Für seine außergewöhnliche journalistische Arbeit im Ukraine Krieg ist Christian Wehrschütz mit den Sonderpreis der ROMY-Jury ausgezeichnet worden! Christian Wehrschütz zeigt Mut in der Recherche und Besonnenheit in der Einordnung schrecklicher Ereignisse für das Publikum.

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Interview with Jack Matlock

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Interview with Jack Matlock

30 years after the breakdown of the Soviet Union: Interview with Jack F. Matlock, the last ambassador of the United States in the USSR, author of fundamental books about this time.


W: You were ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1987 to 1991. So, you came to Moscow almost a year after Mikhail Gorbachev took office. What was your impression of the situation in the Soviet Union, et cetera? 


M: Well, we were hoping that Gorbachev's reforms that he had announced would work. We were not sure that they would have, we knew that when Nikita Khrushchev had started a number of reforms that at some point he was removed. [1]

When I arrived, we thought there was a real possibility that Gorbachev would be different. We thought we should sort of test how much change there was in the policy.

And we had an agenda that did not require, you know, surrender on their part but rather coming to agreements that were in the interests of both sides. And so, in foreign policy, we began to achieve more and more and in solving the problems we had. But then in terms of domestic policy, we saw that he was attempting some very basic reform then.

Very quickly, he began to get opposition within The Communist party itself. I think he has written about that, just recently, he had an article published in The Journal of democracy[2]. I think that as those changes took place, we were hopeful and we tried to be as cooperative as we could in assisting that trend and policy change.

I think, of course, the situation was changing very rapidly, both in terms of foreign policy and in terms of domestic policy and many things were happening simultaneously by 1989. We had sort of what one might call the liberation of Eastern Europe and at the same time was set the beginning of the negotiations on German unification, which was a tough one.

And at the same time when we were negotiating, I would say Gorbachev was fighting an internal battle over ideology during 1988 and in effect, he discarded the Marxist ideology as a basis of foreign policy.

Instead of class struggle, he replaced it with support for the common interest of mankind, which is a total non-Marxist concept. Of course, as far as Marx is concerned, only economic classes had common interests, mankind had not. And this was a very fundamental change on Gorbachev's part so that increasingly we saw his reforms.

We were increasingly sympathetic with his efforts and certainly by 1991 we thought, we still very much supported the liberation of the three Baltic countries, we were hopeful that Gorbachev would be able to create a voluntary Federation. President Bush made a speech in Kyiv on August 1st, 1991[3], recommending that Ukraine and the other non-Russian republics, aside from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, that they adhere to Gorbachev's Union treaty. Of course, that appeal fell on deaf ears. That was not something that we could control, but I do think that today when people, too many people, are talking about “Oh, we won The Cold war”. No, we negotiated an end to The Cold war, which was as much in the interest of the Soviet Union as it was to the United States and our European allies.

So, I've I think that since the end of the Cold war and the breakup of the Soviet Union, which are two different events, the whole idea that we won the Cold war and that the system that we're familiar with in the future, I think is mistaken. And so, I think that those who came after us in the 90s missed the opportunity, but I'm getting away from your original question.


W: Inheritance that Gorbachev have to go with was very difficult. So the economy was down, the Soviet Union even had to import grain from the West. How did you see this economic situation when he started his reforms?


M: Well, the economic situation was deteriorating so far as the consumer was concerned that they had started efforts to reduce the investment in the military, but without a market economy. And by the way, you know, they call that system socialism. I think that was a misnomer, that what the Soviet Union had was state-monopoly capitalism[4], and replacing market forces with simply government fear, well, this just doesn't work. And I think there were efforts to put more emphasis on consumer goods. But at the same time, the system was too rigid and was extremely wasteful. And the economy greatly deteriorated in those years of the late 80s in 1991. And, of course, this played a powerful role in the subsequent breakup of the Soviet Union


W: two major problems which he had to face and which was confronted Gorbachev, was the atomic catastrophe in Chernobyl and the second major problem was the ongoing war in Afghanistan. Did these two things sing play a role that became finally the breakdown of the Soviet Union? Was the war in Afghanistan a major problem for Gorbachev, to end that war?

M: Yes

W: People were exhausted, people were afraid, people were fed up with this war. And the other thing which played a huge role at this time was the atomic catastrophe in Chernobyl. do you think these two factors had an influence that led to the breakdown of the Soviet Union?


M: I think, it had some influence, but I also think it did not. There were so many very powerful things. I would say that the shock of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster probably had a greater and more immediate effect than the experience in Afghanistan. Being stuck in Afghanistan and not really being able to contend with the situation, certainly weaken the regime. That was a very unpopular war.

But when you look at some of the other things that happened, I would not put it in the top three or four things. You had the rise of local non-Russian nationalism, a very powerful; you had the deterioration in the economy, then you had the Chernobyl disaster, which showed, I would say, the incompetence and even dishonesty much of the administration and particularly the Communist Party monopoly of power so that many of these things were going on simultaneously. And I think too abstract any single one probably would tend to exaggerate. Because the problem was these pressures on Gorbachev which were coming in from many different directions. He was dealing with a country with increasing internal problems, some of which these caused by an effort to become more democratized. And some of them were simply caused by the deterioration of the system that needed change. But nobody understood how to make that change.

You know, I've compared this to taking a submarine, trying to convert it to an airplane, keep it operating all the time with the same crew. Well, I don't think anybody has figured out how to do that without some collapse along the line. And yet, in effect, that was what they were trying to do, to take a totally state-controlled economy and convert it to virtually the opposite. And obviously, when you do so you're taking on powerful vested interests. And you don't necessarily be able to predict these things, being very complex issues - how you're going, what the results are going to be, there has to be a certain amount of experimentation and flexibility. And yet, the existing power centers were certainly going to resist a reduction in their power. So that I think it still is close to a miracle that Gorbachev was able to take the Communist Party out of total control of the country, and at least give them the option of developing a more democratic society. And in fact, Russian society today is far superior to what it had been at the time Gorbachev became general secretary. I mean, the freedom to travel, many other freedoms are still there. And I think people sometimes forget that. But in any event, I think you had multiple reasons that prevented us from going further in creating a more stable situation. But at least by taking the Communist Party out of exclusive power, he took away the main block, and you know, if his successes haven't been able to bring them to an ideal situation, I think it's not his fault.


W: How difficult it was to build trust between Moscow and Washington. In his biography of Gorbachev William Taubman writes, said you played the role in preparing President Ronald Reagan's meeting with Gorbachev. Is it true, and if yes, how did you play this role?


M: Well, basically, I was asked, beginning in the spring of 1983, to help develop a negotiating plan to negotiate with the Soviet Union[5]. And so, I helped with the sort of coordinate advice. I helped coordinate briefings of President Reagan. He was not an intellectual and he knew that there were lots of areas that he didn't really know much about. And he was willing to, I would say, be instructed. And so, we spent a good bit of time. And what I found was that Reagan genuinely wanted to end the Cold War, and particularly to reduce and possibly totally eliminate nuclear weapons. He hated them. And he hated, you know, the whole idea of Mutual Assured Destruction.[6] I think he knew he could never authorize the use of a nuclear attack on other people. And he would say, you know, how can you tell me the only way I can defend my people is by killing millions of innocent people elsewhere? That is unacceptable.

 So, I mean, but and then when he found that Gorbachev was also sincere in negotiating these things, within two or three years they developed a good relationship. People used to say “Oh, he's only an actor”[7]. But you know, his experience in acting actually gave him some advantages as President. Usually, our presidents don't have a great understanding of how other people in other countries think, they sort of assume that everybody thinks as Americans do. But Reagan, what he was interested in was not a lot of instruction about the details of nuclear weapons and things, but sort of what makes the Soviet leader tick, where is Gorbachev coming from, how can we find a way to work together? So that part of it I was trying to explain to Reagan, the position Gorbachev was in. Reagan knew he was not a dictator, that he would have to go back and justify to the Politburo and others at home the agreements he made. He approved the principle that we're not going to seek superiority, we're not going to try to bring the Soviet Union down and we're just going to try to affect their policy abroad. He thought the communist system was bad. But if that's what they wanted, it was their right to have it. What he objected to being is their subjecting other people to it. And if they would stop that, we wanted to live in peace.

What we tried to do was to find many areas where we could cooperate, even when tensions were high and in other respects. And we found more and more of these areas. You know, we started consulting about other areas of the world and how we could withdraw from the military support of different peoples. We had consultations, you know, including Latin America, and Africa, and the Far East. And you know, within a couple, two to three years, virtually all these conflicts we were able to solve. So that essentially, we needed to redefine what the goal of each country was. And as Gorbachev revised the Marxist ideology, and began to open up his own country, we’re wanted to support that.

 But I would say one other thing. We couched all our goals as cooperation. Human rights - yes, they're important, but we didn't say you've got to improve your respect for human rights. We said we must cooperate to improve respect for human rights. And when Secretary of State Shultz [8] first met with Shevardnadze, Shevardnadze[9] said: “Okay, can we talk about the situation of Blacks and women in the United States?” And Shultz said: “Yes, of course. I think we're making progress but we're not there yet and we can use all the help we can get.” So, we went into those.

And then Reagan also told us, he said: “Look, we've got to stop trying to force these issues in public. He (Gorbachev) can't be seen weak and backing down to his own people to us on human rights, we must keep it private”.

Within a couple of years, I recall the meeting very clearly, when Secretary of State Schultz met with Foreign Minister Shevardnadze in New York during a General Assembly session, Schultz started, as he usually did in the meetings, with giving Shevardnadze a representation list of political prisoners or refuseniks[10] or others that we wanted to have. And Shevardnadze took this list and said: “ Well, I'll take this back to Moscow and if I find that the problem is what you say it is, I'll do my best to correct it”. And he paused. And he looked across the table, then he said: “ But I want you to know I'm not doing this because you asked me, so I'm doing this because it's what my country needs to do”. Schultz stood up, put out his hand, and said: “Edward, let me assure you I will never ask you to do something I do not think is in your country's interest”. They shook hands. The Cold War was over as far as they were concerned.

 Of course, they faced a lot of problem solving. And we actually set up regular consultation done privately with a deputy minister of foreign affairs, specifically on human rights issues, and they would talk about ours and we would try to deal with those. And of course, we thought we were more respectful than they were. But you had to make the negotiations one of respect for each other and you had to genuinely define the issues as one in which we both would benefit from cooperation. The same way we did with instead of saying bring down the iron curtain, he said we need two measures to improve our working relationship. And of course, we defined the sort of things is opening up and the floor material.

One other point Ronald Reagan never insulted personally a Soviet leader. He did call the Soviet Union an evil empire[11], later saying it was not that anymore. He hated that system but he respected the Soviet leaders, he taught us we treat them with respect. They would first meet and shake hands, and he would say, you know, we hold a piece of the world in our hands, we must act responsibly. And then Foreign Minister Gromyko[12] and then Foreign Minister Shevardnadze, he would give them the honors virtually of a chief of state with high-level dinners on the White House. Also, our Secretaries of State, both Schultz and then later Baker[13], made a personal point of developing close personal relations with the Soviet Foreign Minister and his family[14]. You know when I look at things today, with all the polemics back and forth, I just don't understand why we think we're going to get anywhere by simply public denunciations, by demonizing other leaders, and so on. And I think one of the reasons we have the problems today is there has not been the same effort to listen to the others and take into account the attitudes and what is important to them.


W: China has chosen a different path from what begins in the Soviet Union under Gorbachev. Beijing started with economic reforms but did not allow democratic decisions. Did Gorbachev choose the wrong part when he started with democratization instead of liberalizing the economy?


M: Yes, people ask that question, of course, and I don't think there can be a clear answer to it, because the situation in these two countries was quite different. Gorbachev faced a very rigid system that had been in place for several decades, particularly with agriculture and the whole state farm collective system and a distribution system that was extremely wasteful. Now, in the case of the Chinese, the Cultural Revolution had virtually demolished the local officials very quickly and had a greater proportion of people still on the land in farms, and by opening up to some private enterprise and allowing these markets and small businesses to operate in the cities, in a sense, they had a different situation. Whether that could have worked in the Soviet Union, it's difficult to say. But I think on one hand with that the Chinese versus the Soviet and Russian experience would say is that if you want reforms, you have to be careful not to lose control of the process. I mean, this goes back to one of the most sort of elementary findings in political science. If you read Hobbes or Machiavelli or others, you might say the only thing worse than an authoritarian system is anarchy for everybody.

And the problem was when the Soviet Union broke down, they had something very close to anarchy, in the 90s in Russia and a number of the other republics not all but some. Since they call that democratization and democracy many of the people would say: “Well if that's the democracy we don't want it.” And I think most of them, and I think this is still true, want proof of personal potency, successful effort to bring a certain regularity back into them, rather than the near anarchy that they had in the 90s. But in any event, one has to weigh the fact that if you have a movement towards a sort of more democracy or a more open, then it must be done in a way that society doesn't totally collapse.

So, I think that in the medium term, certainly, the Chinese have dealt with the problem of economic development more successfully than Russia. And I think that often when we look only at political factors, we don't give them enough credit.


W: Which role did the power strategy between Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin play in the collapse of the breakdown of the Soviet Union was?


M: Yes, I would repeat, as I had said before, that the West, the United States, the West did not bring down the Soviet Union. The Cold War was over. We were cooperating with Gorbachev; we did want the three Baltic countries[15] to regain their independence[16]. But we really hoped that the other 12 republics[17] would agree to a voluntary Federation, because we thought that Gorbachev's reforms were sincere, and he was pushing them more so than some of the republic’s leaders. But, of course, our influence was not very important on that particular issue. But now, I think it is very clear that their break up with the Soviet Union was in effect, led or made possible by Boris Yeltsin[18], who was at that time the elected leader of the Russian Republic, the RSFR. I sent my first message when I was ambassador that the Soviet Union might break up and we needed contingency plans for that. I sent that in July 1990.[19] because I saw that too many Russian leaders and supporters of Yeltsin were talking about ending the Soviet Union and creating something like the European Union, instead of the Soviet Union. And it was clear to me that if there are no elite Russians’ support for the preservation of the Union, it was going to be very hard to do so. Because I was quite aware of the nationalist sentiments in Ukraine and Georgia and many of the other republics.

But as it turned out, of course, it was Boris Yeltsin who gathered with leaders of Belarus and Ukraine and had decided to end the Soviet Union. So that would not have happened, I think at least so quickly, and in that way without the support of Russia. So the idea today, what many Russians think, that somehow the West brought down the Soviet Union is simply incorrect. The elected leader of Russia played a key role in bringing down the Soviet Union. And if Russians think that that was a disaster, they only have to blame themselves. And yet, there is this myth that somehow that was the end of the Cold War and that the West brought this about. No, the Cold War ended at least two years before that. We were cooperating and trying to help them keep a Union of 12 republics together in 1991.


W:  In 1990. Ukraine played also a decisive role in the breakdown of the Soviet Union with this referendum of independence already in August 1991. But, the nationalists in Ukraine, the West did not play a decisive role, because they were too weak within Ukraine. Very important in Ukraine were East, Donbas, Donetsk, regions with so-called the red director. These red directors fear reforms, which were initiated by Gorbachev and there was some kind of coalition between red directors and nationalists, who made it possible for Ukraine to become independent.


M: I think yes, I think that is true. The nationalists on the west made common cause but with the, you might say, the industrial managers in the east. Because those industrial managers in the east wanted to free themselves from the reforms that Gorbachev was making in the management of an industry. And so, you had a combination of two quite different motivations supporting the independence of Ukraine. And I think the country has been seriously divided ever since. And so that going there, as I did, with a group of people in the mid-1990s, we went to Kyiv and were asked to discuss with some of their people in the national security jobs and the government with those group of us who had worked on the National Security Council in the United States, and we want to describe them how we manage our security issues. And when we set forth how we deal with it, our Ukrainian interlocutor said: “Wait a minute, you're talking about foreign policy?” We said - Well, yes. They said: “ Look, our problems are internal”. And then they showed us the map of the elections and how almost diametrically opposed are the extreme west and the extreme east and then sort of balance in between of them. And, of course, the national elections are always extremely close. So, the error from the very beginning of Ukrainian problems was the fact that you did not have a united view of what meant to be a Ukrainian. After all, 44% of the people spoke Russian. And many of the people in the east wanted to make Ukrainian the exclusive language and sort of limit the use of Russian, this was never going to work in the east, or the south, and also Crimea. And so that it seems to me that these differences explain a lot of the problems they have today because the Ukrainians refused to adopt a federal constitution, giving what we might say, the maximum local authority to the provinces, the oblast, or whatever they call them now. And the so that, obviously, the Ukrainian parliament still resist that, even though it is one of the requirements of the Minsk agreement, which seems to me Ukraine is not going to be able to create a successful country within the borders that inherited if it doesn't go that route and it doesn't treat the Russian speaking population with the same consideration and privileges as the Ukrainian speaking one. But, of course, more than just languages are involved, but language and identity are very important emotional issues. And I would also say, you know, I'm sure that the majority of people in Crimea prefer to be in Russia. And, in a sense, the Ukrainian’s nationalists, mainly those in the East would be better off politically if they got the Donbas back and didn't have Ukraine by gathering the Donbas back, by giving them a certain degree of autonomy, and then letting the population of Crimea decide whether they want to be in Russia or Ukraine. Then, essentially the Ukrainian forces in the east would be able to dominate the national government because they wouldn't have the votes from Crimea on the other side.

So,  it seems to me that there's no indication that these things are going to happen, that there are ways to solve the problems and bring them together, but not on the basis that of simply Ukrainianizing culturally the entire country. The country is not going to have the Donbas or the Crimea if that is their policy.


W: In the 1990s started the disintegration of Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia was just as much a multiethnic state as is the Soviet Union. Do you have an explanation? Why did the Soviet Union peacefully disintegrate, while Yugoslavia did not? The Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, both were multi-ethnic countries, but Yugoslavia disintegrated with war and the Soviet Union was able to disintegrate peacefully. Do you have an explanation for the difference?


M: Well, you had quite a different situation. I think the fact that Gorbachev did not try to use force to keep the union together is one of the reasons. In Yugoslavia obviously, you had an effort, you know, first by the Serbs and then the Serbs in the Croats start fighting each other again.

And we get into the situation of the deterioration, particularly in Bosnia and Herzegovina, so it seems to me that the situation was quite different because there you had a revival of the old competition between the Serbs and Croats. And then, of course, this became almost a three-way battle in Bosnia for a while. But it does seem to me that the situation was different there. I would point out to those that worry about authoritarianism when it comes to ethnic conflict - you need a government in an area where there are these major ethnic tensions that is pretty authoritarian. And now Tito may have been a communist, but he prevented these things from happening in Yugoslavia. And then again, it shows that the danger of simply assuming that if you don't like the government, you overthrow it and suddenly you'll have democracy and security. But you overthrow an authoritarian government and you may get something close to anarchy.

So, it does seem to me that we need to understand that the breakup of Yugoslavia was not caused by external forces. It was caused by an unleashing of internal tensions which were most unfortunate for everybody.


W: In February I interviewed Budimir Loncar, he was the last minister of foreign affairs of Yugoslavia and a very close friend to George Kennan[20]. Loncar said Gorbachev had been assured that there would be no to the east borders’ expansion of NATO. Is this true?


M:  It is true that in our negotiations over German unity in the early 1980s and 1990s that these statements were made along those lines. I would also say that when President Bush and President Gorbachev met in Malta in December 1989[21],  they made a series of agreements. One was that we are no longer enemies. The second was that the Soviet Union would not use force on Eastern Europe to maintain its position. And the third was that the United States would not take advantage of the situation in Eastern Europe if the Soviet Union did not use force. Now, obviously, at that time, you had the Warsaw pact[22]. Nobody was even thinking about the possibility of expanding NATO to countries in the Warsaw pact. What we were dealing with in early 1990 were the conditions under which the German Federal Republic and East Germany Republic GDR, would be allowed to unite. And once it was clear to the Soviets that this was going to occur because of events within Germany itself, particularly in East Germany, they began to demand us to approve that if the two German states unite United Germany will have to leave NATO.

This was important because they had rights, including rights to stationed troops in East Germany, as a result of the treaties that ended World War 2. So, when Baker came to Moscow in February [23]and met with Gorbachev and Shevardnadze, he was trying to convince them that it would be in the Soviet interest for a United Germany to stay in NATO.

In that conversation, he started by saying: “Look, you don't have to give me an immediate answer, but think about this”. And then, I am quoting precisely, assuming there is no expansion of NATO jurisdiction to the East, not one inch, would it not be better? And then he went on to say, do have United Germany ensconced in NATO, you know, and able to threaten European security again as had happened in the past, it is implicitly prohibited from having nuclear weapons and so on.

Well, Gorbachov answered: “ Well, of course, any expansion of NATO jurisdiction to the East would be unacceptable. But I understand what you're saying, and I will give it careful thought”, paraphrasing. When Baker returned to Washington and consulted his lawyers, they said - Look, if a United Germany is a member of NATO, you can't exclude part of its territory from NATO jurisdiction. I mean, there's no legal way to do that. So that statement was not repeated, and it was not incorporated in any treaty. And, as a matter of fact, in the 2+4 agreements[24], it was stated that it did set aside the territory of the GDR as special in the sense that no foreign troops that are non-German troops could be stationed there and no nuclear weapons could be stationed there.

So those limitations on the use of the GDR territory are in the Treaty. I would say that what we were talking about was the territory, the GDR, but the language used “not one inch to the East”[25], that was a very general language, and I'd say this was consistent, with the previous agreement at Malta that we would not take advantage of the changes in Eastern Europe. But during that time the World War II pact still existed. And nobody raised specifically the question, frankly, I couldn't imagine that we would desire to expand NATO once the Soviet Union collapsed and the countries of Eastern Europe were free and had re-recognized as free, by first of all the Soviet government and then, of course, the Russian government. When the Soviet Union became independent it only had the half people of the Soviet Union. So, it´s being an absurdity to begin to expand NATO to the East when you had the possibility of a United Europe, we called it “a Europe whole and free”.

I'm sure that President Bush, our first president Bush, never would have expanded NATO. This was done by an American president following their requests of east Europeans, not to get it Russia, but following them and largely for domestic political reasons.

And I think that it put us in a position now that the idea of expanding it to countries like Ukraine and Georgia is absurd. One thing - they don't qualify, supposedly you can't get the protection of NATO if you have any internal disputes.

And all of them do have very obviously internal disputes, it does seem to me that it was a big mistake to expand NATO rather than using the Partnership for peace as an effort to control the conversion of the military and these various things.

I think that since the end of the cold war it has been a tremendous mistake to keep the militarization of the continent on the level that it is and reviving now the potential actually for another nuclear arms race. I think this is truly tragic. And I do think that it is the result of simply ignoring what was a very predictable reaction of Russia to these things.


W: Finally,  very often you can hear now that the world is in a sort of new cold war. I think the cold war differs completely from the current political situation. Now you have Russia, you have China, you have the United States, India on the rise, but you have enormous tensions in the world at least since 2014. What could be done to ease tensions between us Russia and China, which is very important for a peaceful world?


M: Well, I think it has been a big mistake to define our relationship that is the American relationship or the European relationship with Russia and China as one of hostility. Yeah, it does seem to me that, we all face truly almost, you might say apocalyptic futures if we don't control the use of nuclear weapons.

Ideally, we would be eliminating them and certainly reducing the things if we don't deal with this pandemic that we have with us and if we don't deal with global warming and its effects, if we don't have to find a way to deal with the very large migrations of peoples because of failed states, failed economies. These are all issues that affect us all, and we are not going to be able to deal with them unless we deal with them cooperatively.

And there are so many more important things than such things as where precisely is the border between Ukraine and Russia. I know this may be important to the people there, but it has never been really relevant to the security of the United States and to mix up issues, which, whether they're valid or not first-rate issues that face our countries, I think is a tremendous mistake.

I see no reason to feel that we have to develop hostility toward either China or Russia. I don't think there is any real reason to consider them necessarily enemies. And I don't think that is necessary for example the United States maintain total control of the East China sea with its navy. I know we would be very upset if the Chinese or the Russians were saying - well, we've got as much right in the Caribbean as you do. I think that we need to get away from the sort of thinking that brought us to very destructive world wars in the first half of the 20th century.

And we should find ways to cooperate and on the things that the matter with us and to show a certain tolerance for the internal matters and other countries. I hope we can begin to move more in that direction. But I think still the idea that somehow, we're going to keep China from developing,

China has tremendous internal problems, but let's face it over the last twenty-five years, they have been probably improving the lives of more people faster than it's ever happened in history. Let's give them a little credit. I don't like a lot of the things that are happening there, but I also don't like a lot of things that are happening in my country and I feel more responsibility for trying to solve the ones in my country than trying to teach other people about things which most of us fail to understand completely.


[1] Khrushchev’s desire to reduce conventional armaments in favor of nuclear missiles was bitterly resisted by the Soviet military. His often-high-handed methods of leadership and his attempted decentralization of the party structure antagonized many of those who had supported his rise to power. By this time, four decades after the Revolution, the Communist Party had solidified into the so-called nomenklatura—a 10 million-strong elite of bureaucrats, managers, and technicians intent on guarding their power and prerogatives. In 1962 Khrushchev further weakened the party’s hold over the economy by announcing a policy of creating separate party-government networks in the fields of industry and agriculture.

The central crisis of Khrushchev’s administration, however, was agriculture. An optimist, he based many plans on the bumper crops in 1956 and 1958, which fueled his repeated promises to overtake the United States in agricultural as well as in industrial production. He opened more than 70 million acres of virgin land in Siberia and sent thousands of laborers to till them, but his plan was unsuccessful, and the Soviet Union soon again had to import wheat from Canada and the United States.

The failures in agriculture, the quarrel with China, and the humiliating resolution of the Cuban missile crisis added to growing resentment of his arbitrary administrative methods were the major factors in Khrushchev's downfall. On October 14, 1964, after a palace coup orchestrated by his protégé and deputy, Leonid Brezhnev, the Central Committee accepted Khrushchev’s request to retire from his position as the party’s first secretary and chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union because of “advanced age and poor health.” 8

[2] https://eng.globalaffairs.ru/articles/perestroika-and-new-thinking/

[3] Chicken Kyiv speech - The Chicken Kyiv speech is the nickname for a speech given by the United States president George H. W. Bush in Kiev (Kyiv), Ukraine, on August 1, 1991, three weeks before the Declaration of Independence of Ukraine and four months before the December independence referendum in which 92.26% of Ukrainians voted to withdraw from the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union collapsed 145 days after the speech, partially pushed by Ukraine. The address, in which Bush cautioned against "suicidal nationalism",[1] was written by Condoleezza Rice—later Secretary of State under President George W. Bush—when she oversaw Soviet and Eastern European affairs for the first President Bush. It outraged Ukrainian nationalists and American conservatives, with the conservative New York Times columnist William Safire calling it the "Chicken Kyiv speech", named after a dish of stuffed chicken breast, in protest at what he saw as its "colossal misjudgment" for the very weak tone and miscalculation. Full speech: https://www.nytimes.com/1991/08/02/world/after-summit-excerpts-bush-s-ukraine-speech-working-for-good-both-us.html

[4] The theory of state-monopoly capitalism (also referred to as stamocap) was initially a Marxist thesis popularized after World War II. Lenin had claimed in 1916 that World War I had transformed laissez-faire capitalism into monopoly capitalism, but he did not publish any extensive theory about the topic. The term refers to an environment where the state intervenes in the economy to protect larger monopolistic or oligopolistic businesses from threats. As conceived by Lenin in his pamphlet of the same name the theory aims to describe the final historical stage of capitalism, of which he believed the Imperialism of that time to be the highest expression

[5] https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1981-88v05/ch2

[6] The superpowers would refrain from attacking each other because of the certainty of mutually assured destruction, better known as MAD. This theory is still a major part of the defense policies of the United States and Russia. Both superpowers recognized that the first requirement of an effective deterrent was that it should survive or "ride out" a surprise "counterforce" targeted attack without being decimated — a task made difficult by the ever-increasing numbers of accurate delivery systems, "penetration aids," and multiple warheads.

This led to the foundation of the nuclear triad or the use of three different types of delivery systems (bombers, missiles, and submarines) to assure that a second-strike capability existed able to cause massive destruction to the attacking nation. Both the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT) and Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) treaties all reflected attempts by the superpowers to manage strategic nuclear developments in such a way as to stabilize mutual deterrence. Ballistic missile defenses were outlawed; "first strike" weapons were decommissioned; civil defense was discouraged. However, neither the U.S. nor the Soviet Union was comfortable basing their country's defense on deterrence.

The U.S. has explored various Nuclear Use Theories (NUTs) such as "counterforce", "countervailing" or "flexible response." However, the status quo of MAD remains. Current arms control efforts are aimed at finding a minimum level of mutually assured destruction. https://www.atomicarchive.com/history/cold-war/page-15.html

[7] Ronald Reagan spent nearly 30 years acting in feature films and television, as well as providing narration for numerous documentaries both short and feature-length. https://www.reaganlibrary.gov/reagans/ronald-reagan/ronald-reagans-filmography

[8] George Shultz was named Secretary of State by President Ronald Reagan on June 25, 1982. Following confirmation by the Senate, he assumed the office of Secretary on July 16, and he remained in that position until January 20, 1989. As Secretary of State, Shultz played a crucial role in guiding U.S. diplomacy during his lengthy six-and-a-half-year tenure in office. Upon his confirmation, he inherited many foreign policy challenges, including the war in Lebanon, delicate negotiations with the People's Republic of China and the Government on Taiwan, and a ratcheting up of Cold War tensions with the Soviet Union.

 Over the next several years, Shultz focused U.S. diplomatic efforts on resolving the conflict in the Middle East, defusing trade disputes with Japan, managing increasingly tense relationships with several Latin American nations, and crafting U.S. responses to the rise of Mikhail Gorbachev and the new Soviet policies of perestroika and opening to the West. https://history.state.gov/departmenthistory/people/shultz-george-pratt

[9] Eduard Shevardnadze, in full Eduard Amvrosiyevich Shevardnadze, (born January 25, 1928, Mamati, Georgia, U.S.S.R.—died July 7, 2014, Tbilisi, Georgia), Georgian politician, who was foreign minister of the Soviet Union (1985–90, 1991) and head of state of Georgia (1992–2003). As foreign minister, Shevardnadze skillfully helped implement Gorbachev's foreign-policy initiatives, including the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan in 1988, the negotiation of new arms treaties with the United States, and tacit acquiescence in the fall of communist governments across Eastern Europe in 1989–90. He was one of Gorbachev's closest colleagues and one of the most effective proponents of the reform policies of glasnost and perestroika. Shevardnadze resigned suddenly in December 1990, however, in protest of the growing influence of anti-reform members of Gorbachev's government. After the failed coup by communist hard-liners in 1991, he returned briefly as Soviet foreign minister (November 19–December 25), only to see the Soviet Union collapsed. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Eduard-Shevardnadze

[10] a Soviet citizen and especially a Jew refused permission to emigrate

[11] Speaking to a convention of the National Association of Evangelicals in Florida on March 8, 1983, President Ronald Reagan publicly refers to the Soviet Union as an evil empire for the second time in his career. He had first used the phrase in a 1982 speech at the British House of Commons. Some considered Reagan’s use of the Star Wars film-inspired terminology to be brilliant democratic rhetoric. Others, including many within the international diplomatic community, denounced it as irresponsible bombast. https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/reagan-refers-to-u-s-s-r-as-evil-empire-again

[12] Andrey Andreyevich Gromyko, (born July 18 [July 5, Old Style], 1909, Starye Gromyki, Belorussia, Russian Empire [now in Belarus]—died July 2, 1989), Soviet foreign minister (1957–85) and president (1985–88) of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R. Although never strongly identified with any particular policy or political faction, he served dependably as a skilled emissary and spokesman. In 1957 Gromyko began his long tenure as foreign minister. His exact influence in policymaking is unclear. He became renowned for his extensive knowledge of international affairs and his negotiating skills, and he was entrusted with major diplomatic missions and policy statements. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Andrey-Andreyevich-Gromyko

[13] James A. Baker was appointed Secretary of State on January 22, 1989, and served until August 23, 1992. Baker brought almost two decades of experience in politics, both behind the scenes and in key administration positions with him to the State Department. As Secretary of State, Baker successfully oversaw United States foreign policy during the end of the Cold War, as well as during the First Persian Gulf War. https://history.state.gov/departmenthistory/people/baker-james-addison

[14] https://www.kyivpost.com/article/opinion/op-ed/james-a-baker-iii-my-friend-eduard-shevardnadze-355224.html

[15] Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia

[16] On 6th September 1991, the Soviet Government finally recognized the independence of all three Baltic states. It was followed by the complete withdrawal of Russian troops from all Baltic States. It was completed first in Lithuania on 31st August 1993, followed by Estonia and Latvia on 31 August 1994.

[17] The Soviet Union officially consisted of fifteen Soviet Socialist Republics (SSRs): Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belorussia (now Belarus), Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kirghizia (now Kyrgyzstan), Latvia, Lithuania, Moldavia (now Moldova), Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. The capital was Moscow, then and now the capital of Russia.

[18] Boris Yeltsin (1931-2007) served as the president of Russia from 1991 until 1999. Though a Communist Party member for much of his life, he eventually came to believe in both democratic and free-market reforms and played an instrumental role in the collapse of the Soviet Union. Yeltsin won two presidential elections, the first of which occurred while Russia was still a Soviet republic. But despite successfully ushering in a freer and more open society, his tenure was marred by economic hardship, increased corruption, and crime, the violent war in the breakaway republic of Chechnya, and Russia's diminished influence on the world events. https://www.history.com/topics/russia/boris-yeltsin

[19] https://books.google.at/books?id=L6g4DgAAQBAJ&pg=PT135&lpg=PT135&dq=On+20+June,+US+ambassador+Jack+Matlock&source=bl&ots=RFyMk4IxY0&sig=ACfU3U0fTHmYamQEImOk4f6k-GL8P_8fdA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwju9JSEkLjyAhUp_7sIHdbMC3MQ6AF6BAgLEAM#v=onepage&q=On%2020%20June%2C%20US%20ambassador%20Jack%20Matlock&f=false

[20] George Frost Kennan (February 16, 1904 – March 17, 2005) was an American diplomat and historian. He was best known as an advocate of a policy of containment of Soviet expansion during the Cold War. He lectured widely and wrote scholarly histories of the relations between the USSR and the United States. He was also one of the groups of foreign policy elders known as "The Wise Men".

[21]   The Malta Summit was a meeting between US President George H. W. Bush and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, taking place on December 2–3, 1989, just a few weeks after the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was their 2nd meeting following a meeting that included Ronald Reagan, in New York in December 1988. During the summit, Bush and Gorbachev would declare an end to the Cold War although whether it was truly such is a matter of debate. News reports of the time referred to the Malta Summit as one of the most important since World War II, when British prime minister Churchill, Soviet Premier Stalin, and US President Franklin D. Roosevelt agreed on a post-war plan for the Europe Yalta Conference. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malta_Summit

[22] The Warsaw Pact, so named because the treaty was signed in Warsaw, included the Soviet Union, Albania, Poland, Romania, Hungary, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Bulgaria as members. The treaty called on the member states to come to the defense of any member attacked by an outside force and it set up a unified military command under Marshal Ivan S. Konev of the Soviet Union. The introduction to the treaty establishing the Warsaw Pact indicated the reason for its existence. This revolved around "Western Germany, which is being remilitarized, and her inclusion in the North Atlantic bloc, which increases the danger of a new war and creates a threat to the national security of peace-loving states." This passage referred to the decision by the United States and the other members of the (NATO on May 9, 1955, to make West Germany a member of NATO and allow that nation to remilitarize. The Soviets obviously saw this as a direct threat and responded with the Warsaw Pact. It remained intact until 1991. https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/the-warsaw-pact-is-formed

[23] February 7–10, 1990-Baker met with Soviet leaders; addressed the International Affairs Committee of the Supreme Soviet. https://history.state.gov/departmenthistory/travels/secretary/baker-james-addison

[24] On 12 September 1990, the foreign ministers of the Federal Republic of Germany, the GDR, France, Russia, the UK, and the USA signed the treaty that sealed the foreign policy aspects of reunification. https://www.deutschland.de/en/topic/politics/germany-europe/two-plus-four-treaty

[25] With these words, Secretary of State James Baker proposed a hypothetical bargain to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev after the fall of the Berlin Wall: if you let your part of Germany go, we will move NATO not one inch eastward.