Structure and Scope of the Foreign Relations Series

This volume is part of a subseries of the Foreign Relations series that documents the foreign policies of the administration of Ronald Reagan. Four volumes in the subseries are devoted to Reagan’s Soviet policies: Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, volume III, Soviet Union, January 1981–January 1983; volume IV, Soviet Union, January 1983–March 1985; volume V, Soviet Union, March 1985–October 1986; and volume VI, October 1986–January 1989. The crafting and negotiation of the landmark U.S.-Soviet nuclear treaties of this era are fleshed out in two additional volumes: Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, volume XI, START I, 1981–1991, and volume XII, INF, 1984–1987. Documentation on chemical weapons, nuclear testing, and non-proliferation negotiations which involved the United States and the Soviet Union will be printed in Foreign Relations 1981–1988, volume XL, Arms Control and Non-Proliferation; United Nations.

Focus of Research and Principles of Selection for Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, Volume III

This volume tracks the Reagan administration’s efforts to construct a new framework for U.S. relations with the Soviet Union after the collapse of détente. It commences with Ronald Reagan’s election on November 4, 1980, and concludes with his approval of National Security Decision Directive 75, “U.S. Relations With the USSR,” on January 17, 1983. The main principles guiding the selection of documents were whether they shed light on high-level diplomacy between Washington and Moscow or the formulation of U.S. policies toward the Soviet Union.

At the outset of the Reagan administration, Secretary of State Alexander Haig sought to be the “vicar” of foreign policy. He took the lead on Soviet matters, flanked by State Department officials Walter Stoessel, Lawrence Eagleburger, and Richard Burt. Haig clashed with White House officials, jousted with Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, and refused to send copies of his memoranda of conversation with Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko to Richard Pipes, the chief Soviet adviser on the National Security Council staff.

President Reagan decided to restore the status of the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs which he had previously diminished to avoid the internal conflicts that plagued three previous administrations. Reagan appointed William Clark on January 4, 1982, to [Page X] succeed Richard Allen. On June 25, he accepted Haig’s resignation and asked former Secretary of the Treasury George Shultz to be the next Secretary of State.

With his new team in place that summer, Reagan signed off on the terms of reference for a comprehensive strategic review of U.S. policy toward the Soviet Union, National Security Study Directive 11–82, “U.S. Policy Toward the Soviet Union.” The result, National Security Decision Directive 75, which Pipes drafted, begins: “U.S. policy toward the Soviet Union will consist of three elements: external resistance to Soviet imperialism; internal pressure on the USSR to weaken the sources of Soviet imperialism; and negotiations to eliminate, on the basis of strict reciprocity, outstanding disagreements.”

The documentation leading up to NSDD–75 offers a wide-angle view of Cold War flashpoints during the period January 1981–January 1983. These include: the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan; the potential Soviet invasion of Poland; the possibility that the Reagan administration would act to delay Soviet construction of a Siberian gas pipeline to Western Europe; the implications of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) 1979 “Dual Track Decision” to deploy Pershing II and ground-launched cruise missiles while also seeking arms negotiations; and the implementation of a strategic modernization program for the United States. For a sharper focus on these issues, readers should consult Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, volume XXXIV, Afghanistan, 1981–1984; Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, volume VII, Poland, 1977–1981; Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, Western Europe; 1981–1984; Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, volume V, European Security, 1977–1983; and Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, volume XLIII, National Security Policy, 1981–1984.

Three objectives that generated consensus among Reagan and his advisers were to impel the Soviet Union to withdraw military support for Cuba and Nicaragua (which were, in turn, funneling arms to anti-government forces in El Salvador), lean on Cuba to withdraw from Angola, and rein in Syria from its proxy campaign in the Lebanese Civil War. Further documentation is in Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, volume XIV, Central America, 1981–1984; Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, volume XVII, Mexico; Cuba; Caribbean; Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, volume XXV, Southern Africa, 1981–1984; Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, volume XVIII, Part 1, Lebanon, April 1981–August 1982; and Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, volume XVIII, Part 2, Lebanon, September 1982–March 1984.

Additionally, there were three cases of Soviet human rights abuses that drew and sustained President Reagan’s attention: refusenik and activist Anatoly Shcharanskiy, imprisoned on charges of treason; nuclear physicist-turned-dissident Andrei Sakharov, sentenced to in[Page XI]ternal exile; and a group of Siberian Pentecostals—some of whom were living in the basement of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow—who hoped to emigrate to Israel. The story of Reagan’s interest in these individuals continues in Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, volume IV, Soviet Union, January 1983–March 1985; Foreign Relations, volume V, Soviet Union, March 1985–October 1986; and Foreign Relations, volume VI, Soviet Union, October 1986–January 1989, as well as the chapter on human rights in Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, volume XLI, Global Issues II.


The editor wishes to thank officials at the Ronald Reagan Library, especially Cate Sewell and Lisa Jones, and the Library of Congress, especially Ernest Emrich. Thanks are also due to the Central Intelligence Agency for arranging access to the Reagan Library materials scanned for the Remote Archive Capture project. The History Staff of the Center for the Study of Intelligence of the Central Intelligence Agency was accommodating in arranging full access to the files of the Central Intelligence Agency; Sandy Meagher was helpful in providing access to Department of Defense materials. The editor also thanks the staff at the National Archives and Records Administration facility in College Park, Maryland, for their valuable assistance. The editor wishes to extend a special thanks to Sherwood “Woody” Goldberg.

James Graham Wilson collected, selected, and edited the documentation for this volume under the supervision of David Geyer, Chief of the Europe Division, who reviewed the volume. Stephen Randolph, The Historian, and Kathleen B. Rasmussen, Chief of the Global Issues and General Division, also reviewed the volume. Chris Tudda coordinated the declassification review under the supervision of Carl Ashley, Chief of the Declassification Division. Erin F. Cozens performed the technical and copy editing. Do Mi Stauber prepared the index.