Radio Address to the
Nation Following the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Summit Meeting in Brussels, Belgium
March 5, 1988
many of you know, I recently returned from Brussels, Belgium, where I met with the
leaders of the North Atlantic alliance. I'm glad to say that the
Western alliance remains a strong and unified guardian of the free world, ready
to meet the many challenges before us.
all of my meetings with allied leaders there was a unity of purpose and resolve
that I found heartening and uplifting. That strength and unity have never been
more sorely tested or better proven than in the events leading up to, and
making possible, the recent signing of our historic treaty with the Soviet Union to eliminate an entire
class of U.S. and Soviet nuclear
weapons. Let me, if I may, review those events, because they provide a lesson
that was much on my mind this week in Brussels, a valuable lesson about the
only effective way to deal with the Soviet Union: from a position of strength.
refers to intermediate-range nuclear forces. They only became an issue in the
seventies and early eighties when the Soviets began targeting their new SS - 20
missiles against every major city in Western Europe and our friends in Asia, as well. The free
nations had no comparable weapon to counter this new threat. So, NATO agreed on
what we called a dual-track policy. We would negotiate with the Soviets to get
them to remove their missiles or to reduce them to the lowest possible equal
level, and we would also deploy our own forces to counter their new threat.
the Soviets tried every play in the book to keep NATO from deploying these
weapons. They stalled; they threatened. Finally, they walked out of the
negotiations in Geneva when we did begin
deploying. The political pressure brought to bear on Western Europe was immense. Many said
our allies couldn't take it and they'd cave in. Demonstrations erupted in many
of the capital cities in Europe, and the demonstrators'
line was very similar to the Soviets' --No NATO deployments. In the United States, the so-called nuclear
freeze movement gained strength. Well, if those demonstrators had gotten their
way, there would be no INF treaty. There would be no agreement with the Soviet Union to reduce, for the
first time in history, nuclear armaments. The Soviet SS - 20's would still be
in place, threatening the populations of Western Europe and Asia. The lesson learned:
One must always negotiate with the Soviets from a position of strength.
this NATO meeting, we talked with our allies about ways to apply this lesson.
After the removal of the Soviet intermediate-range missile threat, our highest priorities
are: first, to negotiate a 50-percent reduction in strategic arms; second, to
address the fact that the Warsaw Pact conventional forces, arrayed offensively
along the Iron Curtain, far outnumber NATO's; and third, to address the
problems created by the continued Soviet maintenance of the world's largest
chemical weapons arsenal.
why continued modernization of NATO forces, nuclear and conventional, is
essential. Most of you have heard of SDI -- our Strategic Defense Initiative
that may one day make ballistic missiles obsolete. At the same time, we must
continue to pursue NATO's conventional defense initiative to develop high-tech
conventional weapons that may be an important part of the answer to the
Soviets' aggressive strategy on the European continent.
issues were on our agenda in Brussels. We resolved there to
press for large, asymmetrical reductions to Warsaw Pact conventional forces,
for example, tanks and artillery. General Secretary Gorbachev talks at home
about perestroika -- that's Russian for restructuring. Well, it's time for some
restructuring in the Warsaw Pact. It's time for the abandonment of the Soviet
offensive strategy on the continent.
must never forget that arms reduction is not enough. Armaments are only the
symptom, not the cause, of a much deeper division between free societies and
the unfree. That division is at its heart a moral
division. Perhaps it is best symbolized by the Berlin Wall and the horrible
barrier that cuts down the center of Europe, dividing nations,
peoples, families. The question must be asked: When can we ever hope to achieve
a real and lasting peace with a regime that is so fearful of its own people
that it must imprison them behind barbed wire? That's why, when I visited the
Berlin Wall last year, I issued a challenge to Mr. Gorbachev: If you really
want glasnost, if you really want openness, tear down that wall!
let me conclude by saying, I found this week in Brussels what the Atlantic
alliance has demonstrated now for 40 years: that a peace built on strength can
and will endure. And I am convinced, after our meeting, that the alliance of
free nations has never been stronger.
next week, thanks for listening, and God bless you.
Note: The President
spoke at from the Oval Office at the White House.