Speeches, etc.

Margaret Thatcher

Press Conference for Washington Post and Newsweek

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: Blair House, Washington DC
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Editorial comments:

In the early afternoon for one hour MT met with editors and journalists from the Washington Post and Newsweek, among them, Katharine Graham, chairman of the Washington Post Company. Articles based on the meeting were published in the Washington Post on 18 November (by Don Oberdorfer) and in Newsweek, 28 November 1988.

Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 6836
Themes: Agriculture, Trade, Foreign policy (USSR & successor states), Foreign policy (Americas excluding USA), Foreign policy (Asia), Foreign policy (Central & Eastern Europe), Foreign policy (Middle East), European Union (general), European Union Single Market, Defence (general), Defence (arms control), Security services & intelligence, Parliament, Civil liberties, Conservatism


Question summary: COLD WAR ENDING?

Prime Minister

Assuming that Mr Gorbachev 's reforms come into effect … (inaudible) … dare I say the Cold War is already at an end. Now that does not mean to say a strong defence is at an end, far from it. It means that the relationship has moved from a strict arms control minimal relationship to a much bigger, wider relationship. That is why I say that part has already happened.

In the Soviet Union you have much greater freedom of speech. I think that must be the main achievement, practical achievement so [end p1] far, internally. Mr Gorbachev's reforms, coupled with the fact that a far larger number of people have been able to come out. But I am very conscious of the fact that these things are a matter of administrative decree and not a matter yet of fundamental rights and therefore they could be reversed if Mr Gorbachev does not succeed in carrying through to a rather different kind of political structure.

So that is why I say, assuming he succeeds, the Cold War is already at an end. We have negotiated not only on arms control, which is important, but on trade, on culture, on much wider relations, we discuss much more and all my contacts that come out of the Soviet Union say that the degree of discussion now is quite remarkable and we know that from what we have seen from outside.

Now that is a preliminary reply, would you like to cross-question?



Prime Minister

The basic strategy, and it is very broad brush because you will see I think that it must be, is that first we keep our own defences sure. Now that is quite basic and the reason that it is [end p2] basic is that if by any chance Mr Gorbachev did not succeed and we find happening what happened after Khrushchev 's very much lesser but quite significant, very significant changes that he made, and that went into reverse because his enemies toppled him, if that were to happen to Mr Gorbachev and you have let your defences go because you are basing your policies on hope rather than the necessary defence of freedom, then it could be years before we climbed back to security.

The length of time taken to decide on your weapons systems, your updating systems now is such that you have to keep your new weapons systems, your up-dating, your strategy there because otherwise, if you ever let it go, you have not time to catch up.

So the first strategy has to be a sure defence and it must remain sure. The second one is that you do, both verbally and in practice, back Mr Gorbachev's reforms. I think that is important to him. I think it is important for this reason—the Soviet Union's status as one of the two great powers in the world has depended upon really two things, its military strength and that it has because running a system of total central control it is able to deprive people of a reasonable standard of living in order to have a strong standard of defence and in order to give it great international standing.

That is one thing and the second thing is that the advent of Marxism, it is strange looking back at it, undoubtedly attracted [end p3] a kind of person internationally which became bewitched with the doctrine that this was a scientific system of government and that it was inevitable that Marxism and socialism would succeed and therefore you got a subversive organisation with that combination and by central design of the Soviet Union really pretty well the world over.

Now that is their super power status. It is not the standard of living. It is not the strength of the economy. It is a centrally directed thing, directed defence, directed subversion. It was all right at the beginning, it is not all right now.

So right now the strategy must be defence, strong defence, and we watch the subversion because some things have not changed. I doubt whether the KGB's activities have changed. I doubt whether some of the people still involved in a passion for, I would call it a kind of intellectual arrogance and I think that this creed appeals, not to people because of its humanity, it appeals to a kind of person who has a certain intellectual standing but does not think that their power is equal to their intellectual standing and they could make a much better fist of it if they had all the power and somehow we ordinary mortals are not fit to be trusted with our own freedom, but those super mortals, which is how they see themselves, can plan everything both for them and ourselves.

Marxism is not a revolution of the ordinary poor person. It is a revolution which came from the top and is continued at the [end p4] top and is continued by those who come to have vested interest in that theory.

So our strategy, keep your defence strong. You point out steadily and continuously that if there are two fundamental creeds of guiding the world's political, philosophical, personal …   . one is the Marxist control and the citizen has to conform, the other is really, the best expression of liberty I know is in the Constitution of the United States, that people came here because they believed in certain fundamental liberties, so fundamental that no state should be able to deprive you of them.

You call it life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, it is life, liberty, certain fundamental freedom that people cannot take away from you and that whereas in the immediate post-war period, after we had been through the 1930s, which bothered many many people, they looked and said, “Well now there are two basic creeds of running a country, two basic creeds. We have looked at the free way and it had the problems of the 1930s which you had and we had, you had worse than we had. Now there is a new one,” and we did not know in the immediate post. War period what Stalin had done, it would have been better if we had.

In the post war period a lot of hopes rode on “Well, perhaps if everyone agreed to be based about and pushed around it might be all right.” But now we know. You have got two theories and you have got two practical results and Marxism has had it. [end p5]

You cannot deny the fundamental essence of human nature and expect to succeed. Now we know that.

You asked me the strategy, so it is defence. It is constantly putting across the message which President Reagan and me in a much lesser way have tried to put across, that you will only get prosperity when you get personal liberty. You only get the latest developments when you get personal liberty. You only get enough prosperity to look after the poor when you have personal liberty and therefore we keep our defence sure and we do everything for the battle of minds, we do everything to let the people of the Soviet Union know that we are still battling freedom and we hope that it will be extended to them.

Now is that strategy or is it something much broader brush? But let me say this, it is the broader brush beliefs that activate the policies which you follow and that is why I say what I have said so frequently about President Reagan and myself.



Prime Minister

The short answer to that is I do not know. What I have said many times is that once you enlarge freedom you get the difficulties appearing before you get the benefits. And the only way I can play it is to say that the speech I did in Poland had, you do not get economic results without personal liberty. To the other side, if you are going to accept greater liberty you must accept with it greater responsibility. The one is the necessity of accepting the other.

Now I do not know, what I am after is enlarged liberty. I think it will be a pity if that enlarged liberty is only expressed as heightened nationalism because you can have nationalism without increased liberty. I am after the much more fundamental thing increased liberty.

I think that if the first and major effect were to be that people wished to take their nationalism to a kind of separation, I think that would cause problems. I do not necessarily think that they would succeed but I hope that they might think that the enlarged liberty for everyone is more important and that the enlarged liberty, as is happening I think with Lithuania, is enabling them to have very much more say in their own affairs. But that is because of enlarged liberty, linked to some extent with a recognition that people do have loyalties to their historic background and I think that it can be managed if it is sufficiently explained. [end p7]

I am very anxious to get the enlarged liberty first. You come to something like Poland, I have just been to Poland, now I have not been to Czechoslovakia, I know Hungary, as you know, and they because they have gone about it in a very canny way, each time there has been a change of leadership in the Soviet Union they have a slight policy towards slightly increasing freedom, they have had a change of leadership in the Soviet Union and they have waited and they have seen can they go forward a little bit more, waited, can they go forward a little bit more, and they perhaps have got a good deal more although it is still a communist state.

Now of course Grosz is getting more freedom, even something going towards a pluralist state. That has been a very very, I think wise way in which to take it forward.

You come to Poland and you have got Solidarity which is not a trade union movement only, indeed its major function is that it is the expression of political opposition. How they will deal with it depends upon their wisdom.

So I think that the situation that you have posed can be handled, you use the word handled but I say can be managed and I think that some of those satellite countries, because if ever you try to start to detach a country you are being difficult, you put them in embarrassment. [end p8]

I think it can be handled through their own instinct, born of quite long experience, that they can go so far and they can get their increasing liberty if they manage it well.

I think Mr Gorbachev is quite anxious to break through to something that will give him much greater economic prosperity, he needs it, they need it. I think that some of the privations they suffer are such that we would not tolerate them and I think he must have come to the conclusion that there is no way in which you can stop the messages of what is happening in the outside world from getting through to the Soviet Union.

So you naturally tend to ask the extreme things. On the whole in politics your actions going forward are not in extremes but finding a way through and it is a skilful job but it can be done. [end p9]



Prime Minister

The United States has put forward more than release of prisoners, much more. [end p10]


Question summary: AGREED

Prime Minister

And we have had contacts, because I am worried about this. I am worried about it for this reason:

President Reagan has never hesitated to put human rights forward as something quite fundamental. Our right to put it forward depends not only on our fundamental belief in human rights, but the fact that thirty-five nations signed up on the Helsinki Accords, including all the Warsaw Pact countries. That treaty gives you a right to inquire into what other countries are doing internally, because they signed up to certain …   . of human rights.

Now, when I saw this thing coming up as a political ploy, I was very worried. Human rights are not a political ploy they are fundamental, and I was very worried because a number of countries were saying: “Well, if we managed it by saying we will have that third conference in Moscow, we can get a little bit more liberty, it is worth it!” to which one's reply can only be: “If the Soviet Union is saying to you unless you let us have this conference we will not do any more on fundamental human rights, then you have not got much confidence in them for doing anything on fundamental rights!” Human rights are not a political ploy and it is this that … the difference. [end p11]

Some of my European colleagues say: “Well, if we manage to get a little improvement!” Look! The release of political prisoners, the release of prisoners of conscience. The letting out of more people who want to travel by favour, by administrative decision, is not a movement towards human rights—it is a political ploy and my worry is not only the fundamental one, but that the hopes, the dreams, the faith, of hundreds and thousands of people beyond the Iron Curtain, whose names we do not know, who have put their belief in us, would be totally undermined if we did anything which made them think we had been hoodwinked—and I am not hoodwinked.

And that is why I started off by saying fundamental human rights and the rule of law which applies to the governors as well as to the governed. A rule of law says that the members of the government and in their actions on government, are just as much subject to the law as a citizen. That is a revolutionary doctrine to a Communist country which says that rights only come from government and this is why, yes, I did keep in touch with your government and this is why I think you will find among those criteria there is a quite fundamental one referring to a rule of law. [end p12]

A rule of law is a thing which grows over the years and my worry is I do not think it could grow fast enough to enable it to be such that we could truly accept it as a change.

I notice, if you go back on Mr. Gorbachev 's speeches even before I went there, if you read them as closely as I do, he did say that yes, they wanted an impartial system of justice. There are two things: one is an impartial system in the way the law is administered, the other is a law which takes account of fundamental human rights which no state can take away.

Now you see why I am worried. There are going to be two schools of thought. One is mine: that you have got to go for the fundamental and a genuine, real resolve to change it to incorporate the fundamental change on the part of the Soviet Union, which would be a major step and which I think would enable us to say, as we see steps towards it, that is such a big step that we would like to accept it is and then go, but a few improvements as a matter of choice that we will let a few more out and those people will then come … is not human rights at all. It is political negotiation.



Prime Minister

No. I think that if those conditions are met we would go, because they are fundamental—they are not peripheral.



Prime Minister

Yes. They are fundamental. You know my views. I have told them to you. But not just a few improvements.



Prime Minister

Broadly the same.



Prime Minister

I think it is possible that they make take enough steps to indicate an irreversible resolve to put those into place.



Prime Minister

By far more contacts people-to-people, by constantly reiterating that our system, which is a free system, has produced those results and is the only way ahead to do that. We will have increased trade relations, but that cannot be on a basis that all of a sudden everyone releases monies which go there for some ill defined purpose. It cannot be that way.

If companies—and I would very much like it if they do judge that it would be in their interest to have joint ventures within the Soviet Union, to produce goods there, to train management and that they could make a profit there under the Western system—that is an enormously different system—and that they have got an arrangement with the Soviet Government which would enable them to repatriate those profits, it would be very good, but they must make that judgement. [end p13]

I am not for us dashing in with ill-defined amounts of money for ill-defined purposes, but I am prepared to give a reasonable amount of export credit—as we have done—on the basis we have done in the past, that the Soviet Union pays its credits and therefore it is a measured amount.



Prime Minister

Ours are very modest. Germany and Japan: you raise a quite fundamental question.

Germany and Japan have massive net savings ratios and I will tell you, one of my worries is that when you look at getting the barriers to trade and other things down through the GATT, you are talking about the barriers which you can take action upon.

There are certain barriers which are visible but which you cannot take action upon. One of them is the habit and custom of people which is quite different from the habit and custom of other people. Germany and Japan have massive, very very big savings ratios. Their people choose not to purchase goods with their earnings, but to save them. Those same people expect other countries not to have big savings ratios, but to use them for [end p14] purchasing imports from Japan and Germany. Now this is a kind of difficult barrier. It is a barrier which has enormous economic impact and I do not know how to cope with it, but I know it is there. I know its impact is enormous. I know it gives enormous resources to invest and have influence in other countries.

Whether you can get a big savings ratio and we can, I do not know. I do not know about your country and ours. Very interesting phenomena has developed. The gross savings are still going on at about the same level. It is the actual enormous increased borrowings that for a time have submerged the savings—your savings ratio in our terms is the net savings ratio—so while gross savings are going along like that our borrowings, which were like that, have gone up like that, so your net savings ratio, which is the relevant one for this purpose, is right down. I think that will correct itself but here we are. You know, we are talking about GATT and we are talking about a nation's influence. If you have a nation, not in the cultural but in Japan's case, the economic circumstance of the country, they do not have a basic state pension—they are often in a company house, so they have got to save so that when they retire they can buy their own house and support themselves. [end p15]

These things are going to have enormous impact, quite a considerable impact, on the world economy and therefore on the world political …   . so they have a lot of money to go in. They also have a different political history from ours and it is a fact which one has to watch. I am not quite certain what one does about it, but I know full well that in Third World countries you will often find that they get contracts which we might have won, but they get the contracts because added to the contract they have got an enormous gift partly financed by very very low interest credits which enables considerable infrastructure to be made.

And so we have come a long way but that is a problem. I have not quite worked it out.



Prime Minister

No, it is not undermining it at all. We make our own decisions on how much, but sometimes we are told: “Well, the Germans are in here doing this, that and the other!” It cannot affect what we do because I frequently say to our own banks: “What you do must depend upon your commercial judgement!” I am not going to have anyone saying: “The Government asked us to do this!” because if ever I resort to that, I am taking some kind of responsibility for what happens. As far as we are concerned, it has to depend upon their commercial judgement.

We have to make our judgement, as government, as to the amount of credit that we will guarantee under the Export Credit Guarantee and we, as a government, make a decision on the amount we will guarantee and that decision is related to the amount which we think the country can and will …   .



Prime Minister

We will discuss government decisions, but when it comes to the private ones the private banks will have to make their own decisions and stand up to the consequences, but I do not know about …   . private banks at home will be pretty careful about whether ECTG has been given. We make our own decisions about the amount which we can guarantee.



Prime Minister

I think it will help him. Mikhail GorbachevHe is a very very important figure on the world stage undoubtedly. He is a much more important figure than he would be had he just followed the previous policies and it is the change in policies plus the personality of the man that made him a more important figure on the world stage and I would think that that matters to the people of the Soviet Union. For those who have been working for more freedom, it gives them more hope. [end p16]

I think the problem is in the early stages, to be able to show those who are pretty neutral about the economic reforms. What matters to them is the speed with which advances can be shown and that is difficult for very obvious reasons—to go from an economy where you can only do things if you are told to do them to one in which you are told you now must carry responsibility for half the produce your factory produces. It is very worrying for some people.



Prime Minister

I just do not think it was that abrupt. I think he had it in mind for some time because we have had an invitation extended to him for some time and we have known for some time and have been given reason to believe that it would be taken up either by the end of this year—except that we were thinking the end of the year was getting pretty close—or early next year, and we always stood ready to do it. [end p17]

I think he wants to come and make a major speech at the United Nations in New York and he is taking advantage of that to obviously talk to a new George BushPresident as well as President Reagan here and he is taking advantage of that to come and talk to us, of which he says, you know, it is very good to have the kind of free, easy, discussion which we have. It is open. We have got the kind of relationship where we can say things. He can be quite a belligerent person sometimes and then we have got past that, but you know, we go back blow for blow and then we get down to the nitty gritty, as it were. It is a technique, but it is done on the basis that, I think so far, anything he has undertaken to do he has always done, so it is on the basis of building up some kind of trust.

Trust is built slowly. As you put each brick in place, you think twice about taking it out, because it would be so devastating if you did.

So yes, he came to see me. We had very good talks at Brize Norton, and anyone who is working genuinely for larger freedom will get my support, but he must also expect to have my judgement as well. That is different, but it matters. If you are supporting something, you owe a person your judgement as well as your support. [end p18]


Question summary: [QUESTION UNCLEAR]

Prime Minister

It would be a very considerable change in Sino-Soviet affairs and a change that we would have to evaluate.

Hitherto, China under Deng Xiaoping, has said: “We will not become closer to the Soviet Union until troops are withdrawn from Afghanistan, the Vietnamese are out of Cambodia!” and there have been substantial—well considerable; I am not sure it is substantial—considerable, significant, a word of that quality, troop withdrawals from the Sino-Soviet border.

My belief is that although there are difficulties the troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistant on time. I think Cambodia is proving very much more difficult. We are all working to the same end, but the difficulty, as you know, is the position of the Khmer Rouge and that problem has not been overcome and it would be too difficult to withdraw some forces from that border.

So it could be said that, say, two-thirds of the conditions which China set are being met and there is hope and prospect that the third might, so those conditions have been met.

It is how we evaluate it. Obviously, you look to it when your two great Communist countries get together. You have a certain measure of wariness. You have then to take into account that their communism is changing, perhaps a little bit faster in China because she has, if I put it this way, more of an [end p19] agricultural, peasant population with land of their own and therefore it was easier to get away—some people getting away to a market economy—than it has been with the Soviet Union, where you have virtually very little of the Soviet farming population basically with land of their own and therefore you have not a fundamental peasant population. Peasants know how to deal with markets. They have got their own land. You have not got that basis to deal with.

So, if it does come about, it is under different conditions of communism in both countries from that which would have obtained years ago and therefore, it is of a different quality, but it is not easy to make the right judgement.

I think I would put it this way: it is part of the global tendency to come together and to discuss with more countries, but we must obviously watch what takes place very carefully. Also, you know, Mr. Deng Xiaoping is a very considerable leader, as is Mr. Gorbachev. A very considerable leader indeed and I think that some of the reforms there have been due to him.

They are running into difficulties. When you go to a reform, obviously you want to get in more and more Western technology. That costs you a lot of money. If you are not careful, you spend the money before you have got the income in. [end p20]



Prime Minister

I think it is our turn to be in the Chair for that meeting. At the moment it is scheduled as a Foreign Secretary meeting.

We would like to feel that it might be advisable to elevate that meeting to a Heads of Government meeting, because we are coming to the stage when the decisions of the last meeting to update short term [sic] nuclear weapons … that is the decision … as you know, decisions taken at Heads of Government go to the Nuclear Planning Group and to the relevant military groups to carry out. It might be advisable to reaffirm that decision, but obviously, it will depend upon Mr. Bush 's time table.

It is quite a busy time, I might tell you, June. It is terribly busy for Europe. In June, we have our European Summits, Council of Ministers. We all trot off in July to France for the Economic Summit which is being held on Bastille Day, 200th anniversary, so we have got the Economic Summit there. We have our European Summit. Where you slot in a NATO Summit, I think we would have to need quite a lot of contact about. [end p21]



Prime Minister

The question is whether you shift it to elevate it and we just do not know at the moment.

And really, poor man, George Bushhe did not win the election very long ago you know and you are hustling him!



Prime Minister

It is a very difficult communique. There are some things in it which we do not like—a lot of things in it which we do not like. I have been the first to say: “Look! For Heaven's sake, don't let there be any government in exile or any particular country [end p22] declared, because frankly, it will not help negotiations—it just will not—that is a fact of life!” It will not encourage the Israelis to negotiate and that is not helpful at all and sometimes I am asked, “Well, would you recognise these?” We recognise actual countries, not governments. Now there is not a country there to recognise. There could not be a country there to recognise except as a result of negotiations, so that was very very unhelpful.

At the same time, if you get a message from that communique that they are prepared to accept 242 and 338, that is quite an advance for them to make.

Now, when you get a mixed thing like this and there are some things that you do not like, I do not think you should condemn the entire thing. I believe it is time to start to do everything you can to get negotiations over the Arab-Israel fundamental problem.

There are far too many missiles in the Middle E* far too many chemical weapons have been used and there are new dangers there and I think it is really time we made a strenuous effort to get negotiations going.

It is that reason which leads me to say if you find an organisation … PLO is no favourite of mine as you know … I have said: “So long as you have terrorist aims, we will not meet you!” [end p23] If you find them starting to do one thing, which is one which I quite clearly laid down as a condition, and you do not, if they do the right thing, take that thing and encourage them to go further, then you are missing a chance to further your larger design and ambition.

We have got a summary of the complete thing and if you go through it, you will find a lot of things you do not like, but unless you start to take something which you feel you could encourage, and try to fan it into something bigger which will lead to negotiations, you are not going to get them, and that really has been the view which I have taken this morning. [end p24]



Prime Minister

Not unusual at all. I said this morning that Britain has a history in the Gulf, it was a Labour government that decided to pull out of the Trucial states and cease our fundamental defence agreements with them. [end p25]

We came back in in 1970 but it had gone too far to pull back. It is nothing unusual and we have a friendship with the Trucial states, with the states in the Gulf, of which Saudi Arabia is not a Gulf state but we have a friendship which goes back long before oil, long before oil. So it is not surprising.



Prime Minister

With Saudi Arabia, yes. We did the first Tornado contract very well indeed. Because we did it very well they came back and wanted other things.

Saudi Arabia is not going to attack anyone. It is vital that Saudi Arabia has the means to defend herself, a view which would be taken both by the United States as well as by us and therefore there was nothing strange about us trying to sell arms to her. It is important that she should have those means, she is not going to attack anyone.

What I am concerned about in the Middle East is the use of chemical weapons and the effect that that has been seen to have, quite devastating effect. The fact that iraq has missiles which go to Iran. Iran has missiles which come to Iraq. [end p26]

Both could quite easily have chemical weapon warheads put upon them. Those missiles are no respecters of borders.

Iran, Iraq, I think the distance they have got towards the truce is such, and the desire to have it is such that it is practically irreversible. They are still having difficulty over Shatt-al-Arab waterway for reasons you and I know.

It really seems to me that we must take action pretty quickly, as fast as we can on Israel, Israel/Arab, really to get it sorted out.

You take everything together. It is coming to the realisation that real security there will rely upon an agreement that will stick. Most of the Arab countries are quite prepared to recognise Israel—they are quite realistic—and its right to exist.

The difficulty is that West Bank and Gaza strip and I could not tell you what the answer is. I can tell you the difficulties. But I know that you will only come to that through negotiations.



Prime Minister

I think that when a country has gone in good faith to negotiate a major agreement with another country, it would be a blow if that agreement were not ratified, a great blow.

If it is not ratified it would be very difficult for any Prime Minister of Canada to go and negotiate another agreement with another country. So the consequences of it not going ahead I think are very considerable, very considerable.

I have taken a big point but you can see. I remember when we were negotiating with Europe the question arose, there were differences in the Party, should you put on a strong whip when we had the Bill, the actual measure before Parliament to put that agreement into legislative form. I remember very well the view we took. If you have done a prolonged negotiation and you are not prepared to do everything you can to see that that goes into legislative form, with the whipping system, etc, then how can you ever negotiate again?



Prime Minister

I hope not. We have been very active in Europe in saying we want the barriers down within Europe, not as a means of putting up barriers between Europe and the rest, but in the spirit of the [end p27] original Treaty. Getting barriers down within the Community was to be an example to the rest of the world to get its trade barriers down.

I must tell you that is not a view held throughout the Community. It is a view held within Britain and you would be quite right in saying that the Common Agricultural Policy is a protectionist policy. That is why we again have been active in saying it must be discussed at GATT because Europe is not meant to be a protectionist club. It is meant to be a free trade area, as a means of getting external barriers down and not putting it up.

It means that we have to surrender that amount of sovereignty to the Community because the European Community does the international negotiations on trade matters.

We work very hard for our view to prevail. Germany holds the same view and so does Holland hold the same view. If we get quite a number of us taking that view we can prevail.



Prime Minister

You are not puzzled about that are you? I do not find myself puzzled at all which means that I have not explained what I felt.

We are already expressing on a much wider basis than ever before. There is a new kind of relationship, a new interest, a much wider relationship, much wider than the Cold War ever was.

So what I am saying, that already exists and assuming that Mr Gorbachev's reforms go through, I think that will steadily become enlarged.

Why I said that assumption is it is always possible that those reforms may not be carried through and that something could happen, the same as happened to Khrushchev. Now if you came to that then I think quite a bit of … might go into reverse and therefore you might get a new, much more distant, colder relationship.

That is the only significance into what I said. It is me always, but always, thinking do not assume that things will go on as they have started. You are dealing with a communist country.

Someone else had a go. You remember Khrushchev first revealed what happened in the Stalin period, first allowed Solzhenitsyn to publish, I think it was “Cancer Ward” wasn't it? It was due to him that we got the Austrian Treaty. Now these were very bold things. I think people have forgotten just how bold some of them were and be made quite a lot of enemies. [end p28]

I think it is in your rival paper that they are doing the Khrushchev interviews with the son as to what actually happened. And so you never assume, although you want those reforms to go ahead, you never assume that they will so if they do not, and you went into a difficult period, you would then have to reassess.

That is the only reason, do you see now?



Prime Minister

There is a problem about whether it could be reversed and there is a problem of course about how far it can go. I do sometimes say to people: “Look, if you look at all of Mr Gorbachev's speeches, he is still expecting a one-party state, called a communist state. But whether it would be such a very different communist state from what we now know or whether its similarities would be greater than its differences, we do not know” .

So there are some unknowns but we are not in a Cold War now, we are in a much broader relationship. I expect Mr Gorbachev to do everything he can to continue his reforms. We will support it. [end p29]

The question is whether he can make the leap from what I call reforms by favour and administrative decision to reforms by fundamental institutional rights and then how far you get from there.

My crystal ball does not go that far, it just tells me that a number of things can happen and we must always keep our defences up and always be prepared to do more to help or make a reassessment.



Prime Minister

We are working hard as you know. Mikhail GorbachevHe is obviously prepared to negotiate on conventional arms and I think that he wants to do so and needs to do so. We are working very hard on this. It is important that we put forward a joint, clear Alliance strategy upon which we are agreed and you know there are a number of points being thrashed out now.

I think that he would like to have a conventional agreement. The question is we have got to have one which does not undermine our position. [end p30]

One just has to remember the different military structure, theirs is a great big one. Europe is a big peninsular on the end of a great big Soviet Union. The Soviet Union can very much more easily reinforce her troops at the front than we can. Our reinforcements have to come across from the United States or in our case from Britain to the continent. We have 70,000 in Germany but if anything happened you have to have, you have got a big reserve reinforcement plan. It has to go through the French ports, on to the continent, a big reinforcement to Norway.

It is a very different military strategy from the strategy in a much bigger area where they can bring up, straight across, and reinforce much faster than we can.

They will say also they have got other problems, they can be attacked on many fronts around. But you must have a look at the different military strategies and the different timescales necessary for the fundamental reinforcements and it is not going to be a simple negotiation and so there will be arguments about the ceilings and where those ceilings should be carried out, whether you should have certainly an agreement on certain ceilings and then subordinate agreements on how those ceilings are to be met, and so on.

I think he would like one but I do think we are coming to a time when we have to watch that the separate negotiations, some on chemicals, some on strategic, some on conventional, do not leave us with a fundamental weakness against their strength because of the [end p31] different military dispositions.



Prime Minister

You know you ought not to ask that question and of course I cannot answer it but it has been very interesting.


Question summary: THIS TOO.

Prime Minister

I hope you have enjoyed it. The one thing one must never do is never never cease to defend the freedom … I made a speech to the United Nations, was it 1982, you are always talking about peace, that is not good enough. The peace I want is peace with freedom and justice and nothing else will do and the way to get that is to keep your defences strong. It is weakness that causes wars, not strength.