April 7, 1984
My fellow Americans:
Yesterday I spoke here in Washington about America's foreign policy challenges and what we're doing to meet them. Well, I'd like to continue talking about those challenges today.
All Americans long for a safer world in which individual rights are respected and precious values flourish. But we're also realistic. We know we live in a troubled world and that we have global responsibilities. Our industries depend on energy and minerals from distant lands. Our prosperity requires a sound financial system and markets open to our goods. And our security is linked with the security of our allies and trading partners.
When I took office, we faced the greatest foreign policy challenges since World War II. Challenge number one was reducing the risk of nuclear war. Second, we had to try to help bring greater stability to regions riddled by terrorism and revolutionary violence that threatened our interests and, ultimately, our security. Third, we had to deal with an international economy that was crippled by soaring inflation rates, low growth, and predictions of an imminent global depression. Finally, we had to restore bipartisan support for a foreign policy that would meet our responsibilities.
How is America meeting her foreign policy challenges today? Well, much better. We've regained our strength and confidence. We're a leader again for peace and progress.
Reducing the risk of nuclear war means maintaining a secure military balance and pursuing every opportunity to reduce weapons by agreement. Today America is safer because our defenses are stronger. We're offering the most sweeping arms control proposals in history, from reducing nuclear arms to banning chemical weapons.
Does the new Soviet leadership truly want to reach agreements that can make the world safer? Well, they'll never convince the world they're sincere with harsh rhetoric and walk-outs. We do know they respect strength. And in time, we should expect that they will return to the negotiating table where all of us hope and pray that a safer world can be secured.
Our second challenge, peacemaking in troubled regions, has demanded a new direction. We're trying to bring all our strengths to bear. Economic aid alone won't stop Soviet-sponsored guerrillas, and individual rights aren't secure without peace. We need all the tools we have -- diplomatic mediation, economic help, security assistance, and promotion of democratic reforms -- to address complex regional problems. The recent Presidential elections in El Salvador probably couldn't have been held if we'd followed any other approach. And for democracy to have a chance in the future, the Congress must pass the plan we've proposed, which follows the recommendations made by the National Bipartisan Commission on Central America.
Our third challenge, expanding opportunities for economic development and personal freedom, is also being met. America's powerful expansion is pulling the international economy forward. As we buy more from our friends, they buy more from us. Jobs, income, and opportunities increase for all. We've developed creative initiatives to spark private enterprise in the Caribbean. We're expanding our economic relationships with the growing nations of the Pacific Basin. And we're shoring up the international financial system.
You hear about the economic upturn. You don't hear enough about the democratic upturn. Ten years ago, fewer than half the people of Latin America and the Caribbean lived in democracies or countries embarked on a democratic transition. Today 90 percent of the people do. The tide of the future is a freedom tide.
Finally, our fourth challenge, restoring bipartisan consensus to our foreign policy, is urgently needed. The Congress has given itself many new powers in foreign policy. Over 100 separate restrictions on executive authority were enacted in the 1970's, but the Congress hasn't yet accepted an equal sense of responsibility. We've had some successes in bipartisanship. The Scowcroft commission helped create a consensus on arms control policy, and the bipartisan Kissinger commission gave us a comprehensive set of recommendations on Central America. But we must go beyond recommendations to action. I applaud the Senate's approval this week of emergency security assistance to El Salvador, and I hope the House will give its approval. When we develop a problem-solving plan to help build a safer world and a better world, there must be no Republicans or Democrats, just Americans pulling together.
Until next week, thanks for listening, and God bless you.
Note: The President spoke at 12:06 p.m. from the Oval Office at the White House.