Berlin Wall -From the Archives
President Reagan's Address at the Brandenburg Gate
Friday, June 12, 1987

The Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin Wall separate Berlin into East and West. In spite of the changes that are going on in Communist countries, especially the Soviet Union, that wall is a reminder of the difference between freedom and totalitarianism. The people of East Berlin are walled in with barbed wire and booby-trapped explosives.

Our advance people had put up speakers aimed at East Berlin, hoping that my speech might be heard on the other side. I could see the East German police keeping people away so that they couldn’t hear. They simply don’t realize it’s going to take more than that to keep out the stirrings of freedom.

There’s a couple sentences in this speech about tearing down the wall and opening the gate that I like quite a bit, and it actually makes the speech. I’m told that the State Department and the National Security Council thought the lines were too provocative.

Just because our relationship with the Soviet Union is improving doesn’t mean we have to begin denying the truth. That is what got us into such a weak position with the Soviet Union in the first place. The line stayed and got quite a reaction from the crowd.



- Ronald Reagan -
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Address to the Nation on the Upcoming Soviet-United States Summit Meeting in Geneva
Thursday, November 14, 1985

The only reason Id never met with General Secretary Gorbachev’s predecessors was because they kept dying on me - Brezhnev, Chernenko, Andropov. Then along came Gorbachev. He was different in style, in substance, and, I believe, in intellect from previous Soviet leaders. He is a man who takes chances and that’s what you need for progress. He is a remarkable force for change in that country.

We first met in Geneva. My team had set up a guesthouse away from the main meeting area where Gorbachev and I could talk one-on-one. He jumped at the chance when I suggested we sneak away. And there we sat and talked for hours in front of a roaring fire. I opened by telling him that ours was a unique situation - two men who together had the power to bring on World War III. By the same token, we had the capability to bring about world peace. I said, "We don’t mistrust each other because we’re armed. We’re armed because we mistrust each other." I asked him how, in addition to eliminating the arms, how could we eliminate the mistrust?

I did not know when I left for that meeting in Geneva, I would eventually call Mikhail Gorbachev a friend. I did not know what to expect. This is the speech I gave to the American people as I prepared to depart for Geneva.



- Ronald Reagan -
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Remarks at the Annual Convention of the National Association of Evangelicals in Orlando, Florida
Tuesday, March 8, 1983

This is the "evil empire" speech that was often quoted as defining my attitude toward the Soviets. At the time it was portrayed as some kind of know-nothing, archconservative statement that could only drive the Soviets to further heights of paranoia and insecurity.

For too long our leaders were unable to describe the Soviet Union as it actually was. The keepers of our foreign-policy knowledge - in other words, most liberal foreign-affairs scholars, the State Department, and various columnists - found it illiberal and provocative to be so honest. I’ve always believed, however, that it’s important to define differences, because there are choices and decisions to be made in life and history.



- Ronald Reagan -
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Address to the Nation on the Meetings With Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev in Iceland
Monday, October 13, 1986

I think the television cameras captured very accurately the look of disappointment on my face when I finally left the meeting in Reykjavik, Iceland, with General Secretary Gorbachev.

Mikhail and I had gotten into a discussion of the total elimination of nuclear weapons. Yes, it was breathtaking. The US delegation was supposed to be on our way home, but naturally we stayed through Sunday because we seemed to be making real progress.

Finally after making all this progress, Mikhail said it all hinged on us stopping our Strategic Defense Initiative program, what others called our Star Wars plan to protect ourselves from incoming nuclear missiles. Gorbachev hadn’t mentioned this condition before.

Well, I gave him several arguments. I didn’t want him to think we were developing this technology only to be better prepared for a fight, so I offered to give it away. He said, "I don’t believe you." I said, "Well, maybe you’re judging by your own people."

He repeated that none of the progress we discussed was possible unless we dropped SDI. I eventually blew my top and said, "There’s no way." And we left.



- Ronald Reagan -
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Remarks on Signing the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty
Tuesday, December 8, 1987

The big news of [1987]…was the INF agreement. We signed it in the East Room of the White House. I believe this proves what progress can be made when we bargain from a position of strength and determination. I don’t think the agreement would have been possible without our defense buildup. I also don’t think it would have been possible before Gorbachev. He’s quite a fellow.

...But his trip here to sign the INF agreement was a big success. He’s not above trying to bamboozle you as he tried to do to us in Reykjavik by raising the SDI thing a the last moment, but I believe he is a reasonable man. He is, as Margaret Thatcher once said, a man we can do business with. And that is exactly what we did that day in December.



- Ronald Reagan -
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