32. Memorandum From Secretary of State Haig to President Reagan1


  • Former President Gerald Ford’s World Trip, March 5–31, 1981

You have agreed to meet with former President Gerald Ford prior to his departure on his world trip.2 He will be accompanied on the trip by Brent Scowcroft and Leonard Firestone, as well as the Chairman of the Board and President of Charter Oil Company. Although the trip is [Page 109] unofficial, President Ford is scheduled to meet heads of state of most of the countries he is visiting including Chancellor Schmidt, President Giscard d’Estaing and PM Suzuki, You should ask former President Ford to convey your personal best wishes to the heads of state with whom he meets.3 Countries he will visit include the Federal Republic of Germany, France, Ireland, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong, People’s Republic of China and Japan.

We have prepared briefing papers for former President Ford on the major bilateral issues involving the countries he will visit.4 You may wish to suggest that he raise the following important general themes of your Administration:

We confront a series of crises in this dangerous and unstable world—in Afghanistan, Kampuchea, El Salvador, Iran, the Middle East and Southern Africa. The outlook is for continued instability in the years ahead, as developing nations seek to cope with their political and economic problems and the USSR continues to use its power to destabilize these countries.
US-Soviet relations have fallen to the most dangerous level since the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia.5 A Soviet invasion in Poland would have devastating effects on East-West relations.
The period of post-Vietnam malaise is over and the US intends to play a full role in the international arena. We have a number of strengths to bring to the task.
Most important is the structure of alliances we have developed in the post-war period with the industrial democracies of Western Europe and Asia, as well as our important mutual security arrangements and political ties with countries around the world.
We will work to manage our discrete alliances in Europe and Asia, our association with the People’s Republic of China and our other security arrangements to reinforce one another in the competition with the Soviet Union.
We want to deepen our cooperation with key regional groupings such as ASEAN.
This essential core of associates provides the basis for sustaining a “new American internationalism” through the last part of the 20th century and providing a measure of stability in a rapidly changing world.
We enter the 1980’s dealing with a new generation of political leaders, in countries around the world, whose perceptions of the US have been formed by the recent years of American weakness, inconsistency, and domestic turmoil. We need to reach out to this new generation with policies and programs that are grounded in American values and responsive to their aspirations.

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Political Affairs Directorate, NSC Records, Chron 02/27/1981–02/28/1981; NLR–920–1–2–2–4. Confidential. Printed from an unsigned and uninitialed copy.
  2. On March 3, the President met with Ford in the Oval Office from 4 until 4:30 p.m. At 4:30 p.m. Haig and Scowcroft joined the meeting. From 5:10 until 5:15, the President and First Lady Nancy Reagan met with Ford and former First Lady Betty Ford. (Reagan Library, President’s Daily Diary) No record of these meetings has been found. In his personal diary entry for March 3, the President wrote: “Jerry Ford came by. We had a good talk. He’s very supportive of our ec. plan. Betty spent her time with Nancy. They are leaving on an 11 nation trip—business in 5 of them—the others pleasure. I gave him letters of greeting to heads of state in the countries where he’s not on commercial business.” (Brinkley, ed., The Reagan Diaries, vol. I, January 1981–October 1985, p. 22)
  3. Copies of the President’s letters to Ziyang, Schmidt, Haughey, Giscard, and Suzuki are in the Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC Trip File, Chronological Trip File, Former President Ford’s World Trip March 5–31, 1981; NLR–755–1–1–6–5.
  4. Not found.
  5. See footnote 4, Document 8.