184. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Clark) to President Reagan 1

SUBJECT

  • Moscow’s Reactions to Your June 9 London Speech

You may not be aware of the immense impression your London speech has made in Moscow.2 For several months now Soviet experts on the U.S. have lulled the Kremlin into believing that you have fundamentally softened your stance toward the Soviet Union and Communism, adopting a “pragmatic” line that in all but name is identical with detente. In so doing, they were largely victims of the U.S. media on which they rely for insights into our politics. The uncompromising and philosophical tone of your speech proved, therefore, a grave shock to the Kremlin, placing it in a quandary as to what sort of a response to adopt. Here are some illustrations:

—In its initial reaction TASS could not even get itself to admit that you were talking about communism, saying instead that you contrasted “the West” with that “part of the world where power is in the hands of the people”(!).

—Our Moscow Embassy reports that numerous Soviet contacts have raised the issue of the London speech. A senior Izvestiia correspondent referred to Soviet criticism leveled at your speech as the harshest since your inauguration. Time Magazine correspondent in Moscow, Strobe Talbott, was told by a high Central Committee official that your London speech was not “ideological warfare” but a declaration of intent to “destroy” the USSR (Tab A).3 (S)

All this indicates how extremely vulnerable Moscow is to a bold ideological challenge, and how panically afraid of it. Lest, however, it be able to misinterpret your challenge to be not ideological but military (as it has been doing already), it is very important that in your future speeches on the subject you stress that what you have in mind is, indeed, “ideological competition”. This might be accomplished in the context of a speech in which you spell out your Soviet policy and [Page 583] propose concrete steps the Soviet leadership needs to take internally and externally in order to earn a more sympathetic attitude from the U.S. Given the evident disarray in Moscow, such an address may help tip the scales in favor of more realistic elements in the Soviet leadership. (S)

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Pipes Files, CHRON 06/13/1982–06/16/1982. Secret. Sent for information. Printed from an uninitialed copy.
  2. Reference is to Reagan’s June 8 address to members of the British Parliament, see Document 177.
  3. Attached but not printed is telegram 7264 from Moscow, June 14. (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, D820309–1032)