Remarks and a
Question-and-Answer Session With the Students and
The President. Thank you, Rector Logunov, and I want to thank all of you very much for a
very warm welcome. It's a great pleasure to be here at
me say it's also a great pleasure to once again have this opportunity to speak
directly to the people of the
you know, I've come to
Standing here before a mural of your revolution, I want to talk about a very different revolution that is taking place right now, quietly sweeping the globe without bloodshed or conflict. Its effects are peaceful, but they will fundamentally alter our world, shatter old assumptions, and reshape our lives. It's easy to underestimate because it's not accompanied by banners or fanfare. It's been called the technological or information revolution, and as its emblem, one might take the tiny silicon chip, no bigger than a fingerprint. One of these chips has more computing power than a roomful of old-style computers.
As part of an exchange program, we now have an exhibition touring your country that shows how information technology is transforming our lives -- replacing manual labor with robots, forecasting weather for farmers, or mapping the genetic code of DNA for medical researchers. These microcomputers today aid the design of everything from houses to cars to spacecraft; they even design better and faster computers. They can translate English into Russian or enable the blind to read or help Michael Jackson produce on one synthesizer the sounds of a whole orchestra. Linked by a network of satellites and fiber-optic cables, one individual with a desktop computer and a telephone commands resources unavailable to the largest governments just a few years ago.
Like a chrysalis, we're emerging from the economy of the Industrial Revolution -- an economy confined to and limited by the Earth's physical resources -- into, as one economist titled his book, ``The Economy in Mind,'' in which there are no bounds on human imagination and the freedom to create is the most precious natural resource. Think of that little computer chip. Its value isn't in the sand from which it is made but in the microscopic architecture designed into it by ingenious human minds. Or take the example of the satellite relaying this broadcast around the world, which replaces thousands of tons of copper mined from the Earth and molded into wire. In the new economy, human invention increasingly makes physical resources obsolete. We're breaking through the material conditions of existence to a world where man creates his own destiny. Even as we explore the most advanced reaches of science, we're returning to the age-old wisdom of our culture, a wisdom contained in the book of Genesis in the Bible: In the beginning was the spirit, and it was from this spirit that the material abundance of creation issued forth.
progress is not foreordained. The key is freedom -- freedom of thought, freedom
of information, freedom of communication. The renowned
scientist, scholar, and founding father of this university, Mikhail Lomonosov, knew that. ``It is common knowledge,'' he said,
``that the achievements of science are considerable and rapid, particularly
once the yoke of slavery is cast off and replaced by the freedom of
philosophy.'' You know, one of the first contacts between your country and mine
took place between Russian and American explorers. The Americans were members
of Cook's last voyage on an expedition searching for an Arctic passage; on the
explorers of the modern era are the entrepreneurs, men with vision, with the
courage to take risks and faith enough to brave the unknown. These
entrepreneurs and their small enterprises are responsible for almost all the
economic growth in the
And that's why it's so hard for government planners, no matter how sophisticated, to ever substitute for millions of individuals working night and day to make their dreams come true. The fact is, bureaucracies are a problem around the world. There's an old story about a town -- it could be anywhere -- with a bureaucrat who is known to be a good-for-nothing, but he somehow had always hung on to power. So one day, in a town meeting, an old woman got up and said to him: ``There is a folk legend here where I come from that when a baby is born, an angel comes down from heaven and kisses it on one part of its body. If the angel kisses him on his hand, he becomes a handyman. If he kisses him on his forehead, he becomes bright and clever. And I've been trying to figure out where the angel kissed you so that you should sit there for so long and do nothing.'' [Laughter]
are seeing the power of economic freedom spreading around the world. Places
such as the
We Americans make no secret of our belief in freedom. In fact, it's something of a national pastime. Every 4 years the American people choose a new President, and 1988 is one of those years. At one point there were 13 major candidates running in the two major parties, not to mention all the others, including the Socialist and Libertarian candidates -- all trying to get my job. About 1,000 local television stations, 8,500 radio stations, and 1,700 daily newspapers -- each one an independent, private enterprise, fiercely independent of the Government -- report on the candidates, grill them in interviews, and bring them together for debates. In the end, the people vote; they decide who will be the next President.But freedom doesn't begin or end with elections.
Go to any American town, to take just an example, and you'll see dozens of churches, representing many different beliefs -- in many places, synagogues and mosques -- and you'll see families of every conceivable nationality worshiping together. Go into any schoolroom, and there you will see children being taught the Declaration of Independence, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights -- among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness -- that no government can justly deny; the guarantees in their Constitution for freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of religion. Go into any courtroom, and there will preside an independent judge, beholden to no government power. There every defendant has the right to a trial by a jury of his peers, usually 12 men and women -- common citizens; they are the ones, the only ones, who weigh the evidence and decide on guilt or innocence. In that court, the accused is innocent until proven guilty, and the word of a policeman or any official has no greater legal standing than the word of the accused. Go to any university campus, and there you'll find an open, sometimes heated discussion of the problems in American society and what can be done to correct them. Turn on the television, and you'll see the legislature conducting the business of government right there before the camera, debating and voting on the legislation that will become the law of the land. March in any demonstration, and there are many of them; the people's right of assembly is guaranteed in the Constitution and protected by the police. Go into any union hall, where the members know their right to strike is protected by law. As a matter of fact, one of the many jobs I had before this one was being president of a union, the Screen Actors Guild. I led my union out on strike, and I'm proud to say we won.
But freedom is more even than this. Freedom is the right to question and change the established way of doing things. It is the continuing revolution of the marketplace. It is the understanding that allows us to recognize shortcomings and seek solutions. It is the right to put forth an idea, scoffed at by the experts, and watch it catch fire among the people. It is the right to dream -- to follow your dream or stick to your conscience, even if you're the only one in a sea of doubters. Freedom is the recognition that no single person, no single authority or government has a monopoly on the truth, but that every individual life is infinitely precious, that every one of us put on this world has been put there for a reason and has something to offer.
Freedom, it has been said, makes people selfish and materialistic, but Americans are one of the most religious peoples on Earth. Because they know that liberty, just as life itself, is not earned but a gift from God, they seek to share that gift with the world. ``Reason and experience,'' said George Washington in his Farewell Address, ``both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. And it is substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government.'' Democracy is less a system of government than it is a system to keep government limited, unintrusive; a system of constraints on power to keep politics and government secondary to the important things in life, the true sources of value found only in family and faith.
I hope you know I go on about these things not simply to extol the virtues of
my own country but to speak to the true greatness of the heart and soul of your
land. Who, after all, needs to tell the
The irresistible power of unarmed truth. Today the world looks
expectantly to signs of change, steps toward greater freedom in the
But change would not mean rejection of the past. Like a tree growing strong through the seasons, rooted in the Earth and drawing life from the Sun, so, too, positive change must be rooted in traditional values -- in the land, in culture, in family and community -- and it must take its life from the eternal things, from the source of all life, which is faith. Such change will lead to new understandings, new opportunities, to a broader future in which the tradition is not supplanted but finds its full flowering. That is the future beckoning to your generation.
At the same time, we should remember that reform that is not institutionalized will always be insecure. Such freedom will always be looking over its shoulder. A bird on a tether, no matter how long the rope, can always be pulled back. And that is why, in my conversation with General Secretary Gorbachev, I have spoken of how important it is to institutionalize change -- to put guarantees on reform. And we've been talking together about one sad reminder of a divided world: the Berlin Wall. It's time to remove the barriers that keep people apart.
I'm proposing an increased exchange program of high school students between our countries. General Secretary Gorbachev mentioned on Sunday a wonderful phrase you have in Russian for this: ``Better to see something once than to hear about it a hundred times.'' Mr. Gorbachev and I first began working on this in 1985. In our discussion today, we agreed on working up to several thousand exchanges a year from each country in the near future. But not everyone can travel across the continents and oceans. Words travel lighter, and that's why we'd like to make available to this country more of our 11,000 magazines and periodicals and our television and radio shows that can be beamed off a satellite in seconds. Nothing would please us more than for the Soviet people to get to know us better and to understand our way of life.
a few years ago, few would have imagined the progress our two nations have made
together. The INF treaty, which General Secretary Gorbachev and I signed last
December in Washington and whose instruments of ratification we will exchange
tomorrow -- the first true nuclear arms reduction treaty in history, calling
for the elimination of an entire class of U.S. and Soviet nuclear missiles. And
just 16 days ago, we saw the beginning of your withdrawal from
It's my fervent hope that our constructive cooperation on these issues will be carried on to address the continuing destruction and conflicts in many regions of the globe and that the serious discussions that led to the Geneva accords on Afghanistan will help lead to solutions in southern Africa, Ethiopia, Cambodia, the Persian Gulf, and Central America. I have often said: Nations do not distrust each other because they are armed; they are armed because they distrust each other. If this globe is to live in peace and prosper, if it is to embrace all the possibilities of the technological revolution, then nations must renounce, once and for all, the right to an expansionist foreign policy. Peace between nations must be an enduring goal, not a tactical stage in a continuing conflict.
been told that there's a popular song in your country -- perhaps you know it --
whose evocative refrain asks the question, ``Do the Russians want a war?'' In
answer it says: ``Go ask that silence lingering in the air, above the birch and
poplar there; beneath those trees the soldiers lie. Go ask my mother, ask my
wife; then you will have to ask no more, `Do the Russians want a war?''' But what of your one-time allies? What of those who embraced
you on the
seek always to make friends of old antagonists. After a colonial revolution
Some people point to the trade disputes between us as a sign of strain, but they're the frictions of all families, and the family of free nations is a big and vital and sometimes boisterous one. I can tell you that nothing would please my heart more than in my lifetime to see American and Soviet diplomats grappling with the problem of trade disputes between America and a growing, exuberant, exporting Soviet Union that had opened up to economic freedom and growth.
as important as these official people-to-people exchanges are, nothing would
please me more than for them to become unnecessary, to see travel between East
and West become so routine that university students in the Soviet Union could
take a month off in the summer and, just like students in the West do now, put
packs on their backs and travel from country to country in Europe with barely a
passport check in between. Nothing would please me more than to see the day
that a concert promoter in, say,
Your generation is living in one of the most exciting, hopeful times in Soviet history. It is a time when the first breath of freedom stirs the air and the heart beats to the accelerated rhythm of hope, when the accumulated spiritual energies of a long silence yearn to break free. I am reminded of the famous passage near the end of Gogol's ``Dead Souls.'' Comparing his nation to a speeding troika, Gogol asks what will be its destination. But he writes, ``There was no answer save the bell pouring forth marvelous sound.''
do not know what the conclusion will be of this journey, but we're hopeful that
the promise of reform will be fulfilled. In this
Thank you all very much, and da blagoslovit vas gospod -- God bless you.
Mr. Logunov. Dear friends, Mr. President has kindly agreed to answer your questions. But since he doesn't have too much time, only 15 minutes -- so, those who have questions, please ask them.
Strategic Arms Reductions
Q. And this is a student from the history faculty, and he says that he's happy to welcome you on behalf of the students of the university. And the first question is that the improvement in the relations between the two countries has come about during your tenure as President, and in this regard he would like to ask the following question. It is very important to get a handle on the question of arms control and, specifically, the limitation of strategic arms. Do you think that it will be possible for you and the General Secretary to get a treaty on the limitation of strategic arms during the time that you are still President?
The President. Well, the arms treaty
that is being negotiated now is the so-called START treaty, and it is based on
taking the intercontinental ballistic missiles and reducing them by half, down
to parity between our two countries. Now, this is a much more complicated
treaty than the INF treaty, the intermediate-range treaty, which we have signed
and which our two governments have ratified and is now in effect. So, there are
many things still to be settled. You and we have had negotiators in
Q. The question is: The universities influence public opinion, and the student wonders how the youths have changed since the days when you were a student up until now?
The President. Well, wait a minute. How you have changed since the era of my own youth?
Q. How just students have changed, the youth have changed. You were a student. [Laughter] At your time there were one type. How they have changed?
The President. Well, I know there was a period in our country when there was a very great change for the worse. When I was Governor of California, I could start a riot just by going to a campus. But that has all changed, and I could be looking out at an American student body as well as I'm looking out here and would not be able to tell the difference between you.
I think that back in our day -- I did happen to go to school, get my college education in a unique time; it was the time of the Great Depression, when, in a country like our own, there was 25-percent unemployment and the bottom seemed to have fallen out of everything. But we had -- I think what maybe I should be telling you from my point here, because I graduated in 1932, that I should tell you that when you get to be my age, you're going to be surprised how much you recall the feelings you had in these days here and that -- how easy it is to understand the young people because of your own having been young once. You know an awful lot more about being young than you do about being old. [Laughter]
And I think there is a seriousness, I think there is a sense of responsibility that young people have, and I think that there is an awareness on the part of most of you about what you want your adulthood to be and what the country you live in -- you want it to be. And I have a great deal of faith. I said the other day to 76 students -- they were half American and half Russian. They had held a conference here and in Finland and then in the United States, and I faced them just the other day, and I had to say -- I couldn't tell the difference looking at them, which were which, but I said one line to them. I said I believe that if all the young people of the world today could get to know each other, there would never be another war. And I think that of you. I think that of the other students that I've addressed in other places.
And of course, I know also that you're young and, therefore, there are certain things that at times take precedence. I'll illustrate one myself. Twenty-five years after I graduated, my alma mater brought me back to the school and gave me an honorary degree. And I had to tell them they compounded a sense of guilt I had nursed for 25 years because I always felt the first degree they gave me was honorary. [Laughter] You're great! Carry on.
Mr. President, you have just mentioned that you welcome the efforts --
settlement of the
The President. Well, for example, in
the same is true in
Esteemed Mr. President, I'm very much anxious and concerned about the destiny
of 310 Soviet soldiers being missing in
The President. Very much so. We would like nothing better than that.
Q. The reservation of the inalienable rights of citizens guaranteed by the Constitution faces certain problems; for example, the right of people to have arms, or for example, the problem appears, an evil appears whether spread of pornography or narcotics is compatible with these rights. Do you believe that these problems are just unavoidable problems connected with democracy, or they could be avoided?
The President. Well, if I understand you correctly, this is a question about the inalienable rights of the people -- does that include the right to do criminal acts -- for example, in the use of drugs and so forth? No. No, we have a set of laws. I think what is significant and different about our system is that every country has a constitution, and most constitutions or practically all of the constitutions in the world are documents in which the government tells the people what the people can do. Our Constitution is different, and the difference is in three words; it almost escapes everyone. The three words are, ``We the people.'' Our Constitution is a document in which we the people tell the Government what its powers are. And it can have no powers other than those listed in that document. But very carefully, at the same time, the people give the government the power with regard to those things which they think would be destructive to society, to the family, to the individual and so forth -- infringements on their rights. And thus, the government can enforce the laws. But that has all been dictated by the people.
President's Retirement Plans
Q. Mr. President, from history I know that people who have been connected with great power, with big posts, say goodbye, leave these posts with great difficulty. Since your term of office is coming to an end, what sentiments do you experience and whether you feel like, if, hypothetically, you can just stay for another term? [Laughter]
The President. Well, I'll tell you
something. I think it was a kind of revenge against Franklin Delano Roosevelt,
who was elected four times -- the only President. There had kind of grown a
tradition in our country about two terms. That tradition was started by
Washington, our first President, only because there was great talk at the
formation of our country that we might become a monarchy, and we had just freed
ourselves from a monarchy. So, when the second term was over, George Washington
stepped down and said he would do it -- stepping down -- so that there would
not get to be the kind of idea of an inherited aristocracy. Well, succeeding
Presidents -- many of them didn't get a chance at a second term; they did one
term and were gone. But that tradition kind of remained, but it was just a
tradition. And then
When I get out of office -- I can't do this while I'm in office, because it will look as I'm selfishly doing it for myself -- when I get out of office, I'm going to travel around what I call the mashed-potato circuit -- that is the after-dinner speaking and the speaking to luncheon groups and so forth -- I'm going to travel around and try to convince the people of our country that they should wipe out that amendment to the Constitution because it was an interference with the democratic rights of the people. The people should be allowed to vote for who they wanted to vote for, for as many times as they want to vote for him; and that it is they who are being denied a right. But you see, I will no longer be President then, so I can do that and talk for that.
are a few other things I'm going to try to convince the people to impress upon
our Congress, the things that should be done. I've always described it that if
Mr. President, I've heard that a group of American Indians have come here
because they couldn't meet you in the
The President. I didn't know that they had asked to see me. If they've come here or whether to see them there -- [laughter] -- I'd be very happy to see them.
Let me tell you just a little something about the American Indian in our land. We have provided millions of acres of land for what are called preservations -- or reservations, I should say. They, from the beginning, announced that they wanted to maintain their way of life, as they had always lived there in the desert and the plains and so forth. And we set up these reservations so they could, and have a Bureau of Indian Affairs to help take care of them. At the same time, we provide education for them -- schools on the reservations. And they're free also to leave the reservations and be American citizens among the rest of us, and many do. Some still prefer, however, that way -- that early way of life. And we've done everything we can to meet their demands as to how they want to live. Maybe we made a mistake. Maybe we should not have humored them in that wanting to stay in that kind of primitive lifestyle. Maybe we should have said, no, come join us; be citizens along with the rest of us. As I say, many have; many have been very successful.
And I'm very pleased to meet with them, talk with them at any time and see what their grievances are or what they feel they might be. And you'd be surprised: Some of them became very wealthy because some of those reservations were overlaying great pools of oil, and you can get very rich pumping oil. And so, I don't know what their complaint might be.
Q. Mr. President, I'm very much tantalized since yesterday evening by the question, why did you receive yesterday -- did you receive and when you invite yesterday -- refuseniks or dissidents? And for the second part of the question is, just what are your impressions from Soviet people? And among these dissidents, you have invited a former collaborator with a Fascist, who was a policeman serving for Fascist.
The President. Well, that's one I
don't know about, or maybe the information hasn't been all given out on that.
But you have to understand that Americans come from every corner of the world.
I received a letter from a man that called something to my attention recently.
He said, you can go to live in
have to realize that we are a people that are made up of every strain,
nationality, and race of the world. And the result is that when people in our
country think someone is being mistreated or treated unjustly in another
country, these are people who still feel that kinship to that country because
that is their heritage. In
Well, when you take on to yourself a wife, you do not stop loving your mother. So, Americans all feel a kind of a kinship to that country that their parents or their grandparents or even some great-grandparents came from; you don't lose that contact. So, what I have come and what I have brought to the General Secretary -- and I must say he has been very cooperative about it -- I have brought lists of names that have been brought to me from people that are relatives or friends that know that -- or that believe that this individual is being mistreated here in this country, and they want him to be allowed to emigrate to our country -- some are separated families.
that I met in this, the other day, was born the same time I was. He was born of
Russian parents who had moved to
Now, I'm not blaming you; I'm blaming bureaucracy. We have the same type of thing happen in our own country. And every once in a while, somebody has to get the bureaucracy by the neck and shake it loose and say, Stop doing what you're doing! And this is the type of thing and the names that we have brought. And it is a list of names, all of which have been brought to me personally by either relatives or close friends and associates. [Applause]
Thank you very much. You're all very kind. I thank you very much. And I hope I answered the questions correctly. Nobody asked me what it was going to feel like to not be President anymore. I have some understanding, because after I'd been Governor for 8 years and then stepped down, I want to tell you what it's like. We'd only been home a few days, and someone invited us out to dinner. Nancy and I both went out, got in the back seat of the car, and waited for somebody to get in front and drive us. [Laughter]
[At this point, Rector Logunov gave the President a gift.]
That is beautiful. Thank you very much.
Note: The President
spoke at in the Lecture Hall at