Historic Documents of 1986


Edited by: CQ Press

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    Publication of Historic Documents of 1986 carries through a fifteenth year the project Congressional Quarterly launched with Historic Documents of 1972, The purpose of this aeries is to give students, scholars, librarians, journalists, and citizens convenient access to documents of basic importance in the broad range of public affairs.

    To place the documents in perspective, each entry is preceded by a brief introduction containing background information in some cases a short summary of the document itself, and, where necessary, relevant subsequent developments. We believe these introductions will prove increasingly useful in future years, when the events and questions now covered are less fresh in everyone's memory. The documents will also be more difficult to find as time passes.

    The selections in this volume show that in 1986 international and domestic events were inextricably linked. Foreign affairs could not be compartmentalized, and, likewise, domestic affairs could not be contained within national borders.

    America's anxiety about the quality of education of its young people was part of its broader concern with productivity and U.S. competitiveness in world trade. The spread of AIDS became an international and a heterosexual problem, and the U.S. surgeon general urged sex education as early as elementary school. Also disquieting was the report that, among industrialized countries, the United States had the highest incidence of teenage pregnancy.

    The nation's war on drugs had implications for federal workers, with the President's Commission on Organized Crime recommending drug testing for employees in positions involving public safety. The commission also argued for “source eradication” in drug enforcement; American military forces assisted Colombia in raids on cocaine-processing plants in that country. The upheavals in the Philippines and Haiti occurred with American encouragement that went beyond sponsoring the flights into exile of Ferdinand Marcos and Jean-Claude Duvalier. South Africa's apartheid policy again became a domestic political issue, as debate centered on economic sanctions and divestment of American interests there. The Reagan administration's terrorism policy, forcefully promoted around the world, took an ironic twist when the disclosure of the mismanaged Iran arms deal erupted into a domestic scandal.

    U.S.-Soviet relations began the year in the glow of the 1985 Geneva summit—a warmth that had dissipated by the end of 1986, after the inconclusive and disappointing Iceland summit. The arrest of American journalist Nicholas Daniloff and the conflict over the U.S. reduction of the Soviet UN mission soured relations further. Mikhail Gorbachev's public relations campaign to be seen as the vigorous and peace-loving leader of a nation on the move was discernible in his arms control proposals, his exchange of New Year's Day messages with Ronald Reagan, and his plans for the Soviet workers he chided in a Party Congress speech. The release of several prominent Soviet dissidents from exile and labor camps and the granting of permission for others to emigrate seemed to signal a new openness in Soviet society. The USSR's disastrous Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident raised far-reaching questions about the safety of plant design and of nuclear energy itself.

    Historic Documents of 1986 contains statements, Supreme Court decisions, reports, special studies, and speeches related to these and other events of national and international significance. We have selected for inclusion many documents that in our judgment will be of lasting interest. Where space limitations prevent reproduction of a full text, excerpts provide essential details and preserve the flavor of the material.

    CarolynMcGovern Editor Washington, D.C., February 1987

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