Remarks Announcing the Appointment of Robert C. McFarlane as Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

October 17, 1983

The President. Last week I took pride in announcing that one of my most trusted and valued advisers, Judge William Clark, would become Secretary of the Interior. And today I take pride again in announcing that his successor as Assistant for National Security Affairs will be another man who has won my utmost confidence and respect, Ambassador Robert McFarlane.

Bud brings a treasure of experience and talent to this new post -- a decorated marine, a scholar, adviser to three Presidents, a veteran of Capitol Hill, Counselor of the Department of State, Deputy Director of the NSC staff and, most recently, my personal representative to the delicate negotiations in the Middle East. He is ideally qualified to assume these new responsibilities.

I should tell you that I was looking for more than experience in filling this post; I also wanted someone of strong principle, someone of keen judgment, and someone who could effectively manage the affairs of the NSC. He shares my view about the need for a strong America -- an effective, bipartisan foreign policy based on peace through strength. He enjoys the respect and affection of my other principal advisers in the national security community. And working closely with me, he'll provide the leadership and spirit of teamwork that we value in this administration.

And, Bud, I want to thank you for accepting this new challenge. All of us look forward to working with you in the coming months. Ambassador McFarlane will be confirmed as national security adviser.

Mr. McFarlane. Thank you, Mr. President. For someone who has devoted his life and the life of his family to government service, it's a profoundly humbling moment, one for which I'm very deeply grateful to you, Mr. President.

The opportunity to serve is, for all of us and for you, the highest gift that any of us can expect. To be given that chance for a cause and for principles in which you believe very deeply is all the more so.

I look forward to doing whatever I can to helping the completion -- the fulfillment of the promise of President Reagan's goals on national security affairs. They have stemmed the tide, and they have set us on a course which I believe deeply will prove Spengler was wrong -- that the West can indeed define its interests, defend them, demonstrate that freedom, democracy, free enterprise is the hope of the future.

Again, on behalf of my family, I'm deeply grateful. I look forward to working with Secretary Shultz, Cap Weinberger, Bill Casey, and further stewardship of the President's program.

Thank you.

Q. Mr. President, what about Jeane Kirkpatrick? What will happen to her now, and who will represent you in the Middle East?

The President. May I say that there was a lot of speculation and declarations that were based, again, on those faceless and nameless sources. Jeane Kirkpatrick is Ambassador to the United Nations. She continues there as Ambassador to the United Nations where she has done, I think, as magnificent a job as anyone who has ever held that post and probably more so than most. And she is invaluable in what she's doing.

Q. You're not offering her another post here in Washington?

The President. Jeane is continuing as Ambassador to the United Nations.

Q. What about the Middle East envoy's job, Mr. President?

The President. What?

Q. What about the Middle East envoy's job? Will you appoint a new envoy?

The President. This is going to be one of my hardest tasks now because of the excellence of the job that was done by Ambassador McFarlane.

Q. Did you say you will appoint someone else, sir?

The President. Well, we can't walk away as if that problem doesn't exist; it still exists. But he has done a magnificent job there in bringing us to -- --

Q. Will you change the marines' order at all?

Q. Mr. President, why are we in Lebanon? And why are we letting our marines be there to get killed everyday?

The President. Because I think it is vitally important to the security of the United States and the Western World that we do everything we can to further the peace process in the Middle East.

Q. Do you think your Middle East policy needs any adjustment now? Or are you pleased that it can continue the way it is?

The President. Well, no one can be pleased until you finally get them at a negotiating table talking peace. But we made, I think, progress in a spot that is vitally important to the free world.

Q. Will you change policy now at all?

The President. No. We're going to continue. And I hope that we will continue what Ambassador McFarlane has so successfully brought, at least to this point.

Q. Do you have someone in mind, sir? Do you have someone in mind for the Mideast job? And when do you expect to make that announcement?

The President. I haven't progressed that far as yet. I will be discussing things with the new national security adviser.

Q. Will the Pershing missiles be installed on schedule unless something more is done in Geneva, sir?

The President. We have no plans to change the schedule for deployment.

Q. Mr. President, when will you announce your reelection? [Laughter]

The President. What?

Q. When will you announce your candidacy for reelection?

The President. Say, that's a change of subject, isn't it? [Laughter] I thought I would just leave that question to the Ambassador.

Q. Mr. President, are you saying that Jeane Kirkpatrick is happy in her job and all the reports are untrue that she wanted to come back to Washington?

The President. As far as I know, she's happy. And as I say, she has performed a great service there. I think that she has done so much for this country.

Q. Will she stay on through the rest of your term?

The President. Everybody tells me I have to get out of here. [Laughter]

Q. Will she stay on through the rest of your term?

Q. Mr. President, a Soviet general is -- a Soviet general, sir, is on the record as threatening to -- [inaudible] -- U.S. starts deployment of new missiles that would put the United States on 10-minute targeting if we go ahead with INF deployment. What do you say to that, sir?

The President. [Inaudible] -- the question.

Q. A Soviet general is quoted today, sir, as saying that if you go ahead with the INF deployment, that the Soviet Union will deploy new missiles that would put the United States under 10-minute warning -- [inaudible].

The President. I don't exactly take a Soviet general's word as being authoritative on anything.

Q. Have you sworn off news conferences? [Laughter]

Q. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 3:30 p.m. to reporters assembled in the Briefing Room at the White House. Following the exchange, the President left the Briefing Room and Mr. McFarlane continued answering reporters' questions.