Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

Complete list of 8,000+ Thatcher statements & texts of many of them

1985 Jul 26 Fr
Margaret Thatcher

TV Interview for CBS

Document type: speeches
Document kind: TV Interview
Venue: Shoreham Hotel, Washington DC
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: Terence Smith, CBS
Editorial comments: MT gave interviews to the American networks from 0715-0815.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 1257
Themes: Monetary policy, Public spending & borrowing, Trade, Foreign policy (Africa), Foreign policy (Middle East), Foreign policy (USA), Terrorism, Transport

Presenter

With rare exceptions President Reagan has found a kindred spirit in fellow Conservative Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister of Great Britain. Last night in Washington, she and Vice-President Bush joined a conference of Conservative leaders from 30 nations, and this morning Prime Minister Thatcher is joining us from Washington, along with our Washington correspondent, Terence Smith. Good morning to the both of you.

Terence Smith

Good morning.

Good morning Madam Prime Minister, welcome to Washington on a rather London-like morning, with rain falling outside. You have often expressed your opposition to sanctions against South Africa, such as those imposed by the French this week, the United States before that. Let me ask you then whether you think President Reagan 's policy of constructive engagement, as he calls it, is working, is improving the lot of people in South Africa, or whether it should be changed?

Mrs. Thatcher

I think a policy of sanctions would harm the very people in South Africa you are trying to help. Mrs. Helen Suzman, who's fought against apartheid all her life, from within South Africa, also takes that view, and I agree with her. I agree with a policy of trying to influence South Africa by other means. The present Government is moving foward in the direction we wish them to go, faster than any other. I remember when Mr. Botha came round Europe, many people received him, so did I. I particularly asked him to stop the policy of forced removals, British people feel extremely strongly about it, and thought if we could get that done away with we should be doing something, and after a time, yes, they have in fact stopped the policy of enforced removal. That was something very positive. There are many other things that are going on. Sanctions will harm, not help.

T. Smith

But this most recent development, when the Government has adopted emergency powers and mass arrests in recent days, surely this changes the formula a bit?

Mrs. Thatcher

No, I don't think it does, you've got a very serious law and order problem. What help are you going to do if you put on sanctions which make industry much worse, what help is that going to be for a situation already bad with law and order? It's going to make it worse, not better. [end p523]

T. Smith

Mrs. Thatcher, let me ask you about terrorism, a subject that you're going to address later today at the White House, I understand. What will Britain propose in terms of measures that the allies in the West can take to prevent this sort of thing occurring again?

Mrs. Thatcher

The critical thing is what happens after a hi-jack, whether everyone was prepared to say that they would not accept aircraft from Beirut Airport—we were. We were. I felt it was important. Others felt that that would not work, because they said a hi-jack does not occur from Beirut Airport, it occurs elsewhere, the difficult thing, of course, is that Beirut Airport itself was virtually in the hands of those sympathetic to the hi-jackers, so they said it wouldn't work. I was prepared to go along with the President and Vice-President Bush, who came along to see us, as a gesture of how strongly we felt about it. It doesn't work unless everyone does it—alas they wouldn't.

T. Smith

What is your view on the usefulness of military retaliation or even pre-emptive action?

Mrs. Thatcher

You have to be extremely careful when you talk about military retaliation. Very, very careful indeed. First, you talk about it generally, you then start to look at the particular, and you will not find there's very much you can do …   .

T. Smith

Would you …

Mrs. Thatcher

… without putting many many other lives at risk.

T. Smith

Would you find such action justified by the United States in this last incident?

Mrs. Thatcher

I think that the United States has handled the last matter very very well indeed, and they did not take retaliation because it would, I believe, as the President said, be using the weapons of the terrorist to fight the terrorist and it would put other people's lives at risk. We do not believe in doing that.

T. Smith

Let me ask you about the European estimation of President Reagan right now, into his second term, therefore a lame duck status, and just through a very difficult operation and recuperating. Has this affected the perception of President Reagan in Europe? [end p524]

Mrs. Thatcher

No, and can I take you up on one thing? Are you always going to say that if a person, a President, gets a second term that when he's been there a few months it's lame duck status? That's nonsense, may I say …

T. Smith

Well it's legal but …

Mrs. Thatcher

No, no, it's nonsense, I mean, Ronald Reaganhe's there … he's President for four years, he's President of the most powerful free enterprise country the world over. He's not a lame duck, he's President, and will act as President, not a lame duck at all. I think it's wrong to try to put that impression over, if you'll forgive me for saying so. It doesn't matter if you don't—I'll say it.

T. Smith

Let me ask you about the worsening US economic situation, whether or not that's going to influence the situation abroad, particularly the pound.

Mrs. Thatcher

The pound is quite strong against the dollar now, and the present rate, I think, against the dollar is …   . suits us, but of course it's the market that determines the rate, but the market, and of course the level of deficit here, and the level of interest rates necessary to finance it, which has a repercussion on the rest of the world, you cannot go on I think growing at the rate at which the American economy was growing, and we all try to seek steady growth, we've never been able to attain it, but we're still growing in Britain, we were growing more slowly you see, so I think our growth still continues.

T. Smith

The battle here in Washington, of course, as you can see in the papers every day, is over the budget and the budget deficit. That is something I'm sure that is exacerbating the situation from Britain's point of view.

Mrs. Thatcher

Oh very much so, and from the rest of the world's view, but we never got ourselves into that situation, we couldn't afford to; you see, America's a very very powerful country because it is the haven of last resort, a lot of money would come here anyway, we could never run a deficit of that kind and therefore we don't get ourselves into that position, but it is difficult, even for the great United States, because you can't go on borrowing capital, you know, to repay interest on previous debts. You've got to deal with it, and you've got to [end p525] have the courage to deal with it, and I imagine Congress will.

T. Smith

All right. Mrs. Thatcher, thank you very much for joining us this morning.