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President Carter's state of the union message: comments by Mr Andrew Peacock



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No. M25 Date 24 January THE HON. ANDREW PEACOCK M.P.

PRESIDENT CARTER'S STATE OF THE UNION MESSAGE: COMMENTS BY MR ANDREW PEACOCK

Commenting today in Singapore on President Carter's State of the Union message, the Foreign Minister, Mr Andrew Peacock, said that the address will stand out as anhistorial statement - one of the most significant delivered by an American president in our time. It embodies a new resolve which marks the end of a troubled period in American history and demonstrates the vitality of the United States and its capacity to renew itself in the face'· of new challenges.

Mr Peacock said that the statement is all the more impressive because it was made by a man who is not bellicose, who is not rushed to judgement, whose natural instinct is to believe the best not the worst of those with whom he has to deal. It embodies conclusions

reached with deliberation and firmness in the face of the overwhelming and brutual evidence provided by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. ·

The Minister noted that that invasion is of major significance because

. it has involved the first direct use of Soviet force' against a non-aligned country, a country outside the Soviet bloc

. it has brought Soviet military power into a region which, because of its oil wealth, is of vital interest to the maintenance of the global system

. as President Carter said, it has dramatised the vastly increased military power of the Soviet Union, power relentlessly built up during a period when the United States' own defence spending was declining

in real terms. As he concludes, this war machine goes far beyond any reasonable requirement for the Soviet Union's own defence and security.

"Those who have spoken of "over-reaction" and ."hastiness", Mr Peacock said, "have ignored the gravity of these facts".

Mr Peacock continued that President Carter's statement shapes in a fundamental way the forward structure of the United States foreign policy in the 1980's. Its general analysis and assessments are matched with specific programs and measures. These include

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steps to increase the flexibility of United States' forces and their ability to respond r/apidly and effectively to crises beyond the European theatre. It makes with stark realism the central point that peace and negotiations are not divisible from strength and -

firmness in the face of aggression. If world order is to endure through the 19801s that truth must be realised and acted upon - not only by the United States but by all countries who are concerned to preserve that order and their own national independence. This includes Third World countries and some communist states

as well as western ones; non-aligned countries as well as aligned ones; developing countries as well as developed ones.

"The United States has enormous strength", Mr Peacock noted, "but it must not be expected to carry the whole burden, its Government and its people need to be supported. We in Australia recognise this".

"Speaking as I am midway through my mission to South East and South Asia on behalf of the Australian Government", the Minister said, "I draw particular attention to the stress President Carter puts first, on the inportance of Asia and the Pacific to the United States and, secondly, on the importance of the global balance of power to Asian security. What has happened in Afghanistan

and what is happening in Kampuchea are not entirely unrelated. Both are happening in and both reflect the context of increasing Soviet power and assertiveness. President Carter's address recognises this and his new policy proposals are a response to that recognition

Implicit in what he says - and its vital that we all recognise it is the fact that interdependence encompasses peace and security as well as economic progress".