Radio Address to the
Nation on Soviet-United States Relations
August 29, 1987
this summer season, most of us would like to forget work, take some time off,
and relax. Still, if you're like me, while you're on vacation, your mind
wanders to bigger issues than the day-to-day ones -- issues like where we're
going over the long run and how we plan to get there. I hope you'll forgive me
then if I take a few minutes to talk with you about one of the biggest issues:
relations between the United States and the Soviet Union. You see, I had a
chance to speak about this a few days ago to a group in Los Angeles and by satellite hookup
to another one in New York. I wanted to share some
of that with you.
America and the Soviet Union are adversaries, as we
have been since shortly after the Second World War. This hostility was not of U.S. choosing. Before his
death, President Franklin Roosevelt spoke for all Americans when he said that
he hoped the Soviets would work with us after the war for a world of democracy
and peace. With this prayer in his heart, F.D.R. went to the Yalta Conference
in 1945 to meet with Stalin. There the Soviets fed his hopes by agreeing that
when peace came they would hold free and unfettered elections in Eastern
European countries like Poland. Within 2 years they
broke that promise. Then they began to subvert free countries like Greece and Turkey. Only after that did America reluctantly accept that
the Soviets were our adversaries.
the goals of our foreign policy are the same as they have been for the last
four decades. We stand against totalitarianism, particularly imperialistic
expansionist totalitarianism. We are for democracy and human rights, and we're
for a worldwide prosperity that only free economies can give and the pursuit of
human happiness that only political freedom allows. When my administration took
office 6\1/2\ years ago, we found that in some crucial ways American policy had
lost sight of these great goals. A massive Soviet military buildup throughout
the 1970's had been met with inaction in the United States. The Soviets had added
several thousand warheads, introduced advanced intermediate-range nuclear
weapons to Europe, and installed their
fourth generation of intercontinental missiles, while we simply watched.
Meanwhile, in the Third World, Soviet adventurism had reached into countries
like Afghanistan, Cambodia, Angola, and Nicaragua.
much has changed. We have built up our military, and the Soviets have responded
to our new strength with a new willingness to talk seriously about arms
reductions. In the past, arms agreements simply set rules for how fast our two
countries could increase their numbers of nuclear weapons. Six years ago I said
that this was a wrong goal for arms talks. We should try to cut the nuclear
numbers. I suggested that in one area -- ground-launched intermediate-range
missiles -- we simply eliminate them. Well, today we are close to an agreement
with the Soviets to do just that. At the same time, we have begun work on
technologies that could free all of mankind from the fear of nuclear missiles
for all time -- a strategic defense against nuclear ballistic missiles. In the
last 6\1/2\ years, we have also established a new approach to Soviet
adventurism. We have said that America has a moral obligation
to stand with those brave souls who fight for freedom and against Soviet-sponsored
oppression in their homelands. If the world is to know true peace, the Soviets
must give up these imperial adventures.
week I suggested a number of steps the Soviets can take to improve relations
with the United States. They can get out of Afghanistan; they can tear down the
Berlin Wall; they can allow free elections in Eastern Europe. And since this month
marks the seventh anniversary of the free Polish labor union Solidarity, as
well as the 19th anniversary of the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia, it is a particularly
good time for the Soviets to repudiate force as a means of preventing
liberalization in Eastern Europe. And along the same lines, they can stop
helping the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua subvert its neighbors.
The Soviets can also open their defense establishment to world scrutiny. They
can publish a valid and comprehensive defense budget and reveal the size and
composition of their armed forces. They can let their parliament, the Supreme
Soviet, debate major new military programs.
at home we must remember the lesson of the last 40 years, that if the world is
to know true peace and if freedom is to prevail, America must remain strong and
next week, thanks for listening, and God bless you.
Note: The President
spoke at from the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, CA.