Bush Asks ‘New Strategy’ for ‘New, Changing Times’
President Bush, calling for “a new Western strategy for new and changing times,” said today that he hopes an agreement on reducing troops and conventional arms in Europe can be signed this fall.
Once such an agreement is reached, U.S.-Soviet talks should begin as soon as possible, aimed at reducing the number of short-range nuclear weapons stationed throughout Europe, Bush said in a commencement address at Oklahoma State University.
On changes taking place within the Soviet Union, Bush said: “President (Mikhail S.) Gorbachev has made profound progress in his country, reforms so fundamental that the clock cannot be turned back.”
But, Bush added, “neither can we turn the clock ahead, to know for sure what kind of country the Soviet Union will be in years to come.”
Bush said that the Western alliance must plan for a less militarized Europe that plays down the current focus on imminent war.
“We are entering a new age of freedom in a time of uncertainty, but great hope,” Bush said.
Looking forward to the NATO meeting he proposed for early this summer, Bush said: “The alliance must join together to craft a new Western strategy for new and changing times.”
The U.S. role, he said, will be to support Europe militarily as long as the allies want. However, in light of democratic changes sweeping Eastern Europe, the political focus of NATO will increase and the military aspects will be different, Bush said.
“If the Soviet withdrawal continues and our arms-control efforts are successful, we must plan for a different kind of military presence focused less on the danger of an immediate outbreak of war,” he said.
He made the comments a day after announcing he is scrapping plans for upgrading battlefield nuclear weapons that are stationed mostly in West Germany. Bush said he wants NATO members to develop objectives for new arms control talks on U.S. and Soviet reductions of other short-range missiles.
Bush, who in the past has only said that an agreement on reducing conventional forces in Europe should be completed by the 35 nations with an interest in Europe by the end of this year, today said he hopes it can be signed “this fall.”
“Our enemy today is uncertainty and instability,” Bush said in stating a continued need for NATO’s military role.