For those trapped in Eastern Europe in the 20th century, the horrors of World War II were supplanted by the rigors of oppression that was life behind the Iron Curtain. Lawrence Cohen, who was in Budapest from 1991-94, discusses the plight of Jews and Hungarians’ reaction — especially when it came to statuary — when the Soviets eventually withdrew from Hungary on June 30, 1991. Read more
On June 12, 1987, President Ronald Reagan made one of his most famous Cold War speeches at the Berlin Wall. James Alan Williams recalls that day, as well as the Gipper’s famous sense of humor at the lesser known party for the city of Berlin. Williams was interviewed by Ray Ewing beginning in October 2003. Read more
Grim. Tedious. Unrelentingly cold and dreary. Add in KGB surveillance and the fear that they truly were out to get you and you have the makings of one memorable graduate year abroad. Dr. Naomi F. Collins has enjoyed a storied life and career in academia, non-profit work and various other areas. Some of her most notable experiences come from living in Russia during the height of the Cold War. Her husband is a retired career Foreign Service Officer and former Ambassador to Russia, James F. Collins, whom she accompanied to Moscow several times over the course of four decades. In the following excerpts from her oral history, Dr. Collins speaks of her life as a graduate student in Russia from 1965 to 1966. She details what it was like to be a Westerner studying abroad there – from the day-to-day challenges, the social tensions that came with surveillance, and finally their hasty escape when they feared that they’d run afoul of the KGB. Read more
One of the most prominent political figures in Cold War history, Margaret Thatcher, led Britain as the only female prime minister from 1979 to 1990. In these brief excerpts from their oral histories, Tom Niles recalls the surprisingly acrimonious meeting between President Reagan and Thatcher over sanctions, which eventually led to Secretary of State Haig’s resignation. In a very different anecdote, Lynne Lambert, who was trade policy officer at Embassy London, tells of a rather awkward situation with the Chancellor of West Germany. Read more
He was a victim of cruel fate, a young American living in the USSR forced to endure unimaginable torture and brutal beatings, who would later be one of the many sources for Gulag Archipelago. In 1933 Alexander Dolgun’s father went to the Soviet Union to work as an automotive technician; however, when his short-term contract expired, he was not allowed to leave. Alexander and his sister Stella thus grew up in Moscow during the Great Purge and World War II. He started working at Embassy Moscow in 1943 at the age of 16. In 1948 he was apprehended by State Security and interrogated at the notorious KGB headquarters at Lubyanka on suspicions of espionage. He was brutally tortured and finally forced to “confess.” He was then transferred to Sukhanovka prison, which was known for being even worse than Lubyanka. His nightmare had only begun. Read more
On March 9th, 1967, Svetlana Alliluyeva — Joseph Stalin’s only daughter — walked into the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi and requested political asylum. No one knew she was even in India. (She had traveled there in 1966 in order to place the ashes of her boyfriend, an Indian Communist she had met in Moscow, in the Ganges; she then stayed at his family’s home.) After several countries refused to allow her to stay permanently, she finally was allowed to come to the U.S. Upon her arrival in New York in April, she held a press conference in which she denounced her father’s regime and the USSR. She later lectured and wrote at Princeton before moving to Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona at the behest of Frank Lloyd Wright’s widow. She died in 2011. Read more
Max Kampelman (November 7, 1920 – January 25, 2013) was a key negotiator for the United States on major issues with the Soviet Union. After serving on Senator Hubert Humphrey’s staff and practicing law, Kampelman was asked to lead the U.S. delegation to the Madrid Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe in 1980. The CSCE, which had its roots in the 1975 Helsinki Final Act, was a forum for dialogue on human rights and military issues and helped bridge a divided Europe. It eventually became the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the world’s largest regional security organization. (Photo: Washington Post)
In 1985 President Ronald Reagan asked Kampelman to lead arms-control talks with the Soviet Union. Kampelman’s negotiations ultimately led to the signing of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) in 1987 and the first Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) in 1991, both of which succeeded in reducing nuclear arms for the first time. President Bill Clinton in 1999 awarded Kampelman the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the U.S.
In these excerpts from his 2003 interview, Kampelman discusses the Quaker influence which led him to become a conscientious objector during World War II, his participation in the (in)famous Minnesota Starvation Experiment, his work on the CSCE, and negotiating strategic arms treaties in Geneva.
Quaker Influence as a Conscientious Objector
Both of my parents came from a portion of Europe which was then considered a part of Romania, although it’s gone through different transitions over the years. They met here in the United States. Though they both came from the same community, they didn’t know each other in Europe, but they met in the United States. They married in New York. I was the only child…. We lived in the Bronx…. My father died when he was fifty-four, a relatively young man. But he left no money really and we ended up living in what I would then call a slum.
It was an apartment in which my mother’s sister was living. She was a religious person, so we had that orientation. We were not particularly observant, but my parents and I went to high holiday services in the orthodox synagogue wherever we lived. I guess that’s the way it went. I received a rather intensive Jewish education. They felt, even though they were not themselves observant in an orthodox sense, they wanted me to have training in this. And therefore, beginning with kindergarten, I attended Jewish Hebrew schools. They were called yeshivas.….
Most of the class felt they were pointed toward the rabbinate…, practically all did. I chose not to. I wanted to be a lawyer and there was a college very near where we were then living, about four or five blocks. So I enrolled in that college at New York University…. When I was on the college campus I became an anti-Stalinist, an anti-communist, and specialized in studies on democracy….
My total instinct was against dictatorship and against the communists. I found myself actively engaged in an anti-communist clique on campus…. I also had a professor who taught social legislation and remained my friend until he died…. He recommended that I spend a month during my last summer in college with a Quaker work camp…. We were fixing up slum buildings.…
[The Quaker approach] influenced me. It influenced me a great deal. The power of love. I read Tolstoy; I read the Quaker, and I really became a conscientious objector (CO). But I became an anti-communist conscientious objector, if you know what I mean. It didn’t blind me. It also didn’t blind me to the existence of evils. I kept in touch with the Quakers all during my law school days and the essence of what persuaded me to be a CO at the time was that wars and violence don’t solve the problem. The elimination of evil requires something different from killing people. We read Gandhi about his success with the British and his non-violent approaches….
A number of conscientious objectors…objected to the concept of conscription. I did not. I then, having majored in political science, believed a society has a right to defend itself; a society has a right to conscript if its national interest requires it. So I never had any problems with that. It permitted me to do work of national importance. I said that’s what I would do. I could not envisage myself killing anybody…. I had to present a written statement, which I did. I also submitted myself for an interview, a long interview, and I had no problems with them. They asked intelligent questions. They wanted to see consistency and I showed them consistency with the Quakers and my activity in the pacifist movement, and they gave me no trouble….
Minnesota Starvation Experiment
A notice went around saying that the Church of the Brethren Service Committee, not the Friends Service Committee, was looking for volunteers among our group to be human guinea pigs in a starvation experiment. I thought about it and I volunteered to do that. I was interviewed in Boston by, I remember, three physicians who would be part of that experiment, two of whom were Henry Taylor, who was a cardiologist, and August Henchel, who was a physiologist.
They interviewed me and gave me an examination. Of course, I had been in good health as a result of the conservation camp and now working on the farm. So they accepted me. Okay, so I reported to the University of Minnesota, which is where the experiment was being held. The director of the experiment was a man by the name of Dr. Ancel Keyes. You know the K-ration [used by the military in World War II]? The “K” stands for Keyes. He developed the K-ration….
There were about forty of us from different parts of the country who had volunteered and been accepted. I learned many more volunteered than were accepted. It was explained to us that there had been no studies available on human starvation, which surprised me.
Their purpose would be to first put us all on an equal standard of health and diet and that would take a number of weeks–I think six weeks; I don’t remember now–where we would eat the same food, every one of us, the same amount, the same everything. Secondly, we would then be put on starvation regimen for six, eight months, something like that. We would be divided, without our knowing where we are, into different groups and each group would have a different rehabilitation treatment with different vitamins, calories, minerals, whatever the experts decided.
Let me say to you the result of it was two volumes, which I have in my library, the only authoritative work. I am still receiving visits from physiologists–not many now. Six months ago or so somebody from Canada called and came to visit. Again, these two volumes are the only authoritative work that today exists in the field.
Q: Could you give a bit of a background on why we’d be doing this?
KAMPELMAN: Why as a country? Oh yes, it was explained: concentration camp victims and prisoners of war. That’s why the Defense Department financed this. The responsibility was civilian, but the money came from the Defense Department. Ansel Keyes had persuaded the Defense Department to put up the money. As a matter of fact, they became so eager for this that they would be pressing Keyes for reports even before he was ready to make any final reports.
I got down to about 100 pounds. Now, we were told that we could eat nothing other than what they gave us. We would live there underneath the football field in cots, which was fine; we would be examined physically every day; there was to be a treadmill every single day and a blood test every single day. We were also to do exercise outside of the exercise they had….
We had a full-time psychologist. We had to keep a diary every single day of dreams and anything else that we did. As I said, the psychologists worked with us constantly, because they were looking for psychological damage also…. And I’m about to make a statement that I can’t prove, but I believe that every single one of the campers except me began collecting cookbooks and recipes. An interesting development. Their minds were so preoccupied with food. It did not hit me as something that I would want to do and it’s probably because I was taking courses….
You either accept evil or you resist it
Let me say to you that I began to question my pacifism with Hiroshima and Nagasaki. You know I had been taking courses in political science. The faculty was a young faculty and they became friends of mine as well as teachers. My commitment to pacifism had, I’m sure, without even my knowing it, all different categories, one of which was a reading in Tolstoy and Gandhi and the power of love instead of killing….
With the dropping of the atom bomb I remember thinking to myself, this doesn’t work. These guys flying up there never see the damage they’re inflicting down below. How do you reach people who are attacking? This is not going to work. You either accept evil or you resist it, and the power of love is not capable of resisting it. That had a very profound effect on me and I began to talk to the political scientists about it and I began to think too.
By then the war was coming to an end. The authorities asked me to stay on after the experiment and the war in order to close up the unit. The year 1945 came and the war was over….
Since I thoroughly enjoyed the intellectual challenge in teaching political science, I thought I would stay at Minnesota…. Who would show up frequently at eleven, ten o’clock at night? The newly elected mayor of Minneapolis, Hubert Humphrey. We would have great evenings talking. In 1944, when I was not knowledgeable at that point about the CIO, Humphrey merged the Farmer Labor Party with the Democratic Party so as to help Roosevelt win in ’44. They became the Democratic Farmer Labor Party. And Roosevelt won in ’44. In 1946 at the state convention Humphrey invited me to the convention. I went to the convention, not as a delegate, but as an observer…. So I was active, you see, politically at the same time as I was teaching and writing a dissertation….
Humphrey in Minnesota was running for the Senate in November; I was in Vermont, not voting in Minnesota, but he and I had become friends from these Saturday night meetings and I helped out. As mayor he asked me to do a few things on the new city charter. He called me on the phone after he won the election. He said, “Max, Muriel and I are going to be in New York at a meeting of the League for Industrial Democracy, where I’ve been asked to make a speech. Why don’t you and Maggie meet us and spend the weekend with us?” So Maggie and I drove down. I heard the speech and I met a lot of old friends there….
Christmas came and I received another call from him. “…I want you to help me open up my office and get it together. Bill Simms is going to be there handling Minnesota problems; he’s not policy.” So, instead of finishing my dissertation, which I had time to do, Maggie and I went to Washington. Frankly, I hired myself. I had a question in my head, “How do you work for a friend?” But I quickly saw this was not a problem. We were partners. I was his junior partner…. So I then took a year’s leave of absence, thinking I would spend another year in Washington, and I stayed for six-and-a-half years….
Working with Hubert Humphrey
Q: Tell me a little bit about Humphrey. He had a reputation that he talked so much that it was hard to get a conversation going with him. How did you find this?
KAMPELMAN: Full of ideas. And he did talk too long. I mean it is said, and I believe it, whether it came from here or from somebody else, Hubert’s speech need not be eternal to be immortal. But his speeches were eternal. But you know, he was a great listener as well as a great teacher. Believe me. I once talked to him about that. We became very close friends. I became his lawyer. Until he died really we were intimate friends.
But I once said to him, “You know, everybody criticizes you for talking too goddamn long.” I said, “Why do you talk so goddamn long?” This was early on. He says, “Max, you and I are teachers.” He says, “When you really want to be a good teacher, you’ve got to tell them what you’re going to tell them, and then you tell them, and then you’ve got to tell them what you told them,” and that was his philosophy. And he did look upon his politics as an educational teaching job. He was never superficial….
Q: You arrive in Washington in 1949. This was your first time in Washington. What was the flavor of the political situation and the things you were dealing with?
The Southerners looked upon Humphrey as some terrible outsider, forcing the Democratic Party to split. As you know, they left the Democratic Convention, walked out of the convention. The Southerners looked upon Humphrey as some goddamn upstart. Secondly, Time magazine had his picture on the cover as he came to Washington. It was a picture of this whirlwind blowing into Washington like a tornado. If you’re a freshman senator you don’t get that kind of recognition, and as far as senators were concerned, that was evil. Times were very, very tough: he’s an enemy; they treat him like an enemy. There’s no question about it. And I think the word cruel is an accurate description of the treatment….
Now all these things hurt, particularly for a gregarious fellow who never looks upon himself as having any enemies. He was a gregarious, friendly human being. So what do we do about it? We would talk about it. As far as the southerners were concerned, he was the enemy, with one exception: Lyndon Johnson.
He and Lyndon came to the Senate at the same time, but Lyndon came from the House; but somehow, after about a year or two, they became increasingly friendly. Humphrey wrote his master’s thesis on Roosevelt’s New Deal. Johnson felt that his career was due to Roosevelt’s help. Both were very serious people. I don’t mean to be negative about anybody, but if you were looking for where Jack Kennedy was later on you’d have to look at the golf course….
On Madrid and the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE)
Carter was elected president of the United States and all of a sudden we don’t see the Carter who was in the Navy and who campaigned supporting
defense. We suddenly see him pursuing detente with the Soviet Union and being very soft on defense…. Then Afghanistan happened. Carter changed his foreign policy toward the Soviet Union….
A few months later, on a Friday morning, I got a call from [Vice President Walter] Mondale: “Max, I’d like to see you.”
This was not unusual. He would sometimes want to talk over things with me. I said, “Fine.” Our office was then at the Watergate, so I walked over to the White House and then to his office. And he said, “Your name was proposed, not by me,” he says, “to head up our delegation in Madrid, and the President has asked me to talk to you about that.”
I’ve got to say to you, I did not know what the hell was happening in Madrid or what it meant to go to Madrid and head up a delegation in Madrid….He then said, “It would only be three months and you don’t have to leave your law firm.”
So I said, “Look, if it’s three months of service that doesn’t require me to leave my law firm, then I’d be delighted to do whatever is required of me to do.” As we talked a little bit I recognized the Madrid Conference as being a follow up to a conference attended by Arthur Goldberg three years earlier in Belgrade. And I remembered that Goldberg considered it a miserable experience, but that didn’t trouble me….
I read the Helsinki Final Act to prepare….The Soviet Union in the 1950s had proposed a European security conference. As I think about it, their purpose at the time was twofold. One, there were no boundaries in Europe, and no peace treaty, after the Second World War. So they wanted an agency that would legitimize those boundaries. Secondly, they wanted an all European conference as a way of subtly undermining NATO. The United States was not a part of Europe. The European West resisted that proposal by the Soviets in the 1950s because they saw that it meant separating and undermining NATO and they would have no part of it.
Then Nixon became President with his detente. The West in Europe saw the United States getting closer to the Soviet Union and said to themselves, ‘Well, we maybe have a green light to get closer as well.’ The United States agreed somehow to this and discussions began, I think in 1972 or ’71, about how to organize this conference….
In any event, by 1975 they had an agreement, which was called the Helsinki Final Act because it was signed in Helsinki, Finland. It was an agreement that had in effect three fundamental sections or baskets, one of which was a security basket which provided for military confidence-building measures among the thirty-five members. Apparently there were thirty-three European countries…plus the United States and Canada. So the Russians accepted those modifications.
The one basket was security oriented; the second was an economic basket among the thirty-five, so as to help produce cooperation; and thirdly was the humanitarian: freedom of religion, freedom of human rights, freedom of travel, all broadly stated and without specifics….
The earlier meeting in Belgrade had been a fiasco…. There were serious problems…. NATO had decided to put Pershings and cruise missiles into Europe to balance the Soviet weapons. This was their great objective…, so that was their position and they wanted to get rid of that problem and move away. Their request was for a disarmament conference to take place in Europe. They [the USSR] finally agreed that that disarmament conference should include the Americans and the Canadians. At first they were trying to exclude us in order to undermine NATO, but then they saw that was not feasible, so the United States was to come in.
During the course of the Madrid meeting they saw they weren’t getting anyplace. Though they continued to call it a disarmament conference, what they were really talking about was a conference on military confidence building measures. NATO had a counter to that, which was a French proposal for military confidence building measures. That too was interesting, because by the time I went to Madrid in September of 1980, the United States had not agreed to the French proposal and I was not authorized to sign on to the French proposal….
After the preparatory meeting and the beginning of the main meeting, at a meeting at the White House I asked for permission to support the French proposal at a time when I thought it would be helpful to us in the negotiation. I did not wish to give a blanket endorsement, but in back of my head I was always aware of the fact I could have a problem with the French and I wanted to have a bargaining tool. The recommendation I made was finally accepted….
The mechanics in Madrid were moving nicely; we were getting support from the neutrals. Now, at the very end of the meeting, the Maltese began to act Malta-like….We were finally all agreed now, except for the Maltese. Saliba was their Madrid representative; I told Saliba, “You tell your minister that I am leaving Madrid tomorrow on the plane and I’m going back to my family and to my private life,”–you remember I was not a Foreign Service officer–“and that I’m asking my delegation to leave with me, but we will have a representative from the American embassy sitting in and instructed to say no every time the Maltese delegation proposal comes up.”
And I said, “When you’re ready to deal intelligently and responsibly, I’ll be glad to fly back for the final meeting.” And I left. And I took the whole delegation with me. Finally the Maltese gave in and it ended the meeting….
“You’ll be getting a phone call from the President and we don’t want you to say no”
So this is now ’83. I’m back into private life and I find myself being called on again…. I received a telephone call at home from a lady–five o’clock in the morning–who identified herself as a lady from CBS radio. She said, “You know, Mr. Ambassador, there’s a conference now in Geneva between [Secretary of State George] Shultz and [Foreign Minister Andrey] Gromyko,” which I was aware of because the newspapers had reported it. They were trying to put together the arms negotiation again because the Russians walked out of the arms talks.
“Well,” she said, “we just got a cable from Dan Rather saying you’re going to be the U.S. negotiator.”
So I said, “I really don’t think that’s so. I haven’t heard anything about this.” I persuaded her that I had never heard anything about this; I was not lying to her.… Furthermore, I did not believe I was going, because nobody had asked me to go.
I was scheduled to speak in Sun Valley, Idaho, at a Young Presidents Organization. My wife and I thought we’d follow it with a few days of vacation at the same time. I was about to be introduced and a lady ran up to the dais, “There’s a call for you from the White House.”
So obviously I stopped. It was Shultz and [Secretary of Defense] Cap Weinberger both on the phone: “Max, you’ll be getting a phone call in five minutes from the President and we don’t want you to say no.” Shultz and Weinberger knew I did not want the job.
And I said, “You know, I can’t take this job. I really can’t take this job. I’m not qualified.” They said in effect, “We’ll get you a top-notch deputy.” The President called me in five minutes. He knew that I was reluctant–he had been told–and he said, “You’re going to go to Geneva, Max” and, “I’m asking you to go.” And, “Where are you?”
I told him where I was and he said, “Can you be in Washington tomorrow?” I said, “Yes. I’ll leave tonight.” Meanwhile, the audience was nervous and excited about the fact, because they were told about the call. So my wife and I left and I went to see the president in Washington. He made it clear to me that he couldn’t find anybody else who satisfies both Weinberger and Shultz. President Reagan said both of them were prepared to accept me…. And with that said, I found myself going to Geneva….
I learned in the process that I had three negotiations occurring simultaneously and I was the head of all three, but my specific job was on ballistic missile defense….
Q: As we moved in toward the end of the Reagan administration, things were really beginning to pop in the Soviet Union. Did you get involved in this at all?
KAMPELMAN: Oh sure. I have no doubt in my mind that Reagan and Shultz had a great deal to do with the changes. We, of course, had nothing to do with the fact that Gorbachev was selected to head up the Soviet Union, but I will say that the interrelationship between both Gorbachev and both Reagan and Shultz, as well as the interrelationship of [Foreign Minister Eduard] Shevardnadze with Shultz, played, I think, a significant role in the transformation of the Soviet Union.
I also believed, with others, that the Madrid meeting had a great impact on the leadership of the Soviet Union. Whether it had any impact on the selection of Gorbachev, I haven’t the slightest idea, but I do know that they took a licking and knew it. And from what we later learned, it was a setback, because we talked to many of the Soviets afterwards.
At the end of those talks–it was close to Christmas and we had a Christmas break–I came back to Geneva in early January. Two things happened. One, before I went back, there was a meeting of the National Security Council, and I was invited to the meetings of the National Security Council.
Reagan made the case and felt very positive about his meeting with Gorbachev. He said, “I think Maggie [Thatcher] was right. I think we might be able to deal with him,” which was interesting. We didn’t go into a great deal about that at the National Security Council meeting, but he discussed a little bit his feelings about the meeting.
When I got back to Geneva [Soviet Strategic Arms Control Negotiator] Victor Karpov took me aside: “Max, I just want you to know that I have instructions from my highest authority not to attack your president.” He didn’t say who it was; I assumed it was Gorbachev.
The Russians were always attacking the President. Whoever the President was, the Soviets were attacking the President. But he said, and then I had to laugh as we broke up to go into the formal meeting, “That doesn’t cover your Secretary of Defense,” which I laughed at.
“They had been briefed about Reagan and expected to find a doddering old man with pretensions, a cowboy, an old movie actor, and not a serious person”
He said, “It’s freezing cold and Gorbachev was bundled in one of the Russian fur coats and hats. We drove up to this place, opened the door, and there is this fellow, Ronald Reagan, without a coat, a big smile, rushing out of the door to greet us. It shocked all of us.…”
I’ll jump now a few years, if I may – the reason I’m jumping now is that after the Reagan presidency I received a call or a letter, maybe both, from Mrs. Reagan saying that the Reagan Foundation was going to have a commemoration meeting about Reykjavik, and she asked if would I attend and speak at the meeting. This was after I was out of government, and I said of course I’d be delighted to do that.
They had the interpreter for Gorbachev there. Gorbachev was not there, but the interpreter of Gorbachev was there, who was at all of the sessions. The Geneva meeting came up. We had a very interesting day chatting about the talks. On the Geneva meeting, the interpreter impressed me with the fact that they had been briefed before the meeting about Reagan and what they expected to find was a doddering old man with pretensions, a cowboy, an old movie actor, and not a serious person.
He said, “It’s freezing cold and Gorbachev was bundled in one of the Russian fur coats and hats. We drove up to this place, opened the door, and there is this fellow, Ronald Reagan, without a coat, a big smile, rushing out of the door to greet us. It shocked all of us.…”
In any event, shortly after the Geneva meeting got under way, the interpreter said, “We were further surprised by Reagan saying to Gorbachev, ‘Let’s just go walk and talk.’” And he pulled Gorbachev into a small lake house. I remember it; I’ve seen it. It was a glorified hut.
And, from what the interpreter said, and from what I later saw in the notes that the interpreter had made of the meeting, Reagan was quite open about the fact of what are we going to do about this relationship between our two countries. The issue of whether or not we were going to war? Are we going to go to peace? What are we going to do? How are we going to handle this? It’s up to us to make the decisions. Do we need nuclear weapons? They found it to be a very constructive meeting and a constructive opening, though they never did get to arms control or any other detail….
Q: At Geneva while the heavy work was done, how did these talks start? Was it saying, we really have to do something here? Do you think on both sides, or not?
KAMPELMAN: The talks started with formal presentations by each side. The Soviets attacked us for wanting to undermine the ABM [Anti-Ballistic Missile] Treaty with our missile defense program. I spoke for the United States and my point was that what we were doing was not in violation of the ABM Treaty, but that what we really needed to do was begin to modernize our systems. We knew they had their defenses and we were going to proceed with our defenses. It was very formal and the formal presentations continued practically until the very end. The informal discussions didn’t begin until Gorbachev moved in and Shevardnadze moved in and then the coldness began to break down….
Q: How did the whole Geneva process proceed?
KAMPELMAN: It proceeded. We met formally, I recall, three times a week. We met informally whenever we could. But the fact of the matter is that the deal was not made in Geneva.
The deal was made in private conferences between Shultz and Shevardnadze, with their technical assistants present at each time. They’re the ones who ironed out the differences, which were then reflected in Geneva, but the fundamental work was done between the two and the experts the two brought along….
We ended up, in START [Strategic Arms Reduction Treaties], the longer range missiles, with approximately fifty percent reductions, which is the first time we’ve ever had any kind of a deal reducing rather than putting restrictions on nuclear weapons. I felt very good to be a part of that process. Relationships developed very well….
Now, in time, therefore, the Geneva negotiations turned into formalities. The real substantive negotiations were outside of the Geneva talks. When it came to the detailed drafting of the treaties, that’s when Geneva again was vital, because there is where we had the experts, on both sides, and we weren’t going to be misled on technicalities. And this took a lot of time….
At the end I was doing two jobs, mostly Counselor work, because the treaty principles were worked out. When tensions arose, I’d go back.… We got it done, so that by the morning meeting, which was supposed to be the final meeting, we had an agreement. But it did occasionally require me to go back and forth and try to be a bit creative about some of these issues. But I was then Counselor, so I was doing, in effect, all things; and as Counselor I was doing anything that came up. I was making occasional public talks as well.
The Century of Democracy
I don’t know if I ever went into the philosophy of the Madrid meeting…. But when I was given the invitation to head up our delegation in Madrid, I was advised by a number of people not to take it because it was nothing but a Soviet front, they said to me. But when I was teaching at the University of Minnesota a book came out by Gunnar Myrdahl. What I learned in Madrid was that it’s very important to take advantage of an “ought.”
The Helsinki Final Act asserted the ways countries “ought” to behave. We then would have a right to say, “Move your ‘is’ to the ‘ought’.” We’re living in a world where there’s a larger percentage of the human race today governed by democracies or near democracies than ever before in known history. There are democratic sources that exist even within countries like Saudi Arabia….
The essence of democracy is that a democracy may decide not to be a democracy, through a vote. But for us democracy is not just an election; it’s a whole concept of a rule of law. And that’s what we’re processing, as a matter of fact, what the Helsinki process produced, for example, in Copenhagen, where I was asked by Jim Baker to go back for a month and represent the United States even though I was out of the government and had finished my Counselor job. He asked me to go back to Copenhagen, to Geneva, to Madrid, to Moscow–one a year, for a month–to help them to strengthen the Helsinki process.
The Copenhagen document has been called by a number of professors of international law the most important international human rights document since the Magna Carta, and it spells out what a democracy means. If anybody was to come and join this process, they would be joining what is apparent, a series of “oughts;” and that’s our task. Once the “oughts” are there, we have a leg up toward the “is.”…
I would like American foreign policy to be directed toward the aim of turning the 21st century into the Century of Democracy. This is my prevailing philosophy…, so that’s where I come from. I do not believe that somehow those of us who were born in the western hemisphere have a unique gene which permits us to enjoy democracy while the rest of the human race doesn’t want it, or can’t experience it, or wouldn’t appreciate it. That’s not my view of the human race, nor is it my view of religion. So I believe those of us who have, have a duty to share to help. I give to charity. This is a giving idea. That’s my philosophy.
With his infamous Wheeling, West Virginia speech on February 9, 1950, in which he declared he had a list of communists working in the State Department, Senator Joseph McCarthy ushered in one of the darker periods in the post-war era.
The speech came at a time when the fear of communism and communist infiltrators in American society was at an all time high, exacerbated by alarming developments like the “loss of China” to communism and the successful detonation of an atomic bomb by the Soviet Union. The case of Alger Hiss, accused of spying for the Soviets while working for the State Department, made McCarthy’s allegations plausible. This environment enabled McCarthy to spearhead the movement to investigate suspected communist dissidents within the State Department and elsewhere.
Often, he relied on colorful rhetoric to make up for a lack of evidence. His tactics contributed to creating an atmosphere of fear and intimidation throughout the Department. A number of people were unjustly accused and were either forced out or suffered lasting damage to their reputations. One such person was Vladimir I. Toumanoff. Read more
On May 1, 1960, an American U-2 spy plane was shot down over the Soviet Union and its pilot, Francis Gary Powers, was captured. The Eisenhower administration initially attempted to cover up the incident but was soon forced to admit that the U.S. had been conducting reconnaissance flights over the Soviet Union for several years. The ensuing diplomatic crisis ended a period of warmer relations between the two superpowers and heightened Cold War tensions.
During the course of his captivity, Powers was interrogated at length and found guilty of espionage after a show trial. Read more
Adolph “Spike” Dubs was a career diplomat who served in Germany, Liberia, and the Soviet Union. He became a noted Soviet expert, and in 1973-74 he served as charge d’affaires at Embassy Moscow. In 1978, he was appointed Ambassador to Afghanistan following a coup d’etat which brought the Soviet-aligned Khalq faction to power.
On February 14, 1979, Dubs was kidnapped by armed militants posing as police. The kidnappers demanded the release of the imprisoned leader of their party. Hafizullah Amin’s government refused to negotiate with the militants. Dubs was then assassinated. A successor to Dubs was not named and the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December 1979. The U.S. embassy was finally closed in 1989 as security deteriorated.
Documents released from KGB archives in the 1990s showed that the Afghan government clearly authorized an assault on the kidnappers despite forceful U.S. demands for peaceful negotiations and that the KGB adviser on the scene may have recommended the assault as well as the execution of a kidnapper before U.S. experts could interrogate him. Read more