Public Papers - 1992
Remarks to General Dynamics Employees in Fort Worth, Texas
Thank you all very much for that welcome. And Bill Anders, thank you, Bill. It's a great pleasure to be introduced by Bill Anders, a friend of long standing. And it's great to be back here, back home in Texas, the home of Jose Canseco. [Laughter] I think we're all in the wrong line of work, don't you? I'll tell you.
But let me thank Jim Mellor here. I'm glad to be back here with him. He reminded me that I flew the simulator when I was here last time. He was gracious enough, given the circumstances, not to remind me that the simulator obviously had a failure because it crashed with me at the helm there. [Laughter] But it was pilot error, I'm afraid. And let me also thank our two Congressmen here today, Pete Geren, Joe Barton. Mayor Granger is with us, the Mayor of Fort Worth. And look at this hardware. I guess they had General Dynamics in mind when they said, don't mess with Texas.
With all the Air Force types here, the true heroes of Desert Storm, I hate to bore you with war stories. But 48 years ago to this very day, September 2, 1944, I was shot down while on a bombing raid flying off our carrier over the island of Chichi Jima. I think if I'd only had F - 16's, things might have been a lot different, a lot different. In all seriousness, I can't blame the plane I was flying. It was the best torpedo bomber ever to land on a carrier. I did learn, though, from that combat experience something that I think everybody here knows and has contributed to: Give our pilots the best, and then fight to win. Don't tie their hands behind their backs. And that's exactly what they did over there in Desert Storm.
I am very pleased to be here this afternoon, even for a brief visit. I wanted to come to General Dynamics to personally make a statement that concerns all of you, your families, and this wonderful community. I'm announcing this afternoon that I will authorize the sale to Taiwan of 150 F - 16 AB aircraft, made right here in Fort Worth. We're proud to do this. This F - 16 is an example of what only America and Americans can do. Only American technology, only American skill could have produced this flawless piece of craftsmanship which is sought all around the world.
Throughout this century, the marvels of American defense have saved lives, kept the peace, and defended American values. The world has seen the F - 16 in action. Over the skies of Desert Storm the F - 16 continued America's tradition of military excellence in more than 13,000 combat sorties. At this very moment planes like these may well be flying over Iraq to guarantee that the bully of Baghdad, Saddam Hussein, will not brutalize his own people by striking at them from the skies.
This sale of F - 16's to Taiwan will help maintain peace and stability in an area of great concern to us, the Asia-Pacific region, in conformity with our law. In the last few years, after decades of confrontation, great strides have been made in reducing tensions between Taipei and Beijing. During this period, the United States has provided Taiwan with sufficient defensive capabilities to sustain the confidence it needs to reduce these tensions. That same sense of security has underpinned Taiwan's dramatic evolution toward democracy.
My decision today does not change the commitment of this administration and its predecessors to the three communiques with the People's Republic of China. We keep our word: our one-China policy, our recognition of the P.R.C. as the sole legitimate government of China. I've always stressed that the importance of the 1982 communique on arms sales to Taiwan lies in its promotion of common political goals: peace and stability in the area through mutual restraint.
Your airplane, this great airplane, and this sale also sends a larger message to the American people as we consider how we're going to win the global economic competition. The weapons of defense that the world saw perform so brilliantly in Desert Storm were conceived by American research scientists, designed by American engineers, crafted by the best workers in the world, the American working men and women. They were guided and operated by the young men and women of our volunteer Armed Forces, the very generation that will lead America into the next century.
My message is simple: No nation can defeat us when we set our minds to a task. Now we've got to turn those same energies and genius to the challenge at home, to secure our economic base, to ensure that the high-wage, high-tech jobs of the future are made in America. The country that dropped missiles down smokestacks, that created a technological miracle like the F - 16 can and will create the products the world needs in the new era of economic competition. The country that produced the most disciplined and high-skilled fighting force in history can and will find a way to utilize the talents of all of our young people.
America's role as a military superpower was not preordained. It took the ingenuity of our workers, the creativity of our scientists, and the experience of our business leaders. Now we must maintain our lead as the world's economic superpower and export superpower. And it will require the same magical combination of ingenuity and creativity and experienced leadership, the same magical combination that you've created right here at General Dynamics.
Let me make one final point, one final point. Though the world is a much more peaceful place today, I will continue to fight for a strong defense budget. We cannot take a chance. We cannot take a chance.
Some are already proposing defense cuts far beyond the levels that our military experts feel are reasonable. I've had sound budget levels recommended to me by Colin Powell, by all the Joint˙20Chiefs of Staff, by the Secretary of Defense. And now some in this political year want to slash defense budgets, slash the muscle of our defense. I do not want to see us go back to the days of the hollow Army or the return of an Air Force less strong than our needs require. And not only would some of the cuts proposed in this election year cut into the real muscle of our defense, they would needlessly throw defense workers out of work. And I will not have that.
Thank you very, very much for this welcome. And let me say it is a great pleasure to be able to support this sale. It is a great pleasure to come here and to salute you, the finest workers in the world. Thank you all. And may God bless our great country. Thank you very much. Thank you.
Note: The President spoke at 5:11 p.m. at the General Dynamics facility at Carswell Air Force Base. In his remarks, he referred to William A. Anders, chief executive officer, and James R. Mellor, president, General Dynamics; and Jose Canseco, Texas Rangers baseball player.