318. Paper Prepared in the National Security Council1

1988 Overview

General Theme: Preparing for the Challenges of Tomorrow

this focuses on the future;
provides the framework for legislative actions;
describes specific goals for the President but also sets out a course for his successor;
states what must be done to meet these goals;
provides the opportunity to look back and then look forward.


To provide a forum to advance and institutionalize the Reagan agenda; to lay down the framework for a political victory by the Republican Party in 1988.

Leading Issues:

war/peace (arms control; East/West relations)
quality education
combating illicit drugs
government spending (budget/deficits/process)

All of these issues are consistent with the Reagan agenda and can be a major part of the 1988 agenda. While there is the opportunity to score legislative victories in 1988, there is also the opportunity to sketch what the future should be and where it might go. An extremely important point: this agenda is relevant, consistent, optimistic.

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1988 Monthly Agenda


Theme: looking ahead/setting the agenda

State of the Union Address2
quality education/jobs
dealing with illicit drugs
INF/arms control/growth of democracy
economy/process reform


Theme: legislative action/a winner

budget/two-year agreement/process
Supreme Court confirmation
North American Accord scene-setter (Mexico)


Theme: working with the Alliance/national security

national defense/national security
conventional weapons
arms control/arms reduction


Theme: North American relations/world relations

Canada Free Trade Agreement4
North American Accord (Canada/US/Mexico)
Central America (possible)
INF ratification

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Theme: the role of the Peacemaker

Moscow summit5
arms control/arms reduction
human rights/regional issues/bilateral issues


Theme: forging domestic/international economic policy

Economic summit in Canada6
debt strategy
budget/deficit reduction/process reform
monetary policy7


Theme: developing new economic markets

Pacific Rim to support market-oriented growth
Democratic National Convention occurs8


Theme: recognizing our American Institutions/setting political agenda

culmination of bicentennial of Constitution
citing 100th Congress/role/changes/improvements
Republican National Convention occurs9


Theme: role of the presidency/political debate

American values
the future (education/technology)
managing foreign policy
the institution of government/relationships
economic and budget policies
Farewell Address: Vision of America (late December-early January)10

Major National Speeches:

State of the Union (January)
Contras (February)11
NATO (March)12
Moscow Summit (May)13
Economic Summit (June)
Republican National Convention (August)14
Institutional speeches (September/October/December)
Farewell Address (January 1989)

  1. Source: Reagan Library, African Affairs Directorate, NSC Records, Subject File, NSC—Policy. No classification marking. Schott Stevens sent the paper to Cockell, Cohen, Danzansky, Dean, Ermarth, Alison Fortier, Barry Kelly, James Kelly, Linhard, Oakley, Rodman, Nicholas Rostow, and Soranzo under a January 26 covering memorandum, writing: “John Negroponte has requested that I circulate the attached ‘1988 Overview,’ which Tom Griscom has prepared as a month-by month sketch of major themes he will be seeking to develop during the remainder of the President’s term in office.” Schott Stevens noted that Negroponte welcomed comments on the paper. (Ibid.)
  2. The President delivered his State of the Union address on January 25. For the text of the address, see Public Papers: Reagan, 1988–1989, Book I, pp. 84–90. The text of the President’s 1988 legislative and administrative message, entitled “A Union of Individuals,” is ibid., pp. 91–121.
  3. Reference is to congressional action regarding the administration’s $36 million support package for the Contras. The House of Representatives was scheduled to vote on the proposal on February 3.
  4. See footnote 2, Document 316.
  5. Scheduled to take place May 29–June 2. The memoranda of conversation are printed in Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, vol. VI, Soviet Union, October 1986–January 1989, Documents 156163.
  6. Scheduled to take place June 19–21.
  7. An unknown hand placed a brace in the left-hand margin, bracketing the May and June points and wrote: “we could make Babangida ‘fit’ either of these. APR.” Reference is to General Ibrahim Babangida of Nigeria.
  8. Scheduled to take place in Atlanta at The Omni Coliseum, July 18–21.
  9. Scheduled to take place in New Orleans at the Superdome, August 15–18.
  10. The President’s January 11, 1989, farewell address to the nation is printed as Document 335.
  11. On February 2, the President delivered an address to the nation regarding aid to the Nicaraguan Democratic Resistance and the $36 million aid package (see footnote 3, above). The address is printed in Public Papers: Reagan, 1988–1989, Book I, pp. 162–167.
  12. The President discussed the March 2–3 NATO summit meeting in Brussels in his March 5 radio address; for the text, see ibid., pp. 294–295.
  13. The President’s May 31 remarks, made before students and faculty at Moscow State University, are printed as Document 326.
  14. The President offered remarks at the convention on August 15. For the text of his remarks, see Public Papers: Reagan, 1988–1989, Book II, pp. 1080–1086.