Remarks and a
Question-and-Answer Session at a World Affairs Council Luncheon in
The President. Thank you all very
much. And Paul Miller, thank you very much for that very kind introduction.
It's wonderful to be here in
I am delighted to be addressing the World Affairs Council again. Much of what I
have to discuss today goes to the heart of what this organization is all about:
the development through public discussion of a democratic consensus behind a
strong American foreign policy. In this regard, the work of the council has
been notable and much needed. I'm reminded of one despairing commentator who
said sadly a few years ago that if you asked 10 Americans to define ``highly
nuanced,'' 6 were liable to respond, ``Wasn't he the
And the importance of your work comes home particularly now in the final days of a political campaign, a campaign in which the American people will speak out on the issues of war and peace, democracy and totalitarianism, and make decisions that will affect the world and our foreign policy consensus for a great, long time to come. And this election comes, too, after one of the most crucial and significant years in the history of that foreign policy. Right now, we have hopes -- and for the moment we must remember that they're only hopes -- that our children might see 1988 as the turning point in the great twilight struggle known as the cold war.
a number of addresses this year, most recently to the United Nations, I've
pointed to the extraordinary progress made on so many fronts, that truly --
``peace is breaking out all over.'' Even in the few weeks since I spoke to the
General Assembly, we've seen this progress continue in settling regional
conflicts in places like
And yet -- as we've also frequently pointed out -- what prevented progress in the past in these areas, indeed, what was at the heart of the cold war, was not some failure of communications or giant misunderstanding between East and West. Far to the contrary, it was understanding -- not misunderstanding -- that was the root cause. And I speak here of the clear consensus that developed in the West shortly after World War II on several vital points: the true nature of the Soviet regime, the fundamental distinction between totalitarianism and democracy, and the moral duty to resist the international threat to human rights posed by Soviet expansionism. It was these realities, not some unfortunate or avoidable misunderstanding, that caused East-West tension. And we can forget this lesson only at the greatest peril.
fortunately, it's also here we see the most encouraging change of all. Every
issue of the morning paper seems to bring with it news of questioning in the
Soviet Union: questioning of state control of industry, of restrictions on
human rights, and even of the ideology of world domination, of class warfare in
international politics, all of which formed the greatest barriers between our
two nations. This talk of democratic reform in the
to those of us used to the monolithic nature of Soviet society in the postwar
era, these changes seem remarkable -- no, not conclusive, but certainly
remarkable. Like myself, I'm sure most of you would have had trouble a few
years ago, given the state of our relations, imagining the sight of an American
President strolling through Red Square with his Soviet counterpart, or that
same President there in the Lenin Hills addressing the students of Moscow State
University on the wonder and splendor of human individual freedom. We see a restiveness also in
indeed, is inevitable. No one should doubt the instability of the present
whatever the future may hold, it's safe to say: We've come a long way, and this
is a portentous time. Indeed, when I hear some of the critics of our foreign
policy, the most apt comparison that comes to mind has nothing to do at all
with the serious matters of foreign policy of war and peace. I'm instead
brought back to a story of my
Well, let us remember that great steps have been taken in the last few years, steps to safeguard against archvillains -- not to mention the blowing up of the world, of course. Let us not be satisfied, and certainly not smug, but let us be appreciative of what has happened and determined to build on that progress.
Now, in other addresses here, I've noted that maintaining that progress means realizing that our foreign policy during these past 8 years has made a significant departure: We now hold that containment is no longer enough; that ours is a forward strategy for freedom; and that this strategy means not only maintaining our defenses and vigorous diplomatic engagement but also candor about and to our adversaries, support for freedom fighters all around the globe, and encouragement of human rights and democratic reforms within the Eastern bloc. And yet while these elements do signify a departure, we must also remember that all of them are based on the bipartisan consensus developed shortly after World War II, that consensus that was the basis of American foreign policy leadership for the first decades of the postwar period.
perhaps many of you know, at the close of World War II, Winston Churchill's
government was defeated for reelection, a defeat that occurred in the midst of
the Potsdam Conference. As Churchill left the conference, he grew depressed at
the increasingly aggressive tendencies of the Soviet Government and viewed with
great alarm the inability of his own government, under its new leadership, to
mount a vigorous challenge to the Soviet refusal to keep its agreements on
it was the man many disparaged as a former haberdasher and F.D.R.'s
ill-prepared understudy, the new American President, Harry Truman, who became
an enormous source of comfort and solace to Churchill. Because it was Harry
Truman who moved with vigor to meet the Soviet threat to world freedom. Indeed,
at the very moment when
It's well to remember that the Truman doctrine, which saved both Turkey and Greece from the threat of Soviet domination and rallied the forces of freedom in many other nations, was based on two important premises: first, that the United States must be ``willing to help free people to maintain their free institutions and their national integrity against aggressive movements that seek to impose upon them totalitarian regimes,'' and second, ``this is no more than a frank recognition that totalitarian regimes imposed upon free peoples, by direct or indirect aggression, undermine the foundation of international peace and hence the security of the United States.''
as I say, I believe these premises have held fast, and they're premises not so
much changed by this administration as extended. And again, I refer here not
only to the concept of military help for freedom fighters but also the concept
of pressing, through private but especially public diplomacy, the cause of
democratic reform and human rights within the Eastern bloc and even the
point of fact, this new zealousness for freedom has permeated our foreign
policy and is seen in all multilateral relations. The call for a worldwide
crusade for freedom and democracy, which I first made at
there has been a larger, even deeper change in our foreign policy -- not so
much a policy decision as a vigorous renewal of
And I think if we look closely enough here, we'll see at work not just a foreign policy successful at expounding the cause of freedom but a foreign policy successful precisely because its very purpose and meaning was defined by that cause and sprang from the greatest of all ideas of Western thought and civilization: freedom, human dignity under God.
if I might, I'd like to pause here and note: It's truly ironic that even as
those Western insights and traditions -- the tinder and fuel of human liberty
-- start fires all across the world, here at home they are called into
question. Their legitimacy as areas of required study on some of our campuses
is even questioned. I recently came across an interview in Time magazine with Allan
Bloom, the author of ``The Closing of the American Mind,'' in which he
expresses his own deep concern that too much of the academic community has lost
sight of the uniqueness and the moral superiority of Western values such as
freedom, democracy, and the rule of law. ``Hey, hey, ho, ho!'' -- the chant went on one campus -- ``Western culture's got to
go!'' All across the
chief arms negotiator, Max Kampelman, has a favorite
quotation about all this. He likes to note that no one has spoken more
eloquently of the preciousness of this heritage or its pertinence to foreign
policy concerns than former President of the U.N. General Assembly, the late
Charles Malik -- a friend of the
Yes, thanks to the perseverance of the American people and her allies, the twilight struggle did not fade into the dark night of totalitarian rule. Instead, in 1988 the lights are going on all over the world: the lights of freedom. So, at this critical moment, let us be certain that this continues, that the source of that illumination, the great works of Western thought and culture, is protected and revered and, yes, studied -- above all, here in America.
first line of defense is found as much in our universities and the great works
of humane learning as it is in all the NATO tank divisions on the German
border. And the direction of our foreign policy is based as much on the great
ideas that bind together the free nations of the world, as it is on the pace of
all the peace conferences in
So, I call today on America's college faculties and administrators to consider this proposition: that returning to sound education, that getting back to basics, involves not just closer attention to good grammar or better mathematics but devotion to the very wellsprings of human freedom -- to the nurturing of the precious intellectual heritage of Western culture, to the preciousness of the idea of human freedom. And it is in this spirit that we can approach the great problems that remain -- the unfinished agenda of our postwar foreign policy. And it is in this spirit that we can move forward aggressively through the remainder of this administration and into the next with what, I believe, must be our critical foreign policy goals.
we must maintain progress in settling regional conflicts, conflicts that could
so easily escalate into a larger war. Here especially, it is essential to stick
to the policy in
And second, we must aggressively pursue the research, development, and testing of our Strategic Defense Initiative. In recent months, we've seen significant research breakthroughs, breakthroughs that lead us to believe deployment could be less costly than originally thought. We've been so successful in our research efforts that we've been able to reduce the projected cost of our most promising program by tens of billions of dollars. Now is the time to redouble our efforts, not cut them back. A nation protected against nuclear missile attack, particularly an accidental or limited launch -- this is not just a policy option, it's a moral imperative.
we must at all costs keep our entire defense structure strong. The American
people have made enormous sacrifices over the past four decades to maintain
Fourth, our public candor about human rights abuses and the fundamental moral differences between totalitarianism and democracy must continue. We must continue to speak aggressively for the cause of human freedom. We must be unafraid to point out the moral wrong of those who would repress liberty. We must be unashamed to say that economic growth and material prosperity are the result of economic freedom, not state planning.
Fifth, we must continue our policy of diplomatic engagement in arms reduction negotiations. A START treaty is attainable in the next few years. In a few months new negotiations will open on conventional arms.
there are other areas of concern. It's ironic that just when we're beginning to
see reductions in nuclear arsenals and new negotiations on conventional arms,
the scourge of an older and equally deadly menace appears to be on the
increase. I'm talking about chemical weapons -- poison gas, whose use in the
Gulf war has horrified the civilized world. And we face the prospect of more
and more countries capable of producing or acquiring such weapons. We must
establish respect for the international norms against illegal use of chemical
weapons and see to it that this does not become a part of the history of the
21st century. I've called for an international conference against the use of
chemical weapons, which will meet in
other problem that darkens the otherwise hopeful horizon is the continuing
failure of the
This is a full agenda for the remainder of this administration and certainly for any future administration. But I do believe we have come farther and faster in these last 8 years than even the greatest optimists could have supposed. I believe this progress can now be maintained -- maintained as long as we keep faith with the great values and traditions of Western civilization: our faith in freedom and in the eventual triumph of the human spirit, a faith that must sustain us, as Winston Churchill wrote to Harry Truman in those early days of 1945, until ``the dark days of world tragedy have passed away.''
And as Churchill also said to his own people at the end of the last war: ``Forward, unflinching, unswerving, indomitable, till the whole task is done and the whole world is safe and clean.'' Thank you, and God bless you.
Eastern Bloc Reforms
Mr. Mack. Your first question, from Kelly Wellman and Jay Kirner: With Gorbachev's policies of glasnost and perestroika, do you think there will be conflicts between the Eastern European countries?
The President. I don't know whether
conflicts between them, but we have noticed, very definitely, that they are
aware of the meaning of glasnost and perestroika, and they're moving, as
Gorbachev has been moving in
Mr. Mack. Robin, from your portion of the room, please?
Yes, Mr. President, a few weeks ago, the young Shah of Iran spoke to us here at
the World Affairs Council about his hopes of returning to
The President. If that's what the
Mr. President, we're talking about
The President. What?
The President. Oh, what am I doing? I
Q. Sorry. Do you want me to repeat the question?
The President. Well, once again, the answer is correct. The people themselves -- you know, we've heard, not so much lately as we did a year or so ago, that there were factions rising all over. And we were supposed to believe that the Khomeini's life was going to end in a matter of hours -- or days, if not hours. But there would be a different government. I have to say that our relationship with the Shah -- and even though he was, in the sense of royalty, a ruler -- Nancy and I were there shortly before the revolution that ousted the Shah, and it was amazing to see that country then. As you looked to the skyline, you saw derricks all over. These were building low-cost housing apartments for the people. A land reform was put into effect that gave land, as we once did, through homesteading to the peasants. And maybe part of the reason for the revolution was that most of that land belonged to the Mullahs, and they didn't like having it taken away.
no, I know that there are moves on, and there are factions that are organizing
right now with the expectation that, come the end of the Ayatollah, the country
can actually be moved in one of several directions. And people are preparing
for that. And I think that the
Mr. President, with the new emphasis in the
The President. Well, you mean, would it continue if Gorbachev was no longer in office? Is that the nature of the question?
Q. Yes, sir.
The President. Well, of course, it would depend on who followed him, but I think it would be a great setback if anything happens to prevent him from continuing the program that he has set forth. As I say, we saw it among the people there. And I believe that one of the things that explains what he's trying to do is that he had hurdled over Stalin -- and I have reason to believe and know that he has no respect or regard for Stalin whatsoever -- but he's gone back to some of the teachings of Lenin.
Lenin, admittedly, was the starting Communist force. But at the same time,
remember some of the things that he advocated, that he publicly said to the
Mack. Mr. President, a question from Raoul Garza:
What do you consider to be the major issue or priority between the
The President. I am not familiar
enough with him yet to know enough about that, other than that we -- and have
for 8 years -- we have tried to have a closer relationship with the countries
Mr. Mack. Robin?
World Peace and the President's Future
Beeby. We've got a question from Drew Ryan, age 10,
and Sarah Dennison, age 11. Drew asks: Do you ever think we will have world
peace? And Sarah says -- two cards, sorry -- My sixth grade class at
The President. I didn't hear the last part of it. Well, first of all, whether it can be achieved or not, world peace must be the goal that we strive for. If you look back over the centuries and see how much the world had wars and bloodshed going on, seemingly all the time, in different areas of the world, we have to continue to strive for that.
I have to point out that the peace that we have now is the longest one since
World War II, more than 40 years. When, before that -- and I've often credited
it a lot to the
Now, the other question there: How do I feel about being replaced? [Laughter] Well, I could give you kind of an odd-ball answer, first of all, to that. And it also touches on what I'm going to do when I have some free time. I'm looking forward to maybe getting out on the mashed-potato circuit -- [laughter] -- and making some speeches as just a ``Joe Citizen'' for things I believe should be done. And one of them has to do with the replacement of a President. I happen to believe now -- I didn't to begin with -- I believe now that the 22d amendment -- you see, I can say this now because it's not for me; it's for whoever follows me -- that that was an invasion of the democratic rights of the people of this country. You should be allowed to vote for who you want to vote for, for as many times as you want to vote for.
my concern is not just being replaced, it's who the
replacement is. [Laughter] And I have some very strong feelings about that. But
again, let me tell you, the free time -- yes, we're looking forward to that. I
don't think anyone ever leaves this job that I have without having things left
undone, things that you'd hoped could be accomplished, and so you leave hoping
that they will be then accomplished by someone else. So, I have something of
that feeling. But I will also tell you something else. Nancy
and I -- when you're a Californian and you're away for 8 years, you live in a
perpetual state of homesickness -- [laughter] -- and we're looking forward to
Mr. President, I have a two-part question here which unfortunately is going to
have to be the last question of the afternoon, due to time constraints: Do you
agree with the recent statements by Secretary Carlucci that the American Jewish
community should stop objections to major arms sales to friendly Arab
countries? And do you believe that -- with your departure from the White House
-- will the next administration continue your positive support of the state of
The President. Yes, if the regime that
I want to go in the White House -- [laughter] -- makes it, yes, I know that
this relationship -- I don't think any country has ever had a stronger ally
we try to reassure, because remember that technically there is still a state of
war in the
so, we put in the contract of weapons that we sell to any of those countries --
we put in the contract that those weapons can only be used for self-defense.
They can never use them to become aggressors and start a war. And I can
the other hand, if we are to be able to persuade those countries to come in and
join in a conference to bring peace to that troubled part of the world, I think
they have to see us as being willing to be fair and friends of theirs, just as
they now see us as what I said before: the best friend of Israel. So, we've
been very careful. We're not going overboard. We're not going to create any
armed monsters and aggressor nations there. But I do think that our judgment
should be respected on when we have decided that we can make a sale of that
kind that we should be allowed to do so because, once again, our pledge to
that's the last question. There are just a couple of things that weren't asked
about, that didn't get in, that I just would like to
tell you if I could. I have a new hobby. I am collecting jokes. [Laughter] And
these jokes are jokes that I can absolutely prove are written -- not written --
are invented by the people of the
example, you know, in the
And now I'm only going to tell one more of those and then just a little something about my relationship with Mr. Gorbachev. I've told him a couple of these stories. A lot of them it would be tactless to tell him -- [laughter] -- but a couple I thought I could. And this one I did tell him, and he laughed quite heartily. And that was that this was an American and a Russian arguing about their two countries. And the American said, ``Look, I can go into the Oval Office, pound the President's desk, and say, `Mr. President, I don't like the way you're running the country!''' And the Russian said, ``I can do that.'' And the American said, ``You can?'' He said, ``I can go into the Kremlin, into the General Secretary's office. I can pound his desk and say, `Mr. General Secretary, I don't like the way President Reagan's running his country!''' [Laughter]
I'm just going to say this, and then I'm -- I've talked too long. [Laughter]
This is just one thing. I know that there are some people that have thought in
these summit meetings, and this relationship, that maybe I've changed from my
original beliefs about the
Note: The President
spoke at in the International
Ballroom at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. The question-and-answer session was
moderated by J. Curtis Mack II, president of the