Mr Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It's a very great pleasure to be here today, to be invited to address this distinguished audience, and in particular to be the guest of the five prominent conservative organisations which, though normally fierce rivals in the struggle for influence, philosophy and funds, have come together to be our joint host. An astonishing event, Mr Chairman, it is, perhaps, what inspired President Bush 's vision of a “new world order” .
We have before us today the opportunities created by two great victories: President Reagan 's victory over communism in the Cold War, and President Bush's victory over aggression in the Gulf.
Both these victories were hard won. They required courage, the vision to see what was possible when others could not, and the persistence to fight through to a full and final conclusion.
Very few leaders possess that combination of qualities. But in the Gulf War, President Bush showed leadership of the very highest order. [end p687]
He built a grand coalition of twenty-eight allies; he assembled overwhelming force from around the world; he gave full backing to a brilliant military concept which produced one of the greatest feats of arms with the fewest casualties in history; and he helped lay the foundations of future stability in the region. He can truly say, as Pitt said in 1804:
“amid the wreck and misery of nations, it is our just exaltation that we have continued superior to all that ambition or that despotism could effect; and our still higher exaltation ought to be that we provide not only for our own safety but hold out a prospect for nations now bending under the iron yoke of tyranny of what the exertions of a free people can effect.”
But that victory was not won solely in the last six months. It was the culmination of a decade's achievement— the military build up of the 1980s, the recovery of America's and the West's self confidence, the technological advance that created the Patriot missile and the Apache attack helicopter, and the revival of our economies that made these miracles possible. [end p688]
Someone once said that “the past is another country—they do things differently there” . It is difficult today to conjure up the despairing and defeatist atmosphere of the post-Vietnam '70s. But in those days the West was on the decline and on the defensive.
Our defences were neglected. The Soviet Union steadily reinforced its military superiority.
Our allies felt abandoned. They felt they could no longer rely on a hedonistic West. We coined the cynical joke: “lose a country, gain a restaurant” .
In the battle of ideas, we had all but ceased to aim at furthering freedom and we had settled for containing communism.
This political weakness only mirrored deeper weaknesses in our society. Every such crisis is ultimately a crisis of the spirit.
We knew we had lost time, lost nerve and lost ground.
The '80S—A New Direction
So, as the '80s began, we in the United States and Britain, set out in a new direction. [end p689]
We wrestled with the challenge of reviving our economies.
We rebuilt our shattered defences.
We faced up to the threat of a Soviet Empire at the peak of its military might, made still more dangerous by knowledge of its own economic weakness and social fragility.
We made it clear that arms control would proceed on the basis of genuine equality of weaponry between East and West—or not at all. The Soviet Union built up its SS-20s. We deployed Cruise and Pershing missiles. The result—the first ever agreement to reduce nuclear weapons.
When the Soviet Union said that Germany could only be united if it left NATO, President Bush and I stayed firm. The result—a reunified Germany fully within NATO.
At home we liberated enterprise and cut taxes, producing higher living standards, more jobs and the spread of ownership.
Capitalism made our peoples prosperous at home and enabled us to feed the hungry abroad. Socialism, by contrast, proved the road to poverty and serfdom. [end p690]
The Truth Revealed
As Eastern Europe emerges from the darkness, the truth is now fully known, and told even by communists: behind statistics boasting of bumper crops, food rotted; as economic growth rates soared on paper, people queued for hours to buy goods that a Western supermarket couldn't even give away; as five year plan followed five year plan, command economies turned out products that noone wanted to buy, and created an environment in which noone wanted to live.
But the world was strangely reluctant to observe these facts.
A World Bank report praised the Romanian economy for achieving high rates of growth from the early '50s on. A perceptive economist whose name is not unknown to you, Alan Walters, calculated backwards from the current Romanian living standards to show that if these figures had been accurate, the Romanian people would have all been dead in 1950.
Since then, Mr Chairman, the life has drained out of communism entirely. And with it the heart went out of socialism. [end p691]
Make no mistake. These communist regimes were not some unfortunate aberration, some historical deviation from a socialist ideal. They were the ultimate expression, unconstrained by democratic and electoral pressures, of what socialism is all about: state ownership at the expense of private property;government control at the expense of individual enterprise; the pursuit of equality at the expense of opportunity for all … in short, the state was everything and the individual nothing.
Mr Chairman, I freely acknowledge that socialists and statists often begin by finding injustices and wanting to remove them. But they go on to the notion that only state ownership and state regulation can solve such problems. You can only believe that by ignoring the lessons of history, the lessons of politics and the lessons of economics. After the experience of this century and the testimony of Eastern Europe, intellectual irresponsibility on this scale is also moral irresponsibility.
We knew that communism was spiritually bankrupt—and we said so. We knew that the Stalinist system would always produce misery and tyranny, but could never produce prosperity and dignity—and we said so. [end p692]
We knew that the “captive nations” under communism wanted and deserved to be free—and we said so. We even to dared use the phrase “captive nations” .
And the more we told the truth, the more we restored our own peoples' self confidence and the hopes of those still living under tyranny.
In the decade of the 80s, Western values were placed in the crucible and they emerged with greater purity and strength.
Mr Chairman, so much of the credit goes to President Reagan. Of him it can be said, as Canning said of Pitt, that he was the “pilot that weathered the storm” .
The world owes him an enormous debt and it saddens me that there are some who refuse to acknowledge his achievements.
For the whole world changed; the Cold War was won without a shot being fired; Eastern Europe regained its freedom; its peoples elected democratic governments and they announced their intention to leave the Warsaw Pact; the Berlin Wall came down and Germany was reunified within [end p693] NATO; she and Japan, the vanquished nations in the Second World War, prospered mightily and ironically became the creditors in the new world of peace; a weakened Soviet Union was compelled by the West's economic and military competition to reform itself; a new more realistic and clear sighted leadership came to the top; Glasnost was launched, Perestroika was started and we saw the beginnings of democratic politics; as the Soviet Union abandoned its revolutionary role in the world, the United Nations became a more effective forum for active diplomacy; and the United States once again became the preeminent power in the world.
Mr Chairman, these are great and for the most part beneficial changes. They have been confirmed by the progress of the Gulf War in which America has led, Britain and France have helped militarily, together with many Arab nations, Germany and Japan have contributed financially, the United Nations has given its blessing, and the Soviet Union while pursuing her own diplomatic course at times, never quite departed from the UN resolutions she had originally supported. [end p694]
Mr Chairman, a new world means new problems and the need for new approaches. How do we deal with the crisis in the Soviet Union? How do we reshape NATO in the post-Cold War world? How do we preserve and strengthen the economic foundations of the Western Alliance? How do we defend Western interests elsewhere and extend stability beyond the West in the aftermath of the Gulf War? By the tested policy of Western unity based on the firm US leadership of sovereign nations in alliance.
Nationhood And East-West
But not every change in recent months has been for the better.
In the Soviet Union there is accumulating evidence that progress towards reform has been slowed, possibly halted. Dark forces of reaction are on the rise. At such a time, it is vital that all those committed to reform should not falter. No doubt some reformers never expected reform to extend to multi-party democracy and a free economy. “But no man can fix the boundaries of the march of a nation” . And divisions among reformers in the Soviet Union now would only hand victory to the hardliners, whom I at least refuse to call conservatives. The Soviet people have not come so far to have the prize of freedom and genuine democracy wrested from their grasp. [end p695]
But the task of reforming and liberalising the Soviet Union is a far more difficult one than any of us had supposed a few years ago.
How do you persuade people brainwashed by egalitarian propaganda that inequalities are the side-effect of rising prosperity for all? How do you tell them that higher living standards can only be attained at the short term price of higher unemployment? And how do you do any of this while the demoted bureaucrats, the discredited politicians and all those who flourished under totalitarian mediocrity are out to undermine everything you do?
I am often asked: can we still do business with Mr Gorbachev?
Mr Chairman, we should not underestimate the future reforming zeal of a man who allowed Eastern Europe to grasp its freedom; who has begun the withdrawal of Soviet troops; accepted arms reduction for the first time; and cut support for communist insurgencies across the world. We have to go on doing business with him. In the same way, he has to do business with the democratic reformers if he is to succeed.
The pessimists among you will perhaps reply that the Soviet leader embarked on reform so as not to be left behind by the military build up and economic progress of the West in the '80s. I am the last person—or maybe the second to last person—to deny that these played a major role in Mr Gorbachev 's calculations. We had an economy driven by information [end p696] technology: he had an economy fuelled by vodka!
But the very realism that prompted these reforms will persuade him to step up liberalisation, if he can, when the present slowing of perestroika pushes the Soviet economy further into crisis, as it must.
Perhaps, it doesn't really matter whether the optimists or the pessimists are right. Because optimism and pessimism dictate the same policy. If Mr. Gorbachev remains a reformer at heart, as I believe, he will privately welcome Western pressure for reform and employ it against the hard liners. If he himself has succumbed to the hard liners, as some others believe, the West's pressure will push him too in the direction of reform.
So what kind of reform should we be seeking for these people who have rejected a false ideology but haven't yet learnt the ways of freedom?
It is fashionable in some circles to argue for credits for the Soviet Union. But to give large credits to fill shops will not help to build the necessary structures of liberty; they would be dissipated quickly leaving an increasing burden of debt.
Any assistance to the Soviet Union must, therefore, be granted only in response to practical economic reforms. Helping the present structures will only keep reform at bay. [end p697]
We must instead encourage the dispersal of power from Moscow to the republics. Five Soviet republics are now negotiating for such a dispersal of power—let us hope that those negotiations succeed.
Second, we have to stress to the Soviets just how essential private property is to liberty. History teaches that human rights will not long survive without property rights; nor will prosperity be achieved without them.
Nor is freedom secure without independent courts and a rule of law. Here we have experience and knowledge totally denied to people who have grown up in a totalitarian system. Perhaps we should consider extending the Know-How funds for the Soviet Union to go towards developing an independent judiciary.
We must also draw the Soviet Union closer to the institutions of international trading and payments systems. Associating the Soviet Economy more closely to these will, over time, help to transform that economy internally. Their rules will help promote sound money, competition and genuine trade. No economy will prosper if it is strangled by regulations and bureaucrats.
So, let us say to Mr Gorbachev that he can count on our help when he makes reforms. But the reverse of this is that any evidence of a return to repression must prompt from the West a swift and effective response. The constant raising of human rights cases in the Soviet Union over many years, especially since the [end p698] Helsinki accords, undoubtedly had an effect—we must remember that lesson and act upon it.
In particular, we cannot overlook or condone the disgraceful abuses of those rights which we've seen in the Baltic States. These States were seized by the Soviet Union not by law but by fraud and violence. That seizure has never been regarded as legal by the West. We fully support the right of the Baltic States to determine their own future. And we must make it clear to the Soviet Union that it is not a question of whether they will be free—but only of when they will be free. And they will—they will be free.
NATO And Defence
Now, how do we reshape NATO?
There are signs that the Soviet Union is failing to fulfil either the letter or the spirit of the terms of the treaty for reduction of conventional forces in Europe, that we signed in Paris. And there are signs of pressure by the Soviet military to reassert its position.
Mr. Chairman, the reemergence of tension and uncertainty on Europe's eastern border ought to remind NATO's continental European members both that international dangers can rarely be predicted and that sustained commitment is necessary to deal with them.
We must never forget that it is NATO—because it [end p699] is strong defence—which underpins that peace with freedom and justice which we in the West enjoy and now have the opportunity to extend to others.
NATO has been uniquely successful in maintaining liberty. It is not just a military alliance but an alliance in defence of a way of life. NATO must not be discarded.
It is in the interests of Europe that the United States should continue to play that dominant role in NATO to which we have become accustomed. Indeed, as was demonstrated in the Gulf, for all the assistance which Britain and the other powers gave, only one nation really has the power to defend freedom and security in the world today. That is and will for the forseeable future remain to be the United States.
The pursuit of a new defence role for the countries of Europe, as you know, has been much discussed. It is certainly true that, within NATO, the European countries should make a greater contribution.
The European countries must also be prepared to take a more active military role in response to events outside NATO's present area. Germany's interpretation of its constitution has so far prevented it making such a military contribution. But a full commitment to the defence of international freedom and stability requires risking life as well as treasure.
NATO has been a great success. We should be wary [end p700] of creating new institutions to replace or complement its unique and indispensable role. Perhaps the most extraordinary suggestion yet to come out of Brussels is that the disunity and half-heartedness of most European nations during the Gulf crisis demonstrate the need for a united European foreign and defence policy. A new structure, even if it were necessary, can never be a substitute for will. Any arrangements which denied Britain and France sovereign control of their foreign and military commitments, especially determining these vital questions by a majority vote, would almost certainly have excluded Anglo-French forces from the Gulf—or at least long delayed their arrival and limited their number. In those grim early days after Iraq's invasion, America would have been left to stand alone. And it is far from certain that, even if after prolonged deliberations, the European Community would have contributed military assistance. The methods of compromise which underpin such decisions would almost certainly have left Europe on the side lines.
For many years, successive American Governments believed that progress towards a United States of Europe would relieve America of the burden of defending freedom. That hope, alas, turned out to be greatly exaggerated. Moreover, this kind of geo-political grand strategy should be regarded with the greatest scepticism. If a European super-state were to be forged, it would almost certainly develop interests and attitudes at variance with those of America. We would thereby move from a stable international order with the United States in the lead to a more dangerous [end p701] world of new competing power blocs. This would be in no one's interest, least of all America's, and certainly not Europe's.
So NATO must remain the principal defence organisation of the West: instead of seeking to supplant it, we should aim to adapt and extend it to meet the challenges of the post-Cold War World.
Enlarging NATO's Role
Our first step should be to enlarge its political role. This great trans-Atlantic partnership should not confine itself to matters of defence but should extend its discussions into other political and economic areas. This would be of benefit to countries on both sides of the Atlantic.
And second, those Eastern European countries which have left the Warsaw pact should be given a new, special status in NATO—something short of full membership but well beyond mere observer status. Perhaps France has pointed the way in this respect. Such a new status could be an added source of stability in a traditionally unstable area and reassure those countries in troubled times. Because even in periods of warmer relations, you can still have a chilly spell.
And third, I believe that NATO's role should be extended to threats which are out-of-area. When I addressed the NATO Council at [end p702] Turnberry last June, I warned—very rarely do I quote myself—that, “there is no guarantee that threats to our security will stop at some imaginary line … With the spread of sophisticated weapons and of military technology to areas like the Middle East, potential threats to NATO territory may originate more from outside Europe” .
That wasn't very popular when I said it, but I'm used to that.
Within two months Saddam Hussein had invaded Kuwait. Fortunately, although there was no coordinated NATO response, several NATO nations acted vigorously to ensure that aggression did not pay.
Saddam Hussein has been defeated.
But Iraq is not alone in acquiring the technology and power to turn regional conflict into global crisis. Defence Secretary Richard Cheney has reminded us that:
“by the year 2000, more than two dozen developing nations will have ballistic missiles, fifteen of those countries will have the scientific skills to make their own, and half of them either have or are near to getting nuclear capability as well. Thirty countries will have chemical weapons and ten will be able to deploy biological weapons” .
This means that the NATO countries under America's leadership must be in a position to deter aggression by these countries and, if it occurs, to make a swift and devastating response. [end p703]
Strong defence will continue to be necessary—and costly. For technology doesn't stand still. It was the Coalition's technological superiority which, with the courage of our fighting men, enabled us to defeat the world's fourth largest army after just four days of ground war. For myself, I believe, we must keep up the rate of technological advance which gave us the Patriot missile and which is giving us SDI.
All too often after wars, democracies rush to cut back defence and increase domestic public spending. The end of the Cold War led to a similar reaction. It's time to consider whether the plans to reduce spending on defence should be revised. Resolve is not enough, you must have the military capability too.
And perhaps, the single most important point to be made today is that the only real peace dividend is, quite simply, peace. Our generation has enjoyed that dividend because of the investment of billions of dollars and pounds in defence.
So the first way to ensure that freedom prevails is to defend it—principally through NATO.
But no less important is the second means—the maintenance of world prosperity, founded upon an open system of free trade. And [end p704] if there are risks to our security, the risks today to the open trading system are just as great.
Let us remember that the West's post-War prosperity could never have been achieved without the orderly framework of free trade provided by the GATT. Our response to the Stock Market Crash of 1929 was rising protectionism which transformed it into a catastrophic economic depression, slashing world trade in manufactured goods by some 40%;—and all but undermining the credibility of capitalism itself. By contrast, our response to the world recession of the early 1980s was to resist protectionist pressures. Free enterprise and open trade duly swept us into years of unparalleled prosperity.
Yet the temptation to erect or retain tariff and other barriers is understandable. Managing trade through a network of bilateral agreements and tariff barriers has superficial political attractions. But in the long term, it would make home industries less efficient; consumers pay more for less choice; and condemn the Third World to lower living standards by denying them markets.
It would serve no purpose for me now to attribute blame for the failure, so far, of the Uruguay Round of the GATT. We might both be embarrassed by the degree of our agreement. Anyway, I have had a thing or two to say about this in European Councils. [end p705]
Of course, people are impatient after four years of negotiations in the GATT. However, if there is evidence of a real and urgent commitment to reach a settlement and more time is needed, it should be given. Some of the best agreements have been reached after the clock has stopped.
It would be a tragedy if the GATT talks were to fail because the US, the Cairns Group and the European Community could not reach an agreement on cutting farm subsidies.
The stakes are high. If GATT should fail, we would gradually drift into a world of three powerful, protectionist trade blocs—based on America, Europe and Japan—engaged in mutually destructive trade wars. That would not only threaten world prosperity but it could also damage the common sympathy vital to defence ties across the Atlantic. [end p706]
We should be moving in precisely the opposite direction. Europe and North America, staying within GATT rules, should move steadily to cut tariffs and other trade barriers between them. In the short term, special provision would have to be made for the more difficult problems like agriculture; but over the decades, we would create a free trade area in embryo across the Atlantic. It would be the greatest concentration of wealth and skills in history, encompassing 58%; of the world's GNP, and it would be a force for free trade rather than a restraint upon it. The very size and prosperity of the group would give it enormous influence in setting liberal rules for open world trade. And the inclusion of America would reassure the fears, however unjustified or not, of some European countries about German economic dominance. And, above all, it would provide the economic underpinning for NATO and its out-of-area role. It is a visionary prospect but we need a distant star to steer by.
The European Community's response to the challenges and opportunities of free trade will be crucial.
Europe is now at the crossroads. Amid the apparently technical arguments on monetary union, institutional change and social dimension, a struggle is underway for Europe's future.
Only recently, perhaps, has America begun to recognise that it [end p707] too has a stake in the outcome. A democratic Europe of nation states could be a force for liberty, enterprise and open trade. But, if creating a United States of Europe overrides these goals, the new Europe will be one of subsidy and protection.
The European Community does indeed have a political mission. It is to anchor new and vulnerable democracies more securely to freedom and to the West. This is what happened after the end of authoritarian rule in Spain, Portugal and Greece. So the offer of full Community membership must be open to the countries of Eastern and Central Europe just as soon as democracy and the free market have taken root. And in the meantime, we must strengthen links of trade, investment and culture.
The false political mission which some would set for the European Community is to turn it into an inward looking and protectionist United States of Europe. A Europe in which individual nations each with its own living democracy would be subordinated within an artificial federal structure which is inevitably bureaucratic. For a community lacking a common language can have no public opinion to which the bureaucrats are accountable.
Americans and Europeans alike sometimes forget how unique is the United States of America. No other nation has been created so swiftly and successfully. No other nation has been built upon an idea—the idea of liberty. No other nation has so successfully combined people of different races and nations within a single culture. Both the founding fathers of the United [end p708] States and successive waves of immigrants to your country were determined to create a new identity. Whether in flight from persecution or from poverty, the huddled masses have, with few exceptions, welcomed American values, the American way of life and American opportunities. And America herself has bound them to her with powerful bonds of patriotism and pride.
The European nations are not and can never be like this. They are the product of history and not of philosophy. You can construct a nation on an idea; but you cannot reconstruct a nation on the basis of one.
Political institutions cannot be imposed if they are to endure. They have to evolve and they have to command the affection, loyalty and respect of populations living under them, and they have to be accountable to the people. [end p709]
The kind of Europe which all of us—on both sides of the Atlantic and, not least, in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe so recently emerged from the thrall of communism—must see is no less visionary and far more practical than the alternative. Our kind of Europe, of sovereign states proud of their national identity, enjoying the prosperity which free enterprise brings, a force for open trade, democracy and liberty, would look outward to the world where freedom must be defended and extended. And when we look westward, we see not threatening rivals but staunch friends with common purposes. That's my vision of a European future.
The Middle East and the United Nations
But whether it is in Europe or the wider world, we have to know clearly what we should expect from international institutions. The Gulf War posed a sudden, dramatic challenge to the international community. Indeed, “the Gulf” was hardly on our agenda until the sudden invasion of Kuwait on 2nd August last year. Yet, since then, the Gulf has dominated all else.
The war is now over and we are working to build a secure and lasting peace. [end p710]
It is not for others to come up with precise formulas for solving the problems of the Middle East. Agreement will only come from painstaking and persistent negotiation between the peoples involved. An international conference could play a part in this—not to arbitrate but its members could provide advice on the preparation of an agenda, the development of proposals, the framing of security arrangements and the course of diplomacy.
I believe that six items among others should be on our agenda for peace in the Middle East:
First, the Gulf must be protected as an international seaway.
Our navies will have to stay there and that those from the European countries must take a bigger and more prominent share of the duty.
Second, military equipment and supplies may need to be pre-positioned in the area, both to deter further aggresion and to enable the rapid deployment of Western troops should that deterrent fail.
And third arrangements must be made to safeguard the security of the borders of Kuwait. For who will be prepared to invest the enormous sums required to rebuild Kuwait, unless security is properly established? I believe a United Nations force policing a demilitarised zone would be right for this purpose. [end p711]
And fourth, there is the question of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. We must be satisfied by direct observation and inspection that Iraq's have been destroyed. We should have sanctions against supplying them with equipment that could be used for that purpose. And Iraq's territory must be open to rigorous inspection to ensure that production has not begun again.
And fifth, countries which engage in aggressive war can't expect to be allowed freely and quickly to build up their military strength. We must take steps to ensure that the advanced weapons of war are witheld from Iraq, which has, twice in ten years, invaded the territory of neighbouring Islamic states.
Finally, there is the Palestinian question, so long encased in suspicion and hostility. It can only be tackled by direct negotiation with the representatives of the Palestinian people. But those leaders who supported Saddam Hussein do not come to seek equity with clean hands. One favourable development is that the Soviet Union is now playing a very different role than in the past. So some of the fears that a Palestinian state—even though part of a Confederation with Jordan—would be prey to communist subversion, have receded. But we can well understand Israel's concern for secure borders and indeed the concern of all states in the area for a system of regional security.
The United Nations was tested by the crisis in the Gulf. And it [end p712] came through it with an enhanced reputation. The permanent members of the UN Security Council worked together for the first time since 1945 to defeat aggression—and not for one resolution but for twelve.
But the UN resolutions had to be enforced by the actions and commitment of individual countries—both America and her NATO allies and the other Arab countries of the region which saw their interests threatened by Saddam Hussein 's aggression. This combination of international authority by the United Nations and enforcement by the United States and other sovereign countries may well prove to be the best model for future contingencies.
Freedom and the Future
Mr. Chairman, there can be no better time or place to consider the future of our nations than here—at the heart of the free world. [end p713] The role of practical statesmen in any age is to create or adapt political structures for prosperity and peace. Today, I have suggested how this may now be done—in NATO, in the GATT, in the Soviet Union, in Europe and in the United Nations.
But true statesmanship in a free country must be measured by more than that. It requires an unswerving commitment to make the sovereignty of justice prevail. It requires an ability to inspire others with the rightness of a cause. It requires strong arms and great hearts.
We look to America for these things. And we do not look in vain.
After victory in the Cold War and in the Gulf, we face a still nobler, still more challenging task—to advance the reign of freedom and free enterprise throughout the world. It is now, more than ever, America's destiny, supported by her faithful friends—and no friends are truer than her friends in Britain—to press ahead with that endeavour.
In the words of President Abraham Lincoln:
“Let us strive on to finish the work we are in” .