177. Editorial Note

On June 2, 1982, President Ronald Reagan flew to Paris, where he attended the Versailles G–7 Summit from June 4 to 6. On the morning of June 7, 1982, President Reagan flew from Paris to Rome, where he met with Pope John Paul II. That evening, he flew from Rome to London, where he met with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Queen Elizabeth II, and delivered a speech to the British Parliament. (Reagan Library, President’s Daily Diary)

In his speech to Parliament at Westminster, June 8, Reagan paraphrased former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill: “From Stettin on the Baltic to Varna on the Black Sea, the regimes planted by totalitarianism have had more than 30 years to establish their legitimacy. But none—not one regime—has yet been able to risk free elections.” He went on to cite the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and support for martial law in Poland. “In an ironic sense Karl Marx was right,” Reagan went on to say. “We are witnessing today a great revolutionary crisis, a crisis where the demands of the economic order are conflicting directly with those of the political order. But the crisis is happening not in the free, non-Marxist West, but in the home of the Marxist-Leninism, the Soviet Union. It is the Soviet Union that runs against the tide of history by denying human freedom and human dignity to its citizens. It also is in deep economic difficulty. The rate of growth in the national product has been steadily declining since the fifties and is less than half of what it was then.” Reagan cited several other examples of the lackluster economic performance of Communist countries. (Public Papers: Reagan , 1982, volume I, pages 742–748)

While the United States and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies supported nuclear arms reductions talks, Reagan commented that did not mean they accepted the permanence of Communist governments: “Some argue that we should encourage democratic change in [Page 573] right-wing dictatorships, but not in Communist regimes. Well, to accept this preposterous notion—as some well-meaning people have—is to invite the argument that once countries achieve a nuclear capability, they should be allowed an undisturbed reign of terror over their own citizens. We reject this course.” The President then outlined an agenda to promote freedom and democracy. “What I am describing now is a plan and a hope for the long term—the march of freedom and democracy which will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash-heap of history as it has left other tyrannies which stifle the freedom and muzzle the self-expression of the people.” He concluded the speech with a call for a “crusade for freedom that will engage the faith and fortitude of the next generation,” and movement “toward a world in which all people are at last free to determine their own destiny.” (Ibid.) Reagan’s Westminster speech is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, volume I, Foundations of Foreign Policy.

On June 9, Reagan flew from London to Bonn, where he met Federal Republic of Germany Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, addressed the Bundestag, and attended a meeting of the North Atlantic Council. On June 11, he flew from Bonn to West Berlin and back, before returning to Washington. (Reagan Library, President’s Daily Diary). Reagan described highlights from the trip in a long diary entry, back-dated June 2, which closed: “While in Bonn learned the House had passed a budget—we’re on our way. Also learned though that Israel had invaded Lebanon. I’m afraid we are faced with a real crisis.” (Brinkley, ed., The Reagan Diaries, Volume I, page 136)