Remarks on the Strategic
Defense Initiative to Martin Marietta
Thank you very much, and thank you, Mr. Pownall, General Abrahamson, the rest of my companions up here in the top shelf, and Senators Wallop and Wilson and Congressmen Hefley and Schaefer, who are here with us. I am convinced now that with some of the difficulties we've had with regard to getting enthusiastic support in some circles for this program the answer is a conducted tour of those individuals here to see what I have seen here so far today.
It's an honor for me to be here at Martin Marietta with all of you men and women of science and engineering, who play such a vital role in this age of technology. I'll have to admit I'm more than a bit awed by what I've seen and heard today. Of course, not all my predecessors shared my sense of wonder about such things. One, President Rutherford B. Hayes, played host to a notable science and technology event back in the 1870's, a demonstration of the newly invented telephone. And President Hayes' reaction was, ``Well,'' he said, ``that's an amazing invention, but who would ever want to use them?'' [Laughter] You know, when I heard him say that, I thought he might be mistaken. [Laughter]
though, I was born in a small town in the farm country of
in an age when the common man can do and experience what in past times was enjoyed
only by royalty, aristocracy, and the elite.
Arthur Balfour once noted: ``Science is the greatest instrument of social change, the most vital of all revolutions which mark the development of modern civilizations.'' Science and technological-based resolutions in health care and food production, communications, transportation, manufacturing, and other endeavors have changed how we live and the quality of our lives. Before joining you here, I was given a classified update on some of the key elements of the program that you're working on. It's clear that the project is bounding forward, and I couldn't be more pleased. After what I've seen today, I believe that mankind is again on the edge of a revolution that will change the basic assumptions upon which we base our decisions and reshape the world in which we live.
Until now, mankind's search for security often focused on expanding the ability to lash out, to kill, to destroy. Technological advances throughout the ages increased man's destructive power, and those nations that did not keep pace soon felt the sting of defeat and the pain of subjugation. But humanity, in almost every case, found a defense for every offense, and that is exactly what we're seeking: a defense against mankind's most deadly weapons -- ballistic missiles.
You are laboring to develop a defensive system that will change history. Once you've completed your work, the world will never be the same. I suggest it will be a better and a safer world. And what better legacy can this generation leave than a safer world? Our Strategic Defense Initiative offers mankind security through protection rather than retaliation. I must tell you that I have never been able to see the safety -- or feel the safety of knowing that if someone blew us up we'd be blowing them up at the same time. It's a scientific advance that will be judged a success based not on how many lives it is capable of taking -- which is none -- but on how many it is able to protect. It's a moral as well as a scientific endeavor worth every minute and hour that you are dedicating to it. Our goal is to strengthen deterrence by moving as soon as we're ready to increasing reliance on defenses to keep the peace.
I realize that being a government project, with all the politics that goes with that reality, your work can be frustrating. Wernher von Braun once said: ``We can lick gravity, but sometimes the paperwork is overwhelming.'' [Laughter] I appreciate the extraordinary effort that each of you is making. Your mental prowess and creativity and, yes, your hard work will make or break the program. And I want you to know that what you accomplish will be put to good use in protecting your country, the free world, and perhaps all mankind against the threat of nuclear holocaust. You're not working to build a bargaining chip. It will not be traded away.
there are those who complain about the cost. Well, Benjamin Franklin, himself a
man of science and politics, once observed: ``The
expenses required to prevent a war are much lighter than those that will, if
not prevented, be absolutely necessary to maintain the war.'' Well, mirroring
that thought, I'd say that what we spend to protect ourselves from nuclear
missiles is much lighter than the cost, human and otherwise, if even one
nuclear missile is fired, even if by mistake, and we have to suffer the
consequences, because there's no way to stop it. In the case of SDI,
Soviet Government wages its propaganda campaign against our SDI research, even
while they work overtime to develop their own SDI-like system. Well, we must
not be lulled into reducing our commitment. Their military program, which
includes everything from killer-satellites to the modernized antimissile system
the Strategic Defense Initiative is not aimed at protecting us and our allies
is not a weapon of war but an insurer, a protector of the peace. It is totally
within the limits of the ABM treaty. And let me add, the
there are those who may be pessimistic about the chances of deep reductions in
you are all aware, General Secretary Gorbachev will be visiting
hope we can see forward movement on a number of other fronts. The
the INF treaty we hope to sign during the upcoming summit nor any other
agreement that follows will be built on trust. Agreements with the
Even with all the talk of openness and glasnost, much change needs to take place before trust, like that we have with democratic governments, can come into play. The Soviet peoples themselves -- even though there has been some change -- still tell stories and joke about their plight. I heard one about a fellow who went to the KGB to report that he lost his parrot. The KGB asked him why he was bothering them. Why didn't he just report it to the local police. Well, he answered, ``I just want you to know that I don't agree with a thing that parrot has to say.'' [Laughter.]
know, in 4 months we'll mark the fifth anniversary of the
I have even learned a couple of Russian words that I have used in my previous meetings with the General Secretary. It is a proverb. It says, Dovorey no provorey. That means ``Trust but verify.'' And we will.
No President could be prouder or more grateful than I am to all of you and your fellow colleagues around the country for what you are doing. You, indeed, are reshaping the world, and for literally all time to come.
So, thank you, and God bless you all.
Note: The President
spoke at in Building No. 3. He
was introduced by Tom Pownall, chairman and chief
executive officer of Martin Marietta. In his opening remarks, the President
referred to Lt. Gen. James A. Abrahamson, Director of the Strategic Defense
Initiative Organization; Senators Malcolm Wallop of Wyoming and Pete Wilson of
California; and Congressmen Joel Hefley and Dan Schaefer of Colorado. Following
his remarks, the President traveled to his ranch in