269. Memorandum From Michael A. Guhin of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Clark)1


  • US Population Policy and Foreign Assistance

Jim Buckley sent you a personal memo last month forwarding a copy of his memo to Haig on the above subject (Tab III).2 His conclusions and recommendations for major changes in US policy and programs are on pages 4–6. His cover memo notes that current population policy derives from earlier NSC directives3 and that the “population buck stops with you.”

On May 5 Buckley sent another personal memo saying that he wants to move ahead in the immediate future because he is leaving for Nairobi next Wednesday and we will be attacked again by a prolife group (Tab II).4 Buckley proposes to send a copy of his review to Malone and McPherson covered by a memo instructing Malone in effect to institute all the changes in our policies and programs and keep it secret (see attachment at Tab II), recognizing that it will hit the street anyway.

Buckley’s memo has some good points on redirecting our policy, but the issues warrant interagency review and consideration before new policy or programs are instituted. Therefore, I believe you should call Buckley very soon to tell him that we (1) should have a prompt interagency review, (2) should not take any steps to institute new policy or programs or surface his memo before completing that review, and (3) would like one of his staff to work with me on a memo directing such a review.


That you call Buckley on this as above (talking points at Tab 1).5

[Page 751]

Tab I

Talking Points6

Talking Points

Conversation with Buckley on Population Policy

• I have looked at your April 14 memo to me, forwarding a copy of your memo to Al on US population policy and foreign assistance.

• I appreciate your careful review of these issues and found much merit in your memo in terms of possible areas for redirecting policy and programs.

• Before taking any steps to institute a new policy approach or programs, however, we should have a prompt interagency review of the subject.

• Your memo need not surface anywhere in the process but we could ensure that the review addresses the issues and types of measures addressed in your approach.

• The interagency review might have some additional ideas or some different ones. At any rate, we should see what it produces before jumping. Even if it produces something largely the same, we will not be open for criticism of changing policy without process.

• Therefore, I do not believe you should send your memo to Malone or McPherson or instruct Malone to institute anything new at this stage (as you noted it would hit the street soon thereafter). I would like you to name someone on your staff to work with Mike Guhin on my staff on a memo directing an interagency review.

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Guhin, Michael A.: Files, Population/Studies (2). Confidential.
  2. Neither attached. Buckley’s April 12 memorandum to Haig is in Document 268.
  3. Possibly a reference to the NSC directive cited in the attachment to Document 264.
  4. Attached but not printed.
  5. Clark checked the approve option and wrote: “Have placed call—Told Buckley last week this would have to go through usual process. WPC. (But let’s move out on it—let’s decide approach.)” An unknown hand dated Clark’s comments May 9, 1982.
  6. Confidential.