142. Editorial Note
On February 24, 1983, Secretary of State George Shultz delivered an address before the Southern Center for International Studies in Atlanta. Noting that the speech afforded him the “opportunity for me to use a wide-angle lens,” Shultz explained that while the “broad picture is ever in our mind,” the daily business of the Department of State “generally finds us using not the broad brush but the jeweler’s glass as we examine the myriad individual issues on which our foreign relations turn. So today I want to begin by opening the lens full scope. I will describe the fundamental tenets which underlie President Reagan’s foreign policy.[Page 551]
“Then I’d like to turn the lens down in two successive notches: first, a moderate turn to discuss the importance to our foreign policy of the more than 100 developing countries of the Third World—Asia, Africa, and South America.
“Finally, I plan to focus way down and—in this time of tight budgets—discuss the funds which the United States must expend to achieve its objectives. Contrary to public opinion, the currency of foreign affairs is not cookies. It takes resources—modest but sustained, applied credibly over time—to secure international peace, foster economic growth, and help insure the well-being of each of our citizens. But we’ll start with the broader view.
“Since his inauguration 2 years ago, President Reagan has sought to revitalize U.S. foreign policy. He is resolved to reduce a decade’s accumulation of doubt about the U.S. commitment and staying power. Our watchwords in doing this are four ideas:
“First, we start with realism.
“Second, we build with strength.
“Third, we stress the indispensable need to negotiate and to reach agreements.
“Fourth, we keep the faith. We believe that progress is possible even though the tasks are complex.
“Let me take each of these very briefly in turn. I’m very conscious of them, because as I get caught up in the day-to-day details of foreign policy and go over to the White House to discuss my current problems with the President, he has the habit of bringing me back to these fundamentals. And I believe they are truly fundamental.
“Realism. If we’re going to improve our world, we have to understand it. And it’s got a lot of good things about it; it’s got a lot of bad things about it. We have to be willing to describe them to ourselves. We have to be willing if we see aggression to call it aggression. We have to be willing if we see the use of chemical and biological warfare contrary to agreements to get up and say so and document the point. When we see persecution, we have to be willing to get up and say that’s the reality, whether it happens to be in a country that is friendly to us or not.
“When we look at economic problems around the world, we have to be able to describe them to ourselves candidly and recognize that there are problems. That’s where you have to start, if you’re going to do something about them. So, I think realism is an essential ingredient in the conduct of our foreign policy.
“Strength. Next, I believe is strength. We must have military strength, if we’re going to stand up to the problems that we confront around the world and the problems imposed on us by the military [Page 552] strength of the Soviet Union and the demonstrated willingness of the Soviet Union to use its strength without any compunction whatever.
“So, military strength is essential, but I think we delude ourselves if we don’t recognize—as we do, as the President does—that military strength rests on a strong economy; on an economy that has the capacity to invest in its future, believe in its future—as you do here in Atlanta; an economy that brings inflation under control and that stimulates the productivity that goes with adequate savings and investment and has given us the rising standard of living and remarkable economic development that our country has known. But more than that, we have to go back to our own beliefs and ideals and be sure that we believe in them. And there is no way to do that better than to live by them ourselves. So, we have to maintain our own self-confidence and our own will power and our own notion that we are on the right track to go with the strength in our economy and our military capability.
“Negotiation. Of course, beyond this, if we are realistic and we are strong, I believe it is essential that we also are ready to go out and solve problems, to negotiate with people, to try to resolve the difficulties that we see all around the world—not simply because in doing so we help the places where those difficulties are but because in doing so we also help ourselves, we further our own interests. So, negotiation and working out problems has got to be a watchword for us, and we do that all around the world. I think it is no exaggeration to say that the efforts of the United States resulted in saving the city of Beirut from complete destruction. We are active in trying to resolve difficulties in Kampuchea. We have called attention to the problems in Afghanistan. We’re working in Southern Africa in a most difficult situation to bring about a resolution of the Namibia issues, and so on around the world. But I like to think that the United States must be conceived of as part of the solution and not part of the problem. That’s where we want to be standing.
“Finally, if we can achieve these things, if we can be strong enough so that people must take us seriously, and put our ideas forward in a realistic manner, then we will be able to solve problems and have some competence to be successful, and, if we’re successful, certainly the world can be better.”
Shultz then discussed relations with the Third World and foreign aid before concluding his remarks: “Let me close by opening my lens back up and reverting to the fourth of the tenets which guide our conduct of foreign affairs: namely, our conviction that progress is possible. We Americans have lived for over 40 years in a tumultuous world in which we have pursued four basic goals:
“First, building world peace and deterring war—above all, nuclear war which would threaten human existence;[Page 553]
“Second, containing the influence of nations which are fundamentally opposed to our values and interests—notably the Soviet Union and its allies;
“Third, fostering a growing world economy and protecting U.S. access to free markets and critical resources; and
“Fourth, encouraging other nations to adopt principles of self-determination, economic freedom, and the rule of law which are the foundation stones of American society.
“In these endeavors, we have had some signal successes. Some formerly troubled countries of the world—for instance, the countries of East Asia—are now relatively strong and prosperous. Western Europe, a cockpit of warring nationalities for a century, has been at peace for 37 years. Progress has been made in fundamental areas affecting the mass of mankind: better health, longer life expectancy, more schooling, increased income. We have a chance in the coming year to make major strides in fashioning peace in the Middle East.
“Americans as a people are pragmatists, suspicious of grand assurances or easy promises. But I’m convinced that if we persevere—proceeding realistically, backed by strength, fully willing to negotiate and search for agreement—we will be able to brighten the future for ourselves and for others throughout the world.” (Department of State Bulletin, April 1983, pages 25–28)