280. Memorandum From the Executive Secretary of the Department of State (Platt) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Poindexter)1


  • 1987 State of the Union Address

We recommend that the President include the following major foreign policy themes in his 1987 State of the Union Address.

A. A brief summary of U.S.-Soviet relations, with emphasis on the achievements in Reykjavik2 and the prospects for arms control. This section should stress that arms control is only one of several items on our agenda with the Soviets and should reiterate our position that no meaningful progress is possible in one area of our relations without improvement elsewhere. Thus, the President should mention our ongoing bilateral contacts, the deplorable state of human rights in the Soviet Union, and our need to be firm as well as flexible in dealing with unacceptable Soviet behavior such as espionage and direct or proxy aggression in the Third World. He should also underline our support for anti-Communist resistance movements (Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, Nicaragua).

B. The legacy of the Marshall Plan. 1987 is the plan’s 40th Anniversary. The focus should be on how American commitment and generosity can serve our own interests while changing the course of history [Page 1228] for the better. This can be followed by a call for Congressional support for the foreign affairs budget—especially economic and security assistance.

C. The trend toward democracy. This section should emphasize two points. First, the past six years have witnessed an extraordinary turn to democracy, particularly in the developing world. This trend benefits us politically, economically and strategically. Second, democratic transitions are nonetheless fragile; they require constant nurturing and careful support—especially from the U.S. Specific reference can be made to the Philippines, El Salvador, and Haiti, with a plug for active US assistance to these and other struggling governments (Argentina, Turkey, and Spain would be good precedents to cite).

D. Reforming the United Nations. The United States cannot sit idly by while the ideals of the Charter are trampled under foot. We should reiterate our commitment to restoring efficiency and impartiality to the United Nations and effectiveness to its peacekeeping activities. But we can succeed only by remaining engaged. This means working with the Congress to fund our agreed assessment in full, so that we have the leverage to press for reform.

E. Foreign Affairs Bipartisanship. The President should reiterate a personal commitment to work in a bipartisan spirit with members of the Congress on behalf of the freedom and security of this country. He might suggest organization of a White House conference on national security aimed at forging a strong executive-legislative partnership to meet the long-term challenges of the years ahead.

F. The dangers of protectionism and the need for trade liberalization. The President should outline the Administration’s policy initiatives to secure sustained growth at home and abroad in 1987. The emphasis should be on the political, economic, and strategic imperatives of free trade. Specific tasks include building domestic support for a more open international economic system; the need for authorizing legislation for the U.S. to participate in a new round of GATT trade talks;3 and a U.S. commitment to seek stronger international rules to fight unfair trade practices abroad.

G. Educational Exchange. Invite the Congress to help organize and fund a major expansion in our exchange program to young people in Europe and non-Communist developing countries.

Nicholas Platt 4
  1. Source: Department of State, Executive Secretariat, S/P Files, Memoranda and Correspondence from the Director of the Policy Planning Staff to the Secretary and Other Seventh Floor Principals: Lot 89D149, S/P Chrons OCTOBER 1986. Confidential. Drafted by Ledsky on October 28; cleared by Solomon and in draft by Fox. Bleakley initialed for both Ledsky and Fox. The President delivered his State of the Union address before both houses of Congress on January 27, 1987. For the text of the address, see Public Papers: Reagan, 1987, Book I, pp. 56–61.
  2. See Document 278.
  3. See footnote 3, Document 276.
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.