernization plans and will seek to achieve balanced, significant, and verifiable reductions to equal levels of comparable armaments. (headings added)6

NSDD 75: Excerpt on Military and Geopolitical Cold War Strategy. The NSDD’s section on “Priorities in the U.S. Approach: Maximizing Restraining Leverage over Soviet Behavior” includes the following excerpt on the new overall U.S. Cold War strategy with the Soviet Union:

Underlying the full range of U.S. and western policies must be a strong military capable of action across the entire spectrum of potential conflicts and guided by a well conceived political and military strategy. The heart of U.S. military strategy is to deter attack by the USSR and its allies against the U.S., its Allies, or other important countries, and to defeat such an attack should deterrence fail. Although unilateral U.S. efforts must lead the way in rebuilding Western military strength to counter the Soviet threat, the protection of Western interests will require increased . . . utilization of their resources. This military strategy will be combined with a political strategy attaching high priority to the following objectives: Sustaining steady, long-term growth in U.S. defense spending and capabilities—both nuclear and conventional. . . . Creating a long-term Western consensus for dealing with the Soviet Union, . . . keep pressure on Moscow for withdrawal [from Afghanistan] and ensure that Soviet costs on the ground are high, . . . [maintain] a sustained U.S. defense commitment to deter Soviet military encroachments [in the Middle East], . . . retain the option of using its military forces to protect vital U.S. security interests against threats which may arise from the Soviet-Cuban connection.7

The Weinberger Doctrine: Six Tests—November 1983. The appellation Weinberger Doctrine was given to a statement by Secretary of Defense Weinberger at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. on November 28, 1984. Weinberger outlined six specific policy criteria for U.S. decisions on conducting limited military operations overseas as follows:

Once it is clear our troops are required, because our vital interests are at stake, then we must have the firm national resolve to commit every ounce of strength necessary to win the fight to achieve our objectives. In Granada we did just that.

Just as clearly, there are other situations where United States combat forces should not be used. I believe the postwar period has taught us several lessons, and from them I have developed six major tests to be applied when we are weighing the use of U.S. combat forces abroad. Let me now share them with you:

First, the United States should not commit forces to combat overseas unless the particular engagement or occasion is deemed vital to our national interest or that of our allies. That emphatically does not mean that we should declare beforehand, as we did with Korea in 1950, that a particular area is outside our strategic perimeter.

Second, if we decide it is necessary to put combat troops into a given situation, we should do so wholeheartedly, and with the clear intention of winning. If we are unwilling to commit the forces or resources necessary to achieve our objectives, we should not commit them at all. Of course if the particular situation requires only limited force to win our objectives, then we should not hesitate to commit forces sized accordingly. When Hitler broke treaties and remilitarized the Rhineland, small combat forces then could perhaps have prevented the holocaust of World War II.

Third, if we do decide to commit forces to combat overseas, we should have clearly defined political and military objectives. And we should know precisely how our forces can accomplish those clearly defined objectives. And we should have and send the forces needed to do just that. As Clausewitz wrote, “No one starts a war—or rather, no one in his senses ought to do so—without first being clear in his mind what he intends to achieve by that war, and how he intends to conduct it.”

[Book pg. 224]