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

3. Early NSC Directives and Coordination of Reagan’s Freedom Strategy and Public Diplomacy

Reagan’s revolutionary proposals for human rights, arms control, deterrence, peace, and freedom gave substance to America’s highest ideals and moral principles and realistically exposed the abysmal contrasting facts about the roots and record of the Soviet Union’s totalitarian ideology, political system, and practices. Reagan’s statecraft was unprecedented in confronting the realities of aggressive Soviet policies ranging from rights suppression, gulag prisons, and captive nations to military buildups, treaty violations, and Soviet intelligence including “active measures,” espionage, disinformation, fronts, and subversion. At the same time, Reagan directed that anti-Communist resistance forces in Eastern Europe, Afghanistan, Central America, Africa, and other regions would be both publicly and covertly provided with U.S. assistance, including vigorous diplomatic support, and in some cases arms, to rally the victims and targets of Communism and greatly to increase the Soviet Union’s moral and military costs of empire.

Reaching Audiences, and Overcoming Walls at Home and Abroad. At home, Reagan’s public speeches and reports rallied the American people against the ideological walls thrown up by “politically correct” members of Congress, national media, academic and policy institutions, and in sections of the bureaucracy he had inherited. Abroad, Western democracies were encouraged as Reagan directly addressed the Marxist-Leninist fictions, lies, contradictions, and vulnerabilities underlying the Soviet regime and its captive nations. Across the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain, and in areas of the globe where Soviet, Cuban, East-German, and other anti-democratic Communist forces and fronts were active, Communist ideological walls and secret police systems proved unable to block or successfully overcome Reagan’s revolutionary messages of freedom, openness, independence, and resistance.

NSC Coordination of Public Information and Public Diplomacy. Reagan’s personal leadership in taking on the Soviet ideological and imperial challenge was evident in his presidential directives and the national security aspects of his public speeches coordinated through the National Security Council (NSC) as NSC staff worked closely with Reagan’s speechwriters, public outreach officials, and Congressional Relations staff. Reagan’s directives assigned the NSC a leading coordination role throughout the Interdepartmental system with the Departments of State and Defense, the U.S. Communications/Information Agency, the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, and the intelligence community (to assure appropriate declassification as required). The resulting public outreach contrasted sharply with the self-censoring, generally accommodationist U.S. perspectives of the “détente” decade of the 1970s. In contrast, hard-hitting public speeches and reports now presented detailed facts, data charts, and photographs backed by declassified data, followed by updated briefings and reports.

“Dual Purpose” Domestic and International Distribution, Internet Document Library. Reagan’s speeches were broadcast around the globe, and an unprecedented range of statements and reports were distributed by the NSC, White House offices, and authorized departments to the American public and international audiences, including media, parliaments, and academics. Reagan’s public outreach products intended primarily for domestic audiences, were also adapted or distributed directly to international audiences as “public diplomacy” products. Restrictions on the domestic distribution was generally interpreted as not applying to the distribution of information copies to Congress or U.S. non-government groups, including academics and private sector policy institutes that requested such materials.

Internet Library of Key Reagan Public Diplomacy Documents. Hundreds of previously ignored Reagan Administration public diplomacy reports, in addition to public speeches, press conference statements, and reports to Congress are cited throughout this book and their full texts are available in this book’s Internet Document Library.

NSDD 32 Ideological Combat and Instruments of Resistance—May 1982. Early Reagan National Security Council directives on his overall U.S. National Security Strategy reviewed in Chapter 8 include a wide range of U.S. Cold War policy objectives and actions to be undertaken. One of the first directives, NSDD 32—U.S. National Security Strategy issued on May 20, 1982 established eleven global objectives for U.S. strategy. Of these, four in particular involve Reagan’s focus on freedom aspects of ideological combat, public diplomacy, and support to anti-Communist resistance forces as follows:

[Book pg. 375]