Remarks to the World Affairs
Cohen and Sue Root, reverend clergy, Mr. Mayor, members of the Council here --
the World Affairs Council -- it's great to be here in
I'm delighted to be here with you, and especially in the State where
As members of the World Affairs Council, as active students of global politics, all of you here today can testify to how unlikely the prospects for freedom seemed at the start of this decade. You can recall democracy on the defensive in country after country, an unparalleled buildup of nuclear arms, hostages in Iran, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, predictions of economic contraction, and global chaos, ranging from food and fuel shortages to environmental disaster. All of these were the unrelenting themes of so much of what we read and heard in the media.
the economic recovery of the
But I've come here today to suggest that this notion of trusting the power of human freedom and letting the people do the rest was not just a good basis for our economic policy, it proved a solid foundation for our foreign policy as well. That's what we've given to the people, why we have repeated what they instinctively knew, but what the experts had shied away from saying in public. We spoke plainly and bluntly. We rejected what Jeane Kirkpatrick calls moral equivalency. We said freedom was better than totalitarianism. We said communism was bad. We said a future of nuclear terror was unacceptable. We said we stood for peace, but we also stood for freedom. We said we held fast to the dream of our Founding Fathers: the dream that someday every man, woman, and child would live in dignity and in freedom. And because of this, we said containment was no longer enough, that the expansion of human freedom was our goal. We spoke for democracy, and we said that we would work for the day when the people of every nation enjoyed the blessing of liberty.
Well, at first, the experts said this kind of candor was dangerous, that it would lead to a worsening of Soviet-American relations. But far to the contrary, this candor made clear to the Soviets the resilience and strength of the West; it made them understand the lack of illusions on our part about them or their system. By reasserting values and defining once again what we as a people and a nation stood for, we were of course making a moral and spiritual point. And in doing this, we offered hope for the future, for democracy; and we showed we had retained that gift for dreaming that marked this continent and our nation at its birth.
in all this we were also doing something practical. We had learned long ago
that the Soviets get down to serious negotiations only after they are convinced
that their counterparts are determined to stand firm. We knew the least
indication of weakened resolve on our part would lead the Soviets to stop the
serious bargaining, stall diplomatic progress, and attempt to exploit this
perceived weakness. So, we were candid. We acknowledged the depth of our
disagreements and their fundamental, moral import. In this way, we acknowledged
that the differences [that] separated us and the Soviets were deeper and wider
than just missile counts and number of warheads. As I've said before, we do not
mistrust each other because we are armed; we are armed because we mistrust each
other. And I spoke those words to General Secretary Gorbachev at our very first
that was why we resolved to address the full range of the real causes of that
mistrust and raise the crucial moral and political issues directly with the
Soviets. Now, in the past, the full weight of the Soviet-American relationship
all too often seemed to rest on one issue: arms control, a plank not sturdy
enough to bear up the whole platform of Soviet-American relations. So, we
adopted not just a one-part agenda of arms control but a broader four-part
agenda. We talked about regional conflicts, especially in areas like
now this approach to the Soviets -- public candor about their system and ours,
a full agenda that put the real differences between us on the table -- has
borne fruit. Just as we look at leading indicators to see how the economy is
doing, we know the global momentum of freedom is the best leading indicator of
yet even while freedom is on the march, Soviet-American relations have taken a
dramatic turn into a period of realistic engagement. In a month I will meet Mr.
let me now summarize for you some of the issues that need crucial definition as
we approach this summit. Let's begin with
let me say here that the next few months will be no time for complacency, no
time to sit back and congratulate ourselves. The Soviets have rarely before,
and not at all in more than three decades, left a country once occupied. They
have often promised to leave, but rarely in their history, and then only under
pressure from the West, have they actually done it.
we ask have the Soviets really given up these ambitions?
Well, we don't know. We can't know until the drama is fully played. We must
make clear that any spreading of violence on the part of the Soviets or their
puppets could undo the good that the
Soviets are now pledged to withdraw their forces totally from
the start, our policy in
see, just as a Soviet Union that oppresses its own people, that violates the
Helsinki accords on human rights to which it is a party, that continues to
suppress free expression and religious worship and the right to travel -- just
as such a Soviet Union can never have truly normal relations with the United
States and the rest of the free world, neither can a Soviet Union that is always
trying to push its way into other countries ever have a normal relationship
with us. And that's what has happened in countries like
of these regimes has brought peace or a better life to their people. Each has
brought misery and hardship. Each is an outrage to the conscience of mankind,
and none more so than
know, Ethiopia, of course, for that matter in every country in which the
Soviets have imposed a regime, the issues of human rights and regional
conflicts merge into one greater issue: that of Soviet intentions, designs, and
behavior both home and across the Earth. Several years ago the French political
thinker and writer, Jean-Francois Revel, reported on a conversation that a
member of the French Cabinet had with a high Soviet official. The Soviet
official, in reviewing the history of the 1970's said, as Revel writes: ``We took
The years of Western passivity in the face of Soviet aggression ended, of course, 7 years ago. But the issue here is that the mentality that produced such analyses, as the Soviet official called them, has not ended. Until it does, the world cannot know true peace.
a lesson we should apply closer to home, in
starting now to show real respect for human rights and abandoning the quest for
military solutions to these regional conflicts, the
of the most basic rights that we've called on the Soviets to comply with under
course, the World Affairs Council here is a major sponsor of USIA's International Visitors Program. So, I don't have to
tell you the importance of people-to-people exchanges. And I want to personally
-- to thank all of you who have provided assistance and hospitality to foreign
visitors. I just left a meeting in the Oval Office to come up here, and that
meeting brought about by Director Wick of USIA was a meeting with an assemblage
of media and publishing people from the
here today at the World Affairs Council understand better than most this lesson
about how much all of us have in common as members of the human race. It is
governments, after all, not people, who put obstacles up and cause
misunderstandings. When I spoke at the United Nations several years ago, I
mentioned some words of Gandhi, spoken shortly after he visited
you in the World Affairs Council have done much praiseworthy work in this area.
And I'm hopeful that American foreign policy, based as it has been on strength
and candor, is opening a way to a world where trust and affection among peoples
is an everyday reality. This is my hope as I prepare to leave for
[At this point, the President answered questions from the audience.]
Mr. President, my question to you, sir, is what will be the central theme of
your message that you'll carry to the people of the
The President. Now, did you -- the last part -- are you speaking of the INF treaty and the failure of ratification?
The President. Well, let me answer that part first and then get to the other. I think it would be very, well, upsetting, and it would put a strain on the summit if the Senate has not ratified the treaty by the time we go there. And we're hoping and praying they will, and yet their scheduling of it for discussion and debate is such that I'm very concerned that possibly we may have to go without it having been ratified.
as to the message to the Soviet people, I don't know how much contact we'll be
able to have with them. We're going to try. We have been providing lists by
name of individuals in the
to the people -- I have a feeling that the people of the
Well, I've been to the
Foreign Trade Policies
Mr. President, I'd just like to ask you one question about the trade deficit
and foreign trade policy here in
The President. Well, if you'll forgive me, you've got an administration now that has been trying to do something about the trade deficit. We have continuously reduced the trade deficit. We have not brought it to where there is no trade deficit as yet. And this last one, even though they said, oh, why the deficit went up a little bit -- they didn't say little bit, they made it sound horrendous -- something about around $13 billion-plus in this trade deficit. But what they didn't announce was that our exports were at their highest level that they've been so far. And it so happened that also there was -- because of a little lowering in the price of the dollar -- there was a little increase in imports at the same time, so that there was still a deficit. But we have continued, in the years we've been here, every year, to have an increase in our exports.
tell you, though, something. I don't feel the way about the trade deficit that
I do about deficit spending here within our own country. In the 70 years, back
when our country was growing from its colonial beginnings into the great
industrial power that it is today, every one of those 70 years we had a trade
imbalance. There were things that we hadn't learned to produce yet in our own
country, and so forth. And yet that was our great period of growth. Now, with all of this trade imbalance, these last 65 months have been
the longest period of economic expansion in the history of the
Now, I've said repeatedly, the trade bill that is now before the conference comes to me as it is, I will veto it not because I'm against a trade bill but because they've loaded on so many items -- and one item in particular that would be very restrictive on business and industry in America. And I have served notice that if that item is in there I can't sign it. But if I do have to veto it, I will immediately call on the Congress to adopt a trade bill that is similar to this one without those things that have been added on. Because we've been working in the economic summit as hard as we can to bring about changes in the GATT treaty -- that's the general tariff and trade agreement of the industrial nations of the West and Japan.
All we've been asking for is not protectionism but asking for a free and fair area so that we're all playing on a level field. If they've got restrictions on our exports coming into their country, then we're going to respond. We've gotten some great changes made. So, I'm very optimistic and not concerned as much about that trade imbalance. It'd be fine to change it, but the imbalance I want to get is a Congress that will join truly in eliminating the reckless spending that has us overspending. And then I would look for all your support in having a change in the Constitution that says hereafter it'll be against the Constitution to have a trade -- or not a trade in, but to have a deficit spending situation in our country.
Drug Abuse and Trafficking
Mr. President, good afternoon. I'm a sophomore English major at
The President. Are you talking about just using the military in helping against the drug menace and --? --
Q. As far as increasing.
The President. Well, we have been. For
the first time, we have been utilizing the military. There are some laws that
limit what you could ask the military to do. But last year alone, there were
16,000 flying hours of surveillance by our military aircraft in helping us
interdict the drugs coming into
have to tell you though, we have done a remarkable
job. Incidentally, we've increased our spending with regard to drugs and the
fighting of the drug abuse. We have increased that -- tripled it -- since we've
been here. But that is not going to do the job, as much as we have to keep on
intercepting those drugs. Last year we confiscated $500 million of assets of
the drug dealers and still the problem is with us. I think
The President. Would you be interested
in knowing how easily things can get started?
The President. No?
Q. That will suffice. Thank you. Thank you very much.
The President. Well, thank you.
How do you solve all the questions in
The President. Have we solved all the
we came here, we found a situation -- came to office -- found a situation in
which our country was in the economic doldrums. We had double-digit inflation.
We had great unemployment. And we had some pretty high taxes. And we set out on
an economic recovery program that was aimed at changing that. And also, I had
always felt before I came here that there was a growing spiritual hunger in the
So, we answered some of those questions. We found out that by cutting the tax rates the Government got more revenue than it did at the higher rates, because when there's an incentive and you can keep more of the money that you're earning, people earn more money. One percent of our highest taxpayers when we came here was actually paying 18 percent of the total tax revenue from the income tax. When we reduced their rates, that 1 percent is now paying 26\1/2\ percent of the total revenue. And yet we still have some people saying we must tax the rich, we must go after them. And those taxes, I think, helped start us very much on the road of economic recovery.
In these last 5 or 6 years, we have now created 16 million new jobs. And the family income average is higher than it has ever been before. Inflation is under control; it's no longer double digit. And one of the things I will always be very proud to see is that Americans are proud once again, to be Americans.
Mr. President, you have for years tried to bring peace to the
The President. We're going to keep on trying as hard as we can. We feel that the coming together in negotiations, sitting down at a table with the other countries -- you know, most of us have forgotten that technically the state of war still exists between the Arab nations and Israel. But we're not going to cure it until we come together and find out how we can arrive at a fair settlement of the differences between those peoples.
can't resist telling you a little joke. It's kind of cynical -- very cynical in
a matter of fact -- about the
Does that mean, Mr. President, that the
The President. Yes, there are some among
them that we have refused on principle to address, such as Arafat, because
Arafat has refused to recognize the right of
have worked very hard also to make the other Arab States aware that -- even in
addition to our agreement and the security, we agree, of
Q. Thank you, Mr. President. It's very refreshing to hear you say you are going to open up negotiations.
The President. Yes.
Stealth Bomber and Arms Control
Q. Hello, Mr. President. I'd just like to tell you what an honor and totally unexpected privilege it is for me to ask you a question here. My question has to do with the article that was in the Wall Street Journal today about the Stealth bomber -- the artist's sketch of it, and after all these years of secrecy, why it was unveiled now. Perhaps it has something to do with your foreign trip and how the Stealth program is going to be incorporated with the Star Wars defense system?
The President. Well, this is, of course, a form of conventional weapon, an airplane and a bomber, and I think the timing was probably somewhat accidental about revealing this photo. What has happened is we have just reached the testing point. So, very shortly that plane will be in the air and visible to all. So, there didn't seem to be any more reason to keep it secret. And I don't think it will hurt at the summit. [Laughter]
Q. Well, I hope it helps.
The President. Well, I hope so, too. And I know this is the final question, but I would just like to say to you that -- because there is some misunderstanding about that and about treaties, like the START treaty that we're trying to get -- we don't know -- it doesn't look likely that -- that treaty is so much more complicated than the INF treaty, that there's a great question as to whether it could be ready for signature at the summit. But we've never set a deadline on when it can be worked out. We don't want a fast treaty; we want a good one. And there are some lack of understanding on the part of some people. I've read some columns that think that our emphasis on reducing nuclear weapons means that we're going to allow the Soviet Union to wind up with that great superiority they have in conventional weapons, and won't that be to our disadvantage? I think you all should know that as we continue any further development of eliminating nuclear weapons we'll now have to follow negotiations in conventional weapons to reduce to parity so that no one is left with an advantage over the other as we go on eliminating nuclear weapons, if we can. So, that is definite. And I have informed the General Secretary that that must take place, and he has expressed a willingness to talk on reducing our conventional weapons.
Well, I know that you were the sixth, and that was all. Can I do something terrible here? The press knows I do this. I mentioned that hobby of mine. So, as long as I can't answer any more questions, can I conclude in just telling you one of those jokes which illustrates the sense of humor -- [applause]. And this is one that I told to Gorbachev.
It seems that they recently issued an order that anyone that's caught speeding must get a ticket. And you know that most of the driving there is done by the Politburo, by the -- or the bureaucracy. They're the ones with cars and drivers and so forth. So, it seems that one morning Gorbachev himself came out of his country home, knew he was late getting to the Kremlin, told his driver to get in the back seat and he'd drive. And down the road he went, past two motorcycle policemen. One of them took out after him. In a few minutes, he's back with his buddy, and the buddy said, ``Did you give him a ticket?'' He said, ``No.'' ``Well,'' he said, ``why not? We were told that anyone caught speeding was to get a ticket.'' He said, ``No, no, this one was too important.'' ``Well,'' he said, ``who was it?'' He says, ``I don't know. I couldn't recognize him, but his driver was Gorbachev.'' [Laughter]
Note: The President
spoke at at the