Vice President Bush charged last night that some of the young leaders of Western Europe's anti-nuclear-weapons campaign were echoing Soviet propaganda and forgetting the lessons of World War II, when lack of preparedness led to war.
Defending the need for the North Atlantic alliance to maintain its nuclear strength in Europe and to modernize with new U.S.-built Pershing II and cruise missiles, Bush warned that if there is no effective deterrent to attack, all of Western Europe will become hostage to the Soviet Union, which has massive conventional forces facing NATO's borders.
Referring to "Ban the Bomb" signs at a demonstration in London last week, Bush said: "The real question is this: if by banning the bomb in Western Europe we ensure the eventual domination of it by the Soviet Union, either by direct military conquest or by nuclear blackmail, then what do we accomplish?"
Bush's remarks were prepared for delivery before an alumni group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. A copy of his speech was made available by the White House.
Bush spoke in the aftermath of sizable anti-nuclear-weapon demonstrations recently in London, Bonn, Rome, Brussels and other allied capitals. Many of these protests had a distinctly anti-American overtone and Bush talked of the "exquisite irony" that the United States, rather than the Soviet Union, should find itself characterized by many of the sign-carriers as the major threat to world peace.
In the last decade, he charged, "the Soviets and their allies have contributed 10 million refugees to the world scene--people fleeing from oppression in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Cuba."
Yet Bush acknowledged that the protests were having some effect. "The Soviet disinformation apparatus is as disquieting as it is dishonest, but it has not been unsuccessful," he said.
Bush said he didn't question the idealism of many of the young demonstrators but "I do question their perspective. The rhetoric that we heard from some of the spokesmen was oddly consonant with the editorial line of Tass the Soviet news agency and Pravda the communist party newspaper and other landmarks of free speech."
Bush argued that the new NATO missiles were essential to deter war by making it clear to the Soviets there would be no gain from an attack. As for European fears that the United States is moving toward a war fought only on a European battlefield, Bush claimed "it is the very presence of these missiles that guarantees United States involvement in any attack on Western Europe." He said the weapons are also necessary to retain the arms balance in Europe and that Moscow is upset about NATO's resolve to deploy these missiles because the Soviets "aren't interested in balance."
Finally, Bush claimed the arms program is essential because it got the Soviets to the bargaining table and that without the program "there would have been no prospect of limiting the Soviet threat to Europe."