158. Editorial Note

On January 16, 1984, President Ronald Reagan delivered a televised address at 10 a.m. from the East Room of the White House, titled an “Address to the Nation and Other Countries on United States-Soviet Relations.” In the November 19 Small Group meeting, (see Document 138), the participants discussed the need for a speech to clarify U.S. policies toward the Soviet Union. Jack Matlock, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for European and Soviet Affairs on the NSC Staff, started drafting the speech in November, anticipating it would be delivered some time in December. Matlock had a draft completed in mid-December but the speech was postponed until January. See Documents 154 and 155.

Reagan began the address, which became known as the “Ivan and Anya” speech for its appeal to common Soviet citizens: “During these first days of 1984, I would like to share with you and the people of the world my thoughts on a subject of great importance to the cause of peace—relations between the United States and Soviet Union.” He continued: “Deterrence is essential to preserve peace and protect our way of life, but deterrence is not the beginning and end of our policy toward the Soviet Union. We must and will engage the Soviets in a dialog as serious and constructive as possible—a dialog that will serve to promote peace in the troubled regions of the world, reduce the level of arms, and build a constructive working relationship.” After saying that the United States “must accelerate our efforts to reach agreements that will greatly reduce nuclear arsenals, provide greater stability, and build confidence,” Reagan stated: “Our policy toward the Soviet Union—a policy of credible deterrence, peaceful competition, and constructive cooperation—will serve our two nations and people everywhere. It is a policy not just for this year, but for the long term. It’s a challenge for Americans; it is also a challenge for the Soviets. If they cannot meet us halfway, we will be prepared to protect our interests and those of our friends and allies. But we want more than deterrence. We seek genuine cooperation. We seek progress for peace. Cooperation begins with communication. And, as I’ve said, we’ll stay at the negotiating tables in Geneva and Vienna. Furthermore, Secretary Shultz will be meeting this week with Foreign Minister Gromyko in Stockholm. This meeting should be followed by others, so that high-level consultations become a regular and normal component of U.S.-Soviet relations. Our challenge is peaceful. It will bring out the best in us. It also calls for the best in the Soviet Union.” Reagan concluded by stressing: “If the Soviet government wants peace, then there will be peace. Together we can strengthen peace, reduce the level of arms, and know in doing so that we have helped fulfill the hopes and dreams of those we repre[Page 545]sent and, indeed, of people everywhere. Let us begin now.” For the full text, see Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, vol. I, Foundations of Foreign Policy, Document 182.

Reagan wrote in his diary that evening: “the day really began in the East room at 10:00 A.M. when I went live on T.V. worldwide with address on Soviet-U.S. relations. The press, especially T.V. is now trying to explain the speech as pol. etc. The speech was carefully crafted by all of us to counter Soviet propaganda that we are not sincere in wanting arms reductions or peace. It {therefore} was low key & held the door open to the Soviets if they mean what they say about loving peace to walk in.” (Brinkley, ed., The Reagan Diaries, volume I, January 1981–October 1985, page 308; curly brackets are in the original)

According to Matlock’s subsequent account, reactions to the speech were mixed. “It was generally welcomed in the United States even though some dismissed it as a political maneuver to gain reelection. Its impact in Europe, particularly on allied governments, was greater. German foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher went out of his way to compliment it when he met with Shultz in Stockholm on January 18. His aides said that he actually danced for joy as he read the text. The view among U.S. allies in Europe was that, finally, Reagan had the right balance between firmness and negotiability. The impact on the Soviet government was, however, less than that intended. The White House had gone out of its way to call attention to the speech in advance, alerting Ambassador Dobrynin to it and supplying an advance text to the Soviet foreign ministry in Moscow.” Matlock continued: “Soviet media were directed to treat the speech as nothing new. In a brief statement the official new agency, TASS, labeled it nothing more than propaganda: ‘Behind the loquacious rhetoric about adherence to limiting the arms race and love of peace, was, in effect, the known position of the U.S. administration . . . [T]here is no indication of any positive changes in the Reagan administration’s approach.’” (Matlock, Reagan and Gorbachev, page 86; brackets are in the original)