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

insignificant maneuvers. As the Soviet Union continues in its expansionist course, the potential for dangerous confrontations has increased. Republicans will strive to resolve critical issues through peaceful negotiations, but we recognize that negotiations conducted from a position of military weakness can result only in further damage to American interests.

[Human Rights] We reaffirm our commitment to press the Soviet Union to implement the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights and the Helsinki Agreements which guarantee rights such as the free interchange of information and the right to emigrate. A Republican Administration will press the Soviet Union to end its harassment and the imprisonment of those who speak in opposition to official policies, who seek to worship according to their religious beliefs, or who represent diverse ethnic minorities and nationalities. Republicans deplore growing anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union and the mistreatment of ‘refuseniks’ by Soviet authorities . . . and the promulgation of ever more rigorous conditions inhibiting their emigration is a fundamental affront to human rights and the U.N. Charter. Republicans will make the subject of emigration from the Soviet Union a central issue in Soviet-American relations. Human rights in the Soviet Union will not be ignored as it has been during the Carter Administration. As a party to the Helsinki Conference Final Act, a Republican Administration will insist on full Soviet compliance with the humanitarian provisions of the agreement.

[Captive Nations: Self-Determination] Republicans pledge our continued support for the people of Cuba and the captive nations of Central and Eastern Europe in their hope to achieve self-determination. We stand firmly for the independence of Yugoslavia. We support self-determination and genuine independence for new captive nations of Africa and Latin America threatened by the growing domination of Soviet power.

[Public Diplomacy: Ending Carter Cover-Ups, Publicizing to the World] A Republican Administration will end the sustained Carter policy of misleading the American people about Soviet policies and behavior. We will spare no efforts to publicize to the world the fundamental differences in the two systems and will strengthen such means as the International Communications Agency, the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, and Radio Liberty actively to articulate U.S. values and policies, and to highlight the weaknesses of totalitarianism. We pledge to end the Carter cover-up of Soviet violations of SALT I and II, to end the cover-up of Soviet violations of the Biological Warfare Convention, and to end the cover-up of Soviet use of gas and chemical weapons in Afghanistan and elsewhere. (headings added)4

Reagan’s First Inaugural Address—January 1981. The setting and vision of Reagan’s inaugural presidential call to faith and action is reviewed in Chapter 8 on Reagan’s new Cold War “grand strategy,” as firmly established early in his first term. Reagan’s freedom theme belongs to the present chapter as well. Thus:

[America’s Freedom Faith and Weapon] We the people, this breed called Americans. . . . We are a nation that has a government—not the other way around. And this makes us special among the nations of the Earth. Our government has no power except that granted it by the people. . . . Freedom and the dignity of the individual have been more available and assured here than in any other place on earth. . . . Let us begin an era of national renewal . . . ready to do what must be done to ensure happiness and liberty for ourselves, our children and our children’s children. . . . We will again be the exemplar of freedom and a beacon of hope for those who do not now have freedom. . . . No arsenal or 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 today’s world do not have. It is a weapon that we as Americans do have. Let that be understood by those who practice terrorism and prey upon their neighbors.

[Neighbors and Enemies of Freedom] To those neighbors and allies who share our freedom, we will strengthen our historic ties and assure them of our support and firm commitment. We will match loyalty with loyalty. We will strive for mutually beneficial relations. We will not use our friendship to impose on their sovereignty, for our own sovereignty is not for sale. As for the enemies of freedom, those who are potential adversaries, they will be reminded that peace is the highest aspiration of the American people. We will negotiate for it, sacrifice for it; we will not surrender for it, now or ever. Our forbearance should never be misunderstood. Our reluctance for conflict should not be misjudged as a failure of will. When action is required to preserve our national security, we will act. We will maintain sufficient strength to prevail if need be, knowing that if we do so we have the best chance of never having to use that strength.

[Will and Courage—Under God] I’m told that tens of thousands of prayer meetings are being held on this day, and for that I’m deeply grateful. We are a nation under God, and I believe God intended for us to be free. It would be fitting and good, I think, if on each Inaugural Day in future years it should be declared a day of prayer. (headings added)5


[Book pg. 374]