Past Speakers of the: LANDON LECTURES

Landon Lecture by Ambassador Vernon Walters,

Jul. 17, 1979

Successes of the United Nations
by Vernon Walters

President Wefald, students, and guests here. I am delighted and honored to have been asked to speak in such a distinguished forum as the Landon Lectures. I am very happy to have been selected to talk to you on the subject of the United Nations.

When I arrived here yesterday, I was handed the local college newspaper, and I feel there are a number of terminological inexactitudes that should be set straight. Not just for personal reasons, but for the fact that you are supposed to be taught the truth. So if I may take them just before I get to the United Nations.

I see where it [Kansas State Collegian] says, first of all, that I served 40 years in the U.S. Army. I served 36. It then said that I had the distinction of being directly or indirectly involved in overthrowing more governments than any other official in the U.S. Government. I can't figure out how so many people vote against us in the United Nations if I've overthrown all our enemies. According to a summer 1986 article in Covert Action—it is the first magazine I have ever been the cover boy on, it was a fantastic thing at my age, you know, you don't expect to get it when you're 70—"Walters freely acknowledges his involvement in the '53 coup which ousted the government of Premier Mohammed Mossadegh." I was in Iran in 1951. In 1953 I was the assistant to a French general at the NATO Headquarters in Paris. This is really good remote control.

"In 1964, as military attache in Brazil, Walters accurately predicted one week in advance the exact day of a coup which ousted constitutionally elected president Joao Goulart and installed the military government of General Humberto Castelo Branco. On the morning of the coup, Walters breakfasted with Branco." Well, first of all as a military attache it was my duty, and that's why the U.S. Government was paying and keeping me in some luxury, to find out what was going on in the Brazilian military. I knew and I told the U.S. Government. On the morning of the coup I had no idea where Costelo Branco was; I did not have breakfast with him.

If I may go on: "Under Director George Bush, Walters attempted to organize mercenary support for the CIA's covert war in Angola. Although unsuccessful in Brazil, Walters did recruit several French mercenaries." I have never recruited a mercenary in my life, French, Brazilian or any other.

"Between 1976 and 1981, Walters officially left military service, but remained active in various diplomatic roles." That was under the presidency of President Carter, and I wasn't asked to carry on any diplomatic roles. I traveled to Morocco as a representative of Environmental Energy Systems Inc. of Alexandria, Virginia. The article said that I was hired in an effort to sell tanks to the King of Morocco. I have never sold a tank in my life to the King of Morocco or to anybody else. "A year later I traveled to Guatemala as a goodwill ambassador for the Reagan administration. I was representing Basic Resources International which was an oil company." I never was a Reagan goodwill ambassador of any sort. Where should we go on? "With the election of Reagan, Walters returned to government service as Ambassador at Large, when Reagan appointed him in 1985 U.S. Ambassador. During this period Walters was part of the administration's core Central American policy group. Referred to informally by administration officials as the Murder Board." Well, I have never heard of it referred to as the Murder Board. I wasn't a part of it, I had nothing to do with it. I was not involved, particularly in setting Central American policy.

"As a member Walters was instrumental in organizing the Contras from the remnants of deposed Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somozoa's National Guard." I have never had anything to do with the organization of the Contras. I have supported aid to them publicly, and speaking publicly. I have never had any direct personal contact with the Contras in the sense of organizing anybody to do anything.

I go on. "In the Iran Contra Connection Walters used old connections to the military junta in Argentina to secure support and training for the Contras." The Argentines had put on their own hook 100 officers into Central America because they were concerned by what was going on. I didn't ask them to do it.

We go along. "Walters traveled to a number of U.S. clients and urged contributions. Both Israel and Egypt donated money in response to the pleas when reminded of the substantial U.S. aid they received." I have never solicited contributions from anybody in Israel, Egypt or anyone else at any time on behalf of the Contras.

Then: "As ambassador at large Walters was instrumental in renewing U.S. military aid to several Latin American countries, which had been denied aid by President Jimmy Carter." Rubbish. I never did anything of the sort.

Now I have an editorial, I think from today, which carries on in this same theme. It said how I am going to evade all your questions and refuse to talk about them. Well, we will see when the time comes. "Why did Walters abstain from a vote condemning South African elections?" I don't remember whether I did, but I am an instructed delegate of the United Nations and I do what my government tells me.

"How about the World Court's decision that the CIA broke international law by mining Nicaraguan harbors?" A great effort is made to portray the United States as some kind of a black sheep or an evil devil who defies the International Court of Justice. On the International Court of Justice there are fifteen judges representing fifteen countries. Ten of those countries, like us, reject the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice in political matters, and that includes the Soviet Union, China, France, and a great many other countries. We don't reject their jurisdiction on commercial matters. As a matter of fact, we just turned over a couple of hundred million dollars of Iranian assets in the United States to the Iranian government because we were told to by the International Court of Justice.

What we do reject—and constitutionally, I don't know how we can accept it—is the right of a non-American, non-elected group to tell us to change our foreign policy. There is no country in the world that will accept this. I think there was one other interesting one. Oh yes, "Why did the United States—the Reagan Administration— downplay the role of the United Nations by appointing Walters to the position without Cabinet rank?" They are wrong. I am a member of the Cabinet and this harasses me; I have to go to Washington twice a week from New York to attend Cabinet meetings. I am also 18th in line of succession out of 256 million people.

I would also point out that President Reagan is the only chief of state I know of who has been to the United Nations every year for the last eight years and made a speech there. Now I don't see how they could think we were downgrading the United Nations when President Reagan comes there every year and appoints me as the U.S. personal representative. I can't accept that as downgrading the United Nations. Oh, there is one little juicy new one that I staged the coup in the Fiji Islands because the Prime Minister wouldn't let us have nuclear ship visits. Well, it so happens that when I went there, he said, "By all means, bring the ships in." We had no reason to want to overthrow them. We didn't anyway. And I saw the colonel who conducted the plot. Yes, I did. The Fiji Islands are a very unusual country. Two-thirds of its armed forces are in the service of the United Nations in peacekeeping. When I got there, they said, "You have to go and see the armed forces." I said, "Why?" They said because two-thirds of their armed forces are serving with the United Nations. So I went there, and the briefing was given by the number two man in the service who is the colonel who staged the coup a few days later.

Fortunately for me, on the day of the coup I was giving a lunch in New York for the representatives of the Pacific countries: New Zealand, Australia, the Solomon Islands, Western Samoa, and Tonga. So if I did, it was by tremendous remote control. But there was no incentive to do it, he already told us he didn't mind us bringing in these ships. But anyway, my general comment when asked about all these achievements of mine is, simply this: On the seventh day I rested.

Two years ago when I went to Brazil, they had a press conference. They all came in with this coup of 1964. I said, "Okay, gentleman and ladies, in the United States we have a strange law, that no one else in the world has, called the Freedom of Information Law. You can get any American document more than 12 years old no matter how secret it is, except for a few very rare exceptions. The archives of Lyndon Johnson, who was president at the time, have been opened and I defy you to produce a single document which shows I was anything other than a well-informed witness. You know, if you study it fundamentally, what advice could an American colonel without troops give to Brazilian generals who deposed two presidents in the previous five years? The answer is not much.

This year I went back and I didn't get a single question on this subject. I said, "Ah, I see that despite my challenge, none of you have been able to produce a single document to support these allegations." There was some sheeping around and there were no questions on that subject. Since I heard the newspaper [Collegian] was a respected and reputed newspaper, I thought it well to draw their attention to the unreliability of some of their sources.

To get to the United Nations. The United Nations is going through a strange and extraordinary period, and extraordinary opportunity. For 40 years almost, it was a place of confrontation between the Soviet Union and the United States. If we said it was black, they said it was white; if we said it was white, they said it was black. Now that is no longer true.

The United Nations has two basic bodies in it, the Security Council of 15 members, including five permanent members: the Soviet Union, China, Britain, France and ourselves. These five have a veto on any resolution in the Security Council. And only the Security Council's resolutions are binding on the members. The General Assembly is composed of 159 countries. Now the Security Council is the one charged with the maintenance of peace. At the outset of the United Nations, the United States was charged with paying 40 percent of the share, because the rest of the world had just come through the war and was almost bankrupt. That was negotiated down to the present 25 percent by my predecessor, George Bush. And if I were 20 years younger, the fact that my predecessor is now the president-elect would give me ideas, but unfortunately, it is a little late in my career.

Until recently, there was a great deal of irresponsibility in the United Nations, particularly on the administrative side. What troubled us was the fact that there was a budget which was preposterous. Let me give you an example of what sort of thing disturbed us. Two years ago in Ethiopia when 1,000 people a day were dying of hunger, they voted to build a $73 million conference center in Abu Dabi, when people were dying in the streets outside. Ethiopia is a communist state: Lenin's in the main square, and there were sickles and hammers. But that year the United States gave Ethiopia more food than all the rest of the world put together. That sort of thing disturbed us. The fact that there were 83 assistant or undersecretaries of the United Nations, and earning very large salaries, disturbed us.

There were a number of things that disturbed us about the way the place was run, and about most of them, the Soviet Union, which was then the second largest contributor, agreed with us. So a board of 18 distinguished citizens from 18 different countries was appointed to suggest reforms.

The United States decided to withhold 20 percent of its contribution until that reform was achieved as a form of bringing pressure on them to do so. This group of 18 made a series of recommendations which have now been carried out. We've gotten the top level jobs dropped from 83 to 60; we've gotten a 15 percent personnel cut; we've got a budget that has to be adopted by consensus; and we've gotten various other things that we wanted to get. So the administration has paid out about two-thirds of our dues for the last two years.

Now, you understand the administration can't pay money unless authorized by Congress, and Congress has refused to authorize us to pay more than $144 million of our $200 million contribution. But we have recognized the debt, and we are drawing up a plan to pay them. I, myself, was always in favor and always recommended to both the administration and the Congress that we pay these dues. The other day when I handed a check for $120 million to the Secretary General, I said, "Mr. Secretary General, if you see any blood stains on this check, they're type O, Rh negative, and it's my blood." We will pay these things. We have acknowledged the debt and we will pay it. I suggested at one time that if we're not going to pay why don't we negotiate a lower percentage, and absolutely no one would hear of that, which is an encouraging sign that everybody intends to pay it.

I think the United Nations, which was founded to prevent the recurrence of the scourge of war, had not done this until very recently. Now, because of what has happened in the Soviet Union, there has been a difference in this. I meet with my Soviet, Chinese, British, and French colleagues about once a week, and we discuss anything under the sun, and we discuss it with great frankness, and there is none of this language of this sort of "business of the blood-sucking vampires of Wall Street sucking the last drop of blood from the veins of the toiling masses of the Third World." The North Koreans came and made a speech like that, and I said to my Soviet colleague, "What do you think of that?" He said, "It sounds like 1960. We don't talk like that any more." And, in fact, it's—I find it hard to believe—it's the same place I came to three years ago.

Now how did this come about? It came about because an intelligent man like Mr. Gorbachev understood that his system wasn't working. It came about because he understood that he desperately needs access to Western technology—and I include the Japanese—and he cannot get it by smuggling or espionage. Let me give you a case. Nine years ago the Russians purchased from an American the manual of one of our reconnaissance satellites operating on a completely new non-photographic principle. Seven years later they put up a crude copy that didn't work very well. They got a computer through some illegal deal.

It takes them five years to copy it. Retroengineering is not easy, taking the thing apart and then building others. I remember when I was a kid, I had a teddy bear, and when I pressed on his stomach his eyes lit up, and eventually I wore out the battery, and I tried retroengineering. I cut open the teddy bear and I put in a new battery, but I couldn't get all the sawdust back in and that was the end of the teddy bear. They have run into this problem. Gorbachev understands that.

The Soviet Union is the only major nation in the world that has a non-convertible currency. Anybody else's currency can be converted into other currencies. The Soviet Union, if you go there, they'll charge you a $1.80 for a ruble. If you're brave and are prepared to smuggle some in, you can buy them at 25 cents apiece in Switzerland. So Mr. Gorbachev, who is an intelligent man, realized that his economy is in chaos, that the socialist idea has collapsed. He isn't prepared to tell them that yet, because it takes some time to break the news to them slowly.

When you go into the Soviet delegation in New York, you enter this darkened room with a bust of Lenin and a single light on it, and bowl of red carnations in front of it. It's an ersatz religion, and how do you tell the people that the God they believed in has failed? I was in Bulgaria—would you believe with this past—I was invited to the Soviet Union, to Bulgaria, to Poland, to Czechoslovakia and to Hungary, this kind of a monster? I was the first American representative to the United Nations ever invited there. And I must tell you this amusing incident: When I was there once, Columnist Bill Satire wrote a column attacking me fiercely, and my Soviet colleague came up to me and he said, "That was a terrible attack of Safire's." And I said it was not nearly as bad as what Tass has been putting out about me." "Oh," he said, "that was before we knew you."

Nevertheless, I was still the first American permanent representative of the United Nations ever to be invited to Hungary, to be invited to Bulgaria, to be invited to Czechoslovakia, to be invited to Poland. They're not as worried about me as some of these people are.

A couple of years ago I went to see Fidel Castro, and Fidel Castro said, "If you've come here to threaten me, you should know that I've been threatened by every American president since Kennedy, but I know how your country is run, and I know that none of your Congresses is ever going to let any of your presidents do to me what they would like to do to me." And he said, "You know, we have one thing at least in common." And I said, "What's that, Mr. President?" He said, "We're both pupils of the Jesuits." I said, "Oh, but there's a deep difference." He said, "What's that?" I said, "I remain fidel," which means faithful in Spanish. He looked at me, and he shook his head sadly, and he said, "What a pity you're on the other side."

But anyway, one of the vital functions of the United Nations—it's not the world government or the future of mankind or anything—is as an enormously useful forum. The Soviets could not give in to us over Afghanistan, but they could take note of the repeated resolutions of the United Nations, voted by something like 125-19, telling them to get out. So it gives them a face-saving way of getting out without yielding to the United States. Exactly the same with the Iranians. When the unfortunate incident of the Iranian airplane shoot-down occurred, the Iranians came to New York convinced they would find 20 nations ready to sponsor a resolution to condemn the United States. When they found nobody, not the Soviet Union, not any of the Eastern Block countries, not any of the Third World, they suddenly realized how lonely they were, how isolated they were. And at that point I asked Vice President Bush to come there to state our opposition. Sometimes Mr. Schultz states it, sometimes the president, sometimes the vice president. He told them that we were going to stay the course, that we would not allow the expansion of the conflict into the countries of the Arabian Peninsula, and that we would maintain our naval presence. Three days later, after one year's delay, they finally accepted the United Nations resolution calling for a cease fire. Now I received a letter from a lady during that time, and she said, "I used to be a Republican, but I'm not anymore. I was disgusted at the way George Bush came and upstaged you at the United Nations." And I wrote back, and said, "Dear Lady, he came at my earnest entreaty, because I felt his voice would have much more impact on them than mine." She wrote back and said, "I registered."

The United Nations is about to conduct a plebiscite in the Western Sahara. Now the U.S. couldn't conduct a plebiscite in the Western Sahara; the United Nations can, and I think we will shut down that war fairly soon. I think in Angola we will reach a solution. There was some mention of my support for Jonas Savimbi during the time I was deputy director of Central Intelligence. That was what I was instructed to do by my government, and that is what I believed in, and the government today believes we should support Savimbi until we get national reconciliation. In Africa the real facts are tribal. And Savimbi's tribe represents 45 percent of the people of Angola. We are urging them to achieve a government of national reconciliation. But, of course, unfortunately, it is not in the tradition of any Marxist government to share power with any other party, much less alternate in power with any other party.

Nevertheless, I think we are going to see peace there. Now there's much talk of U.S.' and South African aid to Savimbi, and I would say Savimbi, from all sources abroad, has probably received $200 million. The Angolan government gets $3 billion a year from the U.S.S.R., the Soviets have given Angola more tanks this year than South Africa has in its inventory, and they still can't win the war.

As far as I know, we have not given Savimbi any tanks, nor have the South Africans, nor has any of the other African countries that are helping him. They help him quietly, but they don't tell it publicly. It's sort of like when we bombed Libya, all the Arab countries voted against us, and then lined up to thank me for doing it. Then you understand, Arab solidarity: they had to publicly go against us. And, of course, as you've noticed, Mr. Kaddafi has been quite quiet since then, except that he's now building a poison gas factory, and we have to see what we will do and how the world handles that.

Now in a number of things we've had big agreements. We've had agreements to abolish chemical warfare. On January 7 we will have a conference in Paris, and I am confident that a resolution condemning the use of chemical warfare will pass by 159 votes out of 159. The United States for 17 years unilaterally abandoned the manufacture of chemical agents. The United States was the only nation which banned the shipping to Iran or Iraq of what we call the precursors, the materials from which poison gas is made. They're exactly the same as are used for insecticides. The others wanted to do the business, we didn't. It's like South Africa: the United States isn't in favor of sanctions. I would like to point out that the United States applied sanctions to South Africa prohibiting the sale of military or police equipment to the government of South Africa seven years before the United Nations thought of it.

We don't believe in total sanctions, because we believe the only place a young black South African can get the kind of technical training that will make him competitive in the freer South Africa tomorrow is by working for a foreign company. And when the foreign companies go, he's going back to manual labor, and we don't think that's in the interest of the black community in South Africa.

Not because we like them. We are the fifth largest black power in the world. Only Nigeria, Brazil, Ethiopia, and Zaire have more black people than we do. We are the fifth largest Hispanic country in the world. Only Mexico, Spain, Argentina, and Colombia have more Hispanic speaking people than we do. You know, if we're so bad, how come two years ago we had to amnesty 20 million illegal immigrants? People tell you what they really believe with their feet. Nobody's fighting to get out of the United States. An awful lot of people are fighting to get in.

I must tell you that one of the things I regret is the United States is the only country outside of Japan—industrialized country in the world—where you can get a high school or a college diploma without a foreign language. The only two. And in a world that is growing constantly smaller, that is putting us at a grave disadvantage politically, economically, in a competitive business sense, or any other way.

Shortly after I got to the United Nations, the Soviet undersecretary in charge of the Security Council was replaced by another Soviet. And I stood up to make the speech of farewell to them. I was the president of the Security Council, and everybody had their translation microphones off. But when I started out in Russian there was a mad scramble for earphones. And the United Nations Secretary had sent me a little note and said, "You are the first American delegate ever to speak in Russian at the United Nations in the 45 years of that organization's existence." So, as I say, we are presented with a unique opportunity; not just the Soviet Union, but the whole socialist block is in some confusion.

I was in West Africa recently. Three presidents who had been Marxists, who had become Marxists when they were young students in Paris, said to me, "I became a Marxist at 17, I came back here, I became president, I applied this idea, and it doesn't work, and I'm totally disoriented. I don't know what to do next." Now if you look at the African countries that didn't, like Senegal, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Kenya, and others, you find a situation that is entirely different.

One of the problems we have in the United Nations is that of the 159 countries there, there are about 44 democracies. We are a tiny minority in the General Assembly, and this is one of the problems with which we have to contend. But nevertheless, you don't get the same kind of confrontation, you get discussion. And talking to my Soviet colleagues, the most interesting thing I get is personal opinions for the first time. "How do you feel about what's going on in your country?" One of them said to me, "Do you know how long we've been waiting for this to happen?" Another one said, "He's [Gorbachev] going too fast, he's going to get overthrown." And the third one said, "He's going to fail."

I said, "Why do you say he's going to fail?" He said, "Russians are not used to being asked politely to reform. They are used to being told in no uncertain terms, 'Reform, goddamn it, reform.' " And he said, "He hasn't told them that." "Well, he has told them a little more so since the defenestration of Mr. Gromyko and others.

And another thing, Russians will tell you these kind of stories. One of them said to me, "You know, we have the tallest building in the world." I said, "You don't, the tallest building in the world is in Chicago." They said, "No, the tallest building in the world is the KGB building near the Beltway in Moscow." I said, "How can you say that?" They said, "From the third floor you can see Siberia." Another one they told me which I enjoyed was, one day Gorbachev decided he was going to drive home himself, so he said to the driver, "You get in the back, I'm going to drive." So the driver got in the back and he was driving down—he was going too fast. Two motorcycle policemen pulled him over. One of them stayed in back to watch, the other one went up to the car, and when he came back to the first policeman, the first policeman said, "Did you give him a ticket?" He said, "No." He said, "Why not? Who was in the car?" He said, "I don't know, but Gorbachev was driving for him."

When we were working on the Gulf, one of them said to me, "I suppose when we finally get peace in the Gulf you will say glory to God in Arabic. And I said, "No, personally, I will say Our Father, who Art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name.' " He picked me up and went right on to the end. I said, "Oh you know it?" He said, "Everybody in Russia knows it." I said, "How does everybody know it?" He said, "Everybody has mama." So, you know, I think there is a tremendous positive move.

How do we help and encourage Gorbachev without giving his enemies ammunition? You know, one of the most dangerous things is to give too much support to someone, because you drown them in American holy water, and you only need about two inches of American holy water to drown. The only holy water you need less of to drown in is German; you only need one inch of that. And not long ago the German foreign minister, Mr. Genscher, made a great speech saying that Gorbachev was absolutely fantastic, terrific, we should do everything for him, he was a man of peace, love, and brotherhood and everything else. And I can just hear Gorbachev's enemies in the Kremlin saying, "You hear that? Even the Germans like him."

The problem for us is how to deal with them to encourage him without giving his enemies ammunition. And one of the reasons we've been able to deal with him, I think, is the contrast—and this is a partisan political view, but after all, you hear I was appointed by Mr. Reagan—that our economy is not working badly. Our gross national produce is larger than that of Germany, Japan, and the Soviet Union put together who represent half a billion people. I think the fact that we hung tough. The Germans asked us to put missiles in—the Europeans asked us to put missiles in to match the Soviet ones. The Soviets said if you put one missile in, there will never be any arms negotiations. We put them in. They then invited Mr. Reagan to go to Reykjavik, and in Reykjavik they said, "Unless you give up SDI, there will be no further negotiations." The Soviets have been working on SDI for 19 years. They've got 19,000 people working on this. We've been working on it for four years, and we're way ahead of them. They said, "If you won't give that up, there'll be no negotiations." There were negotiations, because we hung tough. There were negotiations, and for the first time eliminated the whole category of weapons, the theatre missiles.

But there's still an extraordinary asymmetry in Europe. Facing the 40 divisions of NATO in Europe are the 144 divisions of the Warsaw Pact. Facing the 15,000 tanks of NATO, there are 46,000 Soviet and Warsaw Pact tanks. Facing the 3,000 frontline combat aircraft of NATO, there are 6,000 frontline combat aircraft of the Warsaw Pact.

I think Mr. Gorbachev wants peace, I think he wants a breathing period, and I think that we can have successful negotiations, but you don't have successful negotiations with the Soviets by buckling under. You have successful negotiations by recognizing that they have national interests that you have to respect, but that you have national interests and you have allies that you have to respect.

So I see an extraordinary opportunity to do something really positive and to help the Russian people move toward a government that will eventually let them decide their own destiny. You see, the difference between communist dictatorships and non-communist dictatorships is that the communist 12dictatorships have solved the problem of succession. When the dictator dies they have a collegial government for awhile, until one of the colleagues becomes more collegiate than the other.

And then you have a standard dictatorship. The dictatorships of Franco, Salazar, the Greek colonels, the Argentine colonels, the Venezuelan colonels, everywhere in the world have eventually been replaced by democracy. No Soviet regime, no communist regime has ever been replaced except by force, and that is something we should bear in mind. The other day we had this extraordinary spectacle in Chile of a military dictator conducting a referendum which he lost. I know of no case where any communist dictator has ever come and conducted a referendum in which he got less than ninety-eight percent of the vote.

So while right wing dictatorships are reprehensible you can have some hope, but with left wing dictatorships there is no hope on the basis of history so far.

Of course, eventually they will be washed onto the shore by the wave of history, which they think is on their side. I once said to a Soviet colleague, "You know, the fundamental difference between your country and mine is that in my country the past is fixed and the future is flexible. In your country the future is fixed and the past is flexible."

Another Soviet said to me, "We both belong to great countries; mine's on the way up, but yours is on the way down." And I said to him, "When you've walked on the moon, come talk to me. Twelve of my compatriots have walked on the moon, none of yours have." So we left that one there. But as I say, we have an extraordinary opportunity if we play it right. If we play it right, we can bring about a new world in which you will live without the daily threat of war. I, myself, do not believe in a major nuclear war. I'm one of the few people presently active in the U.S. government who has seen nuclear explosions. I've seen eight. Three of them hydrogen, five of them nuclear— atomic—and that is a very sobering experience. I was talking to the chairman of the Soviet Joint Chiefs of Staff, and he said, "I've seen them too, and it is a very sobering experience."

I have a rather closer illustration than that. I know a young security officer who just got married, and she married a federal marshall, and I said, "Well, I wish you a long and happy marriage." She said, "It's gotta be." I said, "Why does it have to be?" She said, "We've both got our guns." It has to be happy.

We still have the tough problems of the Israeli-Arab quarrel in Cyprus. If we're able to solve the ones I described to you, we will have regional problems. I do not believe we will have a major confrontation with the Soviet Union. Maybe in the lifetime of the youngest of you here, but certainly not most of you. They have discovered that they've got to change their system if they're to be competitive. Right now, except in weaponry and arms, the Soviet Union is the most advanced of the underdeveloped countries. Mr. Gorbachev understands that; he would like to be one of the most advanced of the developed countries.

One of his problems, and it's lying ahead, is a tough one. When he starts closing down the inefficient factories, the factories that produce shoddy goods that won't sell abroad, he's going to have ten million unemployed in a country which has always boasted since the Revolution that they had no unemployment. And that's when he's going to need his armed forces like never before.

So you will see many changes in the Soviet Union, but you will not see, in my opinion, much change in the Soviet military budget. The Soviet general said to me, "When that time that I just described comes, he will need us more than any general secretary of the Party has needed us since the Germans stood twelve miles from Red Square." So that should not be the sole barometer. The barometer should be what else happens, what he does with the Eastern European countries and how he behaves generally in the world.

We no longer see these frenzied efforts to project Soviet power into Vietnam, into Angola, into Central America. I can't prove this, but I'm convinced that the Soviets have told the Cubans, the Angolans, the Nicaraguans, and their various other client states: "We will not throw you to the wolves, but we can no longer give you aid on the scale on which we've been giving it to you." Five billion dollars a year to Cuba, three billion dollars to Angola, a billion and a half to Nicaragua. We're quarreling over whether to give the Contras $20 million. They're giving a billion and a half a year. And they're not going to be able to keep that up; it's just too difficult for them.

And that is why I'm fairly optimistic about what I see ahead of us. I think there's going to be—there'll obviously be quarrels and difficulties, and there will be posturing, just as you are seeing between the Iranians and Iraqis: "I'm not going to buy that, I will resume the war first." And the Soviets say, "I'm going to suspend my withdrawals from Afghanistan." They won't. In Afghanistan they found a situation which they could have avoided if they'd read Kipling. When writing to the British tommie, he said, "Save the last bullet for yourself before you fall into the hands of the Afghan women." And that is a painful truth that they've had to learn the hard way.

In my opinion, they made the decision for peace. They will withdraw from Afghanistan because Afghanistan poisons their relationship with China. They would like to get back closer to China, and I think they will, and I'm not particularly alarmed by it, because they'll never go back to where they were unconditional allies. The Chinese have stated there were three obstacles to rapproachment with the Soviet Union. One, Afghanistan; two, Vietnam; three, the presence of Soviet garrisons along the Chinese border. They've eliminated one. In my opinion, in the next six months they will eliminate Vietnam as an issue; then they could not put the garrisons anywhere but on the Chinese border, because the Trans-Siberian Railway runs right along the Chinese border.

In the last five years they have built a parallel line 250 miles north of the Trans-Siberian, and they can move the garrisons back to that. There are very few roads in the Soviet Union. When we were looking for their missile sites in the beginning all we had to do was look along the railroad lines, and there they were. They couldn't have any means of keeping them away from the railroad lines since road transport, particularly in Siberia, is practically non-existent. So now they can answer that third Chinese objection, which is the presence of the garrisons along the border.

I see better party relations between them as they struggle to save a discredited system. And it's interesting to watch how different it is in the two countries. In China there's a long entrepreneurial tradition of somebody owning a little store, and his brother and his sister and his uncle and his aunt and his niece work in the store. There is nothing like that in Russia.

In the old days you worked for a big landlord, and then, after that, you worked for the biggest landlord of all, the state. Now the Chinese have gone much further than the Soviets in introducing the profit motive, personal incentive, and ownership of land, but they haven't gone nearly as far as the Soviets in introducing tolerance of differing opinions. Also, what concerns me a little bit is that the Deng Xiao Ping in China has a much broader base of support for what he's doing than Gorbachev does in the Soviet Union. After all, he's only got four members of the Politburo that he put there.

You know, working at the United Nations has a future. The new director of the KGB was a Soviet delegate to the United Nations in 1973. As I said, so was George Bush. So it's an area where there's a future for you if you're young enough.

Maybe I make it sound too easy. It isn't going to be easy. There's going to be a lot of bumps along the road, and we will get a good situation if we don't preemptively cave in on anything. There's a lot of complaint about the defense costs. We're spending seven percent of our Gross National Product on defense. We were spending under President Kennedy, against a much weaker Soviet Union, nine percent of our Gross National Product and no one complained about it then. Expensive as it is, it's an awful lot cheaper. To give an example, our $200 million year dues to the United Nations is half the cost of keeping our Naval presence in the Persian Gulf. So it's a good deal more economical to find political solutions for these things, and I think there's going to be an increasing move in that direction. No one's ready to give up their national sovereignty yet, not us, not them, not anybody, and I don't suggest that we do, but I suggest that we use the United Nations intelligently. We can talk to everybody there.

When the United States decided to reestablish diplomatic relations with Mongolia; I negotiated with the Mongolians in New York. And then they invited me to Mongolia. And I went there in a U.S. Air Force plane, and it was the first U.S. Air Force plane in history ever to land in Mongolia. At Beijing my pilot asked the Chinese—there's no airline between Beijing and outer Mongolia; you have to go in through the Soviet Union— what were the frequencies of the navigational aids? He said, "There were none, just follow the railroad. It will lead you." The weather was good and it led us. And we arrived in Mongolia and they took me to see a statue of Stalin. The Mongolian who vas accompanying me around said in a low voice, "Take a good look at it; the next time you come here, it won't be here." So that's an indication that even in outer Mongolia changes are coming.

I remember years ago I used to say to my Soviet colleagues "Spring is coming. You have the longest winter in the world, but spring is coming." And spring is coming, so we've got to stay the course, we've got to maintain a tough position to get the kind of agreements that will not give them a special advantage. We've got to be reasonable and understand that they have national interests and they have friends and allies with whom they have to maintain relationships. But I would say that we have a less tense situation than we've had at any time since the end of World War II. And, they know our system is working, and they know theirs isn't.

I was in Bulgaria the other day, and the general secretary to the Bulgarian Communist Party, who has been there longer than anybody else in Eastern Europe, said to me, "Well, you can say what you like, but the Marxist system is the most generous." I said, "General Secretary, it's the most generous, the most noble, the most unselfish. It has only one drawback. If it doesn't work in the largest and richest country in the world, the Soviet Union, how can you expect it to work here? He said, "I know, perestroika is coming." He didn't say it with any enthusiasm, I might add.

But anyway, the message I have for you is the United Nations is finally doing that for which it was created, stopping wars. It's finally become a place where you don't just scream abuse at one another, where you try and meet and work out solutions, and you try and find a way to solve problems without the loss of life. None of this may be in keeping with this stuff [ed. Collegian article], but it's real.

Thank you very much.

The transcription of this Landon Lecture was accomplished through the cooperation of the Kansas State University Libraries and the Office of Mediated Education.

Bottom Navigation Bar
Contact us at: (785) 532-5566 or 1-800-432-8222