Remarks on Soviet-United
States Relations at the
we begin, I hope you'll forgive me for saying that it's good to be back in
February of 1945, as he first began meeting with Roosevelt and Stalin at
we know now the great powers did agree at
a grave threat to our own security and the freedom of our allies in
the 40 years since -- for 8 American administrations and 20 Congresses -- the
sought more than a shaky world peace atop the volcano of potential nuclear destruction;
we sought something beyond accepted spheres of influence and tense standoffs
between the totalitarian and the democratic worlds. In short, we sought ways to
dispel rather than to live with the two great darkening clouds of the postwar
era: the danger of nuclear holocaust and the expansion of totalitarian rule. In
dealing with the nuclear threat, the
In addition to opening negotiations to reduce arms in several categories, we did something even more revolutionary in order to end nuclear fear. We launched a new program of research into defensive means of preventing ballistic missile attack. And by doing so, we attempted to maintain deterrence while seeking to move away from the concept of mutual assured destruction -- to render it obsolete, to take the advantage out of building more and more offensive missiles and more and more warheads, at last to remove from the world the specter of military powers holding each other hostage to nuclear retaliation. In short, we sought to establish the feasibility of a defensive shield that would render the use of ballistic missiles fruitless.
This was the meaning of our decision to move forward with SDI, and I believe it was the right decision at the right time. But while we sought arms reduction and defensive deterrence, we never lost sight of the fact that nations do not disagree because they are armed; they are armed because they disagree on very important matters of human life and liberty. The fundamental differences between totalitarian and democratic rule remained. We could not gloss over them, nor could we be content anymore with accepted spheres of influence, a world only half free. And that is why we sought to advance the cause of personal freedom wherever opportunities existed to do so. Sometimes this meant support for liberalization; sometimes, support for liberation.
regional conflicts, for example, we elaborated a new policy of helping
democratic insurgents in their battle to bring self-determination and human
rights to their own countries. This doctrine was first spelled out in our
decision to assist the people of
the area of human rights, our challenges to the
finally, undergirding all of this was our commitment
to public candor about the nature of totalitarian rule and about the ultimate
And in my address to the British Parliament in 1982, when I noted the peaceful extension of human liberty was the ultimate goal of American foreign policy, I also pointed out that history's momentum resided instead with the cause of democracy and world freedom. And I offered hope that the increasing failure of statist economies would lead to demands for political change. I asked, in short, for a ``crusade for freedom'' that would spread democracy and promote democratic institutions throughout the world.
As I've said before, we believe that such public affirmations were not only necessary for the protection and extension of freedom but, far from adding to world tensions, crucial to reducing them and helping the pursuit of peace. Public candor and realism about and with the Soviets have helped the peace process. They were a signal to our Soviet counterparts that any compulsion to exploit Western illusions must be resisted, because such illusions no longer exist.
foreign policy, then, has been an attempt both to reassert the traditional
regional conflicts like
And all of these developments weigh on our minds. We ponder their meaning; we ask ourselves: Are we entering a truly new phase in East-West relations? Is far-reaching, enduring change in the postwar standoff now possible? Do we have at last the chance envisioned by Churchill to end the agony of the 20th century?
these are our hopes, but let honesty compel us to acknowledge we have fears and
deep concerns, as well. And while we acknowledge the interesting changes in the
know what real democracy constitutes; we understand its implications. It means
the rule of law for the leaders as well as the people. It involves limitations
on the power of the state over the people. It means orderly debate and
meaningful votes. It means liberation of the captive people from the thralls of a ruling elite that presumes to know the people's good
better than the people. So, while there's hope today, there's also uncertainty.
And that's why we know we must deal with the
2 years we've been asking the Soviets to join in discussing a cooperative
approach toward a transition to defensive deterrence that threatens no one. In
April of 1987, we asked that a date be set this year for rapid and complete
Well, today, I want to propose another step that Soviet leaders could take, a realistic step that would greatly help our efforts to reduce arms. We're near an historic agreement that could eliminate a whole class of missiles. If it is signed, we shall rely not on trust but on the evidence of our own eyes that it is being implemented. As the Russians themselves say, dovorey no provorey -- trust but verify. And that we shall do. But effective verification requires more than unilateral technical means. Even on-site inspection is not a panacea, especially as we address the ambitious agenda of arms reduction ahead. We need to seek compliance with existing agreements, all too often violated by the U.S.S.R. We also need to see more openness, a departure from the habits of secrecy that have so long applied to Soviet military affairs.
I say to the Soviet leadership: It's time to show some glasnost in your military affairs. First, publish a valid budget of your military expenditures, just as we do. Second, reveal to the Soviet people and the world the size and composition of the Soviet Armed Forces. Third, open for debate in your Supreme Soviet the big issues of military policy and weapons, just as we do. These steps would contribute to greater understanding between us and also to the good sense of your own decisions on the grave matter of armaments and military posture.
immediate agenda of arms reduction is clear. We can wrap up an agreement on
intermediate-range nuclear missiles promptly. There are still issues to be
worked out. Our delegation in
Let me pause and make note of something that will advance the cause of all these negotiations. I think it is vital that Western reporters and editors keep the real record of these negotiations in mind. I note, for example, that the other day the Economist ran a kind of believe-it-or-not type item in which it reminded its readership that it had been the United States that first proposed the zero option in the INF negotiations and first proposed the 50-percent reductions in strategic weapons. I would simply say that as soon as the Soviets realize that attempts to manipulate the media of [on] these negotiations will not work, the better the chances are of treaty documents eventually getting signed.
too, as most of you know, we have pursued our four-part agenda with the Soviets
of human rights, arms reductions, resolution of regional conflicts, and
bilateral issues. All parts must advance if the relationship as a whole is to
advance. Let me stress the serious concern about Soviet actions in one of these
areas: regional conflicts. The fact remains that in Afghanistan Soviet
occupation forces are still waging a war of indiscriminate bombing and civilian
massacre against a Moslem people whose only crime is to love their country and
their faith. In
But let me again note that the progress we've seen in East-West relations flows from the new strength and resolution that we have brought to American foreign policy and from the boldness of our initiatives for peace. We are also seeing a Soviet leadership that appears more willing to address the problems that have divided East and West so long and to seek agreements based on mutual benefit.
the final measure of this new resolve can be found in the growth of democracy
throughout the world. Only a decade ago, democracy was under attack throughout
looking back over these 6\1/2\ years, then, I cannot help but reflect on the
most dramatic change to my own eyes: the exciting new prospects for the
democratic cause. A feeling of energy and hope prevails. Statism
has lost the intellectuals, and everywhere one turns, nations and people are
seeking the fulfillment of their age-old aspirations for self-government and
self-determination. Perhaps, then, we may finally progress beyond the postwar
standoff and fulfill the promises made at
Yes, we may, then, live at the moment Churchill once anticipated: a moment when the world would have a chance to redeem the opportunity it missed four decades ago -- a chance for the ``broad sunlit uplands'' of freedom, a chance to end the terrible agony of the 20th century and the twin threats of nuclear war and totalitarian ideology, a chance, above all, to see humanity live and prosper under that form of government that Churchill called the worst form of government except, as he said, for all the others: democracy. This is the opportunity before us. It's one we must seize now for ourselves and future generations.
I've been greatly honored to be invited to be here today and to address you. I have been a member of Town Hall for 20 years -- started when I was just a kid. [Laughter] But I'm also aware that this is the 50th anniversary of Town Hall. So, happy birthday to Town Hall! And thank all of you, and God bless you all.
this point, Stender Sweeney, chairman of the
Well, I am most grateful and most honored. And I thank you, Mr. Sweeney. As I told you, I've been a member of Town Hall for many years, and I know that your impartial programs set a fine example for our youth. I'm thrilled that you are involving young people in this important Town Hall tradition. And if I could say something to you about it -- talk about being deserving -- the thing I'm the most proud of and all that goes with this job I have is when I have an opportunity to visit those young men and women of ours in military uniform. You've heard their music. But let me also tell you that we have the highest percentage of high school graduates in our military today that we have ever had in our history, and it is entirely voluntary.
You know that in World War II when General George Marshall was asked what was our secret weapon, he said the best blankety-blank kids in the world. Well, I won't use his language. [Laughter] Generals can say it, but Presidents can't. [Laughter] But I've come to the conclusion that these young people are deserving of what you've proposed, because they are the best blankety-blank kids in the world.
So, I heartily endorse what has been presented here. I'm grateful for the honors that have been done me. But they tell me that a number of you aren't members of Town Hall. [Laughter] And if you'd like to join -- [laughter] -- you can put down my name as sponsor. [Laughter] Thank you all. They told me that I came on from the left and I can exit from the right. That's been the story of my life. [Laughter]
Note: The President
spoke at at a luncheon in the