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

concerns of foreign governments, our information programs should be understood to be a strategic instrument of US national policy, not a tactical instrument of US diplomacy. We cannot accept foreign control over program content.13

A Note on Second-Term Advisory Group Meetings. With the operations of Reagan’s public diplomacy campaigns running at full steam on the basis of the directives reviewed above, Reagan’s second-term senior SPG meetings involving public diplomacy focused on Reagan-Gorbachev summit meetings reviewed in Chapter 9 and referenced in topical chapters of this book. Such meetings include NSPG 134—U.S.-Soviet Relations issued on June 6, 1986, and NSPG 135—U.S.-Soviet Relations, issued on June 12, 1986.

4. Reagan’s Key First-Term Freedom Speeches Against the “Evil Empire”—1981 to 1984

Reagan’s presidential statements and speeches reviewed below and in the next section of this chapter include the most inspiring, most famous, and most effective of the Reagan Revolution that won the Cold War for the ideals and forces of peace and freedom. Reagan asks Americans and global audiences to recognize their totalitarian enemy and to press for freedom in changing the course of history toward a better future that would transcend the Soviet ideology and empire. In addition to the speeches reviewed here, others focused on regional battle areas for freedom are reviewed in Chapter 17 on Afghanistan, Chapter 18 on Latin America, and Chapter 19 on Poland and Eastern Europe.

First News Conference: “One Way” Détente and Soviets “Cheat and Lie”—January 1981. One week after his inauguration, Reagan stunned the world and many of his own diplomats in his First News Conference on January 29, 1981 in an unscripted “let Reagan be Reagan” reality moment that signaled a radical change from 1970s U.S. characterizations of the Cold War and the Soviet Union. Thus:

Q. Mr. President, what do you see as the long-range intentions of the Soviet Union? Do you think, for instance, the Kremlin is bent on world domination that might lead to a continuation of the cold war, or do you think that under other circumstances détente is possible?

The President. Well, so far détente’s been a one-way street that the Soviet Union has used to pursue its own aims. I don’t have to think of an answer as to what I think their intentions are; they have repeated it. I know of no leader of the Soviet Union since the revolution, and including the present leadership, that has not more than once repeated in the various Communist congresses that they hold their determination that their goal must be promotion of world revolution and a one-world Socialist or Communist state, whichever word you want to use.

Now as long as they do that and as long as they, at the same time, have openly and publicly declared that the only morality they recognize is what will further their cause, meaning they reserve unto themselves the right to commit any crime, to lie, to cheat, in order to attain that, and that is moral, not immoral, and we operate on a different set of standards, I think when you do business with them, even at a détente, you keep that in mind.14

Reagan at Notre Dame: Transcending Communism—May 1981. Reagan’s first major public presidential address delivered at Notre Dame University on May 17, 1981, is a “must read” statement that took on the related themes of America’s founding cause of freedom for society and individuals, the damage done to that cause by overreaching central governments, and the particular evils associated with the totalitarian Communist ideology and Communist regimes. Thus:

[America’s Founders and their Higher Cause] There will come times in the lives of all of us when we’ll be faced with causes bigger than ourselves. . . . This Nation was born when a band of men, the Founding Fathers, a group so unique we’ve never seen their like since, rose to such selfless heights. . . . 56 men achieved security and standing in life but valued freedom more. They pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. Sixteen of them gave their lives. Most gave their fortunes. All preserved their sacred honor.

They gave us more than a nation. They brought to all mankind for the first time the concept that man was born free, that each of us has inalienable rights, ours by the grace of God, and that government was created by us for our convenience, having only the powers that we choose to give it. . . . This experiment in man’s relation to man is a few years into its third century. . . . Free to express their genius, individual Americans, men and women . . . would perform such miracles of invention, construction, and production as the world had ever seen. . . .

[U.S. Government Overreach] . . . [Now] federalism, with its built in checks and balances, has been distorted. Central government has usurped powers that properly belong to local and State governments . . . [and] has begun to fail to do the things that are truly [its] responsibility. . . . We’re troubled today by economic stag-

[Book pg. 379]