Melanie Brown

Reading Notes for April 4, 2002

Frances Fitzgerald, Way Out There In The Blue

Chapter 4, "Space Enthusiasts"

Most of this chapter can be skimmed. Fitzgerald provides background information on the key players around the Reagan administration promoting the creation of an anti-ballistic missile system (ABM).

-1972 Nixon’s administration negotiated a ban on anti-missile systems with the Soviet Union

-research efforts continued in the U.S.—a countrywide defense system that was cost effective was the goal

-by 1980 there is still not overwhelming public support for such a system, "no bombs in the backyard"

121-125 discusses the growing "laser lobby" in the Senate, headed by Senator Malcolm Wallop of Wyoming

-White House remains largely "cool" to various groups advocating system creation—issue is with technology being available to support space defense system capable of defending national security

-1985 Reagan’s administration formally presents the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) to Congress

  • During his first term in office, how important is it for Reagan to convince Congress and the public that the best defense for the nation is an offensive system? How must he portray the Soviets to convince people to support his programs?
  • Why did the U.S. have to regain strategic superiority in the early eighties? How real was the threat from the Soviet Union?

Chapter 5, "To the Star Wars Speech"

This chapter exposes the extent to which Reagan shifted further right than voters or world leaders originally anticipated.

148 Why was Reagan not originally considered a tough line conservative?

151 Why did Reagan’s administration avoid dealings with the Soviet Union in the first two years of office?

153-155 What impact did demonstrations in Europe have on Reagan’s negotiations with the Soviets?

161-167 How did Reagan address the conflict between tax cuts and defense spending? How did Congress address the higher defense spending which contributed to a growing deficit?

172 Pay attention to Haig’s characterization of the administrations four pillars of foreign policy

177-185 How did the Soviets respond to the "zero option?" How did the White House respond to growing demands among students first and then the ‘unpoliticized public and churches’ for a freeze on the production of nuclear weapons?

184-191 What became of the "consensus approach?"

197-200 How important was it for Reagan to convince the public that they needed to be saved from nuclear war? Did this cost Reagan leverage with the Soviets?

206-209 Read excerpts from Reagan’s diary entries about SDI decision for personal portrayal of Reagan.

Chapter 6, "Selling the Strategic Defense Initiative"

This chapter explores the reaction to the SID speech as it transformed from a disastrous announcement to an actual creation of SID. There is a lot revealed about Reagan as a skillful politician. He is able to avoid discussing the SID plan through reelection and then transforms his public persona to a man of peace.

210-212 How did Congress, the press and the pubic react to Reagan’s speech? What does this reveal about the political climate at the time?

212 Pay attention to how SID will transform from a disastrous speech to the largest military-research program in the nation’s history.

213-220 Skim—pay attention to changing moods in White House, routines, etc.

227-230 How devastating was the Korean Air Lines attack by Soviet fighter planes to foreign relations?

233 Notice Reagan’s memoir entry about implication of not appointing Jim Baker to the NSC-insight into Iran-Contra affair

233-235 1984 Reelection information. On domestic issues Reagan boasted prosperity of present. For defense and foreign affairs Reagan began advocating a strong state (despite zero change to military balance between S.U. and U.S. since 1980).

236 Reagan calls for zero option on all nuclear arms. How does he handle this switch in position? What does this reveal about his public image?

240-248 How is Reagan able to avoid defending SID in campaign debates and speeches?

248-255 Technological debates in Congress continue as the administration pushes the "moral correctness of providing a safer world."

258-264 How does Reagan transform "evil empire" rhetoric into "dreams" of eliminating nuclear weapons and become a "man of peace" to the public? How does this make Star Wars favorable?

Chapter 7, "Hard-Liners vs. Pragmatists"

This chapter portrays the private Reagan as cordial, courteous and remote (and that this distance was advantageous politically for the president). The chapter goes on to discuss how Reagan dealt with different factions within the GOP and how Gorbachev’s rise to power altered the administrations agenda. The chapter ends with Reagan completing the performance of a lifetime in Geneva.

265-267 It is suggested by Adelman, the director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, that the administration should explore "arms control without agreements." Is this possible?

274-278 Read carefully how the President’s goals were transformed into strategy (paragraph by Nitze).

278-281 General information on Geneva talks.

282 U.S. continues support for anti-Communist insurgencies in developing nations, so-called "Reagan doctrine"—implied again that Soviets to blame for hostilities Third World. Repudiates Reagan’s promise in 1984 to begin dialogue of peace with Soviets regarding regional conflicts.

283 Why is it necessary for hard-liners to convince us of Soviet violations of SALT II?

284-289 Gorbachev becomes general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party—how will this force Reagan back towards a moderate stance on a defense missile system?

-Gorbachev and Reagan meet in Geneva on November 19-20

-Gorbachev asks for the SDI to conform to the ABM Treaty "as it had always been understood." Gorbachev okays the ‘offense-defense trade-off’-Reagan not impressed.

290-301 Skim-discussion of different provisions and compromises for SDI and the ABM Treaty and possible American withdrawal from treaty.

301-307 Skim-deals with mood of leaders before Geneva summit when there was no agreed-upon agenda.

306 Hard-liners again charge Soviets with arms-control violations. How much influence are they imposing on Reagan? What options does Reagan have to appease this faction?

-Results of summit not substantial. What practical importance did the meeting hold?

307-313 Reagan credited with success at summit—refused to give up on SDI. ‘Magical’ atmosphere of summit reiterates Reagan as quintessential pr president-he is able to talk tough and smile for the press.


‘The Evil Empire" Speech by Reagan

Reagan uses the economic failings of the Soviet Union to demand political reform and assures the nation that everyone prefers democracy to dictatorship. It is not until the near end of the speech that Reagan discusses reducing strategic ballistic missile warheads and promoting the zero-option initiative.