March 10, 1988
Q. Mr. President, your administration has been putting a lot of pressure on Israel to come to a solution in the occupied territories. Are you disappointed at the lack of results so far?
The President. Well, no, because I believe that peace is inevitable. I don't think that anyone -- we may have some differences there as to how to achieve it, but I don't think anyone believes that we can go on just with a constant state of warfare and unrest. And I believe that we have presented for discussion a pretty good solution that would remove some of the problems besetting the people in the occupied territories.
Q. Prime Minister Shamir has already expressed his opposition to Secretary Shultz's plan. He will be coming here next week.
The President. Yes.
Q. What kind of additional pressure do you intend to put on him?
The President. Well, I don't think it's so much pressure as it is just an attempt at persuasion. But also, I'd like to point out that his Cabinet is pretty evenly split on the solution. So, it isn't a case of outside pressure there. He has a great element in his own government that sees merit in the proposals that we've made.
Q. Would early Israeli elections be considered an American success in your view?
The President. Frankly, I haven't given much thought to that and to their election process there as to whether it would or not. I know that he has now broached that subject. And yet if they were held, maybe it is that he would believe that he might have more support for his position, because the other faction, then, in the election is the one that is already differing from the Prime Minister and supportive of what we've proposed.
Q. Do you share the view that Israel should ban all television coverage from the troubled areas?
The President. Well, I'm a great believer in a free press and the right of the people to know, and so I would have to be opposed to it, thinking that they want to conduct operations in which they would rather not have public knowledge of them.
Middle East Peace Settlement
Q. What would be the ultimate goal if Secretary Shultz was to succeed? Would it be to have an international conference on the Middle East with a seat for your friend, Mr. Gorbachev?
The President. Well, this is a problem, because you have a situation there where the Soviet Union has not recognized Israel as a nation. That's very difficult to have someone participating in a conference of that kind who doesn't even believe in the right of statehood of the other country. What we've also thought is not the kind of international conference that would seek to impose a settlement. I don't think that really is the province of the other countries, but to be helpful and see if we could not join in helping arrive at a solution that would once and for all end the hostilities. I think most of the world tends to forget that war between Israel and the Arab States still is a fact. It has never been settled. There has never been any peace agreement arrived at, and it would be a great achievement if once and for all that state of war came to an end.
Q. Mr. President, after more than 7 years here at the White House, in a capsule view, how would you qualify the global shift of economic power in the world? Would you say that this country is a fading empire, that Europe is in economic decline, and that Japan is the emerging world power today?
The President. Well, I would say quite the contrary -- not as to whether Japan is an emerging power. I think that having been Governor of a State on the Pacific Basin, in the western part of our country, I believe that the old adage ``Go west young man'' still holds true, that the Pacific rim is something very great economically for the future. It is coming into being as a great economic force.
Q. Is Europe in economic decline, in your view?
The President. No, I don't believe so. But I'm speaking of the developing nations when I speak about the other. But I would think the reverse is true. I believe that with our economic summit, that our turning away from protectionism to the extent that we are, and our efforts to even do more of that with the GATT [General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade] treaty and all, that we've made great improvement in world economy. And we have to face the fact that it is a world economy, that none of us anymore can believe that we can stand off and just achieve prosperity by ourselves.
Q. The U.S. budget deficit has reached unprecedented proportions. Don't you feel that in a way it means the failure of liberal economic policy that you pursued?
The President. You're speaking of our Federal budget deficit -- --
The President. -- -- not in the trade deficit? Yes, for over 50 years this country has been running deficits. As a matter of fact, it's almost 60 years now in which there have only been 8 individual years in which there was not a budget deficit. It was a false economic theory that was adopted by one of our two political parties and that party happened to control the Legislature for most of these 60 years. And it has been proven false. So, what we've been doing for these 7 years is trying to get on a path leading toward a balancing of the budget, the elimination of deficit spending. It has reached a point that you couldn't do it in one year. You couldn't suddenly pull the string and say -- --
Q. Not even in two terms -- two Presidential terms?
The President. Well, you see I was still up against that Legislature with that other philosophy. But I do believe that that's one of the things that's happened in these 7 years -- is that instead of the argument as it had been for more than half a century, in which those who believed in deficit spending defended it, and they said, oh, this brings prosperity, this is necessary to do this. Now that argument, which was a fallacious argument, is gone, and the only debate between us now is how best to achieve the balanced budget. There is no longer anyone defending deficits.
Q. You don't want to take sides in this Presidential election in this country, but whom would you support in France?
The President. I think I should remain neutral there, also, that that would be best for all of us. And I wouldn't want to seem to be trying to involve myself in what the course of the French people should be.
Q. You would have no personal preference? Because you know all our candidates, or most of them.
The President. Well, I think my philosophy there would have to be the same as it is here in our own election process: that until decisions are made as to who the nominees are going to be, I will remain neutral.
Q. Has President Mitterrand given you any tip in Brussels, a few days ago, as to what his own personal behavior would be?
The President. No, no, he hasn't.
Note: The interview began at 10:35 a.m. in the Map Room at the White House.