330. Address by Secretary of State Shultz1

The Ecology of International Change

Next week we Americans will carry on, once again, one of history’s most remarkable developments: our nation’s electoral rite of self-renewal. It happens every 4 years, rain or shine.

Every presidential campaign season leads each of us, whatever our politics, to reflect on our society and our nation’s role in the world. This election year, more than almost any in recent recollection, requires our most serious attention. Why? Because we have come to a turning point in world affairs. Enormous changes are underway. As Shakespeare said:

There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; . . . on such a sea we are now afloat, and we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.

We have reached this moment in history not because of fate or forces beyond our control but because our own drive and creativity and commitment to freedom and openness brought us here and brought us success. Just look at what has been achieved.

  • The shadow of a third world war has faded; for the first time ever, nuclear weapons have been reduced.
  • The once-small handful of embattled democracies find themselves growing in strength and number and viewed around the world as the wave of the future.
  • The tide of Marxism—and with it, communism as the model for development—is a tide that is going out.
  • National economies—once thought destined to be buffeted by chance, disaster, and bitter rivalry—are finding new ways to cooperate and prosper in openness.

And, most significantly for the future, we have entered a new era of revolutionary change.

  • Knowledge, and its rapid transmission as information, has become the key to progress; and
  • A global process of economic integration is underway, with little regard for national borders and beyond the capacity of governments to control in familiar ways.

All these changes are in our interest—for Americans, as de Tocqueville noted 150 years ago, are eager for change and confident in their ability to master the future.

It is American political, scientific, technological, and commercial creativity and dynamism that has brought us to this point. This is our kind of world, and it presents our kind of challenge. It is a picture of stunning success. But with it have come enormous complexities, uncertainties, and difficulties.

About a year ago, at the World Affairs Council of Washington, I addressed the scientific and technological dimensions of the problems we now face [Department of State Bulletin, January 1988, pp. 3–7].2 Six months ago, at an annual MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology] meeting, I spoke about the need to maintain American leadership in the new global economy [Department of State Bulletin, June 1988, pp. 18–22].3 Needless to say, these are “must reading” for all serious and responsible Americans. I just happen to have brought copies with me, which you can pick up at the back of the room today. We have called these speeches “Global Trends I,” and “Global Trends II.” You are now about to get “Global Trends III.”

New Political Complexities

So this is the third and final installment. It deals with the new political complexities we face as a result of our recent years of accomplishment.

I call this “the ecology of international change.” The relatively recent concept of ecology teaches us that our natural environment is [Page 1525] interrelated. Beneficial activity in one location can create unexpected problems in another. We increased dependence on coal and oil when people grew concerned about nuclear energy, but now we know that fossil fuels are producing the gases that lead to global warming problems.

We are beginning to realize that we do not live in a world of totally distinct phenomena. It is not a world of yes or no, up or down, this or that. In the past, Americans tended to believe that war and peace were two different situations: We were either in a happy state of tranquility, or we were embarked on a crusade for all-out victory, after which we hoped to retire into inward looking innocence, spurning “power politics” and all that represents.

In this decade, I believe Americans have come to recognize that we are not likely to face either an era of total war or of total peace. Nor does the future hold either an era of perpetual economic success or a destiny of economic decline. We face, instead, a spectrum of often ambiguous challenges, of uncertain possibilities, of fresh developments that overflow traditional lines of control.

I see three areas where new political developments will outstrip old approaches unless we identify what is happening and deal more flexibly with the difficulties involved. They are:

  • The Soviet-American relationship: It will not, in the future, be the same kind of rivalry that has taken center stage in world affairs for the past 40-plus years.
  • The politics of preventing war: The old diplomacy is not going to be sufficient to meet the novel threats to world security that have already begun to emerge.
  • And the nature of nations, their peoples, and their associations is changing the international environment in ways not felt since the birth of the nation-state at the end of the Middle Ages.

U.S.-Soviet Relations

First, U.S.-Soviet relations: The vastly different histories, cultures, economies, governmental systems, force structures, geographical circumstances, and visions of the future held by the two superpowers have transfixed international politics since World War II. It has been not only a rivalry between giants but a contest between different models for progress for governments everywhere. Our achievement has been a product of open debate, deliberations, and political competition guided by constitutional processes; theirs, the dictate of a massive central authority marked by repression and hostility to free political, intellectual, or religious expression. A nation whose system is the legacy of Marx, Lenin, and Stalin bears scant resemblance to one that draws inspiration from Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln.

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Under President Reagan’s leadership in this decade, we engaged our Soviet adversary with unprecedented vigor and effectiveness.

  • We put human rights at the top of our agenda. We left them in no doubt that they could never be accepted as a responsible nation among nations for so long as they abuse their own people’s hopes for justice.
  • We restored America’s military might; we reinvigorated the morale of our armed forces. We demonstrated the will to put power behind our diplomatic search for real solutions.
  • We took the accepted notion that “a country once communist can never again be free” and stood it on its head. Freedom fighters everywhere took heart.
  • And we showed ourselves ready, with no illusions and no concessions to principle, to reach solid, negotiated agreements on the range of problems from strategic arms reductions to consular services.

Whatever the assessments of experts may be about what is now happening inside the Soviet Union, there are some undeniable realities.

  • Marxism is discredited as a model for world development.
  • Soviet troublemaking in regional conflicts has been reduced and even reversed, as in the current departure of the Soviet Army from Afghanistan.
  • An arms control treaty has been signed with the Soviets, and our Senate gave its “advice and consent” to ratify it.4 And we have made real progress, as of this date, in the highly complex task of concluding an even farther-reaching agreement—START [strategic arms reduction talks]—that will serve our nation’s security interests significantly.
  • And major developments undeniably are taking place inside the Soviet Union.

How far those changes go, and what they will mean to the Soviet people remains to be seen. But real change can only come when an individual or a government faces up to the reality that: (a) it has a problem, and (b) it must change its ways of thought and action. So listen to what the Soviets themselves are saying.

On Human Rights:

The image of a state is its attitude toward its own citizens, the respect for their rights and freedoms and recognition of the sovereignty of the individual. . . . We must do a good deal to make certain that the principles of the presumption of innocence, the openness of a court trial, and ensuring the full right to defense become deeply rooted. (Foreign Minister Shevardnadze, address to senior Foreign Ministry and military officials, July 1988)

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On Models for Third World Development:

The myth that the class interests of socialist and developing countries coincide in resisting imperialism does not hold up to criticism at all, first of all, because the majority of developing countries already adhere to, or tend toward, the Western model of development, and second, because they suffer not so much from capitalism, as from a lack of it. (Andrei Kozyrev, Deputy Chief of the International Organizations Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in an article in International Life, October 1988)

On Regional Conflicts:

Our direct and indirect involvement in regional conflicts led to colossal losses by increasing general international tension, justifying the arms race and hindering the establishment of mutually beneficial, advantageous ties with the West. (Kozyrev)

On Military Power:

. . . the notion established in the minds and actions of various strategists that the Soviet Union can be as strong as any possible coalition of states opposing it is absolutely fallacious. (Shevardnadze)

On the Rule of Law:

The work of the judicial bodies is of enormous importance. The fate of many people, the defense of their rights, and the inescapable punishment of those who have broken the law, depend on how accurately the scales of justice function. . . . It is extremely important to restore the Leninist vision of the role of our court in a system of democracy and strictly to observe the principle of the independence of judges and their subordination to law. (General Secretary Gorbachev, speech to 19th Communist Party of the Soviet Union Conference, June 28, 1988)

On the Soviet Economic System:

It is well known, that from the late seventies, negative trends in our development began emerging with increasing clarity. Socialism found that it had lost its advantage over capitalism in terms of the pace of economic development. The essence of economic reform lies in the creation and an intensification of economic incentives. . . . In our conditions, the market is an irreplaceable instrument for the flexible economic coordination of production with the growing and constantly changing social needs. (Vadim Medvedev, Politburo member, in an October 1988 speech reported in Pravda, October 5, 1988)

These are communists talking. Their words are important words. Actions will be difficult, and results will take a while. But actions and results start from ideas and words, whether called “new [Page 1528] thinking,” perestroika and glasnost, or just plain, pragmatic observation of what works.

Only one conclusion is possible from the facts and from the Soviets’ own perceptions of them: The state that Lenin founded and Stalin built is being reconstructed. Soviet leaders deserve credit for recognizing problems and seeking to solve them. The outcome cannot be foretold with precision, but this we do know already—the environment for America’s values of peace, freedom, and democracy is healthier than it has been in some time. We and our allies are the rising nations.

Some say we should change our approach because the Soviets are changing. I say we must keep to the course that has brought us success. There are plenty of reasons to be vigilant.

  • Soviet military forces are as large as ever. Their defense spending has not decreased. The Soviets still knock on Europe’s door with 30,000 tanks parked in the driveway.
  • Soviet-supported forces and arms are still contributing to violence and tension, especially in Central America. Half of all the arms shipped to the Third World last year came from the Soviet Union.
  • Human rights progress has been dramatic but disappointingly short of international standards, which even the Soviets themselves have accepted.

So the first principle to follow as we face the changes underway is to stay true to our principles. Realism, strength, and diplomacy have been our watchwords throughout the 1980s and will be just as valid for the rest of this century and beyond. We will continue to measure progress in U.S.-Soviet relations through a four-part test: progress on human rights, on regional conflicts, on arms control, and on bilateral relations. The worst thing we could do now, just as our policy is succeeding, would be to accept the promise of constructive Soviet policy without the performance.

The direction General Secretary Gorbachev has set is one we welcome. It aims to make the Soviet Union a more rational, more lawful and competitive society. Such an achievement, should it come, can benefit not only the Soviet people but all the nations of the world.

But if we are to catch this tide toward a new, more hopeful, and differently structured international scene, we need to look to other principles as well. For beyond the changing U.S.-Soviet relationship, we will encounter other new concerns in the next global era.

What guidelines are needed as we try to comprehend the changing picture before us?

First, we must build on the bulwark of our strength—our alliances with the other great democracies. That means unswerving attention to [Page 1529] our military capabilities: nuclear deterrence, conventional forces, and shared defense burdens.

Second, we must seek to widen our circle of like-minded friends. The world’s nations increasingly are turning toward more open economies and freer societies, and they are banding together in new multilateral associations. There is no part of the world that I have been more interested in, or worked harder to cooperate with, than that represented by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Our ties to them have been immensely fruitful and filled with potential. We want to help create and tie together such networks all over the globe.

Third, and most important, we need to speak out for, and stand up for, the values that have made us great, that others now emulate, and that can further our success. That means a deepened commitment to the dignity and liberty of the individual, to open trade and market-based economics, and to government by the consent of the people. Let us not be shy about it; the world is catching on to the American way. It is not just our ship that will catch the tide, it’s a whole fleet of ships—and America is the flagship of that fleet.

This means we must stay engaged. Those who talk protectionism or isolationism; those who say we should fear foreign competition or investment; those who say we have no business pursuing our interests abroad because we aren’t yet perfect at home—those people couldn’t be more wrong. This is the time to get out there and get going, for our sakes and for a better, safer tomorrow.

The Politics of Preventing War

Second, new dangers in weaponry: Such engagement is more needed than ever, for there are new dangers to the ecology of the world political body. Just at the point when we have begun to achieve greater strategic stability at lower levels of offensive nuclear arms, and just as we are getting a handle on the proliferation of nuclear weapons, we are seeing unexpected correlative dangers appear: the spread of sophisticated missile technology and the use of chemical weapons. These increase the potential for devastation in unstable regions of the Third World. And the conflicts themselves may become far more difficult to contain or isolate.

The availability of sophisticated weapons presents plenty of problems. But two dangers stand out.

The first is the increasing availability on the world arms market of relatively long-range surface-to-surface missiles. In the Iran-Iraq war, we have seen Soviet SCUD missiles employed by both belligerents. Across the gulf, Saudi Arabia is acquiring Chinese CSS–2 missiles with [Page 1530] a potential range exceeding 1,500 miles. Elsewhere in the Middle East, as in other regions, countries have acquired ballistic missiles. These weapons, which may be thought of as “obsolete” by the superpowers, are nothing of the sort when it comes to regional conflicts. And beyond the arms market, more and more nations will be able to build their own ballistic missiles. Weaponry of enormous destructive potential can reach the hands of parties with little regard for traditional inhibiting controls. With their minimal warning times and often substantial ranges, ballistic missiles will pose significant new threats to the stability of already tense regions. As a result, established doctrines designed to deter aggression and keep the peace may be undermined in more than one part of the world.

The other new danger is the recrudescence of chemical warfare—perhaps the most odious and despicable development of our day. Nations are now confronted by violations of the oldest and most widely observed arms control agreement, the 1925 Geneva protocol prohibiting poisonous gas and chemical warfare5—a terrible change for the worse. Yet that is the case. Since World War II, there have been hundreds of conflicts and more than two dozen significant civil wars. But until recently, only a few conflicts—those in Yemen, Afghanistan, and Laos—had seen the use of chemical weapons.

Now the scourge is spreading. The protocol has been repeatedly violated. We have stood up and criticized these violations and have sometimes been almost alone in doing so.

The worst nightmare of all, of course, would be the eventual combination of ballistic missiles and chemical warheads in the hands of governments with terrorist histories. To meet this danger we took the lead to establish, with the seven largest industrial democracies, a Missile Technology Control Regime in April 1987, putting limits on the transfer of missiles and the means to build them.6 We have identified this problem in its early stages and gone after it energetically. As a result, there is hope that the spread of such missiles can be curbed.

To ban all chemical weapons, we are working with 40 nations in Geneva on a treaty tabled by Vice President Bush in 1984.7 To further [Page 1531] this effort, President Reagan has called for a conference to strengthen the 1925 Geneva protocol,8 and France has agreed to host that conference in January. Our aim will be to reverse the erosion of respect for the norms which have held the line against the illegal use of such hideous weapons.

Vice President Bush has announced a six-point action plan that combines international cooperation, tough penalties, and missile defense systems.9 A time when ballistic missiles are proliferating is no time to listen to those who cannot understand the need for defense against them.

The Imperative of Cooperative Effort

These new problems threaten the ecology of civilization and political reason. They call for:

  • Engaged American leadership, to build
  • Broad international cooperation, backed by
  • Tough measures of enforcement.

These steps may sound obvious and simple. I can assure you they are not. We know this from the experience of our fight against the scourges of terrorism and drugs. Last year, terrorism claimed over 3,000 casualties in 80 countries. The terrorists, in all too many cases, work with drug traffickers, whose immense funds provide the money to finance the muscle of terror. Together, they assault civilized societies. We and other countries must and do apply strenuous and increasing effort to win the war against drugs and terror. For the United [Page 1532] States, the sweeping Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 marks a new level of commitment to say “no” to drugs.10 All aspects of the challenge are addressed: demand, education, law enforcement, and international cooperation.

But no country can deal with these problems alone. They respect no boundaries. So we take the lead to build international cooperation on intelligence and to apply pressure on states that use terrorism. We establish the conceptual recognition that terrorists and drug traffickers are criminals. We apply the rule of law and, through international cooperation, extend its reach so that there is no place to hide.

Cooperative international regimes are required. To build them takes immense energy, a worldwide effort, and heretofore unfound readiness to put aside old habits of thought and behavior limited to narrow nation-bound concepts.

From the first recorded treaty in 3100 B.C. between two Mesopotamian city-states, to the philosophic urgings of Grotius in the 17th century, to the efforts toward international law and cooperation of my predecessors—Elihu Root, William Jennings Bryan, Charles Evans Hughes, and others in the first part of this century—the hope that nations would cooperate for peace has sprung eternal and, just as eternally, has fallen short of the dream.

The clear fact is, however, that all nations face a new imperative. In a way, our global society of states is not unlike our early American states when Benjamin Franklin said: “We must all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”

It is the people of the world who are telling us this. Their activities; their aspirations; their social, cultural, and spiritual associations are spilling out beyond the boundaries of conventional politics. They represent, in many respects, the most significant challenge of all.

The international political system we have today is several centuries old. Its key concepts are:

  • The nation as a unit;
  • The state as its political form;
  • Well-defined borders as its geographical expression;
  • The allegiance of its citizens to give it strength; and
  • A patriotic focus to give them identity.

Today, people are pushing on this system from different directions. Sometimes it’s through mass migratory movements. In other instances, people bewildered by change seek an identity beyond the state, such as religion or ethnicity. And what is happening to traditional concepts of national sovereignty in a world of instantaneous satellite communications and global financial networks? Human and corporate connections are being forged that transact more business in more unorthodox ways than governments can comprehend or catch up with.

But, at the same time, people whose dreams for national self-determination have been frustrated see new opportunities for self-assertion. Rigid governments face the alternatives of political pluralism and economic reform or violent resistance and rapid decline. The problems of managing these tensions can be seen all over the world, and they are difficult to handle. Look at Fiji. Look at Sri Lanka. Look at what’s happening in Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia.

What we see is a paradox. National borders are transcended by the forces of change, even as nationalism grows more intense. National sovereignty has never been more cherished, even as sovereign prerogatives must yield to new global realities.

Prime Minister Thatcher addressed this when she spoke at Bruges last month on the coming single market in Europe. She said that “willing and active cooperation between independent sovereign states” is the best way to build an international community.11

Sooner or later, nations will orient themselves to a world grown too small for violent conflict and too big for rigid attitudes, wild ambitions, and self-centered policies. Sooner or later, governments will be forced to see that joining with others is the only way to meet the challenges of the future.

Our diplomatic imperatives must be to use what has worked, such as collective security, while recognizing that new tactics may be required. For most problems, the answer can only be found in a pragmatic working-out. There are no blueprints because we are, as yet, too unfamiliar with the terrain to know where or how to build.

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This gives me heart. The American philosophy is pragmatism. Pragmatism dictates that problem-solving be a cooperative process—just as our pioneers came together to work as one when a prairie house had to be built.

This century has not been friendly to freedom, or to democracy, or even to peace. The environment for those values began to improve when America, so long content to cultivate its own garden, became fully engaged. Now, as we near the end of the century, the ecology is changing, and changing for the better—with critical help from our engagement.

When we have kept that in mind in the past, we have succeeded. My message is one of change, of hope, of the challenges of a bright new world. But it’s also a call for continued American engagement with our allies and friends and, yes, our rivals to bring that new world to its promise. That’s what we can give to ourselves, to our children, and to our grandchildren—the ecology of peace and freedom.

  1. Source: Department of State Bulletin, January 1989, pp. 6–10. All brackets are in the original. Shultz spoke before the Commonwealth Club of California.
  2. See footnote 14, Document 316.
  3. See Document 322.
  4. See footnote 12, Document 326.
  5. See footnote 20, Document 106.
  6. In an April 16, 1987, statement, Fitzwater announced that the United States, Canada, France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom had adopted “a new policy to limit the proliferation of missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons” featuring “guidelines to control the transfer of equipment and technology that could contribute to nuclear-capable missiles.” (Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, April 20, 1987, vol. 23, no. 15, p. 395)
  7. See footnote 6, Document 192.
  8. In his last address before the UN General Assembly on September 26 the President referenced the use of chemical weapons in the Iran-Iraq war, noting that their use “jeopardizes the moral and legal strictures that have held those weapons in check since World War I.” Continuing, he stated: “Let this tragedy spark reaffirmation of the Geneva protocol outlawing the use of chemical weapons. I call upon the signatories to that protocol, as well as other concerned states, to convene a conference to consider actions that we can take together to reverse the serious erosion of this treaty. And we urge all nations to cooperate in negotiating a verifiable, truly global ban on chemical weapons at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. It is incumbent upon all civilized nations to ban, once and for all, and on a verifiable and global basis, the use of chemical and gas warfare.” (Public Papers: Reagan, 1988–1989, Book II, p. 1224)
  9. Presumable reference to Bush’s comments made at the University of Toledo on October 21. In his remarks, the Vice President and Republican Presidential nominee indicated that he supported a complete and total ban on chemical weapons and outlined several steps to achieve such a ban, including multilateral and bilateral non-proliferation agreements, international condemnation of any nations deploying chemical weapons, establishment of a suppliers group, on-site inspections, and continued research and development of defenses against chemical weapons. For additional information, see Maureen Dowd, “Bush Assails Use of Chemical Weapons,” New York Times, p. 9, and Paul Taylor, “Bush: Ban Chemical Weapons,” Washington Post, p. A7; both October 22, 1988.
  10. The President signed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 (H.R. 5210; P.L. 100–690) into law on November 18. Among other provisions, the Act established in the Executive Office of the President the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), authorized $1.5 billion in FY 1989 for alcohol and drug block grants, and allowed the death penalty for persons engaged in drug-related felonies, who killed or caused the killing of an individual. (Congress and the Nation, vol. VI, 1985–1988, pp. 748, 754, 761) At the signing ceremony, the President commented: “Eight years ago we set a course. We stuck to it. And the path we blazed is marked by the success of our accomplishments. Our ultimate destination: a drug-free America. And now in the eleventh hour of this Presidency, we give a new sword and shield to those whose daily business it is to eliminate from America’s streets and towns the scourge of illicit drugs.” (Public Papers: Reagan, 1988–1989, Book II, p. 1531)
  11. On September 20, Thatcher delivered an address at the College of Europe in Bruges on the future of the European Community. For additional information, see Julian Baum, “Thatcher attack on European unity: more bark than bite?,” Christian Science Monitor, p. 9, and Craig R. Whitney, “Taking Stand For Europe, Thatcher Says,” New York Times, p. A5; both September 22, 1988. In telegram 20388 from London, September 26, the Embassy transmitted the text of Thatcher’s address. (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, Electronic Telegrams, D880859–0334)