Historic Documents of 1987


Edited by: CQ Press

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    Publication of Historic Documents of 1987 carries through a sixteenth year the project Congressional Quarterly launched with Historic Documents of 1972. The purpose of this series 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 explaining the historical background, the main points, reactions to the document, and in some cases subsequent developments. We believe these introductions will prove increasingly useful in the future, when the events and issues are no longer in the public eye and the documents are more difficult to locate.

    Historic Documents of 1987 contains official statements, Supreme Court decisions, reports, special studies, communiqués, treaties, and speeches related to events of national and international significance and, in our judgment, of lasting interest. Where space limitations prevent reproduction of a full text, we have chosen excerpts that provide essential details and preserve the flavor of the whole.

    The documents that appear in the 1987 volume reflect the power of foreign affairs to drive domestic events. The Tower commission and the congressional investigating committees laid to rest some of the nation's questions about the Iran-contra affair, but the Middle East and Central America continued to preoccupy Americans.

    The Iran-Iraq war was a major topic of discussions at the Venice Economic Summit of the seven largest industrialized democracies, at the Arab Summit in Amman, Jordan, and in the UN Security Council. We include documents from all three. The Reagan administration responded to heightened tensions in the Persian Gulf by reflagging and escorting Kuwaiti oil tankers in the area. Two U.S. Navy reports on the Iraqi attack on the USS Stark appear in this volume.

    President Oscar Arias Sánchez of Costa Rica succeeded in bringing together five Central American presidents to sign a regional peace plan, dramatically changing the nature of the contra aid debate in the U.S. Congress. Both the text of the agreement and Arias's Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech are included in Historic Documents.

    General Secretary Mikhail S. Gorbachev consolidated his power in the Soviet Union, announced personnel reforms in the Communist party, reexamined Soviet historical figures such as Stalin and Khrushchev, and came to Washington to meet with President Ronald Reagan and sign the INF treaty. Other significant developments included South Korea's first presidential election in forty years, and Corazon Aquino's feisty survival, in the face of coup attempts and a strong insurgency, as president of the Philippines. Haiti was not so fortunate; presidential elections ended in a shambles in November, prompting the United States to halt its aid.

    Health and medicine continued to be primary concerns in 1987- There were breakthroughs: new information about Alzheimer's disease and Food and Drug Administration approval of drugs to combat heart attacks and AIDS, And there was controversy, as American institutions struggled with the complexities of the AIDS crisis: how to fund AIDS research in a time of burgeoning deficits, how to present educational material, how to care for the afflicted, and how to deal with testing and discrimination. The religious and legal implications of biotechnology were examined in 1987. Congress's Office of Technology Assessment studied the question of ownership of human tissue. The Vatican denounced the new reproductive technologies, just as a New Jersey judge determined the validity of a contract with a surrogate mother.

    The historic events of 1987 have impacts beyond the calendar year and will influence the issues discussed in years to come. The stock market crash inspired numerous reassessments of how the market works and how it is regulated. The FCC's ruling on the fairness doctrine in broadcasting will affect the 1988 presidential election campaign. The debate on the ABM treaty interpretation will fuel controversies over SDI development and the treaty ratification process. Historic Documents will continue to chronicle these and other significant events.

    CarolynMcGovern, Editor

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