Reagan on US policy toward Soviet bloc nations (1982)

United States president Ronald Reagan signed National Security Decision Directive 54 (NSDD-54) on September 2nd 1982. NSDD-54 outlined Reagan’s policy of “differentiation” when dealing with Soviet bloc nations in Europe. Soviet-aligned governments who stepped back from socialism, embraced liberal reforms or showed independence from Moscow would, Reagan promised, benefit from American support. The incentives listed in NSDD-54 included the granting of ‘most favoured nation’ status, access to American capital and credit, membership of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), cultural and scientific exchanges, as well as high-level visits. Reagan’s objective was to destabilise the Soviet bloc, undermine the Warsaw Pact and weaken Moscow’s grip on eastern Europe:

United States policy toward Eastern Europe

“I have determined that the primary long-term US goal in Eastern Europe is to loosen the Soviet hold on the region and thereby facilitate its eventual reintegration into the European community of nations.

Western influence in the region is admittedly limited by Moscow’s willingness to use force against developments which threaten what it perceives as its vital interests in the region. The United States, however, can have an important impact on the region, provided it continues to differentiate in its policies toward the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact countries of Eastern Europe… [This offers the best vehicle for achieving the primary US goal of weakening overall Soviet control in the region…

Differentiation will aim at:

  • Encouraging more liberal trends in the region.
  • Furthering human and civil rights in East European countries.
  • Reinforcing the pro-Western orientation of their peoples.
  • Lessening their economic and political dependence on the USSR and facilitating their association with the free nations of Western Europe.
  • Undermining the military capabilities of the Warsaw Pact.
  • Encouraging more private market-oriented development of their economies, free trade union activity, etc…

In implementing its policy, the US will calibrate its policies to discriminate carefully in favour of governments which:

  • Show relative independence from the Soviet Union in the conduct of foreign policy, as manifested by the degree to which they resist associating themselves with Soviet foreign policy objectives…
  • Show relatively greater internal liberalisation, as manifested by a willingness to observe internationally-recognised human rights and to pursue a degree of pluralism and decentralisation, including a more market-oriented economy.

The US government will consider each factor to an appropriate degree on a case-by-case basis. States that fail to show internal or external independence should be treated essentially as we treat the USSR…”

reagan soviet bloc 1982
Ronald Reagan at Checkpoint Charlie during a visit to Berlin in June 1982
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