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The belief that the Soviet Union was a deadly enemy that threatened the well-being and security of the United States was the central tenet of Regan’s approach to foreign policy. He was the Russians as bent on world revolution, ready to commit any crime, to lie, to cheat to advance their cause. Citing what he called a “record of tyranny,” Regan denounced the Russians before the UN in 1982, claiming that “Soviet sponsored guerrillas and terrorists are at work in Central and South America, in Africa, the Middle East, in the Caribbean and in Europe, violating human rights and unnerving the world with Violence”.
Given this view of Russia as “the focus of evil in the modern world”, it is not surprising that the new President continued the hard line that Carter had adopted after the invasion of Afghanistan. Regan proceeded to implement a 1979 decision to place 572 Pershing II and cruise missiles in Western Europe within the range of Moscow and other Russian population centers to match Soviet deployment of medium range missiles aimed at NATO countries.
Strong protests from the Soviet Union, as well as growing uneasiness in Europe and an increasingly vocal nuclear freeze movement at home, led the Regan administration to offer two new arms control initiatives by 1982. The first proposed canceling the placement of the 572 missiles in return for Russian removal of their missiles targeted on Western Europe and second a new series of arms talk. Reagan proposed that both cut their nuclear warheads by one-third. Even though they turned down the proposals they still succeeded in blunting both the nuclear freeze movement at home and European doubts about Regan’s commitment to nuclear disarmament.