It is a great pleasure to be here today at Kansas State University. It is especially appropriate that this lecture series honors one of the truly remarkable figures in American political life, a man whose reputation has grown steadily across the decades. In my view, Governor Landon personifies the enduring values of civic life honesty, integrity, persistence, and a bedrock faith in the institutions and purposes of America. I could sum it up in another way. Here is a man you could honestly disagree with, and who would not be disagreeable about it. That's the kind of man Governor Landon is. I think that is what America needs in this difficult period of history. So we all salute him, Democrats and Republicans alike.
Here in Kansas, I get a strong sense that these enduring values of integrity, honesty and persistence remain strong in the heart of America. Even more, I am reminded that our nation's pressing problems cannot be successfully handled outside the framework of traditional American values.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that America is "the country of the future ... of beginnings and dreams." Yet the vision of America whose two hundredth anniversary we celebrate this year is under assault in many quarters.
New beginnings and great dreams have been shriveled by prophets of doom who say the age of plenty is over. What they are really saying is that we must change our life style. They believe we can no longer provide a moral and humane leadership for the community of nations. They seem to think it will do our souls good if we lower our horizons, reduce our standards of living, and turn our backs on the world. Some are saying that the western world is in decline. I do not buy that. They are willing to settle for a lesser America. I want to settle for a greater America.
I will not settle for a "lesser America."
The overwhelming majority of the American people will not settle for a "lesser America."
We have the richest nation on earth and the most productive people. To visit Kansas and to see first hand the enormous accomplishments of American agriculture is to understand this, to understand the people. People here were homesteaders, as in my state. Many of them were immigrants, like my parents who came from Norway, a rather cold and bleak area. That, I am proud to say, helps to make for compassionate people but also a tough people. So, I think we have a lot in common both in people and in environment.
Our free market system, and the free people who make it work, have made U.S. agriculture unique in the history of the world. Among the great industrial powers, the United States stands alone as a great agricultural power as well. Our agricultural system has allowed us to pay the nation's trade bills at a most difficult time in international financial affairs. Our bitterest adversaries have become, unwittingly perhaps, the greatest salesmen for our free market system.
And may I say I'm proud that I have supported our farm price supports, especially in the area of wheat, our basic crop. May I say too it is now paying handsome dividends because this nation has the most efficient agricultural system in the world. Less than five per cent of our people is involved in agriculture and we are feeding half of the world. In the Soviet Union 45 per cent of the people is involved in agriculture and they can't feed their own people. That ought to tell us something about the so-called glorious Bolshevik revolution. It ought to make every American proud. To paraphrase Winston Churchill "our system is the worst form ever devised by man, save and except for all others."
However, our economy as a whole at this juncture still lags behind its full potential. The hopes of millions of Americans for a better life depend on the restoration of real economic growth. If we are to deal with the national disgrace of poverty, if we are to provide quality education, if we are to provide adequate health care for our citizens, if we are to have adequate housing for the millions of young families throughout our land, if we are to provide full employment at fair wages economic growth is absolutely essential.
I get tired of those people who say either we have a good environment OR we have economic growth and a polluted world.
I say, as the author of the National Environmental Policy Act, that they need to use the conjunction "and" instead of "or." It is not "either/or." It's not either a good environment or economic growth. It's a good environment and economic growth in order to provide for the needs of our people, especially those less fortunate.
The truth is: we invite the erosion of our society if we listen to the voices of cynicism and doom. There is no reason we cannot once again return to a pattern of an expanding economy and better standards of living for all our people. I believe the central focus of the election campaign ahead will be the battle between those who are willing to settle for a "lesser America" and those who want to expand upon a generation of economic gains.
I want to turn now to a top priority matter because it goes to our very freedom and our existence as a free people. That's foreign policy. Foreign policy is one area where we had better be sure that we do not lose sight of the real issue involved. We conduct a foreign policy and we maintain a military establishment to protect the freedom of the American people and the chances for a stable and just peace in a difficult world. We want to pass on to our children, and our children's children, a democratic society—and a world where democratic societies can flourish.
We have the resources to conduct a wise foreign policy. What is lacking, even at the highest levels of government, is the will power to take a strong stand and hold to it. What we need now more than anything else is a steady hand in this very unsteady world.
There is nothing mysterious about international negotiations. You are supposed to get something for what you give. Yet the Kissinger-Ford foreign policy has helped the Soviets become more powerful, more adventurous, and more threatening to American interests and to the international order than at any time since the Stalin era.
The things we and our Western allies need for building a genuine peace are still "unfinished business," while the things the Soviet government chiefly wanted are signed and sealed notably the Helsinki agreements and a SALT I agreement full of loopholes which the Soviets are actively exploiting in a massive build-up of their nuclear arsenal.
One-sided agreements based on unilateral American concessions represent the worst form of self-delusion about international affairs.
For some time, I have been warning that as the Soviet Union approached overall military equality with the United States, and even a superiority in some areas, its leaders would become more opportunistic. A leading British scholar points out: "The Soviet Union derives increasing confidence by the sheer quantity and size of the weapons it possesses." Angola is the most recent case of an expansionist Soviet policy. The Kremlin's move to establish a major naval presence in the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean is another case in point. Meanwhile, the threat to Europe stretches on ahead as far as anyone can see—not only in the Central European region but now urgently for NATO's vital flanks.
I firmly believe, and I say this in a true non-partisan spirit, President Ford made a bad mistake in firing Secretary James Schlesinger, a great Republican, a great scholar and a man who could take on Henry Kissinger.
I'll tell you how good he is. Back in 1968 I looked over this nation and checked all the scholarly centers of learning for the best man to deal sensibly with what we call "systems analysis." And the man whose name turned up at every center was Dr. James Schlesinger. He was a consultant to my Senate committee before he ever worked for a Republican administration.
I always try to bring in people, Republicans or Democrats, that are smarter than I am and then use them to help me and to help the country. That is what we should do in Government. A politician is a fool if he is afraid of getting people of excellence, from either party, involved in his administration.
In firing Dr. Schlesinger, a key official within our government who was raising the tough questions, the President hurt himself. James Schlesinger took seriously his responsibility to the President and to the country to state the facts and to advise on the risks as well as the advantages of alternative policies. I believe an American President needs such honest advisers. The worst thing an American President, Republican or Democrat, can do when the nation's security is at stake is to surround himself with sycophants, "yes" people.
Clearly the essential tasks of deterrence and defense are not about to wither away. I can assure you of that. I intend to do what I can to see that these tasks, essential for freedom and individual liberty in this world, get the high priority they deserve.
You know at times the best politics is no politics, and we are at that point. I want to come right to the crunch of it. I do not believe our country or our people or our freedom will be safe if the Soviet Union is the strongest military power in the world. A nation that would go in and overrun a so-called sister socialist state like Czechoslovakia or Hungary! What do you think the Kremlin would do if it had the upper hand over its adversaries? I hope we will listen a bit to the Chinese regarding Soviet behavior.
And let me add this: Dr. Kissinger's detente is a body without a soul a policy indifferent to human rights. Everyone across the country was shocked when President Ford took the advice of Henry Kissinger and snubbed Nobel Laureate Alexander Solzhenitsyn. If the United States does not stand up for freedom who will? It's time for a foreign policy in Washington which reflects our deepest beliefs as a people, which embodies the best in our democratic and humanitarian heritage.
Thank goodness, we finally have a representative at the United Nations, Pat Moynihan, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who is speaking up for the American people.
You know, for a politician it is refreshing to hear someone tell it like it is. That's why I like Governor Landon on the one hand, and, on the other, Harry Truman, with whom I had the pleasure of serving. Neither one will leave you confused.
When I hear Pat Moynihan attack the hypocrisy of the United Nations
on human rights,
on national self-determination,
on racism, and
I want to say a loud "Amen," a loud "AMEN."
The United States stood by the importance of human rights when we negotiated the historic Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 and when we reaffirmed its principles in subsequent international agreements. This American commitment to human rights and to freedom of expression represents more than our belief that the values involved are right in themselves. The freer exchange of ideas and the freer movement of peoples across national frontiers have important practical consequences for all mankind. They are a vital ingredient in building the kind of international understanding that a genuine, stable peace requires.
America's bicentennial reminds us that our great experiment in human liberty and political democracy will be subjected to even further tests in the period ahead. We know that democracy is a recent invention; we have learned that it is the most difficult form of government first to establish and then to sustain.
What we do in America will determine the answer to the critical questions: Whether democracy is on the decline, whether the world will decide to turn its back on democratic values in general and on America in particular.
If we are to be true to the best traditions of America, traditions calling us to build a society with freedom and opportunity for all, we must go forward. And going forward is what I believe millions of us are eager to do. It's the work of decent and concerned citizens all across this great land of America.
To me there is only one way in which we can overcome the mistakes of the past and that is for us together to reach out for a future that is waiting to be born. I mean business and labor, farm and city, north and south, black and white, yes, parents and children must be brought together. We have a lot of work to do together to make this a better country and a more peaceful world. Others may seek to make America great again. I seek to make America good again. For in the last analysis our claim to greatness will be found in our goodness.