Address to the Nation on Returning From the' Soviet Union.
MR. VICE PRESIDENT, I want to express appreciation, not only on my own behalf but also on Mrs. Nixon's behalf, for your very gracious and generous words.
Governor Curtis and Mrs. Curtis and to all of our friends here in Maine, I want to thank you for giving us such a splendid welcome as we return.
I know that as I see cars parked what a real effort it is to come out to an air base. It took a lot of time and we appreciate that effort, and we thank you very much.
To each and every one of you, and to perhaps millions who are listening on television and radio, I can assure you of one thing, and that is, it is always good to come home to America. That is particularly so when one comes home from a journey that has advanced the cause of peace in the world.
We left Moscow earlier today, and as we did, there were hundreds of United States and Soviet flags flying side by side, and I thought of the fact that tomorrow millions of Americans will be flying the flag from their homes on the Fourth of July. And you will be flying those flags proudly because of what it means in your own lives and in our lives and also because of what our flag means in the world. We can be very proud of the American flag all over the world today.
I thought also of how much more that flag means to the world because of the role the United States has been playing in building a structure of peace from which all nations can benefit, a role which was symbolized so dramatically by those flags flying side by side in the Soviet Union.
Our generation, which has known so much war and destruction--four wars in this century--now has an opportunity to build for the next generation a structure of peace in which we hope war will have no part whatever.
This is the great task before us, and this is the greatest task in which any people could be summoned. In the past month, Mrs. Nixon and I have traveled over 25,000 miles, visiting nine countries in Western Europe and the Middle East, as well as, of course, the Soviet Union. The visit to each of these areas had a separate purpose, but in a larger sense, all of these visits were directed toward the same purpose, and they are all interacted and interconnected.
Among the nations of the Middle East, among those of the Western Alliance, and between the United States and the Soviet Union, new patterns are emerging, patterns that hold out to the world the brightest hopes in a generation for a just and lasting peace that all of us can enjoy.
In the Middle East a generation of bitter hostility, punctuated by four wars, is now giving way to a new spirit in which both sides are searching earnestly for the keys to a peaceful resolution of their differences.
In the Western Alliance, 25 years after NATO was founded, there has been given a new birth, a new life to that organization as embodied in the Declaration on Atlantic Relations that we signed 7 days ago in Brussels at the NATO heads-of-government meeting before going on to Moscow. In the series of United States-Soviet summits that we began in 1972, we have been charting a new relationship between the world's two most powerful nations, a new relationship which is designed to insure that these two nations will work together in peace, rather than to confront each other in an atmosphere of distrust and tension which could lead, if it were not corrected, to war.
At this year's summit, we advanced further the relationship that we began 2 years ago in Moscow and that we continued at last year's summit in the United States. In the communiqué we issued earlier today in Moscow, both sides committed themselves to this goal, the imperative necessity of making the process of improving United States-Soviet relations irreversible.
This sums up what the whole broad pattern of our expanding range of agreements is designed to achieve, to make the improvement not just a one-day headline, not just a one-day sensation, but a continuing, irreversible process that will build its own momentum and will develop into a permanent peace.
At this year's meeting, we reached a number of important agreements, both in the field of arms limitation and also in the field of peaceful cooperation. In the field of arms limitation, three of the agreements we reached are of special note. One of those involves the exceedingly difficult question of offensive strategic nuclear arms, and this base, as we know, is involved in that particular kind of operation.
Two years ago, we signed an interim agreement on offensive strategic weapons covering the 5-year period until 1977. This year, we decided that this interim agreement should be followed by a new agreement to cover. the period until 1985. We agreed that this should deal with both quantitative and qualitative aspects of strategic nuclear weapons, that it should be concluded well above and well before, I should say, the expiration of the present agreement.
We also agreed that the extensive work we have already done toward hammering out such a long-range agreement should go forward at Geneva in the immediate future on the basis of instructions growing out of our talks at the highest level during the past week.
Now, the two sides have not yet reached a final accord on the terms of an agreement. This is a difficult and a very complex subject, but we did bring such an accord significantly closer, and we committed both sides firmly to the resolution of our remaining differences.
The second important arms control agreement that we reached deals with the antiballistic missile systems. You will recall that 2 years ago we agreed that each country should be limited to two ABM sites. The agreement we signed earlier today in Moscow strengthens and extends the scope of that earlier measure by restricting each country to one ABM site.
And then the third arms limitation agreement deals with underground testing of nuclear weapons. It extends significantly the earlier steps toward limiting tests that began with the 1963 test-ban treaty. That original treaty barred the signatories from conducting tests in the atmosphere, in outer space, and underwater. Today, we concluded a new treaty that for the first time will also cover tests underground. It will bar both the Soviet Union and the United States, after March 31, 1976, from conducting any underground test of weapons above a certain explosive power, and it will also require both countries to keep tests of weapons below that power to the very minimum number.
This is not only another major step toward bringing the arms race under control, it is also a significant additional step toward reducing the number of nuclear and thermonuclear explosions in the world.
Now, arms limitations, of course, are enormously and crucially important, but the work of these summit meetings is much broader, just as the nature of the new United States-Soviet relationship is much broader. This year, the important new agreements we reached in the area of peaceful progress included new programs for cooperation between our two countries in energy, in housing, in health, and also an agreement on long-term economic cooperation designed to facilitate increasing mutually beneficial trade between our two countries.
The significance of these agreements goes beyond the advances each will bring to its particular field, just as the significance of our summit meetings goes beyond the individual agreements themselves. With this growing network of agreements, we are creating new habits of cooperation and new patterns of consultation, and we are also giving the people of the Soviet Union, as well as our own people in the United States, not just a negative, but a positive stake in peace.
We are creating a stable new base on which to build peace, not just through the fear of war but through sharing the benefits of peace, of working together for a better life for the people of both of our countries.
The United States-Soviet agreements at the summit contribute importantly to the structure of peace we are trying to build between our two countries and in the world. The continued strength of the Western Alliance is also an essential and major element of that structure and so, too, is the development of a new pattern of relationships and a new attitude toward peace in areas of tension such as the Middle East.
The fact that the NATO meeting in Brussels came midway between the trip to the Middle East and the one to the Soviet Union is symbolic of the central role that the Western Alliance must play in building the new structure of peace.
It is clearly understood by the leaders of the Soviet Union that in forging the new relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union, we will not proceed at the expense of traditional allies. On the contrary, the continued strength of the Western Alliance is essential to the success and to the process in which we are engaged of maintaining and developing the new relationship to the Soviet Union.
The development of that new relationship provides an opportunity to deepen the unity of the Western Alliance. We must not neglect our alliances, and we must not assume that our new relationship with the Soviet Union allows us to neglect our own military strength. It is because we are strong that such a relationship that we are now developing is possible.
In his first annual message to the Congress, George Washington said to be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace. That statement is true today as it was then, and that is why all of you who are serving in our Armed Forces today are actually serving in the peace forces for America and the world. We thank you for your service.
We are prepared, we in the United States, to reduce our military strength but only through a process in which that reduction is mutual and one that does not diminish the security of the United States of America. It is to that end that we have been working.
Twenty-five years ago when the NATO Treaty was signed, it was called "an act of faith in the destiny of Western Civilization." That description was prophetic as well as accurate, and now, 25 years later, we might well say the new structure of peace we are building in the world is an act of faith in the destiny of mankind. Like anything built to be permanent, that structure must be built step by careful step. It must be built solidly. It must be such a structure that those who use it will preserve it because they treasure it, because it responds to their needs, and because it reflects their hopes.
Two years ago in my report to the Congress on returning from the first of the United States-Soviet summits, I expressed the hope that historians of some future age will write of the year 1972, not that this was the year America went up to the summit and then down to the depths of the valley again, but that this was the year when America helped to lead the world up out of the lowlands of war and on to the high plateau of lasting peace.
And now, 2 years, two summits later, the realization of that hope has been brought closer. The process of peace is going steadily forward. It is strengthened by the new and expanding patterns of cooperation between the United States and the Soviet Union. It is reinforced by the new vitality of our Western Alliance and bringing such encouraging results as the new turn toward peace in the Middle East.
In all of our travels to which the Vice President has referred, one message has come through more clearly than any other. We have seen millions and millions of people over these past few weeks, and from their faces as well as the words of those we have seen and the thousands we have met in every part of the world, this is the message, and that is that the desire to end war, to build peace is one that knows no national boundaries and that unites people everywhere.
Something else also comes through very loud and very clear: The people of the nations that we visited--and we saw them, as I have indicated, not only by the thousands but by the millions--want to be friends of the American people, and we reciprocate. We want to be their friends, too.
In the early years of our Nation's history, after America had won its independence, Thomas Jefferson said we act not just for ourselves alone but for the whole human race.
As we prepare tomorrow to celebrate the anniversary of that independence, the 198th anniversary, we as Americans can be proud that we have been true to Jefferson's vision and that, as a result of America's initiative, that universal goal of peace is now closer, closer not only for ourselves but for all mankind.
Thank you very much and good evening.
Note: The President spoke at approximately 7:45 p.m. at Loring Air Force Base, Maine. His remarks were broadcast live on nationwide radio and television.
Vice President Gerald R. Ford had welcomed the President as follows:
Mr. President, Mrs. Nixon:
It is a very high honor and a very great privilege for me to welcome you home again and to say what better way could the American people celebrate our 198th Fourth of July than with the assurance that you bring our world a little safer and a little saner tonight than it was when you left.
You know, Mr. President, that it was my lifelong goal to be Speaker of the House of Representatives until you upset it last October. The great State of Maine has given us two very distinguished Republican Speakers during the 19th century, and I would like to recall something Speaker Tom Reed said almost prophetically here in 1885, and I quote: "The reason why the race of man moves so slowly," Speaker Reed said, "is because it must move all together." 1
1Thomas B. Reed was Speaker of the House of Representatives from 1889 to 1891 and from 1895 to 1899. James G. Blaine was Speaker of the House of Representatives from 1869 to 1875.
From your first mission to Moscow, Mr. President, in the days that you had the job that I now have, you have seen the global dimension of peace and pursued it with patience, preparation, and performance.
As our President, you have not only demonstrated the truth of Speaker Reed's observation but you have permitted us to see much of mankind moving slowly, but perceptibly, all together in the direction of peace.
Your strategy for peace, Mr. President, has been bold but never rash, courageous but never foolhardy, tough but never rude, gentle but never soft. One by one, from China through Southeast Asia, through the Middle East, through the Soviet Union, through the NATO alliance, you have emplaced the building blocks of a solid foundation for a better understanding of international relations than we have had in our lifetime and perhaps in the history of our country.
Permit me to say, Mr. President, and say particularly to Mrs. Nixon, who has been your faithful partner throughout literally millions and millions of miles of air travel, and sometimes on her own, that she has charmed and captivated both the officials and the citizens of every country she has visited and surely is entitled to be saluted in her own right again as First Lady of the World.
Mr. President, I wished you Godspeed last week and urged all of our countrymen to pray for you, for your safety and success on this historic mission. My prayers, and those of our fellow countrymen, have been answered manyfold. I cannot escape the conclusion that the Biblical injunction, "Blessed are the peacemakers," has again been confirmed.
Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States.
Richard Nixon, Address to the Nation on Returning From the' Soviet Union. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/256074