53. Memorandum From James Lilley of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Allen)1


  • Short-term Foreign Policy Objectives (U)

There follows in rough priority a list of foreign policy objectives over the short term (six months to one year). We have not followed a [Page 180] rigid pattern and each area specialist has described his objectives as he sees them. I have minimized the editorial function. (U)

1. Poland: Poland faces both an external threat and an internal crisis. The US objectives are:

to preserve the favorable political evolution in Poland, and to assist Poland to deal with its massive economic problems if it is not invaded.
If Poland is invaded or taken over by the Soviet Union, then our objective becomes to make Russia pay the maximum price short of war.

2. Persian Gulf and Southwest Asian Strategy: To develop the military forces and infrastructure necessary to deter further direct or indirect Soviet aggression in this area. The cornerstones of this strategy are cooperation with our European allies and with Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan. Relationships with these countries must be strengthened in all areas, including military. An immediate task is to effect a tacit understanding involving Israel and Saudi Arabia in order to get the AWACS sale through Congress.2

3. Arab/Israel: To secure the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel;3 to work toward a resolution of the Lebanon crisis;4 to resume autonomy negotiations on the status of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.5 Immediate tasks are to continue the Habib Mission for Lebanon6 and to resume the autonomy negotiations at the most appropriate time.

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4. Afghanistan/Pakistan/India: To support the buildup of Pakistan’s economic and non-nuclear military strength while improving relations with India; to keep the pressure on the Soviets to withdraw from Afghanistan.

5. El Salvador: To begin winning the war in El Salvador with an improved US effort. We have drawn the line in El Salvador—our prestige is committed. The present effort has proved insufficient for the long term and the loss of El Salvador could have a damaging affect on Guatemala and Honduras.

6. South Africa/Namibia: To develop a solution in Namibia which brings about independence but precludes the establishment of a Marxist-Leninist Soviet-oriented regime. Diplomatic efforts to arrive at a proposed solution which meets South African core concerns and yet allows for independence which will result in the installation of a popularly-elected, non-Marxist-Leninist regime should be continued. Some form of UN-supervised elections will be desirable to obtain some degree of international acceptance of the new regime.

7. Cuba. To reduce Cuban subversion in this hemisphere, and in other Third World countries by developing a broad-gauged strategy involving the entire Caribbean for the next three to four years. Cuba is the center for regional instability and will not be stopped by American rhetoric. Therefore, we should increase the costs to the Cubans of sending and maintaining military expeditionary forces to such countries as Angola and Ethiopia.

—Finish plans for a Radio Free Cuba within two to three weeks and release the White Paper on Cuban covert operations.7

8. Nicaragua: To keep Nicaragua from going wholly communist by drawing on the lessons of the past (such as Cuba 1959–60,8 Portugal 1974–75).9 Announce Administration’s interest in legislation closing down Nicaraguan exile commando camps in Florida and keep our major allies fully informed on the arms buildup in Nicaragua.

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9. Japan: To increase Japan’s contributions to our joint defense effort without destabilizing the political structure there. This will involve coordinated pressure by our Administration, without publicity, on the Japanese to beef up their defense efforts and expand their defense perimeters.

10. Europe:

To shape and maintain the political cohesion of the TNF-basing countries in NATO in order to secure effective deployment of modernized theatre systems in Central Europe.

A growing wave of quasi-neutralist and pacifist sentiment is affecting public attitudes in key allied countries, particularly in the Federal Republic of Germany. The political leaderships of these countries are weak and indecisive, and the U.S. must expend a major effort to buck them up; failure to do so could well jeopardize timely implementation of the December 1979 two-track decision10 on long range theatre nuclear forces.

The U.S. should greatly intensify its information programs keyed to TNF in Europe, with special emphasis on the magnitude of the Soviet threat as documented by hard evidence. This may entail declassification of some sensitive material in order to provide the most cogent and convincing presentation for public consumption. ICA should be a lead agency in the effort. We should work closely with allied governments to ensure their cooperation and to help generate a more aggressive leadership role on their part.

11. China/Taiwan: To reassure Taiwan of our support while strengthening our relations with Peking. This involves striking the correct balance between supplying arms to Taiwan and expanding our involvement in the Chinese modernization process, including its military sector.

—On the Taiwan side, weapons sales to Taiwan should be reassumed, Taiwan should be authorized to open one new office and our contacts with Taiwan should be elevated.

—On the Peking side, we need to intensify our exchanges with the Chinese military, begin strategic consultations, and implement effectively the President’s directive on licensing dual-technology transfer.

12. Africa “Z” States: To resist Soviet efforts to destabilize Zaire, Zambia, and Zimbabwe—which countries supply vital strategic minerals to the U.S., such as chrome, cobalt, vanadium, etc. These countries are the targets of increasing Soviet efforts at destabilization. Plans for increased assistance to Zaire should go forward. Holding actions in Zambia and Zimbabwe should be intensified to retain our access [Page 183] to these minerals by having acceptable working relations with the governments.

13. Latin America: To coordinate the efforts of the “giants” of the hemisphere—Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela—on a series of international items such as trade, security, nuclear non-proliferation. Carry out Quadrapartite meeting in Nassau—follow it up with other slightly expanded meetings of the major Latin American countries.11

14. Soviet Union

To establish links to a possible new Kremlin leadership. Given the age and physical condition of Brezhnev, a change in the Soviet Union is a distinct possibility. A power struggle may ensue with profound effects on Soviet foreign policy. If this occurs, the U.S. should be prepared to take advantage of opportunities in this new succession leadership.

15. Vietnam/Cambodia/ASEAN: To reduce the Vietnamese threat by working with ASEAN and China to bring about an acceptable solution to Vietnamese occupation of Cambodia12 and reduce Soviet influence in this area.

—To coordinate the efforts at the United Nation’s special meeting on Cambodia scheduled for mid-July which is designed to put pressure on Vietnam to withdraw its troops, and at the same time hold out the possibility of future cooperation if Vietnam is prepared to make a deal.13

16. France

To ensure that France under a Socialist President14 and government remains a loyal ally and an effective security partner of the United States.

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The election of a Socialist President and parliament in France for the first time since 1957, and for the inclusion of Communist ministers within that government for the first time since the immediate post-war period, could have an adverse effect on French capacity to play a vigorous role in the defense of the West. Though the conciliatory tone of the President’s initial contacts with the new French leadership and the June visit of Vice President Bush to Paris15 have gotten the relationship off to a constructive start, we must carefully watch the evolution of events within France and work to influence French policy along pro-Alliance lines.

Use the Economic Summit meeting in Ottawa as the time and occasion for hammering out initial bilateral understandings with the French on economic policy; European policy; and approach to Third world issues.

17. Spain

To encourage, and where possible tangibly assist the evolution of democratic institutions and government in Spain.

Democracy in post-Franco Spain confronts three major interrelated challenges, dramatized by a recent coup attempt: (1) separatist pressures, primarily in the Basque provinces; (2) ruthless terrorist activity which derives much of its force from the separatist movement; and (3) temptations on the part of military malcontents and others who see the solution to both terrorism and separatism in a return to authoritarian rule.16 U.S. strategic interests in Spain, including an essential military base presence, require effective support for Spain’s constitutional monarchy and parliamentary structures.

A highly visible State visit by the President or Vice President to Spain, which would symbolize U.S. interest in the country at the highest level; dramatize our respect for Spanish democracy; and provide moral support for King Juan Carlos and the Calvo Sotelo government.


I. Polish Economy

The Polish economy is in terrible condition and getting worse. That fact, coupled with others, presents both us and the Soviet Union with difficult choices. In our case, the extent to which we can and should attempt to help the Poles.

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II. Siberian Gas Pipeline

Germany, France and Italy want to finance the construction of a pipeline from the Soviet gas fields to lessen their dependence on Gulf oil supplies.17 We feel that the project will make them unacceptably dependent on the Soviet Union.

III. International Trade

The two principal issues here are resistance to the rising tide of protectionist sentiment here and abroad and the question of export credits, which has led to an unhealthy competition to offer costly financing terms (see also point 4).

IV. East-West Trade

We believe that trade restrictions on strategic grounds with the Soviet bloc should be tightened, especially in the area of technology transfer. Our allies, many of which are much more dependent on East bloc commerce than we are, are not enthusiastic about further tightening.

V. International Debt

Many less developed and some East European countries have developed a level of external debt beyond their capacity to repay. These countries, as well as the banks which have lent them money, pressure constantly for various forms of costly bailout.

VI. North-South Issues

We believe that traditional economic aid is in many cases ineffective for various reasons. The implementation of this view brings us into conflict with almost all less developed countries as well as some of our allies.

VII. Energy

Assurance of an adequate and secure supply of energy, especially oil and gas, is a constant preoccupation for American foreign policy.

VIII. Exchange Policy

The issue here is the desire on the part of most foreign countries to have greater exchange stability for the world’s principal reserve currency—the U.S. dollar. We have announced a policy [Page 186] of non-intervention in the exchange markets, except in cases of emergency.18

IX. International Financial Institutions

We believe that the policies and practices of the international financial institutions should be examined with a view to making them leaner, more efficient and more productive. Many other countries view our attitude as being a screen to reduce our commitments.


I. Non-Proliferation

After enunciating our broad policy,19 we will need to develop steps for dealing with proliferation problems in several cases (notably Pakistan-India and Middle East) and for strengthening our efforts with key nuclear suppliers on cooperation and conditions for supply.

II. Human Rights

We must develop a comprehensive policy to guide our public pronouncements on this subject as well as our decisions on multilateral loans, arms sales, etc., where consideration of human rights is mandated by law.

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III. Law of the Sea

We must develop an approach to LOS negotiations consonant with a number of U.S. interests and objectives.

IV. International Communications

We need to reexamine policy in the area of international radio broadcasting to support needed modernization of VOA and RFE/RL technical facilities; there is a general need for overhaul of our international information effort and for upgrading ICA and strengthening its role in the foreign policy process.

  1. Source: Reagan Library, John Poindexter Files, Subject File, Foreign/Defense Issues & Objectives (2). Secret. Sent for information. Printed from an uninitialed copy. In a June 26 memorandum to Schweitzer, Bailey, Lilley, and Gregg, Poindexter wrote that “Meese is interested in discussing with Anderson and Allen objectives to be pursued by this administration after the domestic economic initiatives are out of the way.” To that end, Poindexter instructed the addressees and their staffs to review a draft “Foreign Policy Booklet” (not found) and prepare “a list” of “10–15 major objectives,” adding: “Within each of your areas try to put the objectives in some semblance of priority. If we don’t make some attempt at prioritization, somebody else will. The senior level of the administration can only concentrate on a limited number of objectives. In defining the objectives try to be as specific as possible.” (Reagan Library, John Poindexter Files, Subject File, Foreign/Defense Issues & Objectives (1))
  2. Reference is to the proposed sale of AWACS radar planes to the Government of Saudi Arabia. In February, Reagan administration officials informed Congress that the administration planned to sell the Saudis AIM–9L Sidewinder air-to-air missiles and fuel tanks for the F–15s and had agreed “in principle” to sell tanker planes and possibly AWACS. During his April trip to the Middle East (see Document 40 and footnote 2 thereto), Haig discussed the proposed sale with Begin, who voiced his opposition. On April 21, the White House announced that the administration would sell the Saudis five AWACS planes and additional equipment. (Congress and the Nation, vol. VI, 1981–1984, pp. 130–131) Documentation on the sale is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, vol. XIX, Arab-Israeli Dispute, and Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, vol. XXII, Middle East Region; Arabian Peninsula.
  3. Reference is to the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty signed in Washington by Sadat and Begin on March 26, 1979; see footnote 2, Document 17.
  4. Reference is to the Syrian movement of Soviet-supplied SAMs into Lebanon following the Israeli shootdown of Syrian aircraft over Lebanon, in addition to border raids launched by Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization. (Congress and the Nation, vol. VI, 1981–1984, p. 191)
  5. The autonomy negotiations ultimately resumed September 23–24 in Gaza. Atherton and Lewis attended on behalf of the United States. For the text of a joint statement issued by the Governments of Egypt, Israel, and the United States, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1981, pp. 705–706.
  6. On May 5, the President appointed Habib as his Special Emissary to the Middle East, tasking him to consult with the leaders of Lebanon, Syria, and Israel in order to diffuse tensions in Lebanon. (Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, vol. 17, No. 18, May 8, 1981, p. 510) Habib departed Washington on May 6 for his consultations. Ultimately, a general ceasefire was announced on July 24 from Jerusalem. The memoranda of conversation of Habib’s meetings with Middle Eastern leaders are scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, vol. XVIII, Part 1, Lebanon, April 1981–August 1982.
  7. Reference is to a special report on Cuban covert activities in the southern hemisphere, which the Department intended to release as a White Paper. In telegram 168651 to multiple Latin American diplomatic and consular posts, June 26, Enders sent the draft summary of conclusions of the report, requesting that posts review the draft and provide comments. (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, Electronic Telegrams, [no N number]) The Department released a 37-page version of the report on December 14, in conjunction with Enders’s testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs. (Gerald F. Seib, “U.S. Asserts Cuba Has Tried to Trigger Armed Revolt in 13 Latin Nations Since ’78,” Wall Street Journal, p. 14, and “Enders: U.S. Tightening Embargo of Cuba,” Washington Post, p. A6; both December 15, 1981)
  8. Reference is to the Cuban nationalist revolution, led by Fidel Castro against Fulgencio Batista.
  9. Reference is to the April 1974 military coup in Portugal, also known as the Carnation Revolution.
  10. See footnote 6, Document 35.
  11. Reference is to the upcoming Conference of Ministers on Caribbean Basin Development, scheduled to take place in Nassau, July 11–12, among Haig, MacGuigan, Castaneda, and Velasco. For the text of the joint communiqué released on July 11 and excerpts from a July 12 news conference held by Haig and Brock, who also attended on behalf of the United States, see Department of State Bulletin, September 1981, pp. 68–69.
  12. Reference is to the December 1978 Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia. On June 18, 1981, the foreign ministers of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand met in Manila and “declared that a political settlement must be based on three initial steps: the introduction of a United Nations peacekeeping force, the withdrawal of the Vietnamese Army and the disarming of the warring Cambodian factions once the Vietnamese have left.” (Henry Kamm, “Asian Parley Urges Cambodian Solution: Non-Communist Envoys, in Manila, Seek U.N. Force and Pullout by the Vietnamese Army,” New York Times, June 19, 1981, p. A5)
  13. On June 30, Haig issued a statement indicating that the UN International Conference on Kampuchea would take place in New York, beginning July 13. (Department of State Bulletin, August 1981, p. 39) Haig subsequently headed the U.S. delegation at the conference. Haig’s statement made at the conference on July 13 and the texts of the conference declaration and resolution adopted on June 17 are ibid., pp. 86–88.
  14. Reference is to Mitterrand.
  15. Bush visited Paris, June 23–24, to meet with Mitterrand, Cheysson, and de Laboulaye. For additional information, see Paul Lewis, “Bush Voices Unease On French Cabinet: But He Describes His Discussions With Mitterrand as Friendly,” New York Times, June 25, 1981, pp. A1, A13. A memorandum of conversation from Bush’s June 24 luncheon, held at the Elysee Palace, is in the Reagan Library, Henry Nau Files; NLR–395–1–31–1–3.
  16. See footnote 12, Document 43.
  17. Reference is to the proposed pipeline from the Yamburg gas field in Siberia to the Soviet Union’s western border. Documentation on the pipeline is printed in Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, vol. III, Soviet Union, January 1981–January 1983, and is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, vol. VII, Western Europe, 1981–1984.
  18. In his May 4 testimony before the Joint Economic Committee, Under Secretary Sprinkel indicated that the Department of the Treasury had completed a review of U.S. exchange market intervention, focusing on the period after the transition to floating exchange rates in March 1973. Sprinkel stated: “In conjunction with our emphasis on improving the performance of the domestic U.S. economy, we intend to return to the more limited pre-1978 concept of intervention by intervening only when necessary to counter conditions of disorder in the market. As in the past, we will not attempt to define disorderly market conditions in advance. When making a decision concerning whether exchange market conditions justify intervention, we will consult closely with authorities in other major currency governments. As also in the past, the Treasury and the Federal Reserve will keep the public informed regarding U.S. exchange market intervention policy.” (International Economic Policy: Hearing Before the Joint Economic Committee, Congress of the United States, Ninety-Seventh Congress, First Session, May 4, 1981 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1981), p. 5)
  19. Presumable reference to Reagan’s response to a question regarding the “proper role of the United States” in preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and technology posed at his June 16 news conference (see Document 49): “Well, our position is—and it is unqualified—that we’re opposed to the proliferation of nuclear weapons and do everything in our power to prevent it. I don’t believe, however, that that should carry over into the development of nuclear power for peaceful purposes. And so, it increases the difficulty, if you’re going to encourage the one, because you have at least opened a crack in the door where someone can proceed to the development of weapons.” He continued, “But I’m not only opposed to the proliferation of nuclear weapons, but, as I’ve said many times, I would like to enter into negotiations leading toward a definite, verifiable reduction of strategic nuclear weapons worldwide.” (Public Papers: Reagan, 1981, p. 521)