Peace for Afghanistan
On 25 December 1979, the Soviet Union deployed its army in Afghanistan, in support of the Afghan Communist government against a group of Muslim opponents. For the next nine years, the Soviet army was involved in a long-drawn out military conflict without a victory, creating a constant embarrassment for Soviet military might. The expense of causalities and supplies was a constant drain on the already weak Soviet economy. As part of Mikhail Gorbachev's reforms, economically and through his support of disarmament, the Soviet Union began to withdraw its troops in May 1988, with total withdrawal to be completed by 15 February 1989. In this speech by U.S. President Ronald Reagan on the eve of his Moscow summit with Gorbachev, the President celebrates the arrival of peace in Afghanistan, with a comment on the U.S.-Soviet progress toward disarmament.
Ronald Reagan, "Radio Address to the Nation on the Soviet-United States Summit Meeting in Moscow," speech, The White House, Washington, D.C., May 28, 1988, Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Public Papers, Reagan Library (accessed May 15, 2008).
As this pretaped broadcast reaches you, I'm in Helsinki, Finland, on my way to the Soviet Union, where I arrive on Sunday. When I meet in the coming days with Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev, it will be our fourth set of face-to-face talks in 3 years. Through our conversations, U.S.-Soviet relations have moved forward on the basis of frankness and realism. This relationship has not rested on any single issue, but has been built on a sturdy four-part agenda that includes human rights, regional conflicts, arms reduction, and bilateral exchanges. What has been achieved in this brief span of time offers great hope for a brighter future and a safer world.
Through Western firmness and resolve, we concluded the historic INF treaty that provides for the global elimination of an entire class of U.S. and Soviet intermediate-range nuclear missiles. Soviet armed forces are now withdrawing from Afghanistan, an historic event that should lead finally to peace, self-determination, and healing for that long-suffering people and to an independent and undivided Afghan nation.