Skip to main content

tv   Engaging the Evil Empire  CSPAN  February 2, 2021 9:28pm-11:00pm EST

9:28 pm
participates in his discussion in his book engaging that evil empire, the beginning of the end of the cold war. joined by several historians, president reagan's carrot and stick approach with changes in the diplomatic strategy helped to defuse tensions by the superpowers in the 19 eighties. this online event was cohosted by the national history center and the wilson center which provided the video. >> i am delighted to introduce a moderate today's panel. it's going to begin a
9:29 pm
conversation about engaging evil empire, washington, moscow in the beginning of the end of the cold war. a conversation to which we invite all of you in about 30 40 minutes. again, feel free to use the raise hand function or email us at rachel weekly at historians dot or. you can already get in line, start raising your hands if you have questions. it will give us a sense of how many questions are out. there we would like to accommodate as many of you as possible. first up, doctor simon miles, the author of the book. he is a professor in the stanford school of public policy at duke university. he is a historian of the cold war, he has published research and to diplomatic history, diplomacy and stagecraft. he is the author of the book we will be talking about today,
9:30 pm
engaging the evil empire. his first book, he holds a ph.d. in history from the university of texas and he will now talk for about five to ten minutes about his book after which were going to introduce our distinguished commentators. simon over to you. >> thank you so much, it's a pleasure to be here. especially here as so much of the historical scholarship that really got me excited about history and it's probably the reason i am a historian and i will leave it up to the audience decide if that's for better or for worse. it's some closely related to the wilson centre. and all the work that was being done by those who went before me. it's a treat to be here with you. especially with mary and elizabeth, getting some comments from them
9:31 pm
which i look forward to. this book started for me is a puzzle. it started as a real puzzle. on the one hand, i was very familiar with the kind of cold war story of i guess we could say the death of détente. the soviet and get invasion of afghanistan, the iraq crisis, the events and flatten america and africa, that spells the end for many people of us soviet--. and on the other hand i knew the story of reagan and gore because of. you know strolling across red square, and cooperation. seeing the transformation of the cold war, from conflict to cooperation. so much so that i would say that late 19 eighties period,
9:32 pm
is one of the textbook cases of old rivals putting their differences aside and at the end of the cold war itself is something that strikes me, by its rapidity and also it's unexpectedness it's there and then it is gone and i especially wondered then, so how did we get there? how did we get the end of this cold war story and how did we get there in a way that seems like such a swing, from the end of détente, to the end of us soviet cooperation, to collaboration and cooperation between the two superpowers. in particular, how did we get there during a period in which the story, the conventional story goes, the superpowers are not even talking to each other. you have
9:33 pm
on the one hand reagan, who is maybe to ideologically focused to even talk to the soviets, and on the other hand yet soviet leaders who epitomized the jerry talker c in charged. so something has to have happened it seem to me. during those intervening years. the first half of the 19 eighties, that explains how we get from the late seventies, to the late 1980s. and so, in this project i went looking for that. i went looking for an explanation that could tell us something more than this second cold war image of implacable hostility. but they could show us, but i can through this transformation and also maybe we figure some of the momentous process that we
9:34 pm
associate with the ending of the cold war. so i went looking in the archives, the soviet archives, the american archives, and i went to washington d.c., i would looking in the archives of a lot of their allies. one of the elements i'm proud of about this book is the incorporation of a variety of perspectives on the cold war, and variety of materials as well. let me run down the three big things that i found and in the q&as and conversations, we'll probably flush
9:35 pm
and one of over dialogue in the summits between reagan and gore which if. that's a big thing i found, these were these two shifts, that explained trends that are locked in the first half of the eighties, and have such an influence on the latter half of the decade. the second thing i found that many argue that ronald reagan was either kind of a flip-flop or on strategy towards the soviet union, and some people famously argued reagan had none. some people said the reagan was too much of a simpleton to have one in the first place, i thought the united states implemented a consistent approach to the soviet union. a dual track strategy which shaped both of
9:36 pm
those aforementioned prostheses. the two elements there of, are basically carrot and stick. so reagan himself called this, because there's a lot of back channel talks that are going on a lot of deals are being done quietly, about human rights issues. but the second element, the stick is the famous peace through strength, and the american military buildup. and the political offensive, to try to bring american allies on board. the third point i want to make, at the beginning of this and it's important to me because of the nature of the work, is that moscow actually had strategies of its own. the soviet union is not just being acted upon but rather, they are an active participant in the cold war at this time, and indeed even under at the end of his life
9:37 pm
you are and drop off, and churning co-, as well as michael grove achieve. i tried to look at these years as a fairly consistent application of the soviet approach to policy which was to reduce tension cold war tensions, to be able to create breathing space for moscow. to compete more effectively and upset a lot so i don't want to wrap it up there but let me say again thank you to everyone in the audience for coming and thank you for organizing this i'm really looking to talking about this book. thank >> you simon and is mentioned we have distinguish commentators here with us today to start the conversation.
9:38 pm
elizabeth and mary. so elizabeth, she is a historian in the office at the state department, research and compiling the foreign relations of the united states. and she completed the reagan administration foreign relation volumes, in 1983 to 1985. and 1985 to 1986. and the nuclear forces treaty. she is now researching george each double you bush on the collapse of the soviet union. she finished her ph.d. in modern russian, at george washington university in 2010, and henry assessing the impact on foreign policy. and us soviet relations. she has a masters in russian history from boston colleges from boston college. and she serves as a --
9:39 pm
four history the federal government. she served as the curriculum and training committee, for the national council and public history. so mary is the inaugural owner of the distinguished professor ship at john hopkins university and most recently she was the dean's professor of history at the university of southern california. she is also a research associate at harvard university, and she earned her ph.d. at harvard, and ph.d. at yale university in history, she is the author of five books including the collapse, 1989 the struggle to create post cold war europe. both of which were selected as financial
9:40 pm
times books of the year. that's among her other distinctions and awards. falling graduate school, mary served as a white house fellow, and join the faculty of the university of cambridge where she received tenure and she is a former humbled scholar, and she's a member of foreign relations, and so we will start with mary, who is in part a little early today she went to teach, and i've asked her to and her commentary with a couple of questions, and then simon will get a chance to respond to the questions, so we can start. so mary, the floor is yours. great to have us with you. >> it's an honour to be here, it's a pleasure to acknowledge the work of a brilliant scholar,
9:41 pm
doing amazing work on the reagan era. which we all want to understand, and it's hugely important. i was casting my eye over names of people in the audience and it's a huge testimony to your work, and it's important the names of the people who are here, just to name a few who have entered the room. nate jones, davis bowl, james man, samuel wells. it's an impression collection of colleagues and editors, and just participants in the events. it's a testimony to the importance of your work simon. it's great to be here today. i recommend that you all by the book, you can do well and talking. just go to in the books or amazon or wherever it is you want, and you don't even have to pretend to listen to me, because i can't see anybody. so
9:42 pm
you can go ahead and do that. so i was told to give you a few minutes of thought, because we want to make sure we got time for the audience, i will go into any great detail but i'm a huge fan of the book. and i am particularly interested to learn about the opinion of the 19 eighties. because the 19 eighties are janice faced decade. we start the war with this potential that there could be nuclear conflict, but we end it with the collapse of the berlin wall. the first half of the eighties is different in the second half of the eighties. because of the extreme difficulty of working as a scholar at the reagan library, in my view the first half of the decade is under research compared to the second half. i've worked with the excellent archivists at the george age w book librarnfaaha
9:43 pm
last century. so everyone who works in that area knows that there is a large amount of documents out in the public domain, and i'm pleased to hear that elizabeth charles is working on bringing even more out. where is the reagan library, not for lack of trying by the staff, but somehow the weight of this is functions more as a museum, and a platform for events and for research. and it is really fiendishly difficult to work there. it is a credit to simon that he's been able to work there. it's becoming an odd hole in the historical goofy, and i'm currently and i recently got a bunch of documents declassified from the clinton presidential library, most notably the transcripts between clinton and elton. we still have this hole in the reagan two years, it's great to
9:44 pm
have simon's book fill this hole. it was wonderful to see documentation, and this idea that there was no reagan reversal, that is a persistent theme, that there was this complete about face by president reagan between the first and second term. i will be interested to hear more about that for me simon, and i was particularly interested to read that when there was no reagan reversal, because i know from advances or matt lock that he was consistently said that and it's good to see it confirmed by scholars. and it's important that the history of these events be written not just by participants, but by historians. as john geddes has written a participant in events, doesn't have necessarily the best view. because your perceptions extend no farther than your own senses. and a participant is participating,
9:45 pm
and you obviously know exactly what's going on but you don't have perspective. so it's useful to have a historians perspective as well. and john geddes has written a perspective from that of a distant height. you lose the detail but the perspective is much greater. so it is good to have both accounts by participants. so i just have one area that i want to zero in on, because it's of interest to me in my current writing on nato expansion in the 1990s. at one point in the book simon, you talk about page 49, about ways that the kremlin hoped to use the debate over intermediate range nuclear forces to break nato. of course to play on this tension, between the one hand with nato the necessary of having a necessity of having the weapons,
9:46 pm
but the conventional line in journalism relatively thin line for the soviets to punch through. and the other hand, the tension between the us and nato, the position on those forces were necessarily versus the popularity popular revulsion in them so this comes up against later, once the world comes down once the wall comes down, and putting the brakes on german reunification after the wall comes down so it is suggested to garbage off, how about we propose some kind of referendum, where we say to the germans, you can have unification, if you give up the nuclear weapons on your soil. particularly short-range ones. and this should be a win-win, because either the west and helmet coal would not have this referendum at all, which would be a public relations coup from
9:47 pm
moscow, because they're saying where more paying attention to public opinion in the west. or they would have this referendum, and a chance that moscow's favourite side would win. so i would be interested in your thoughts about how that is playing out in the early 1980s. and i can't even stretch stress this enough, the landscape switches in the middle of the decade, so working in the early eighties is different in the nineties, and i think in the future for example historians working in 2020, there is so much going on, that some historians said that i worked on october 1st 2020, but only on twitter. and we have to be that specific. the eighties are quite that bad, but it is such a rich decade, that has a meaningful difference to work on the early versus versus late. so thank you simon for writing this book. >> great thanks mary and simon
9:48 pm
do you want to respond to mary's question? >> happily, if i could i can pick up maybe on your point about the quantity of information. and it is so true that as time progresses, the quantity of material that requires declassification grows. longer it nickel. especially once we get into the world of you know i really feel for those whose job it is to do public work, and to get that information out including of course, to elizabeth and her colleagues at the state department. but you mentioned some of the challenges, and part of the solution to that was sort of docketed use of metr requests. to the extent that i could and to the extent that those came in time. i
9:49 pm
spent five years getting my phd and that was not enough time for a great many of those requests to be completed. i am still waiting on some of those. and it's been a couple of years since i finished. so part of my approach with this book was to try to find back doors. and of course that was applicable to the russian case, where some of the eastern bloc nations, especially east germany, of course czechoslovakia, and also ukraine provided a real wealth of scholars, of material for scholars who want that eastern bloc perspective but maybe can't necessarily get it in russia. so i have to stress, that the russian archives right now, are extraordinarily open. and the amount of material you can get now in moscow, is pretty spectacular in terms of things which had been open for only a brief amount of time in the 1990s. they were closed
9:50 pm
down in the sort of mid elton years, and they have now been opened back up. i certainly make use of some of that in this book, and i'm working in those materials right now for another project. so, where that led me was indeed, and i want to talk about the reversal and i want to talk about other things that mary has charged me with. so the reagan reversal story, that makes a lot of sense right? because if we focus as a lot of the key words that were put forward but the key works that were put forward with this argument as it did, if we look at the public elements of, this that is absolutely what you see. you get evil empire speech, that is mid 83, before that in late 1982, and you have the westminster speech, communism
9:51 pm
history, and there's a lot of harsh rhetoric and then it really does change quickly. so where i sort of deal with the ideal with the reagan reversal pieces, by saying what else is going on here? what else is actually happening under the hood if you will of american policy. that is where to me, pitcher becomes a lot more complicated. on one hand some of the catalysts that have been put forward as having to catalyze this reversal, looked different to me using international archival sources. the alleged near miss of nuclear war for example, but also a lot of internal politics bureaucratic policy elements. but also what is actually happening and reagan didn't
9:52 pm
just decide for example in january of 1984, that he wanted to talk to the soviets. he decided that back in the mid 1970s. at the same time that for political reasons that he was lambasting jerry ford for doing it, and then lambasting jimmy carter for doing it, he was also saying publicly, that we need to find a way to talk to them, and find a way to make progress on matters of mutual interest. so reagan starts singing this tune in the seventies, and in the 19 eighties he starts implementing it quite quickly. and in the book i highlight an episode in berlin, where the reagan administration maintains a very sustained back channel dialogue between the us ambassador to the federal republic of germany, to west germany and the soviet ambassador to eastern money. to
9:53 pm
the german democratic republic. and the former, reagan's appointee, shows up. he says ronald reagan sent me here to use this as a forum for discussion for conversation, to try to keep the cold war under control. to try to keep it cold. so when i see is not really a reversal, but rather a shift in emphasis. it's a shift in emphasis from more of the buildup, and it's important to stress here, whenever reagan is maybe in lionize a shun today, in 1980 81, he is not american optimism personified. he is the opposite. he is so pessimistic, as are many of the people on his team who are saying the soviets have us be in strategic arms, they have us have had us before forever, and conventional forces in europe, so we are in big trouble here folks. then you have stag flay
9:54 pm
shun, economic disasters, and the demoralization of the american public. so as the us situation improves, reagan is more more confident and his advisers are more and more confident, and as you said ambassador matt lock, who are we are privileged to count as a college here duke, but also george shields who push this agenda forward of doing more overt as, opposed to covert engagement. so that's how i think about, it to me this is also if i can say as someone who not only teaches history but teaches strategy, this is good strategy. good strategy is responsive to changing realities, whether that's at home or abroad, so good strategy is interactive. in a sense. and what reagan would call quiet diplomacy it bears fruit, he keeps doing it. because it is road tested. and your question about imf and
9:55 pm
nato. i think it's such an interesting one, because it shows how much more is going on in this period and just the superpowers. you know that is a civil society question too. imf especially in the early 19 eighties is an extremely extremely fraught subject, at home, and some of the biggest protests in the history of some of europe's great cities, our over the imf issue. especially in germany, which is going to be the home of two persian ballistic missiles. there's big questions about whether italy, belgium, the netherlands, will even accept the deployment of nato nuclear weapons on their territory, at military installations there. this is the airy this is the era of universe of peace and peace
9:56 pm
organizations, and not only is in western europe, also there's a robust east german peace movement, and yes indeed in western europe, and funded in part by the soviet union, or by the east german's often. these germans where the conduit for the cash and for the various forms of support, but not made up of communist sympathizers. but made up of people who are really worried about inviting nuclear attack on their homes, with the presence of these weapons. and that is not a uniquely european phenomenon, look at the midwest, and the minutemen. the those who live around the minutemen silos. ranchers and things like that, they have great concerns about living next to a giant bull's eye. so to speak. so the soviets see this as a useful
9:57 pm
opportunity, and that is why they are putting a lot of money and effort into trying to drive a wedge. something they can call into question, whether or not the military element of the nato alliance, a military alliance, is actually viable. the strikes a lot of people in the kremlin as a real valuable opportunity to try to call into question some of the ancient, you know the old coral cold war issues. will the united states really trade new york prepare for paris? or chicago for bond, or for west berlin? so using nato, imf to break nato, is appealing to the soviets, and it is cheap in the grand screen and the grand scheme, and when you can test nato's viability, and certainly in november 1983,
9:58 pm
this is a really big setback for the soviets as they see it. but it is also a disappointment to a lot of people around eastern europe. take for example, around western europe as well, and take for example, the us invasion of grenada in 1983. which is done invading a commonwealth country, with no notice to the uk. mark that your herself start saying will wait a minute. you are putting nuclear weapons on my territory, and if you do that without giving us a heads up, what are you doing with those powerful tools? so this is i think a key part of that story. and thank you for those questions, and for your generous comments. >> thank you let's let's bring in elizabeth to the conversation.
9:59 pm
>> hi everyone thank you, i'm incredibly pleased to be here and to discuss this amazing new look. i know simon has been working on this project for a long time, and i cannot talk enough about the depth of archival research and all of the archives you went through, to make this book shine. and it shows us what you can do looking at allies archives, and digging around in places that you may not think you're going to find things, and allowing you to get the nuance of these stories on these two superpowers during this period. so do you need to start with my disclaimer? that these views are mine. and all of my comments are based today solely on declassified, and publicly available materials now that that is out of the way, much like simon, i have worked
10:00 pm
with these characters and documents and in these archives for far too long. and lived with these people and their decision-making and how they work is really fascinating. simon has done us a great service, there is an enormous gap in this literature. this book on the end of cold war, goes with gorbachev and goes to 1991. and it talks about how gorbachev's reforms really impacted what happened in 1991. but he shows us with this book, in this week period, the current of these events were really there. i know very well from my work in the office that i've completed with my colleague who completed the other reagan volumes that we see the documentation of reagan reaching out, talking to the soviets and trying to open
10:01 pm
dialog. it's all behind the scenes, it's not for public. in public, like simon said, and from the u.s. you get very with major rhetoric about the evil empire. how this obviate system did not work and would not function. this is all in public. it is the behind the scenes that really shines through in his book. and to me, it is in the title, engaging. it is behind the scenes with secretary of state schultz, talking to the soviet ambassador. we see ambassador hartman in moscow engaging with his soviet counterparts when possible. we see them meeting on the fringes of un meetings, any other international meetings
10:02 pm
where they could, they are trying to find a way to communicate, they're trying to open this dialog and in one of the footnotes which i think is entertaining to have this in a footnote, footnote to 43. and they were saying, a reminder to bush that neither superpower should allow strong rhetoric for domestic consumption to influence the substance of their international relations. to me, that encapsulates what this book is really about. in public, we may say things but be diplomatically behind the scenes we are trying to figure out a way to make this relationship more fruitful and engaging with each other. why this is happening is the most important, and simon shines through with his analysis. he explains to us that the soviet union needed that
10:03 pm
breathing space. i enjoyed your analysis of how they were behind the scenes running things. i would find that fascinating. i would love for you to talk more about that. it is held these leaders were making decisions to engage, to give the breathing space they needed because they recognize that reagan and the u.s. were on an economically better footing. so in order to get where the soviet union needed to be to improve its economic situation, they're going to have to cooperate. once we get gorbachev, this changes dramatically and gorbachev is much more well positioned to make all of this happened. the other thing i think silence book does is put this in a global context. it tells the story of the u.s. and soviets and how they were trying to engage but it also
10:04 pm
talks about the allies on each side, how it impacted leaders and how they are meeting with u.s. officials. how u.s. officials were meeting with people in east germany. people are meeting in london, people were trying to talk all of this through. i thought it was interesting and i wish we had more of that but i believe that was an issue of space and trying that's right too long of a book. i think you do an excellent job of weaving in the dramatic events and issues, especially 1983 was very tumultuous. with the vessels being deployed. what is in it for either side to keep engaging, keep talking? you really delve into that and that is where this book provides us an excellent analysis. this period that has not been studied enough until now. so, my two questions that i
10:05 pm
will start out with. you mentioned that within each government, the soviet and the u.s. government, there are definitely factions who do not want reagan to engage with the soviets and you don't want the soviet leadership to try to go back to daytona and engage with the u.s.. this comes out in the book. i'm wondering if you could flesh that out a little and talk about these factions and how reagan is able to push down people like murkowski and weinberger and make them realize that they are serious about talking to the soviets. the same thing from the soviet side. i think we need to know more about the soviet grand strategy, what they are trying to do. i wrote in my dissertation about gorbachev dealing with these factions and making arms control deals. but i think some of our discussion of that would be really interesting.
10:06 pm
i think, what paul sees lay the foundation for gorbachev that maybe we under appreciate, that we are not thinking enough about. do you have one or two ideas that they started that gorbachev was able to deal with? i have more questions, but i will stop there from now and just say that i really enjoyed reading this book. the footnotes archival use is incredible, thank you for writing it. i will look forward to a discussion with all of these amazing participants. >> great, thank you so much. simon? >> thank you so much, and with an eye on the clock i am going to not give as full an answer as i could to those pair of excellent questions. let me make the following remarks, i too wish there had been a lot more on the allies
10:07 pm
in here and in order to scratch that itch, writing in history of the warsaw act, but that will be a little bit of time coming but i am looking forward to actually using some of the material that was on the cutting room for for this project, to drive that project, or at least part of it. >> on the factions issue, this i think is such an important element because not only at the time at a lot of government except for those parts that were intensely focused on the kremlin, but also in a lot of popular perceptions of the soviet union then and now, it is very much a monolith. indeed, even the phrase evil empire connotes they're being
10:08 pm
with an emperor. and emperor who runs the show. and what i found for this period and so many other people who have done work on the soviet union before me and after me find, it's really a lot more complicated than that. in fact i can probably answer both of your questions by talking about the andropov coterie. people in the kgb but people also in the natural department to had a really strong sense of that all was not well. there is a wonderful memoir -- an analytical section of the kgb who talks about defections and not high-profile defections, .
10:09 pm
but young kgb officers, probably in the first postings in the west who had kind of gone through all that ideological vetting and they get to the west and then say, you know, this is it from. this is for me. that is the information that andropov is seeing and a lot of other people in leadership or see. we and they talk about how andropov says, this tells me about something about our country, where we are with the rest of the world. the answer to the andropov policy is actually the fostering of this coterie that they call themselves the freethinker's. the creation of an environment in which they could come a lot closer to speaking truth to power that anyone could elsewhere in the soviet union. who is the most famous of their number? of course, gorbachev.
10:10 pm
who comes into office with a keen understanding of the full picture of the soviet union's problems. ,. chernenko andropov. they both understand this. one of my mentors is graduate student. always described to me as americas preeminent chernenko revisionist. i don't think he meant it as a compliment. i wear that patch probably. i see a lot of interesting, i wouldn't say policy innovations. because a lot of what he is doing is going back to the playbook but he's wary aware of the problems and in some ways, he is aware of the problem so
10:11 pm
he turns to some older solutions. there is a whole power struggle going on around him and some of these efforts are confounded, the fact his kids don't work also confound some of these efforts. and then in the united states, george schultz is such a key figure here. because he is an extremely skilled political operator, but he can also deliver results. so when the murkowski and weinberger are trying to stymie these efforts, not only can schultz go around in the bureaucratic angling, but he also comes back with a win. and that's pretty consistently. that is very, very meaningful in terms of actually shaping american policy. so, i see those as the key elements here.
10:12 pm
and andropov introduces certain economic policies which figure in some ways. given his kgb background, he is a lot more reticent about touching. gorbachev is a real innovator in that regard. but he sets a bit of establishment, a precedent. it is very popular to say that nixon only can go to china. and that's neither here nor there. but andropov certainly had the win strength to say that we need to change this, this is not working without undermining the system. gorbachev takes that and runs with it and he says there's damage to the system. that is not a value judgment. that is an observation. that is a key element also of that. but thank you for -- you are extremely generous with
10:13 pm
your comments. >> thank you so much, we are quickly getting to the queue and a session and i do want to give the audience a chance to chime in. i know, mary, you have to run. is there anything on your mind that you would like to ask simon? otherwise, i will see if elizabeth has another question. i might come in later in the discussion but i know you have to run. anything urgent? >> i only wanted to say that the photo behind me is the reagan ranch, which i pulled up in honor of simon's visit. i would recommend a visit to, it's a very interesting place. totally unrelated, i would like to encourage everyone to vote. am i loud to do that? we >> is their election coming up? >> yeah, there is. other than that, have a good time with the audience. you have an amazing crowd. you haven't been able to be
10:14 pm
scrolling through the comments, because you have been talking. but there's a lot of depth and expertise out there. >> excellent, thank you. if there are further questions, i will try to bring them in later in the conversation. i will try to weave you in later. simon, if he could be a little bit more concise, that would allow us to accommodate more questions. the wilson center is home to this project and we have focused on making acceptable materials from the other side, the soviet side. i would love for you to talk a little bit about that u.s. side and the difficulties there. i think it is important for you to talk a little bit about the russian and other documentation and to what extent it goes
10:15 pm
beyond what has already been uncovered and published in recent years. especially for the gorbachev period, where we are seeing a lot of newark coming out. secondly, perhaps, since that place that has such a big role, if you could talk more explicitly about both sides. and the gorbachev factor. reading gorbachev intention to create for zooming the competition and what strikes some people as reductionist and interpretation of what gorbachev was all. about it's a qualitative difference that the world met with the soviet leader. so if you can
10:16 pm
respond to that i think that is one of the major arguments in the book. that you make. >> yes happily and i will try to do briefly because you know you asked me to talk about all the eastern bloc archival materials under those auspices, but let me do my best to answer both in a brief manner. you need a enormous amount of material they have in russia and, and in a mary mentioned some of the slowness of these classification. but there's a lot of material that you can get you know the russian side of the conversation we're the american side is still classified meeting at the russian side. and i don't think that anyone should be happy about that status quo. and certainly in my interactions
10:17 pm
with my with the folks the us government you know and i like to make the specific episodes and i cite these episodes and my approach was to basically build on kind of network understanding of how alliances work. so even if you accept the most top interpretations of what the warsaw pact was, and i don't and i try to argue against a lot of that in this book, in order to tell someone what to do, you still need to tell them what to do. right you need to explain what they are supposed to say, what they are supposed to do, what they are supposed to think etc. and that leaves a paper trail. and that gives us access to the thinking in moscow, even if only as kind of distilled and packaged for the consumption of their allies. sometimes it also just
10:18 pm
gives us access to stories that have not been told before. i mentioned earlier the berlin back channel, and i have never seen explicit american documents about this, i've seen some materials from papers which if you know about it, it makes more sense in that context, but i've never seen the american side of this, nor if i seen actually the original russian sides of it. and i came across it purely by accident, all of this in the east germany german archives, translated from russian into german. that is the promise to me of, this approach to research. of course, as you said this is an approach which is so deeply connected to the work that the wilson centre and the international history project centre have been doing. under which if, i could talk a very long time about this, so let me just make the point, and
10:19 pm
this might sound a little cryptic, i don't mean it to be. the globe achieve of 1989, is a different court which off then the garbage off of 1985. and for better or worse i think for better, this book ends with the global chev of 1985. so yes there are evolutions in this thinking. and i would argue as an extension, and they are going to make in this book, that some of those have been extremely skillfully packaged in the past, as being kind of pure, liberal minded, policy shifts, but at the time were very much driven by needs. in particular, the need for anything approaching a diplomatic win, even if it was just the successful conclusion of the summit, because things were going so poorly at home. but the gore whichever of 1985 for example, almost immediately
10:20 pm
after coming into power excoriated the united states for caring about human rights. and i talk about that in the book, in the fifth chapter and it jumps off the page here. his real frustration, it jumps off the original pages i would say but his real frustration with all of this american hypocrisy of human rights. and it's very different garbage of in 1985, than the one in 1989, so that is not the full answer but with an eye on the clock on this we're gonna leave it. >> i appreciate that eric? >> thank you so i am not a specialist in the 1980s, so take this question as an outsider's engagement with your engagement with the subject. if i read this correctly, and if i hear you correctly. the impression that one gets,
10:21 pm
clearly or least i get quite clearly, is that the first half of the decade, successfully has laid the foundations for american success in the second half of the decade. and there is something of, a way in which you portray quite positively the reagan administration's approach to dealing with the soviets. and then there is a paragraph, that you have in the introduction about what you don't cover in the book. and you say that, thinking holistic lee about reagan's foreign policy, moving past the partisan rhetoric of both sides, and the failings cannot be ignored no matter the success. and the failings on they centre on american policy in central america. with the contrast in nicaragua, descend in east is,
10:22 pm
the human rights violations inside el salvador, and so could you bring those back into the picture? and so the same reagan who is thoughtfully pursuing his grant strategy in the first half of 19 eighties, he's beginning to lay waste to central america. so if you could bring that into the picture and how does that temper, or if you had twice the number of pages, how would that factor in? >> well it is a critical question, and of course you did not mention this but i think there's a whole conversation to be had on domestic policy as well. and i think a lot of this story holistic lead, as you rightly say, has to do with ronald reagan's leadership style, or as we can probably be more accurate determine lack
10:23 pm
thereof. reagan was a bad manager i think it's fair to say. and you can regularly read for example in internal department memos everyone walking out of a meeting believing that they have been a group given a green light to do whatever they want to do by the president. and if you know what they're talking about, that is impossible because it's predicated on the other one not being allowed to go forward. so people walked out of these meetings taking a lot of license. then we see for example the iran contra scandal, taking a lot of liberties. to put it extremely extremely mildly. so reagan was very focused on the us soviet question. absolutely true, and part of the reason i kind of feel i can get away with this focus is that it mirrors the president, and this is the policy issue the foreign policy
10:24 pm
issue which has his fingerprints most on it. let america, of course is beyond a tragic story of american policy. and in a lot of sense it was allowed to become that by the vicious cycle of a degree of indifference on the part of reagan. but an overall ideological tenor, which he sets which he says that fighting communism is a good thing right. and a lot of aids, who are in regional roles or functional rolls, say okay i want to fight communism, and i'm going to do that and what an america, because that is my purview. then there's also the element of the proximity, and the thinking in a lot of american government circles at the time, and this is not unique to the reagan administration by any stretch, that there is a lot more room for manoeuvre because a lot in america is in the united states
10:25 pm
backyard. feeling that what is acceptable there, you know things are acceptable there which might not be acceptable elsewhere. so where if this were a bigger book, this would be a much less positive book about the reagan administration, because those failings are serious and they are grave and they absolutely matter. which is why i try to acknowledge them in the introduction. and reagan of course, i am a big believer in responsibility in also the fact that the name of the person who is there is it's their responsibility, but when it comes to a lot of issues where reagan is involved he takes back seat. one of the challenges of reagan, is that you in writing this book is that you look at the national security council minutes, and the president is almost absent
10:26 pm
sometimes. it's in the smaller meetings, the meetings after the meetings where he really makes his views known and flatten america is not just, you know this does not excuse anything, but is one of those cases where you see some of this playing out with tragic and disastrous consequences. but thank you for that question that is an important element. >> thank you so much. let's go to audience questions first, i'd like to call ambassador brace wick, at least you can and mute yourself. >> am i unmuted? >> yes you are. >> that was a very thought provoking discussion, and i want to make some brief points. firstly about i envy you having access to the proper history.
10:27 pm
and the documents that have been there. that was a very valid point being made about the participants. and that's important for anybody who writes anything. the second point, the whole policy of the carrots and sticks, of course goes back well before ronald reagan and it starts perhaps, with the doctrine of the late sixties. and specifically the deter--. and thirdly i think it goes to the question, which was mentioned at the beginning, and i think that the perception, the americans had was overwhelming, and we knew that
10:28 pm
the eighties was matched among the russians and i think not enough (inaudible) either by diplomats, or perhaps we have less excuse by historians, (inaudible) of how the situation actually is. the russians worrying about soviet saying this is not working (inaudible) a lot of people gave considerable, input in to try to deal with the problem. so when corporate have arrived he was arriving well prepared. he came out of a background and i think i think that the both the idea, there is great change
10:29 pm
in 1983 or 1984, or after 1985, i'm sure that's not with the book says (inaudible) anyway i want to thank you for very stimulating discussion. >> thank you very much and simon, which he like to respond to that? >> if not, you know. >> let me briefly say the point is well taken, reagan is not the first person to implement such an approach and your reference is spot on. and hopefully, if you do read the book you will find perhaps, the reagan spin on that approach, and indeed on the question that perception, which you rightly raise. which is so critical to
10:30 pm
all the cold war history. >> thank you and let me call next on william william hill. william hill please unmute yourself. can you hear me? >> thank you very much for a fascinating presentation, i have not read the book but i look forward to it very much and going through all of it. because i have witnessed a number of the things that you described and analyze in it from a very junior position. i have one short compliment that you might have a reaction to, and one question. andropov, i am not sure that the non-kgb aspect of his background are fully appreciated in a wider and more popular histories of the soviet
10:31 pm
union, in particular his stint before he moved over to the kgb as head of the international department of the central committee where he assembled around him analysts and heads and many of whom appear much later as architects of strike that. i think he chose a different path as he came back to the bureau and made his push for secretary. i just wonder to what extent you dealt with that aspect? my question involves the reagan administration. i am wondering to what extent you find changes in personnel and how that had influenced the direction and development of u.s. policy towards the sous vide union. we don't get george schultz until a couple of years into the administration, secondly
10:32 pm
reagan starts out with the chief national security adviser on russia and then later moves to jack matt lock. certainly, quite different approaches and different experiences and dealing with the soviets. i wonder, to what extent that sort of personnel dynamic enters into your analysis? thank you very much. >> thank you. let me answer those as briefly as i can. on the point of the former kgb background, absolutely critical. i ranked his policies as one of the most important things he does, bringing this coterie around him, which is the colonel of the team in 1985 and onwards.
10:33 pm
i think that is absolutely critical and i do also agree with you that andropov is the specter of the kgb, and i think they're overplayed in terms of these policy views. he is the loudest voice against any kind of intervention in poland in the early 1980s. vice, his policies towards prague and 68 and hungry. personnel is key. i can talk for a very long time about this, so i will simply, say the arrival of people like george schultz and matt lock who are in step with how reagan thought about the cold war, how
10:34 pm
he thought about the soviet union is vital in enabling the president and others around him to execute on this strategy successfully. i give a lot of credit to matt lock, to george schultz also to george h. w. bush who is a strong voice in the camp during the tough battles. and that includes richard price, who is not totally opposed to this but does not want to go as far as reagan himself. so, thank you for those two points. >> thank you. if members of the audience could introduce themselves briefly by name and affiliation, if you like, that would be helpful. my audio is working. thank you for letting me ask. >> thank you for letting me ask a question. thank you for that presentation that i have enjoyed, i haven't read the book yet but i will. i took part in some of the large demonstrations you talked
10:35 pm
about in the eighties. a couple of questions, why did the reagan people choose the back channel diplomacy while at the same time using this extreme rhetoric? the arms buildup was another part of that policy which we saw is very dangerous which so many in europe and the u.s. would not want to support the reagan administration and were skeptical of what it wanted to do. but then through some of it things you said, did reagan have this big strategy? a blueprint to end the cold war? again, i haven't read the book. it sounded like you are talking about this, something like a grand strategy. thank you. >> thank you, question time about the grand strategy. the grant strategy, as someone who teaches a course on grand strategy, i should add the question mark to the title. why choose the kind of quiet
10:36 pm
diplomacy and overt undiplomatic statements? i think the basic answer to this is the reagan administration did not feel in their early 19 eighties that they're in a position where they could turn over diplomacy into success. there is a strong feeling they don't want to just talk for talking sake. if they are going to do something big like a summit, there needs to be actual results. and they felt at this point there wouldn't be actual results that they wanted out of it. that is why they focus on the hair raising rhetoric and the with equally hair raising military approach. that also buys leverage. for example, the investments like the nuclear missiles, we can see how that benefits the u.s. bargaining position later
10:37 pm
on and in the inf treaty. reagan did not have a blueprint to end the cold war because you didn't think it would end in his lifetime. at the beginning of his administration, there is a strong could sestak among his team that the soviet union would probably be around for another 60 years. there was no sense that reagan was going to be alive to witness the end of the soviet union. of course he was wrong on that. rather than seeing this as kind of a blueprint to end the cold war, i would say it's a blueprint to reduce cold war tensions on american terms. i would say the reagan brand strategy was a comparative american advantage. and to, greater stability in
10:38 pm
the international system. probably by reducing the overall levels of nuclear armaments. here i describe reagan's personal views, them and that was something he very much wanted to realize. it's not so much a blueprint to end the cold war, to win the cold war. rather it is kind of a mindset of how to deal with the challenge posed by the soviet union in ways that favor american interests. but thank you for those questions. >> next, we are going to john. sorry for butchering your name. >> i think i am unmuted now, sorry. i am just trying to figure this out. you have a good pronunciation of my name.
10:39 pm
i am a university professor americas the university of chicago and wanted to ask, what role did the solidarity trade union and the 19 eighties, wet influenced that have on soviet thinking? thank you. >> thank you. solidarity is a critical element of this history, of course. on the one hand i think it is kyki■ soviets about the real problems that they have not only in their own country but in the warsaw pact about increasing dissatisfaction with the status quo. now we know that for example gorbachev really does not view the warsaw pact leaders fondly at all.
10:40 pm
at some chernenko funeral he brings them altogether and tells them basically you are on your own. we are not going to do anything, we are not going to be intervening. but i would say the key of this issue is it shows the possibility, many soviet leaders especially in the military look back at soviet non intervention at that behest of people like andropov and chernenko, the soviet non intervention was the death of that doctrine. and thus, it opens up the range of possibilities of action by a lot of leaders. now of course, no one is willing to go as far as 1989 so quickly. but it is pivotal in teaching and as a case for the soviets about real problems that they face. and also you can see a degree of embolden mint of some of the
10:41 pm
eastern bloc leaders based on the soviet non action. >> we will go next to james. please unmute yourself. >> yes, thank you for the presentation. i wanted to focus on the last year of the administration, you had spoken about that evolution of policy and you see it much as i did in my one book on the subject. ,,.
10:42 pm
,. . ,,,. ? . , how much you find reagan is participating in that debate. or is he leaving it to others? >> thank you. i find a very active reagan on this issue. part of it is going back to the comments i made in response to eric, about the bigger picture.
10:43 pm
they certainly are a lot of cases where reagan allows bureaucrats to kind of -- not bureaucrats, political points, to exercise a lot of initiative with disastrous consequences sometimes. i do not see it as that simple, the soviet union issue was to reagan, at this point in particular, when there's a summit on the horizon, the key issue. for example, on soviet unions nature, they are doing what's they call soviet union 1:01, where they are doing these lengthy seminars with discussion papers and talking about not just the nature of the new leader but the nature of the soviet union. on the nature of the new leader, reagan actually writes a memo with his own thoughts on this in october of 1985.
10:44 pm
he dictates a memo with his own thoughts on the matter. in which, again, here we see that evolution from 85 to 89. reagan is saying, if the soviets would not have let this guy be in charge, if they thought he was going to give away the farm. obviously, he's a skilled political operator within the soviet context. and also he is in fatigue will and committed to the soviet cause, perhaps reagan says the communist cause instead. reagan is actually on the record on this debate. at this point he is saying, gorbachev, yes there are some things that make him look more appealing. also things that make him more dangerous. this is a guy who can do picard, this is a guy who has a very
10:45 pm
glamorous and personable wife and you cannot necessarily say, -- so this is dangerous. what makes him new makes him a better advocate for his ideology. reagan is very involved in this. he is actively engaged in this question. he is producing policy documents on this very issue. but as use change that. and over the course of the 19 eighties, his views undoubtedly change on garbage off. but at this early time, he is right to think it. >> thank you and i want to give elizabeth a chance to perhaps follow up with another question. but let me bring into questions that came to us from the email. one is from philip,
10:46 pm
it's interesting that the russian archives are available these days, giving the example of paul lee lint. do you have any fear or concerned about doing any research in russia? and secondly a question how do you evaluate the significance of reagan's attempt to impose sanctions considering the gas pipeline with the soviets? and also regaining reagan abandoning it. >> so let me answer the first question, with simply with a no. though i'm certainly not unaware of many of those issues. i don't you know i do take care,
10:47 pm
to comply with all the visa rules didn't doing research in russia. but the gas pipeline, in regard to mary's early question, because this is a key source of tension, where on the one hand you have this if i can say as a canadian this very typical american in a territoriality of the american dealings on the norms of other countries. which really turns around the point on the reagan ministration. and in particular market thatch or who is generally perceived as reagan's closest ally, and she is probably his harshest critic on the siberian pipeline issue. so that is another key obstacle to challenge, you know for cohesion. it does not portend well. or for example, i think
10:48 pm
the imf issue, on the one hand because it's seen as american overreach, and many people american arrogance, and on the other hand because the united states can't get its allies on board, and this is frustration frustrating to the american that to the reagan administration. but i think the, reagan in particular, backs down to a certain extent on this issue, in order to preserve the stability and solidity of the alliance and not subjected to maybe a less necessary stress tests, then deploying cruise missiles. >> thank you elizabeth any follow questions? short questions since we have a number of questions collating. >> i don't i'm going to let you keep going with the audience, but i did want to say i'm apologizing to simon, that i
10:49 pm
will tell the audience, my volume should be coming out soon, the documentation in these two volumes, will marry with everything that simon has written about,, so look for them soon on the internet. >> thank you elizabeth, and question on the email so how accurate was the early 1980s cia estimate, on the fragility of russians economy, and pushing reagan's economic warfare? did empower those to believe who believed a resolution of the cold war was possible, as opposed to those who thought the ussr would continue for much longer? >> the issue of the soviet economic performance, i guess we could say is a book in and of itself. the one thing i was really struck by, especially in the early 1980s. was the sense
10:50 pm
that capitalism was in crisis. right? now that does not mean that people were looking to the soviet union, the soviet model but there is a great op-ed that runs in the new york times in 1979, which is called hay japan, please return the favour and occupy us. and there is a lot of publications at this time, including for example if you can get your hands on one of the original versions of paul kennedy's book, the cover art tells the story of the united states on the decline, and japan coming up behind it. so not communism, or socialism, but a much more significant role for the government in managing the economy. and that was seen by many people is a strength. not as a weakness or
10:51 pm
liability. and thus, i think that colours a lot of the interpretations of people like reagan, and how they interpret, and how they orient themselves towards the cia estimates, which are on the one hand telling a bad story about the soviet economy, but on the other hand ronald reagan at this point standing up and saying, we are in the worst economic disaster this country has ever seen since the great depression. so it is easy to look back on the late 1980s, and think that that is the economic climate, but the early eighties you're talking about a recession, barely gotten out of stag flay shun, the memory of panic at the pumps is fresh one, and that is when american policy makers, read these memos saying things are bad in the soviet union, but many are saying true, but we think that they can recover from that in a way that our economy might not
10:52 pm
be able to, and two things are not so great here. >> thank you and i want to see if we can get three more questions in. really quickly. one after another, and then give simon a final chance to respond before eric will wrap up today's event. so let me have the first question here, so please unmute yourself. a brief question. >> okay thank you. >> hi everybody, the big question is a comment, and the comment is thank you very much for the presentation, i like this comment on the first reagan period, it's very much the policy and the views that i have had for many many years about this issue, so i have not seen the book yet, but i will.
10:53 pm
i'm happy there is a booked a book based on documents, and much more documents you know and coming up with this variation. the other thing is a comment on the go attractive doctrine, which i perceived in a way the comment, that you believe that already in 1985, that gore rich if spoke about non intervention with the warsaw pact leaders. and i don't agree with that, if that is your point because my position is different. according to that date it was a summer of 1988, when the soviets actually gave up the idea of intervention. and then the question because question then, about the fbi. what was the role of the fbi? in the summit meeting, between garbage
10:54 pm
of and reagan. where they had the documents there for a long time now, and we see how corporate have was actually backing rain at all possible occasions to give up on the idea of the fbi and reagan said no. >> thank you appreciate it, >> next question, i have a brief question please. >> i have read a book, so i want to ask you a little bit more about the relations between reagan strategy and reagan's doctrine. and and the us economic situation, in the 19 eighties, for the reagan administration to carry out--.
10:55 pm
>> thank you and finally we go to the last question. please and the itself. >> yes, i and american foreign policy council, and diplomacy george shots in his memo, said the day that purging twos arrived in germany, was the equivalent of d-day for the reagan administration. one of reagan's iconic moments, was when he said in berlin, mr. gore which have tell down tear down this wall. this was really not a message to mr. gore which have, but it was to influence many other audiences so i would like to see any comments you have during the diplomacy issue
10:56 pm
to make the diplomacy issued compatible for resolution giving the fact that the german government said signed on to this decision in 1979, but they had a great deal of domestic opposition. so any comments on the rule of public diplomacy on that issue? >> thank you very much, we are already past our time, so simon a quick response. you probably don't have time to respond to each question, but hopefully the conversation will continue or can continue, bilaterally afterwards. simon? >> let me very briefly say, on corporate shift comments at konstantin chernenko funeral i think that they don't necessarily take him seriously, leadership, of various warsaw
10:57 pm
pact countries but i think that gorbachev takes a quite seriously. so if you can get your hands on a copy of the book, you will see a rush a reference to that in the russian archives. where i get this information from. so grand strategy in economy, first of all it's critical, because early in the reagan term, he needs to focus on the economy. that is the big issue. it's not foreign policy, and this is something that actually makes a lot of eastern bloc policy makers will come this election. which is a counter intuitive aspect to what we know happens later. but many people in the czechoslovakia street say, great if we talk about the economy, he's not gonna nails on human rights like jimmy carter never stopped never stop doing. and that's also this emboldens the ship from covert to overt diplomacy, which we
10:58 pm
talked about earlier on. good especially public diplomacy, when it comes to imf, and it's undeniable that they were not very good at it. they sent out william buckley, the buckley mission, and his job was to bring everyone on board, and he comes back and he's not really persuaded that he's succeeded in any way shape or form so this is william buckley the state department official this is not william f buckley. so he was not very successful, overcome by a lot of quiet diplomacy, especially with us and nato allies. a critical aspect of the cold war story. >> thank you, and my thanks to you simon, elizabeth, and of course mary, and over to eric for some final words. >> my thanks to simon, and
10:59 pm
christian as well as those of you who have posed questions from the audience.

24 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on