2. Talking Points for Secretary of State Shultz Prepared in the Department of State1

Why We Must Have a Relationship with the Soviets

There are some serious people who think we should not have a better relationship:

—we should focus on strengthening our domestic economy and society and leave the Soviets in our wake;

—to try to get a better relationship means “detente”, and detente is another word for appeasement;

—we should not negotiate from a position of weakness (our situation in the 1970’s); and we need not negotiate from a position of relative strength (our position today), because negotiation just leads us to give things away.

Our answer should be:

—we are building our domestic strength. Nothing can stop us;

—we reject “detente”. It has been tried and it doesn’t work;

—we have brought a new realism to our foreign policy. We are not going to give positions away in negotiations, nor sign on to flawed agreements as other Administrations did in the past. We do not have to have an agreement; we are not panting after a treaty. This self-confident attitude has worked to our advantage in the Middle East, in Central America, and with the Soviets. Indeed, it is a major reason why the Soviets have come back to the table.

So we are better placed and more prepared than any American Administration has been in decades to achieve a new basis for global stability. We have the beginning of a new Reagan Doctrine:

—The Rand speech: a wholly new approach to dealing with the Soviets.2

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—The Commonwealth Club speech: drawing the lines in our own neighborhood, Central America.3

—And we have taken the initiative to reverse decades-long trends in the Third World economies (march toward the market) and approach key regional issues creatively (southern Africa, the Pacific Basin).

To turn inward and isolate ourselves or stay aloof would be to repeat a mistake that the U.S. has made in the past.

Our job is to end the cycle of intervention/withdrawal that has characterized U.S. foreign policy historically—and to establish a new basis for global security and progress that can last well into the next century.

  1. Source: Reagan Library, George Shultz Papers, Secretary’s Meetings with the President (03/11/1985). No classification marking. These talking points were included in a larger packet for Shultz entitled: “Meeting with the President, Monday, March 11 2:00–2:30 pm,” in preparation for Shultz’s trip to Moscow. In his memoir, he wrote: “I went to the White House to see President Reagan to go over ideas for the meeting our delegation would have with Gorbachev. There wasn’t a thought in his mind about going to Moscow. I recommended that Vice President Bush deliver a letter to Gorbachev inviting him to the United States. The president agreed.” (Shultz, Turmoil and Triumph, p. 527)
  2. Shultz’s October 18, 1984, address before the Rand/UCLA Center for the Study of Soviet International Behavior in Los Angeles is printed in Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, vol. I, Foundations of Foreign Policy, Document 209. See also Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, vol. IV, Soviet Union, January 1983–March 1985, Document 296, footnote 4.
  3. Shultz addressed the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco on February 22. His speech is printed in Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, vol. I, Foundations of Foreign Policy, Document 232.