331. Talking Points Prepared in the Policy Planning Staff1


Achievements of Reagan Administration

America is back:
  • During the 1970’s, Soviet Union was on a roll: Vietnam, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Angola and Nicaragua all entered Soviet orbit. Communism appeared to be wave of the future;
  • America, by contrast, seemed paralyzed by doubt and guilt in the aftermath of Vietnam;
  • Under President Reagan, America has recovered its self-confidence; American values of democracy and free-market economics are the most important political realities in the world today;
  • By contrast, Soviet Bloc is undergoing a major ideological, economic and political crisis.
Soviet-American relations in better shape than ever:
  • We have vigorously pursued four-part agenda: human rights, regional issues, bilateral relations, arms control;
  • Dramatic breakthrough in arms control: INF Treaty eliminates entire category of nuclear weapons;
  • Substantial movement toward START Agreement;
  • Progress on human rights;
  • We have developed political dialogue sturdy enough to survive both highs and lows in US-Soviet relations;
  • As a result, shadow of Third World War has faded.
Democracy is catching on:
  • In Latin America, 26 out of 33 countries are now democratic or in transition to democracy. Percentage of population living under freely-elected governments has grown from 30% in 1976 to 90% today;
  • Democratic values have also taken root or have been reawakened in the Philippines and South Korea;
  • In Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia and Nicaragua, communist oppression has given rise to popular resistance movements;
  • In South Africa, apartheid is under increasing pressure to change;
  • Once it was said that Communism is the wave of the future; today, democracy is the most important political idea of our time.
Free markets are wave of the future:
  • When President Reagan, early in his term, went to his first international economic conference in Cancun and explained the link between free markets and economic development, people were sceptical; today, almost everyone agrees that market-oriented economies are the key to economic development;
  • Japan and South Korea lead a Pacific Rim bursting with energy;
  • Canadian voters recently endorsed a free trade agreement with U.S.;
  • Formerly command economies in China and Eastern Europe are adopting free markets;
  • The Marxist model of economic development is completely discredited.
Soviets appear to be behaving somewhat more reasonably:
  • Soviets are withdrawing from Afghanistan;
  • Soviets are showing a more constructive attitude in negotiations on Southern Africa and Cambodia.
Isolation of Vietnam is bearing fruit:
  • It now appears that Vietnam has begun withdrawal from Cambodia;2
  • U.S. will continue to work for free and independent Cambodia.
Plans to get Cubans out of Angola are progressing:
  • Under U.S. leadership, governments of Angola, Cuba and South Africa have made remarkable progress toward accord that will bring independence for Namibia and withdrawal of all foreign troops—primarily Cuban—from Angola.3
Persian Gulf ceasefire has been achieved:
  • Iran has finally accepted U.N. Security Council Resolution 598, which calls, among other things, for cease-fire between Iran and Iraq.4

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Failures of Reagan Administration

Central America:
  • Failure to convince Congress to provide adequate support for Contras;
  • Failure to negotiate Noriega out of power and out of Panama.
Middle East:
  • Breakdown of Lebanese-Israeli Peace Treaty of 19835 due to Syrian sabotage;
  • Failure to move Arab-Israeli peace process forward.
  • Iran-Contra scandal. Misguided attempt to exchange arms for hostages;
  • More generally, failure to devise comprehensive anti-terrorist strategy and bring allies aboard.
Difficulty in providing adequate resources for foreign affairs budget.
Failure to head off protectionist, neo-isolationist sentiment in Congress.


Need to stand up for our principles:
  • If we’re serious about defending freedom, we must be willing to help those fighting for their freedom in Nicaragua, Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia;
  • If we’re serious about promoting Third World development, we can’t shut our market to their exports.
  • If we’re serious about putting a stop to terrorism, we have to be prepared to take tough decisions—either political (withholding U.S. visas to known terrorists) or military (bombing terrorist bases).
Need to negotiate from strength:
  • Some call urgently for negotiations but deny that diplomacy requires strength to back it up; others assert that when we are strong, we need not negotiate;
  • In reality, the pursuit of practical, political solutions calls for perseverance, understanding of ambiguity, and recognition of need to compromise;
  • Diplomacy and military strength are not antithetical, but complementary. (The famous saying, “He who longs for peace must prepare for war,” is as true today as in Roman times.) Policy of being strong, being, realistic and being ready to engage in the quest for diplomatic solutions has paid off handsomely.
Need for continued vigilance toward Soviets:
  • Some say we should change our approach because Soviets are changing. I say we must keep the course that has brought success. Many reasons to be vigilant;
  • Soviet forces are as large as ever. Defense spending unchanged. Soviets still have 30,000 tanks parked on Europe’s doorstep;
  • Soviet-supported forces and arms still contributing to violence and tension, especially in Central America;
  • Human rights progress has been dramatic, but disappointingly short of international standards.
Need to combat new dangers in weaponry:
  • The most odious and despicable development of our day is the recrudescence of chemical warfare. Nations today are confronted by violations of the oldest and most widely observed arms control agreement, the 1925 Geneva Protocol prohibiting poisonous gas and chemical warfare;
  • Chemical weapons were used extensively in Iran-Iraq war by both parties. CIA Director has publicly stated that Libya has capacity to produce chemical weapons;6
  • Combination of chemical warfare capability and ballistic missiles is especially ominous. Yet today we see the increasing availability on the world’s arms market of relatively long-range, surface-to-surface missiles;
  • To meet these dangers, we took the lead to establish, with the seven largest industrial democracies, a Missile Technology Control Regime in 1987,7 putting limits on the transfer of missiles and the means to build them;
  • To ban all chemical weapons, we are working with 40 nations in Geneva on a Treaty tabled by Vice President Bush in 1984.8 To further this effort, an international conference will be held this January in France.
Need for a new diplomacy:
  • Our time is characterized by a paradox: on the one hand, nationalism appears to be stronger than ever (e.g., Armenia, Fiji, Sri Lanka); on the other hand, global economic, environmental, medical and social problems transcend national borders;
  • Sooner or later, governments will recognize that joining with others is the only way to meet challenges of the future;
  • We need to find our way to a new kind of diplomacy that increasingly looks to alliances to work out problems that transcend national borders
Need for competence:
  • What is sometimes called a “crisis of confidence” in our institutions may more truly be a “crisis of competence.” One person, or one organization, cannot do everything. The more any organization attempts, the more the limits of its competence will become apparent;
  • That’s why we have different departments in government. No department, agency, or council should fall into the error of thinking it can do everything;
  • So the State Department shouldn’t tell the Defense Department how many aircraft carriers we need. The Defense Department shouldn’t tell State how to negotiate with Soviets. The CIA shouldn’t find policymaking more fun than objective analysis. And the NSC shouldn’t try to do what the departments and agencies do because that throws its job of coordinating off balance;
  • In sum, there’s a need for a little more humility all around. Even in Congress.

  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 DECEMBER 1988. No classification marking. Drafted by Shattan on December 6. John Kelly sent the talking points to Shultz under a December 6 information memorandum, writing: “You have agreed to be interviewed by the New York Times on December 14. We have prepared talking points covering: 1) The major achievements of the Reagan Administration, 2) The major failures, and 3) the major lessons.” (Ibid.) For excerpts from the interview, see Elaine Sciolino, “Summing Up: Shultz Looks at His Tenure at State,” New York Times, December 18, 1988, p. 22.
  2. In late May, the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry informed the Western diplomatic representatives in Hanoi that the government planned to withdraw 50,000 troops from Cambodia, beginning in June and continuing throughout 1988. (“Hanoi Plans 50,000-Man Pullout from Cambodia,” New York Times, p. A18, and David B. Ottaway, “Vietnam Plans to Withdraw 50,000 Troops from Cambodia, Washington Post, pp. A14, A16; both May 26, 1988)
  3. Quadripartite negotiations on the Angola/Namibian conflict began May 3 in London, involving delegations from the United States, South Africa, Angola, and Cuba, in order to develop a framework for negotiations. (Karen DeYoung, “Four Parties Hold London Session On a Framework for Angola Talks,” Washington Post, May 4, 1988, p. A28) Following talks on Governors Island, New York, July 11–13, the governments agreed to general principles for the departure of Cuban troops from Angola and the establishment of an independent Namibia. (Fox Butterfield, “Tentative Accord on Angola, Namibia, is Reached in U.S.: Cubans Would Pull Out: But No Timetable is Specified and Savimbi’s Rebels Are Not Party to the Pact,” New York Times, pp. A1, A8, and Michael J. Berlin, “Angola Talks Yield Progress on Plan For Regional Peace: Parties Agree on Principles for Settlement,” Washington Post, p. A21; both July 14, 1988) For the text of the “Principles For a Peaceful Settlement in Southwestern Africa, approved by the respective governments and released publicly on July 20, see Department of State Bulletin, September 1988, pp. 5–6. On December 22 at UN headquarters in New York, the foreign ministers of Angola, Cuba, and South Africa signed agreements on Namibian independence and Cuban troop withdrawal. For the text, see Department of State Bulletin, February 1989, pp. 13–16.
  4. In July, the Government of Iran accepted the terms of the UN Security Council peace plan, as outlined in UN Security Council Resolution 598, in a letter from Iranian President Hojatoleslam Ali Khamenei to Perez de Cuéllar. (Fox Butterfield, “Iran, In Reversal, Accepts U.N. Plan for a Cease-Fire: A Surprise to Diplomats,” New York Times, July 19, 1988, pp. A1, A8) The text of Khamenei’s letter is printed ibid., p. A9.
  5. Reference is to the Agreement Between the Governments of Israel and Lebanon, signed by Director General of the Israeli Foreign Ministry David Kimche and Lebanese diplomat Antoine Fattal on May 17, 1983. For additional information, see David K. Shipler, “Israel and Lebanon Sign Agreement at 2 Ceremonies,” New York Times, May 18, 1983, p. A16. In a May 13 address before the Business Council in Hot Springs, Virginia, Shultz praised Lebanese and Israeli acceptance of the agreement, stating: “The agreement provides for withdrawal of Israeli forces, which is the essential first step toward Lebanon’s goal of withdrawal of all external forces. At the same time, Lebanon and Israel have agreed to security arrangements in the southern part of the country which supports Lebanon’s ability to carry out its strong intention to keep the area free of terrorist activities.” He asserted, “The agreement has many, many technical provisions, of course, but its real meaning is much more than technical. It offers hope that Lebanon, after more than a decade of civil war and external interference, will recover its sovereignty, independence, and security.” (Department of State Bulletin, July 1983, p. 56)
  6. In an October 25 speech to the World Affairs Council in Washington, Webster “said tonight that Libya is developing ‘the largest chemical plant I know of for chemical warfare.’” (Stephen Engelberg, “C.I.A. Chief Says Libya Develops A Huge Chemical Weapons Plant,” New York Times, October 26, 1988, p. A10)
  7. See footnote 6, Document 330.
  8. See footnote 6, Document 192.