204. National Security Study Directive 11–821



A Review will be conducted of U.S. Policy Toward the Soviet Union. This National Security Study Directive establishes the Terms of Reference for the Review. (S)

Objectives of the Review

The Review will assess the nature of the Soviet threat to U.S. national security interests in the short and long terms, with emphasis on its non-military aspects, and recommend appropriate U.S. policy responses, by:

—Analyzing the determinants of Soviet foreign policy and domestic policies of concern to the U.S. and other outside powers;

—Assessing Soviet strengths and weaknesses;

—Identifying key elements of likely continuity and change in the Soviet system and Soviet policies; and

—Determining the political, economic, military and ideological means at our disposal for achieving favorable changes in Soviet interna[Page 671]tional behavior, including assessment of the costs and obstacles involved in using them. (S)

The Review will proceed on the premise that Soviet international behavior is determined not only by the external environment but also by political, economic, social and ideological features of the Soviet system itself. It will produce a paper for consideration by the National Security Council, and subsequently, for decision by the President. (S)

Scope of the Review

The Review will deal with the following subjects:

1. The likelihood of changes in the Soviet system: to ascertain what realistic expectation one can have of significant changes in the Soviet system and in Soviet international behavior, and in which areas; whether such changes are likely to make the country more or less threatening, and in which areas. The question of non-evolutionary (violent) collapse of the system from within and its implications for U.S. security will also be considered. (S)

2. Soviet vulnerabilities and strengths: the sources of strains and tensions within the Soviet system and the bases for continuity:

A. Internal

Economic (resources and structures by sector, strengths and weaknesses of central planning, other constraints on Soviet economic growth, trends in industrial and agricultural productivity, degree of dependence on foreign trade, the financial outlook, the burden of military expenditures, consumer passivity and dissatisfaction).

Political (party, police and society; social malaise and revolutionary consciousness; the self-assertion of the working class; dissident movements among Russians and ethnic minorities; the succession problem).

Social (demographic trends; urban and rural society; youth; deviance; the religious factor).

B. External

Imperial challenges: increasing burdens of projecting a global presence; allies and proxies; strains in Eastern Europe, including economic relations with CEMA.

Communist movements: centrifugal tendencies in the international Communist movement; heresies and deviations.

International challenges: the United States, Western Europe, Japan, China, the Third World. (S)

3. The Balance of Internal Forces Making for Continuity or Change: to analyze the Soviet ruling elite in terms of elements favoring the status quo and those favoring change in either a more liberal or a more [Page 672] conservative direction, and to determine what actions by foreign powers assist each of these competing groups. (S)

4. Meeting the Soviet Challenge in the Short and Long Terms: to define the Soviet challenge to our interests over the next three-five years and ten years, and to ascertain the means at the disposal of the United States, its Allies and other mobilizable forces to influence the evolution of Soviet policies and the Soviet regime in directions favorable to our interests:

Political (key regional crises; the role of U.S. and multi-lateral diplomacy in inhibiting Soviet interventionism; political assistance and support to democratic elements in the USSR and other countries; neutralization of Soviet “active measures”); the role of covert action should also be assessed.

Economic (altering the mix of available Soviet policy options; technology transfer; energy policy and competition for raw materials; management of East/West trade, including grain sales; sectors of the economy susceptible to influence through Western trade policies; policy on extension of Western credits to the USSR).

Ideological (the nature and thrust of U.S. informational efforts directed at the Soviet Union; the role of U.S.-Soviet cultural, scientific and other exchanges; scope and intensity of U.S. efforts to counter Soviet disinformation activities; presenting a democratic alternative).

High-level dialogue (advantages and disadvantages in relation to frequency and scope; the historical record of summitry). (S)

5. Shaping the Soviet environment:

The military balance (the importance of U.S. and Allied rearmament; the U.S. military strategy most likely to neutralize Soviet strategic and regional objectives; the role of arms control in advancing U.S. national security interests; security assistance to Allies and assistance to anti-Communist forces; regional commitments of U.S. forces). (This section should draw on NSSD–1.)2

Allied cooperation (how best to secure and support the cooperation of our Allies in pursuit of our policies toward the USSR).

Third World cooperation (actual and potential; bilateral and multilateral; the place of diplomacy). (S)

6. Recommended Policies for the U.S. (how U.S., Western and Third-World leverage can be applied against Soviet vulnerabilities to induce Soviet restraint in the short and long term). (S)

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Management of the NSSD 11–82 Review will be the responsibility of an interagency group that will report its findings in a paper of no more than 25 pages, single-spaced, no later than October 1, 1982. The group will be chaired by the Department of State and will include Assistant Secretary-level representation from the Department of Defense, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Treasury Department, the Department of Commerce, the International Communication Agency, the Department of Agriculture and the National Security Council staff. (S)

All matters relating to this NSSD will be classified SECRET. Dissemination of this NSSD, the subsequent study material, and the resulting draft NSSD will be handled on a strict need-to-know basis. (C)

Ronald Reagan
  1. Source: Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC: National Security Study Directives (NSSD): Records, 1981–1987, NSSD 11–82. Secret.
  2. NSSD–1 is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, vol. XLIII, National Security Policy, 1981–1984.