7. Editorial Note
On July 17, 1980, former Governor of California Ronald Reagan accepted the Republican nomination for President and addressed delegates at the Republican National Convention, held at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. In his acceptance speech, Reagan emphasized the connections between peace and security and pledged that his administration would protect the American people: “It is the responsibility of the President of the United States, in working for peace, to insure that the safety of our people cannot successfully be threatened by a hostile foreign power. As President, fulfilling that responsibility will be my Number One priority.
“We are not a warlike people. Quite the opposite. We always seek to live in peace. We resort to force infrequently and with great reluctance—and only after we have determined that it is absolutely necessary. We are awed—and rightly so—by the forces of destruction at loose in the world in this nuclear era. But neither can we be naive or foolish. Four times in my lifetime America has gone to war, bleeding the lives of its young men into the sands of beachheads, the fields of Europe and the jungles and rice paddies of Asia. We know only too well that war comes not when the forces of freedom are strong, but when they are weak. It is then that tyrants are tempted.
“We simply cannot learn these lessons the hard way again without risking our destruction.
“Of all the objectives we seek, first and foremost is the establishment of lasting world peace. We must always stand ready to negotiate in good faith, ready to pursue any reasonable avenue that holds forth the promise of lessening tensions and furthering the prospects of peace. But let our friends and those who may wish us ill take note: the United States has an obligation to its citizens and to the people of the world never to let those who would destroy freedom dictate the future course of human life on this planet. I would regard my election as proof that we have renewed our resolve to preserve world peace [Page 20] and freedom. This nation will once again be strong enough to do that.” (Reagan Library, White House Office of Speechwriting, Research Office, 1980 Campaign File, Campaign and Pre-Presidential Speeches, 1979–1981, 07/13/1980, 07/14/1980, 07/17/1980 Acceptance Speech & 2 Press Statements)
The full text of the speech was printed in the New York Times and the Washington Post on July 18.