Chapter 16 - Reagan’s Freedom Strategy: Key Freedom Speeches, Public Diplomacy, Supporting Anti-Communist Resistance

The Reagan Revolution’s liberating effect overcame six decades of Communist Party monopolies, myths, and imperial power. It provided a path to freedom for millions of victims of Communism and laid new foundations for global peace and freedom.

2. Freedom Themes in Reagan’s Presidential Campaign, Platform, and Inaugural Address

Reagan’s writings, broadcasts, and speeches were marked by a life-long emphasis on freedom for each individual and the concomitant opportunity and Constitutional responsibility of each American generation, especially that of each president, “to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” When he became president, his Inaugural Address onJanuary 20, 1981, further reviewed below, made the point that in this task: “no weapon in the arsenals of the world is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in the world do not have.”1 Reagan’s campaign speeches, election platform, and inaugural address signaled a powerful foundation for a new emphasis on freedom as a core element of the nation’s Cold War strategy.

Reagan: 1980 Campaign Speeches. As reviewed in Chapter 7, Reagan’s 1980 presidential campaign was marked by his call for national renewal and proactive U.S. leadership in freedom’s cause. Citations follow from two examples. First is Reagan’s Announcement of his Campaign for the Presidency on November 13, 1979:

Since the Second World War we have spent large amounts of money and much of our time protecting and defending freedom all over the world. We must continue this, for if we do not accept the responsibilities of leadership, who will? And if no one will, how will we survive? . . . A troubled and afflicted mankind looks to us, pleading for us to keep our rendezvous with destiny; that we will uphold the principles of self-reliance, self-discipline, morality, and above all—responsible liberty for every individual that we will become that shining city on a hill.2

Similarly, Reagan’s major foreign policy election campaign Address to the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations on March 17, 1980, cited at length in Chapter 7, reviewed America’s renewal of its dream and the restoration of its power through a future freedom strategy encapsulated as follows:

When our national recovery begins, you will see a rallying of the spirit not only in this great nation, but among all oppressed people and a revival of our alliances throughout the world. Once we act again as the leader of the Free World, I believe we will no longer stand alone; we will be supported by a grand coalition of other nations and peoples who want to work with us to preserve their freedom.3

Reagan: The 1980 Platform on Ideological Combat and Freedom Themes. Reagan’s Republican Platform—1980 approved in July 1980 authoritatively addresses the threat to freedom emanating from the Soviet Union’s Marxist-Leninist ideology and the regime’s growing global influence and imperial power. Platform sections on “Peace and Freedom” and “Peace through Strength” include defense, arms control, international economic, regional and intelligence issues are cited throughout this book’s topical chapters.

Although some sections of the Platform’s “U.S.-Soviet Relations” are cited elsewhere in this book, it is important to review the section’s moral/strategic core as Reagan presses the cause of freedom through ideological combat, public diplomacy, and assistance to anti-Communist freedom forces in the Soviet Union and beyond. Thus:

[Soviet Military Pressure and Ideological Combat] The premier challenge facing the United States, its allies, and the entire globe is to check the Soviet Union’s global ambitions. This challenge must be met, for the present danger is greater than ever before in the 200-year history of the United States. The Soviet Union is still accelerating its drive for military superiority and is intensifying its military pressure and its ideological combat against the industrial democracies and the vulnerable developing nations of the world.

[Nothing “Inordinate” about Our Judgment of Communism] Republicans believe that the United States can only negotiate with the Soviet Union from a position of unquestioned principle and unquestioned strength. Unlike Mr. Carter, we see nothing ‘inordinate’ in our nation’s historic judgment about the goals, tactics, and dangers of Soviet communism. Unlike the Carter Administration, we are not surprised by the brutal Soviet invasion of Afghanistan or by other Soviet violations of major international agreements regulating international behavior, human rights, and the use of military force. And, unlike the Carter Administration, we will not base our policies toward the Soviet Union on naïve expectations, unilateral concessions, futile rhetoric, and

[Book pg. 373]