A Ronald Reagan presidency, as expressed in the GOP platform, would strive to achieve unquestioned military superiority over the Soviet Union -- a goal that repudiates the policy of recent Republican administrations.
The premise fostered in the Nixon-Ford-Kissinger years that the United States and the Soviet Union should be roughly equivalent in important nuclear forces in displaced by the GOP with a specific pledge to outrun the Soviets.
"We will build toward a sustained defense expenditure sufficient to close the gap with the Soviets," the platform says, "and ultimately reach the position of military superiority that the American people demand."
The theme of Soviet menace and American weakness underlies the defense and foreign policy sections of the platform. "The scope and magnitude of the growth of Soviet military power threatens American interests at every level," the platform declares, "from the nuclear threat to our survival to our ability to protect the lives and property of American citizens abroad."
To reverse that trend, the Republicans are committed to an ambitious program of defense spending in the strategic nuclear area, including quick deployment of the MX missile, development of a new strategic bomber, acceleration of deployment of cruise missiles, renewal of development of antiballistic missile systems and restoration of the neutron bomb
In conventional forces, the platform focuses on upgrading the Navy to a fleet of 600 ships at a "rate equal to or exceeding that planned by President Ford." Involved are aircraft carriers, submarines and amphibious ships.
The platform holds out little prospect of meaningful arms control and disarmament negotiations. After stressing the nuclear disadvantage of the United States, the document asserts:
"Before arms control negotiations may be undertaken, the security of the United States must be assured by the funding and deployment of strong military forces sufficient to deter conflict at any level or to prevail in battle should aggression occur."
The SALT II accord is rejected by the GOP as "fundamentally flawed." Moreover, the GOP is prepared to disavow such previous U.S.-Soviet accords as the Biological Warfare Convention, on grounds of the Kremlin's alleged noncompliance.
Notwithstanding the Republicans' flat-out commitment to defense, the platform opts for a continuation of the all-volunteer military force rather than renewal of the draft. The GOP programs -- calling present treatment of the military a "national disgrace" -- would upgrade the pay and benefits to the armed forces.
The GOP would accelerate the trend toward a freer hand for the U.S. intelligence community. This means a stepped-up intelligence-gathering capability as well as resources "to influence international events vital to our national security interests, a capability which only the United States among the major powers denied itself."
While the platform would drastically limit trade in most areas with the communist bloc, it calls for immediate termination of the grain embargo imposed against the Soviet Union by President Carter. "We oppose Mr. Carter's singling out of the American farmer to bear the brunt of his failed foreign policy," the document says.
In other key areas of foreign policy, the platform contains these elements:
NATO: A strengthening of the alliance but with the "expectation that each of the allies will bear a fair share of the common defense effort" -- a reference to the disproportionate amount the United States pays for defense compared to its European allies and Japan.
Middle East: A strong reaffirmation of U.S. support for Israel not only on traditional moral grounds but also because it serves "the strategic interests of the U.S." -- a tribute to the "deterrent role" of Israel's armed forces. The Palestine Liberation Organization is condemned as an agent of Soviet power.
China: A pledge to maintain a relationship with the People's Republic of China, pursued with "due caution and prudence," especially in the sale of military technology. But also a pledge to protect the security of the people of Taiwan, an explicit promise of closer relations to the Island without jeopardizing U.S. ties to China. o
Africa: A disavowel of South Africa's "racist" constitution; a pledge to foster better relations with the black African nations on grounds that the United States has "vital interests there -- economically, stategically and politically."
Arms Sales: A pledge to actively pursue arms sales to countries that serve American policy goals, in contrast to Carter administration efforts to curb such sales.