LET US NOW PRAISE FAMOUS MEN
Which U.S. president and ex-CIA chief made a frantic bid to save the Soviet Union?
1. Jimmy Carter
2. Bill Clinton
3. George Bush
elder George Bush in 1991 brought the full force of his presidency to
bear in a bid to stem the impending crash of Soviet communism. In the
words of writer Richard Rhodes:
"A key test of the impending
breakup [of the Soviet Union] was a popular referendum endorsing
Ukrainian independence scheduled for 1 December. In a controversial
speech to the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet, before the coup, Bush had warned
the legislators about breaking away from Moscow."
maintain the strongest possible relationship with the Soviet Government
of President Gorbachev," Bush said, adding that "freedom is not the same
as independence. Americans will not support those who seek independence
in order to replace a far-off tyranny with a local depotism. They will
not aid those who promote a suicidal nationalism based upon ethnic
William Safire dubbed Bush's address "the Chicken Kiev speech."
Safire was an astute journalist who isolated the politically important sentences from the remainder of the speech.
Full text of President George H.W. Bush's speech to a session of the Supreme Soviet of Ukraine, 1 August 1991.
first, thank all of you for that warm welcome. And may I take this
opportunity to thank all people of Ukraine that gave us such a warm
welcome, such a heartfelt greeting. Every American in that long
motorcade -- and believe me, it was long -- was moved and touched by the
warmth of the welcome of Ukraine. We'll never forget it.
Kravchuk, thank you, sir. And to the Deputies of the Soviet, Supreme
Soviet, may I salute you. Members of the clergy that are here, members
of the diplomatic corps, representatives of American pharmaceutical and
health care corporations who I understand are with us today, and
distinguished guests all. Barbara and I are delighted to be here --
very, very happy. We have only one regret, and that is that I've got to
get home on Thursday night -- I can still make it. And the reason is,
our Congress goes out tomorrow, finishes their session they're in now,
and I felt it was important to be there on that last day of the final
This beautiful city brings to mind the words of the poet
Alexander Dovzhenko: "The city of Kiev is an orchard. Kiev is a poet.
Kiev is an epic. Kiev is history. Kiev is art."
your forebears named this country Ukraine, or "frontier," because your
steppes link Europe and Asia. But Ukrainians have become frontiersmen of
another sort. Today you explore the frontiers and contours of liberty.
my stay here is, as I said, far too short, I have come here to talk
with you and to learn. For those who love freedom, every experiment in
building an open society offers new lessons and insights. You face an
especially daunting task. For years, people in this nation felt
powerless, overshadowed by a vast government apparatus, cramped by
forces that attempted to control every aspect of their lives.
your people probe the promises of freedom. In cities and Republics, on
farms, in business, around university campuses, you debate the
fundamental questions of liberty, self-rule, and free enterprise.
Americans, you see, have a deep commitment to these values. We follow
your progress with a sense of fascination, excitement, and hope. This
alone is historic. In the past, our nations engaged in duels of eloquent
bluff and bravado. Now, the fireworks of superpower confrontation are
giving way to the quieter and far more hopeful art of cooperation.
come here to tell you: We support the struggle in this great country
for democracy and economic reform. And I would like to talk to you today
about how the United States views this complex and exciting period in
your history, how we intend to relate to the Soviet central Government
and the Republican governments.
In Moscow, I outlined our
approach: We will support those in the center and the Republics who
pursue freedom, democracy, and economic liberty. We will determine our
support not on the basis of personalities but on the basis of
principles. We cannot tell you how to reform your society. We will not
try to pick winners and losers in political competitions between
Republics or between Republics and the center. That is your business;
that's not the business of the United States of America.
doubt our real commitment, however, to reform. But do not think we can
presume to solve your problems for you. Theodore Roosevelt, one of our
great Presidents, once wrote: To be patronized is as offensive as to be
insulted. No one of us cares permanently to have someone else
conscientiously striving to do him good; what we want is to work with
that someone else for the good of both of us. That's what our former
President said. We will work for the good of both of us, which means
that we will not meddle in your internal affairs.
have urged the United States to choose between supporting President
Gorbachev and supporting independence-minded leaders throughout the
U.S.S.R. I consider this a false choice. In fairness, President
Gorbachev has achieved astonishing things, and his policies of glasnost,
perestroika, and democratization point toward the goals of freedom,
democracy, and economic liberty.
We will maintain the strongest
possible relationship with the Soviet Government of President Gorbachev.
But we also appreciate the new realities of life in the U.S.S.R. And
therefore, as a federation ourselves, we want good relations -- improved
relations -- with the Republics. So, let me build upon my comments in
Moscow by describing in more detail what Americans mean when we talk
about freedom, democracy, and economic liberty.
No terms have
been abused more regularly, nor more cynically than these. Throughout
this century despots have masqueraded as democrats, jailers have posed
as liberators. We can restore faith to government only by restoring
meaning to these concepts.
I don't want to sound like I'm
lecturing, but let's begin with the broad term "freedom." When Americans
talk of freedom, we refer to people's abilities to live without fear of
government intrusion, without fear of harassment by their fellow
citizens, without restricting other's freedoms. We do not consider
freedom a privilege, to be doled out only to those who hold proper
political views or belong to certain groups. We consider it an
inalienable individual right, bestowed upon all men and women. Lord
Acton once observed: The most certain test by which we judge whether a
country is really free is the amount of security enjoyed by minorities.
requires tolerance, a concept embedded in openness, in glasnost, and in
our first amendment protections for the freedoms of speech,
association, and religion -- all religions.
hope. A priest wrote of glasnost: Today, more than ever the words of
Paul the Apostle, spoken, 2,000 years ago, ring out: They counted as
among the dead, but look, we are alive. In Ukraine, in Russia, in
Armenia, and the Baltics, the spirit of liberty thrives.
freedom cannot survive if we let despots flourish or permit seemingly
minor restrictions to multiply until they form chains, until they form
shackles. Later today, I'll visit the monument at Babi Yar -- a somber
reminder, a solemn reminder, of what happens when people fail to hold
back the horrible tide of intolerance and tyranny.
Yet freedom is
not the same as independence. Americans will not support those who seek
independence in order to replace a far-off tyranny with a local
depotism. They will not aid those who promote a suicidal nationalism
based upon ethnic hatred.
We will support those who want to build
democracy. By democracy, we mean a system of government in which people
may vie openly for the hearts -- and yes, the votes -- of the public.
We mean a system of government that derives its just power from the
consent of the governed, that retains its legitimacy by controlling its
appetite for power. For years, you had elections with ballots, but you
did not enjoy democracy. And now, democracy has begun to set firm roots
in Soviet soil.
The key to its success lies in understanding
government's proper role and its limits. Democracy is not a technical
process driven by dry statistics. It is the very human enterprise of
preserving freedom, so that we can do the important things, the really
important things: raise families, explore our own creativity, build good
and fruitful lives.
In modern societies, freedom and democracy
rely on economic liberty. A free economy is nothing more than a system
of communication. It simply cannot function without individual rights or
a profit motive, which give people an incentive to go to work, an
incentive to produce.
And it certainly cannot function without
the rule of law, without fair and enforceable contracts, without laws
that protect property rights and punish fraud.
depend upon the freedom of expression, the ability of people to exchange
ideas and test out new theories. The Soviet Union weakened itself for
years by restricting the flow of information, by outlawing devices
crucial to modern communications, such as computers and copying
machines. And when you restricted free movement -- even tourist travel
-- you prevented your own people from making the most of their talent.
You cannot innovate if you cannot communicate.
And finally, a
free economy demands engagement in the economic mainstream. Adam Smith
noted two centuries ago, trade enriches all who engage in it. Isolation
and protectionism doom its practitioners to degradation and want.
note this today because some Soviet cities, regions, and even Republics
have engaged in ruinous trade wars. The Republics of this nation have
extensive bonds of trade, which no one can repeal with the stroke of a
pen or the passage of a law. The vast majority of trade conducted by
Soviet companies -- imports and exports -- involves, as you know better
than I, trade between Republics. The nine-plus-one agreement holds forth
the hope that Republics will combine greater autonomy with greater
voluntary interaction -- political, social, cultural, economic -- rather
than pursuing the hopeless course of isolation.
And so, American
investors and businessmen look forward to doing business in the Soviet
Union, including the Ukraine. We've signed agreements this week that
will encourage further interaction between the U.S. and all levels of
the Soviet Union. But ultimately, our trade relations will depend upon
our ability to develop a common language, a common language of commerce
-- currencies that communicate with one another, laws that protect
innovators and entrepreneurs, bonds of understanding and trust.
should be obvious that the ties between our nations grow stronger every
single day. I set forth a Presidential initiative that is providing
badly needed medical aid to the Soviet Union. And this aid expresses
Americans' solidarity with the Soviet peoples during a time of hardship
and suffering. And it has supplied facilities in Kiev that are treating
victims of Chernobyl. You should know that America's heart -- the hearts
of all -- went out to the people here at the time of Chernobyl.
have sent teams to help you improve upon the safety of Ukrainian
nuclear plants and coal mines. We've also increased the number of
cultural exchanges with the Republics, including more extensive legal,
academic, and cultural exchanges between America and Ukraine.
understand that you cannot reform your system overnight. America's first
system of government -- the Continental Congress -- failed because the
States were too suspicious of one another and the central government too
weak to protect commerce and individual rights. In 200 years, we have
learned that freedom, democracy, and economic liberty are more than
terms of inspiration. They're more than words. They are challenges.
great poet Shevchenko noted: Only in your own house can you have your
truth, your strength, and freedom. No society ever achieves perfect
democracy, liberty, or enterprise; it if makes full use of its people's
virtues and abilities, it can use these goals as guides to a better
And now, as Soviet citizens try to forge a new social
compact, you have the obligation to restore power to citizens
demoralized by decades of totalitarian rule. You have to give them hope,
inspiration, determination -- by showing your faith in their abilities.
Societies that don't trust themselves or their people cannot provide
freedom. They can guarantee only the bleak tyranny of suspicion,
avarice, and poverty.
An old Ukrainian proverb says: When you
enter a great enterprise, free your soul from weakness. The peoples of
the U.S.S.R. have entered a great enterprise, full of courage and vigor.
I have come here today to say: We support those who explore the
frontiers of freedom. We will join these reformers on the path to what
we call -- appropriately call a new world order.
leaders. You are the participants in the political process. And I go
home to an active political process. So, if you saw me waving like mad
from my limousine, it was in the thought that maybe some of those people
along the line were people from Philadelphia or Pittsburgh or Detroit
where so many Ukrainian-Americans live, where so many
Ukrainian-Americans are with me in the remarks I've made here today.
has been a great experience for Barbara and me to be here. We salute
you. We salute the changes that we see. I remember the French
expression, vive la difference, and I see different churnings around
this Chamber, and that is exactly the way it ought to be. One guy wants
this and another one that. That's the way the process works when you're
open and free -- competing with ideas to see who is going to emerge
correct and who can do the most for the people in Ukraine.
so, for us this has been a wonderful trip, albeit far too short. And may
I simply say, may God bless the people of Ukraine. Thank you very, very