252. Memorandum From Richard Pipes of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Clark)1


  • State’s Paper on “U.S.-Soviet Relations”

At your request, State has prepared a study on likely Soviet policies in the next 6–24 months and our possible responses (Tab I).2 I find the paper utterly disappointing in almost every respect and quite useless for purposes of policy guidance.

The State Department assumes—contrary to all evidence—that the primary concern of the current Soviet administration lies in the area of foreign policy whereas all the evidence indicates that its uppermost concerns are internal. The Andropov regime must first of all solidify its power by placing its own people in positions of authority and removing rivals. Next it must reinvigorate the flagging economy by raising productivity, reducing thefts of state property, and meeting mounting consumer demands. Then it has to deal with pressures within [Page 832] the Communist Empire. These are Andropov’s prime concerns and to acknowledge them means painting a very different picture of the “View from Moscow” from that presented in State’s study. The latter document is wildly optimistic about the ability of the present regime to handle internal difficulties and concentrate on foreign policies.

In dealing with U.S. responses, State’s study repeats tired old arguments about a combination of containment and cooperation with the Soviet Union. That whole part of the study (pages 4–10) could easily have been produced under President Carter. The underlying premise is that we are dealing with an ordinary pragmatic regime that will respond to a combination of carrots and sticks. The fact that the leadership of the Soviet government is now in the hands of a one-time head of the Security Police and that this presents us with a very special kind of threat is not even considered. There is no sense here of a Soviet global strategy and therefore no recommendation of a global U.S. response. While it is true that the study was to deal only with the next two years, surely its analyses and prescription must harmonize with the long-term views taken by the Soviet NSDD: they do not do that at all. In particular, there is no mention here of the need to apply internal pressure on the Soviet Union and its Empire through economic, political, and ideological instrumentalities which constitutes one of the three principal U.S. policy objectives of the Soviet NSDD.

I have included a memorandum from Wheeler to Bremer for your convenience. (Tab II)3


1. That State’s study “U.S.-Soviet Relations” be returned to State for a thorough revision which would take into account Andropov’s political mentality, pay adequate attention to Soviet internal problems, and accord with the NSDD on U.S.-Soviet relations.4

2. If you approve, Mike Wheeler will forward the memorandum at Tab II to Bremer.

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Matlock Files, US/USSR Rel. 10/10 [Dec. 1982]. Secret; Sensitive. Sent for action.
  2. See Document 249.
  3. Not found attached.
  4. Reagan did not indicate his preferences with respect to the recommendations.