Michael S. Dukakis photo

Excerpts of Remarks at Georgetown University in Washington, DC

September 14, 1988

We must have - and in a Dukakis Administration we will have -strategic forces that are strong and modern and versatile. Strategic forces that will convince any potential adversary that they have nothing to gain and everything to lose by attacking the United States or our allies and friends. And we must do whatever is necessary through modernization, and, if possible, through arms control, to insure an effective, credible deterrent.

What does that mean in specifics? It means I support, and I intend to go forward as planned, with the Trident 2 sea-based missile to offset the Soviet Union's highly accurate missiles, and with the Stealth bomber and the advanced cruise missile to counter improvements in Soviet air defense.

The strategic concept of the Midgetman is sound, but I question the value of spending $40 billion or $50 billion for 500 additional land-based missile warheads - at three times the cost of the same number of new submarine-based warheads. So I'm going to work with the Congress to find a sensible, affordable way to maintain the effectiveness of the land-based missile leg of the triad.

But just as we must modernize to maintain an effective deterrent, so must we negotiate to improve the effectiveness of the deterrent we have.

The I.N.F. agreement was a good beginning, but it was only a beginning. Unlike Ronald Reagan, George Bush doesn't understand that.

I say it is in our interest to forge an agreement - a mutual and balanced and verifiable agreement -that will make deep cuts in Soviet strategic arms.

As President, I will challenge the Soviet Union to move beyond the limits of Start to stop the development of new and more dangerous weapons that threaten world stability and our security; to stop developing fast new submarine missiles that can attack our bombers before they get off the ground; to eliminate all of their SS-18's, the most dangerous and deadly missiles on the earth today. And I will challenge the Soviet Union - as has every American President since Dwight Eisenhower - to stop the testing of nuclear weapons.

And what about Star Wars? My friends, if we're going to keep America strong; if we're going to increase, rather than undermine, the stability of the nuclear balance; if we're going to make our defense dollars count, we've got to stop pouring billions and billions into this program and do some hard thinking about what we're trying to achieve.

I will request the funds to maintain a program of anti-ballistic missile research. Such a program will allow us to respond if the Soviets violate their obligations under the ABM Treaty, and it will allow us to make an informed judgment as to what the technology can and cannot do.

Michael S. Dukakis, Excerpts of Remarks at Georgetown University in Washington, DC Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/285618

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