Remarks to the Board of Trustees of the Center for Strategic and International Studies


December 14, 1987


It's an honor to address the Center for Strategic and International Studies, all the more so in this, your 25th anniversary year. During this past quarter of a century, CSIS has brought to bear upon our national security policy an extraordinary array of intelligence and insight, drawing from the academic, diplomatic, and business worlds alike. Always you've taken the high ground -- intellectually and morally. Always you've insisted upon bipartisanship, stressing that any successful foreign policy must be built, not upon a Republican or Democratic consensus but upon an American consensus.


In fact, coming here today to discuss arms reductions before you who are so expert in this area -- well, would you be surprised to hear that it reminds me of a story? [Laughter] The story has to do with a fellow who finally passed away and arrived at the gates of Heaven. And Saint Peter was making him welcome, and he said, ``You know, you're the most recent arrival from Earth.'' And he said, ``The people who have been up here for a while like to hear about things down there. Would you perhaps have anything?'' ``Oh,'' the man said, ``Would I!'' He said, ``I was the only living survivor of the Johnstown flood for many years.'' And he said, ``Having that distinction, I was out traveling and making after-lunch and after-dinner speeches all over the country telling about the horrors of the flood and how powerful it was and all this.'' And he said, ``I'm sure they'd be interested.'' ``Oh,'' Saint Peter said, ``I'm sure they would.'' So, he found himself before a gathering, and Saint Peter introduced him -- didn't give away his subject, but said he had great word about an exciting happening down on Earth and so forth, and then introduced him. And as he stepped up to the podium, Saint Peter retreated past him. Saint Peter said, ``That fellow with the beard in the aisle seat, second row -- his name is Noah.'' [Laughter]


It goes without saying that the Nation owes each of you a profound debt of gratitude. And if I may, I'd like to add a special word of thanks to one who, during his term as your president, has served this institution and the Nation itself, untiringly. Joe Jordan, would you please stand? And to another of your number, one to whom we owe gratitude as a founder of this institution, one to whom we all extend our best wishes as he prepares to become your new president -- former NATO Ambassador and my former Special Counsellor, David Abshire, would you rise? And I am also pleased to see in the audience my former National Security Adviser, Bud McFarlane.


A moment ago, I spoke of the need to base our policy upon an American consensus, upon an agreement about our nation's aims in the world that is not sectional nor partisan, but truly rooted in the will and values of the American people themselves. Certain aspects of this consensus we're privileged to have handed down to us by our founders -- above all, our love of peace and our fierce attachment to freedom; freedom not for ourselves alone, but in Lincoln's words: ``The hope, too, that in due time the weights would be lifted from the shoulders of all men.''


Yet, as for a consensus on the specific policy means by which these American values are to be carried into action, that policy consensus is one that, with each major development in our foreign affairs, we must build for ourselves. So, I come to you today. The treaty that General Secretary Gorbachev and I signed last week represents, as you've been told, a landmark achievement and an important step toward a safer world. But there's promise of still greater progress in bolstering our security and in putting East-West relations on a sounder footing. And I want, as well, to share some thoughts on this.


First, however, the historic INF treaty itself. Each of you, of course, knows the background from the last decade and this. But permit me to repeat it briefly, for there are vital points to be made. It was in 1977 that the Soviet Union first deployed the SS - 20. This was not another short-range tactical weapon similar to those already in the theater inventories, intended for limited battlefield use. Neither was it another long-range intercontinental weapon like those already possessed by the Soviet Union and the United States. The SS - 20 was a new and threatening intermediate-range nuclear missile capable of striking targets in Asia and anywhere in Western Europe after minutes of launch, much more capable and sophisticated than its predecessors. NATO had in the field no similar weapon to counterbalance this new threat. Still, the Soviets continued to deploy these new weapons. By 1979 they had deployed some 130 INF missiles with some 390 warheads; by 1982, over 300 missiles with more than 900 warheads. For our friends and allies in Europe and Asia, these missiles represented a massive and totally new dimension of threat.


And this brings me to my first point: The INF treaty that Mr. Gorbachev and I signed is not intended to achieve some kind of superficial shuffling of the superpower arsenals, some sort of rearrangement of the pieces on a chessboard. All the talk of numbers, numbers, numbers in recent days might quite naturally have led people to feel this. Yet we must remind ourselves that what the treaty will accomplish is, if you will, something entirely real: Not the rearrangement of numbers, but the elimination of a grave danger to our NATO allies and our own troops in Europe and to our friends and allies in Asia.


We all remember that it was Chancellor Helmut Schmidt who led the NATO call to counter this new threat. And at a meeting in 1979, NATO made its famous two-track decision. Track one: Deploy a limited number of our own INF missiles. Track two: Use the unity and strength that NATO's own deployment would demonstrate to bring the Soviets to the bargaining table.


Never was the aim of this NATO decision the permanent deployment of American INF missiles. Always the American deployment was understood as the means to an end. Giscard D'Estaing, President of France at the time of the 1979 NATO decision, recently wrote that: ``The deployment was a tactical exercise, whose preferred goal was to compel the Soviet Union to eliminate the SS - 20's.''


Well, no doubt the Soviets intended to test NATO's resolve. And to be sure, the deployment of our Pershing II and ground-launched cruise missiles had to be carried out in the face of sharp protest, even mass demonstrations. I remember speaking in Bonn in 1982. Across a river, thousands of demonstrators chanted and marched. And I couldn't help thinking: What irony. For it was to secure the peace they sought that NATO decided to deploy the missiles they protested, and missiles such as they protested helped ensure their very freedom to protest. Yet NATO held fast. The deployment of our missiles commenced. And yes, it was when we showed strength, when it became clear that we would not be intimidated -- only after this had taken place did the Soviets finally begin to negotiate in earnest. The INF treaty represents the culmination -- the historic culmination -- of that long and arduous process. A first step -- and a critical one -- toward building a more durable peace.


Two final points about the process itself: First, as will be clear from all I just described -- I shuffled my notes up here pretty good. If I get off track, I will have to stop and tell another story. [Laughter] As will be clear from all I just described, this was not only an American effort but truly a Western effort. NATO had said from the first that we should be prepared to halt, modify, or reverse NATO deployments if the Soviets would eliminate the SS - 20 threat. At all NATO ministerial meetings since 1980, foreign and defense ministers have endorsed American efforts toward reaching a treaty, including our putting forward the zero-option proposal. And at a number of points during this process, our allies have asked that we alter or reshape our negotiating stance. And we did so. Our allies have been with us throughout, and we've been with them.


Second, the NATO treaty will leave NATO -- the treaty, I should say, will leave NATO with an effective nuclear deterrent, just as we had before the first Soviet SS - 20 deployment in 1977. In the final communique at their meetings this month, NATO defense ministers, the very officials charged with ensuring allied security, stated that the treaty ``has been made possible by the determination and solidarity of the allied governments over the years. We look forward to the prospect of the INF treaty being signed and ratified in the near future.'' And Prime Minister Thatcher called the treaty -- and I quote her own inimitable words -- ``a marvelous Christmas present, an extra piece of good will and a lovely way to end the year.''


Well, given that the treaty accomplishes NATO aims and has the firm support of our NATO allies, but more important, given our duty to build a safer peace as we work to expand freedom, how can we fail in the end to hail this treaty as an historic achievement? No one thought before that first deployment that NATO had been ``denuclearized.'' No one then believed that the United States and Western Europe had been in any way been ``decoupled.'' Neither, then, can these charges be leveled against this treaty.


I know that some in Europe and in the United States, perhaps some in this room, view the treaty with anxiety. I welcome the Senate ratification hearings as a forum in which every concern arising from the treaty can be examined. I am convinced that simply by following their own course the hearings will lay anxieties to rest and help to build up the needed consensus. In the meantime, permit me to lay before you some considerations which I believe should form a major part of this dialog.


Over 3 years, we and the Soviets will completely eliminate all our INF missiles, the Soviets eliminating about four times as many deployed warheads as will the United States. The Soviets will dismantle not only their SS - 20's and SS - 4's but also their shorter range ballistic missiles, the SS - 12's and SS - 23's. These shorter range missiles can be used with chemical and improved conventional warheads and aimed at NATO military targets; in particular, those ports, depots, and airfields crucial to NATO's reinforcement plan. Thus, in 3 years there will be no U.S. or Soviet INF missiles in Europe, none in Asia, none on Earth. An entire class of nuclear weapons will be gone.


The verification regime will be the most stringent in the history of arms control negotiations, with far-reaching implications. For the first time, the Soviets will permit onsite inspections, including inspections at short notice -- our ability to simply think or suspect something and say we're coming over. And they can do the same to us. It's a remarkable breakthrough in itself. What we have here, then, is a new departure in East-West relations -- an effective, verifiable treaty that will lead, not just to arms control but to the first nuclear arms reductions in history. Chancellor Kohl has called the INF treaty -- and I'll quote him -- ``a great success for the Atlantic alliance.''


Well, join me now in looking beyond the treaty, in considering our treaty for the future. It's clear, to begin with, that maintaining the strength of the alliance is essential. For our part, let me assure you that we'll keep our American servicemen stationed in Western Europe. And let me ask, what more convincing form of ``coupling'' could there be than these hundreds of thousands of Americans and their dependents living and working among our European allies? Furthermore, let there be no doubt our commitment to the NATO strategy of flexible response will remain steadfast, assuring that aggression at any level cannot be successful. Specifically, we'll retain a modern nuclear deterrent on the ground, in the air, and at sea. Our commitment to NATO's permanent readiness to respond as necessary to any form of aggression also remains steadfast.


As you know, we're doing all we can to go on diminishing the nuclear threat. Above all, I'm pressing ahead for an effectively verifiable START treaty, reducing U.S. and Soviet strategic arms by 50 percent. And during the just-completed summit further concrete progress was made in this regard. As another vital component of our strategy for a safer future, we'll continue to move forward with our SDI program. As I said last Thursday in my address to the Nation, when we have a strategic defense ready to deploy, we will do so.


That, then, is the American position. With regard to our allies, in recent years we've seen the emergence of a willingness to seek a larger, more closely coordinated role for Western Europe within the broader framework of the alliance. We have seen, for example, the issuing of the Western European Union Proclamation on European Security, Franco-German defense cooperation, and steps by the United Kingdom and France to modernize their independent nuclear deterrence.


Well, we welcome this. Indeed, I would point out that while -- from 1981 to early 1986 -- the Soviets made it a condition of any INF agreement that French and British nuclear forces be included, we adamantly and successfully resisted this demand. We said there was no way, that we couldn't negotiate for our allies. As I said earlier this year at West Point, for these four decades, NATO has too often seemed an alliance between a number of partners and one very senior partner. Well, now the alliance must become more and more an alliance among equals; indeed, an alliance between two continents.


In the words of a member of your board of trustees, Henry Kissinger, the United States must -- and I'll quote -- ``welcome a European identity in defense, which in the end is bound to spur Atlantic cooperation.'' It'll be in this spirit that we and our allies will soon go forward to negotiate with the East on redressing the imbalances in conventional forces in Europe, while, of course, taking the steps we need to strengthen our own conventional forces. And we attach a similar high priority to redressing -- again, both through negotiations and our own force modernization -- the imbalance of chemical weapons which, at present, favors the Soviet Union. And we're acting here with a clear understanding that these imbalances must be addressed prior to any further reductions in the nuclear forces committed to NATO.


While I've spoken today almost exclusively about arms reductions, I want to emphasize the Soviet relationship involves far more -- that arms reductions represent only one point of the four-part agenda we adopted for Geneva, Reykjavik, and Washington, and that we will insist on in Moscow as well. The other three points: genuine cooperation on bilateral matters; solid and lasting improvements on human rights; and as for regional conflicts, an end to Soviet efforts around the world to impose totalitarian regimes by force.


Unity, strength, persistence, and consistency -- these are the lessons of the INF negotiations, and they must form the basis on which we and our allies go on to new negotiations. Yet at the same time that we insist upon candor and realism -- insist, if you will, upon keeping our feet firmly planted on the ground -- let us not be afraid to dream and to let our hearts soar. ``Do not mock our dreamers,'' Heinrich Heine has written. ``Their words become the seeds of freedom.'' Who, indeed, would have thought during the difficult years of the late seventies and early eighties -- during nuclear freeze protests here at home and mass demonstrations in Europe -- who would have thought that a treaty like the one Mr. Gorbachev and I signed last week would ever be achieved?


So, yes, let us think realistically, but let us dream great dreams. And let us remember that perhaps the most fundamental consensus about our nation's role in the world is this: As Americans, it is our duty to ensure the peace while we work untiringly for freedom. Thank you. God bless you.


Note: The President spoke at 11:07 a.m. in the Wadsworth Room at the International Club.