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

[Influence and Information] To strengthen the influence of the U.S. throughout the world by strengthening existing alliances, by improving relations with other nations, by forming and supporting coalitions of states friendly to U.S. interests, and by a full range of diplomatic, political, economic and information efforts.

[Contain and Reverse] To contain and reverse the expansion of Soviet control and military presence throughout the world, and to increase the costs of Soviet support and use of proxy, terrorists, and subversive forces.

[Neutralize] To neutralize the efforts of the USSR to increase its influence through its use of diplomacy, arms transfers, economic pressure, political action, propaganda, and disinformation.

[Foster Soviet Restraint] To foster, if possible in concert with our allies, restraint in Soviet military spending, discourage Soviet adventurism, and weaken the Soviet alliance system by forcing the USSR to bear the brunt of its economic shortcomings, and to encourage long-term liberalizing and nationalist tendencies within the Soviet Union and allied countries.

[Aid, Trade, Humane Development] To encourage and strongly support aid, trade and investment programs that promote economic development and the growth of humane social and political orders in the Third World. (headings added)6

NSDD 75—The Ideological Thrust for Freedom and Anti-Soviet Resistance in U.S. Grand Strategy. NSDD 75—U.S.-Soviet Relations, issued on January 17, 1983 and separately reviewed in Chapter 8, provides Reagan’s most authoritative guidance on his comprehensive Cold War strategy. In the present chapter, the following excerpts focus on freedom, ideological combat, public diplomacy, and support to resistance forces. The directive’s section on “Priority in the U.S. Approach: Maximizing Restraining Leverage over Soviet Behavior” includes the following guidance:

Building and sustaining a major ideological/political offensive which together with other efforts, will be designed to bring about evolutionary change of the Soviet system. . . .

[Afghanistan] Effective opposition to Moscow’s efforts to consolidate its position in Afghanistan . . . [and] keep pressure on Moscow for withdrawal and ensure that Soviet costs on the ground are high. . . .

[Poland/Eastern Europe] Maintenance of international pressure on Moscow to permit a relaxation of current repression in Poland and a longer-term increase in diversity and independence throughout Eastern Europe. . . .

[Cuba/Latin America] Neutralization and reduction of the threat to U.S. national security posed by the Soviet-Cuban relationship . . . [and] use a variety of instruments including diplomatic efforts and U.S. security and economic assistance. . . . 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. (headings added)

      Political Action. NSDD 75’s “Political Action” section elaborates on the ideological thrust as follows:

U.S. policy must have an ideological thrust which clearly affirms the superiority of U.S. and Western values of individual dignity and freedom, a free press, free trade unions, free enterprise, and political democracy over the repressive features of Soviet Communism. We need to review and significantly strengthen U.S. instruments of political action including: (a) the President’s London [Westminster—National Endowment for Democracy] initiative to support democratic forces; (b) USG efforts to highlight Soviet human rights violations; and (c) U.S. radio broadcasting policy. The U.S. should: [1] expose at all available fora the double standards employed by the Soviet Union in dealing with difficulties within its own domain and the outside (“capitalist”) world (e.g., treatment of labor, policies toward ethnic minorities, use of chemical weapons, etc.). [2] prevent the Soviet propaganda machine from seizing the semantic high-ground in the battle of ideas through the appropriation of such terms as “peace.”7

“The Third World” and “The Soviet Empire.” Sections of NSDD 75 with these titles provide Reagan’s key Cold War strategy guidance to exploit Soviet vulnerabilities and strengthen international resistance to Soviet imperialism through voices and forces of freedom. Thus:

[The Third World] The U.S. must rebuild the credibility of its commitment to resist Soviet encroachment on U.S. interests and those of its Allies and friends, and to support effectively those Third World states that are willing to resist Soviet pressures or oppose Soviet initiatives hostile to the United States, or are special targets of Soviet policy. The U.S. effort in the Third World must involve an important role for security assistance and

[Book pg. 376]