158. Editorial Note

On June 15, 1983, Secretary of State George Shultz testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee concerning U.S.-Soviet relations. Committee Chair Charles Percy (R–Illinois) chaired the hearings and began by welcoming Shultz. He then stated that he believed this would “be among the most important hearings that I have participated in in the years that I have been on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.” He continued, “The subject of these hearings, the United States and the Soviet Union, in an atomic and nuclear age, is one of the most important subjects presented to mankind and to history. How do these two so-called superpowers respond and react with the kind of power that they possess? How can we prevent miscalculation? How can we prevent what so many young people are so cynical about occurring in their lifetimes, the possibility of a nuclear war?”

Before Shultz began his statement, Percy called upon the ranking minority member of the Committee Senator Claiborne Pell (D–Rhode Island) for any comments he “would like to make.” Pell responded, in part: “Now, in my mind, the peril that we face is greater now than it was 2½ years ago, when this administration took over. I hope I am wrong, and I hope that your testimony will show that I am wrong, but I think a very increasing crescendo of administration rhetoric, although somewhat subdued in the last few weeks, has alarmed people. Also, the departure of people who really, while of a conservative cast, believed strongly [Page 628] and vigorously in arms control, like Gene Rostow, or Tom Enders, who believed in the two-track approach in Central America, has made us concerned about what the real direction of the administration is.

“Again, I hope the testimony and the facts, which are most important, will show that our situation is not worsening from the viewpoint of the possibility of war.”

Percy then directed Shultz to offer his statement. Shultz thanked the Committee and stated: “I appreciate the opportunity to meet with you and discuss our approach to United States-Soviet relations in the context of our broader foreign policy. As you have suggested, this has all sorts of dimensions to it that weigh on people’s minds. And it is, of course, a subject that I have thought about a great deal.

“The President has not only taken the time to talk with me about this, but has read through this testimony and made a few suggestions, which I found it possible to accept, and has signed off on the testimony. I feel very confident in saying that I am speaking not only for myself, but for the President in this statement.

“The management of our relations with the Soviet Union is of utmost importance. That relationship touches virtually every aspect of our international concerns and objectives, political, economic, and military, and every part of the world.

“We must defend our interests and values against a powerful Soviet adversary that threatens both. And we must do so in a nuclear age, in which a global war would even more thoroughly threaten those interests and values. As President Reagan pointed out on March 31: ‘We must both defend freedom and preserve the peace. We must stand true to our principles and our friends while preventing a holocaust.’ It is, as he said, ‘one of the most complex moral challenges ever faced by any generation.’

“We and the Soviets have sharply divergent goals and philosophies of political and moral order; these differences will not soon go away. Any other assumption is unrealistic. At the same time, we have a fundamental common interest in the avoidance of war. This common interest impels us to work toward a relationship between our nations that can lead to a safer world for all mankind.

“But a safer world will not be realized through good will. Our hopes for the future must be grounded in a realistic assessment of the challenge we face and in a determined effort to create the conditions that will make their achievement possible. We have made a start. Every postwar American President has come sooner or later to recognize that peace must be built on strength. President Reagan has long recognized this reality.

“In the past 2 years this Nation—the President in partnership with the Congress—has made a fundamental commitment to restoring its [Page 629] military and economic power and moral and spiritual strength. And having begun to rebuild our strength, we now seek to engage the Soviet leaders in a constructive dialog—a dialog through which we hope to find political solutions to outstanding issues.

“This is the central goal we have pursued since the outset of this administration. We do not want to—and need not—accept as inevitable the prospect of endless, dangerous confrontation with the Soviet Union. For if we do, then many of the great goals that the United States pursues in world affairs—peace, human rights, economic progress, national independence—will also be out of reach. We can—and must—do better.”

Shultz explained that the remainder of his testimony would focus on the “challenge posed by the Soviet Union’s international behavior” and the “strategy which that challenge requires of us,” the “steps this administration has taken to implement this strategy,” and, finally, “the specific issues that make up the agenda for United States-Soviet dialog and negotiation. Regarding this latter point, Shultz asserted: “In this dialog, our agenda is as follows: To seek improvement in Soviet performance on human rights, which you emphasized, Mr. Chairman, in your opening statement; to reduce the risk of war, reduce armaments through sound agreements, and ultimately ease the burdens of military spending; to manage and resolve regional conflicts; and to improve bilateral relations on the basis of reciprocity and mutual interest.

“This is a rigorous and comprehensive agenda, and our approach to it is principled, practical, and patient. We have pressed each issue in a variety of forums, bilateral and multilateral. We have made clear that the concerns we raise are not ours alone, but are shared by our allies and friends in every region of the globe. We have made clear that each of our concerns is serious. The Soviets know that we do not intend to abandon any of them merely because agreement cannot be reached quickly, or because agreement has been reached on others.

“Let me briefly review the state of our dialog in each of these areas.

“Human rights is a major issue on our agenda. To us it is a matter of real concern that Soviet emigration is at its lowest level since the 1960’s, and that Soviet constriction of emigration has coincided with a general crackdown against all forms of internal dissent. The Helsinki monitoring groups have all been dispersed and their leaders have been imprisoned or expelled from the country. And the Soviet Union’s first independent disarmament group has been harassed and persecuted.

“We address such questions both multilaterally and bilaterally. In such forums as the U.N. Human Rights Commission, the International Labor Organization, and especially the Review Conference of CSCE—where Max Kampelman is doing a truly outstanding job—we have made clear that human rights cannot be relegated to the margins of [Page 630] international politics. Our Soviet interlocutors have a different view; they seek to dismiss human rights as a ‘tenth-rate issue,’ not worthy of high-level attention.

“But our approach will not change. Americans know that national rights and individual rights cannot realistically be kept separate. We believe, for example, that the elements of the postwar European ‘settlement’ that were adopted by the parties to the Helsinki Final Act in 1975 form an integral whole; no one part will survive alone. Guided by this conviction, we and our allies have held at the Madrid Review Conference that movement in one ‘basket’ of this settlement—such as the convening of a European disarmament conference—must be matched by progress in other ‘baskets,’ especially human rights.

“We insist on this balance because we believe that international obligations must be taken seriously by the governments that assume them. But there is also a deeper reason that directly concerns the question of security.

“In Europe, as elsewhere, governments that are not at peace with their own people are unlikely to be on good terms with their neighbors. The only significant use of military force on the continent of Europe since 1945 has been by the Soviet Union against its East European ‘allies.’ As long as this unnatural relationship continues between the U.S.S.R. and its East European neighbors, it is bound to be a source of instability in Europe.

“We have been just as concerned about human rights issues on a bilateral as on a multilateral basis. The need for steady improvement of Soviet performance in the most important human rights categories is as central to the Soviet-American dialog as any other theme. Sometimes we advance this dialog best through public expressions of our concerns, at other times through quiet diplomacy. What counts, and the Soviets know this, is whether we see results.

“Let me turn to arms control, our second agenda item. We believe the only arms control agreements that count are those that provide for real reductions, equality, verifiability, and enhanced stability in the East-West balance. Success in our negotiations will not, of course, bring East-West competition to an end. But sustainable agreements will enable us to meet the Soviet challenge in a setting of greater stability and safety.

“The United States is now applying these principles in an ambitious program of arms control negotiations including INF [intermediate range nuclear forces], START [strategic arms reduction talks], MBFR [mutual and balanced force reductions], and the ongoing discussions in the U.N. Committee on Disarmament in Geneva. If we can reach a balanced agreement in the CSCE at Madrid, we would be prepared to participate also in a conference on disarmament in Europe.

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“No previous administration has put so many elements of the East-West military equation on the negotiating table. You are aware of the U.S. position in the various talks, so I need not go into great detail. I will, however, touch on a few main points.

“In the strategic arms reduction talks, the United States has focused on the most destabilizing strategic systems, land-based ballistic missiles. Our objective is to strengthen deterrence while enhancing strategic stability through reductions. The President has proposed reductions in ballistic missile warheads by one-third. In presenting a comprehensive proposal, he has indicated that all strategic weapons are ‘on the table.’ Although our respective positions are far apart, the Soviets apparently accept the proposition that an agreement must involve significant reductions. This is progress.

“We have recently undertaken a full review of the U.S. position, which included an assessment of the Scowcroft Commission’s recommendations and some thoughtful suggestions from the Congress. One week ago, the President announced that he is willing to raise the deployed missile ceiling in accordance with the Scowcroft recommendations. He also announced that he has given our negotiators new flexibility to explore all appropriate avenues for achieving reductions. It is now up to the Soviet Union to reciprocate our flexibility.

“We have also tabled a draft agreement on confidence-building measures that calls for exchange of information and advance notification of ballistic missile launches and major exercises. We want to move forward promptly to negotiate separate agreements on these very important measures, which would enhance stability in a crisis as well as symbolizing the common interest in preventing war. Yet another effort to prevent misperception of military activities on either side, and thus to lower the risk of war, is the President’s recent proposal to expand and upgrade crisis communications between Washington and Moscow. Here, too, we hope for early agreement.

“In the negotiations on intermediate range nuclear forces, ‘equal rights and limits’ between the United States and the Soviet Union is one of our key principles. President Reagan’s proposal of November 1981 sought to achieve the complete elimination of those systems on each side about which the other has expressed the greatest concern, that is, longer range, land-based INF missiles.

“We still regard this as the most desirable outcome. Yet after more than a year of talks, the Soviets continue to resist this equitable and effective solution. In fact, their position has not substantially changed since it was first put forward nearly a year ago. The proposal made by Mr. Andropov last December would allow the Soviet Union to maintain its overwhelming monopoly of longer range INF missiles while prohibiting the deployment of even one comparable U.S. missile.

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“In an effort to break this stalemate, the President has proposed an interim agreement as a route to the eventual elimination of long-range INF systems. Under such an agreement, we would reduce the number of missiles we plan to deploy in Europe if the Soviet Union will reduce the total number of warheads it has already deployed to an equal level. This would result in equal limits for both sides on a global basis. Reflecting the concerns of our Asian allies and friends, we have made it clear that no agreement can come at their expense. We hope that in the current round of negotiations, the Soviets will move to negotiate in good faith on the President’s proposal, which was unanimously supported by our partners at the Williamsburg Summit.

“In the mutual and balanced force reduction talks in Vienna, NATO and the Warsaw Pact are discussing an agreement on conventional forces in Central Europe, the most heavily armed region of the world, where Warsaw Pact forces greatly exceed NATO’s.

“Last year the President announced a new Western position in the form of a draft treaty calling for substantial reductions to equal manpower levels. Although the Soviets and their allies have agreed to the principle of parity, which is progress, further progress has been prevented by inability to resolve disagreement over existing Warsaw Pact force levels and by problems of verification.

“In the 40-nation Committee on Disarmament in Geneva, the United States has introduced a far-reaching proposal for a comprehensive ban on chemical weapons, an agreement which would eliminate these terrible weapons from world arsenals. This initiative has been vigorously supported by our allies and friends, as well as many nonalined nations. Our emphasis on the importance of mandatory on-site inspections has been widely applauded. An independent, impartial verification system, observed by and responsive to all parties, is essential to create confidence that the ban is being respected.

“In other areas, we have proposed to the Soviet Union improvements in the verification provisions of two agreements to limit underground nuclear testing. So far the Soviet response has been negative. We have also initiated a dialog with the Soviets in one area where our respective approaches very often coincide: nuclear nonproliferation.

“We should not anticipate early agreement in any of these negotiations. The Soviets have their own positions, and they are tough, patient negotiators. But we believe that our positions are fair and evenhanded and that our objectives are realistic.

“Let me turn now to regional issues, which are the third item of our agenda and have historically been the matters that have most upset our relationship with the Soviet Union.

“Important as it is, arms control has not been and cannot be the dominant subject of our dialog with the Soviets. We must also address [Page 633] the threat to peace posed by the Soviet exploitation of regional instability and conflict. Indeed, these issues, arms control and political instability, are closely related. The increased stability that we try to build into the superpower relationship through arms control can be undone by irresponsible Soviet policies elsewhere. In our numerous discussions with the Soviet leadership, we have repeatedly expressed our strong interest in reaching understandings with the Soviets that would minimize superpower involvement in conflicts beyond their borders.

“The list of problem areas is formidable, but we have insisted that regional issues are central to progress. We have made clear our commitment to relieve repression and economic distress in Poland, to achieve a settlement in southern Africa, to restore independence to Afghanistan, to end the occupation of Kampuchea, and to halt Soviet and Cuban-supported subversion in Central America. In each instance, we have conveyed our views forcefully to the Soviets in an attempt to remove the obstacles that Soviet conduct puts in the way of resolving these problems.

“Last year, for example, Ambassador Hartman conducted a round of exploratory talks on Afghanistan between the United States and Soviet officials in Moscow. Any solution to the Afghanistan problem must meet four requirements: Complete withdrawal of Soviet forces, restoration of Afghanistan’s independent and nonalined status, formation of a government acceptable to the Afghan people, and honorable return of the refugees. This is not the view of the United States alone. These principles underlie the discussions now underway under the auspices of the U.N. Secretary General, which we support.

“On southern African problems, Assistant Secretary Crocker has held a number of detailed exchanges with his Soviet counterpart. Southern Africa has been a point of tension and periodic friction between the United States and the Soviet Union for many years. We want to see tensions in the area reduced. But this more peaceful future will not be achieved unless all parties interested in the region show restraint, external military forces are withdrawn, and Namibia is permitted to achieve independence. If the Soviets are at all concerned with the interests of Africans, they should have an equal interest in achieving these objectives.

“As in our arms control negotiations, we have made it absolutely clear to the Soviets in these discussions that we are not interested in cosmetic solutions. We are interested in solving problems fundamental to maintenance of the international order.

“It is also our view that Soviet participation in international efforts to resolve regional conflicts, in southern Africa or the Middle East, for example, depends on Soviet conduct. If the Soviets seek to benefit from tension and support those who promote disorder, they can hardly [Page 634] expect them to act responsibility merely because they gain a role. At the same time, we have also made it clear that we will not exploit, and in fact, are prepared to respond positively to Soviet restraint. The decision in each case is theirs.

“The final part of our agenda with the Soviets comprises economic and other bilateral relations. In our dialog, we have spelled out our view of these matters in a candid and forthright way. As we see it, economic transactions can confer important strategic benefits, and we must be mindful of the implications for our security. Therefore, as I have already indicated, we believe economic relations with the East deserve more careful scrutiny than in the past. But our policy is not one of economic warfare against the U.S.S.R. East-West trade in non-strategic areas, in the words of the NATO communique ‘conducted on the basis of commercially sound terms and mutual advantage, that avoids preferential treatment of the Soviet Union, contributes to constructive East-West relations.’

“Despite the strains of the past few years in our overall relationship, we have maintained the key elements in the structure for bilateral trade. We have recently agreed with the U.S.S.R. to extend our bilateral fisheries agreement for 1 year and have begun to negotiate a new long-term United States-Soviet grain agreement. Our grain sales are on commercial terms and are not made with Government-supported credits or guarantees of any kind.

“As for contacts between people, we have cut back on largely symbolic exchanges but maintain a framework of cooperation in scientific, technical, and humanitarian fields. A major consideration as we pursue such exchanges must be reciprocity. If the Soviet Union is to enjoy virtually unlimited opportunities for access to our free society, U.S. access to Soviet society must increase. We have made progress toward gaining Soviet acceptance of this principle, as is indicated by the airing in Moscow this past weekend of an interview with Deputy Secretary Ken Dam.

“Eight bilateral cooperative agreements are now in effect, and exchanges between the Academies of Science continue, as do exchanges of young scholars and Fulbright fellows. ‘America Illustrated’ magazine continues to be distributed in the Soviet Union in return for distribution here of ‘Soviet Life,’ in spite of the absence of a cultural exchanges agreement. Toward the private sector, we have maintained an attitude of neither encouraging nor discouraging exchanges, and a steady flow of tourists and conference participants goes on in both directions. The number of U.S. news bureaus in Moscow has actually increased in the last year.” (United States-Soviet Relations: Hearings Before the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, Ninety-Eighth Congress, First Session, June 15 and 16, 1983, Part 1, pages 1, 3–4, 11–16)