Spinning Boris, directed by Roger Spottiswoode

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Re: Spinning Boris, directed by Roger Spottiswoode

Postby admin » Sat Sep 08, 2018 1:17 am

Newly Declassified Documents: Gorbachev Told NATO Wouldn't Move Past East German Border. So what happened?
by Dave Majumdar
The National Interest
December 12, 2017



Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was given a host of assurances that the NATO alliance would not expand past what was then the East German border in 1990 according to new declassified documents.

Russian leaders often complain that the NATO extended an invitation to Hungary, Poland and what was then Czechoslovakia to joint the alliance in 1997 at the Madrid Summit in contravention of assurances offered to the Soviet Union before its 1991 collapse. The alliance has dismissed the notion that such assurances were offered, however, scholars have continued to debate the issue for years. Now, however, newly declassified documents show that Gorbachev did in fact receive assurances that NATO would not expand past East Germany.

“The documents show that multiple national leaders were considering and rejecting Central and Eastern European membership in NATO as of early 1990 and through 1991,” George Washington University National Security Archives researchers Svetlana Savranskaya and Tom Blanton wrote. “That discussions of NATO in the context of German unification negotiations in 1990 were not at all narrowly limited to the status of East German territory, and that subsequent Soviet and Russian complaints about being misled about NATO expansion were founded in written contemporaneous memcons and telcons at the highest levels.”

Indeed, Russian Presidents Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin have complained bitterly about the expansion of NATO towards their borders despite what they had believed were assurances to the contrary. “What happened to the assurances our western partners made after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact? Where are those declarations today?” Putin said at the Munich Conference on Security Policy in 2007.“No one even remembers them. But I will allow myself to remind this audience what was said. I would like to quote the speech of NATO General Secretary Mr. Woerner in Brussels on 17 May 1990. He said at the time that: ‘the fact that we are ready not to place a NATO army outside of German territory gives the Soviet Union a firm security guarantee.’ Where are these guarantees?”

As the newly declassified documents show, the Russians might have had a point. While it was previously understood that Secretary of State James Baker’s assurance to Gorbachev that NATO would not expand “not one inch eastward” during a February 9, 1990, meeting was only in the context of German reunification ....

Baker: And the last point. NATO is the mechanism for securing the U.S. presence in Europe. If NATO is liquidated, there will be no such mechanism in Europe. We understand that not only for the Soviet Union but for other European countries as well it is important to have guarantees that if the United States keeps its presence in Germany within the framework of NATO, not an inch of NATO's present military jurisdiction will spread in an eastern direction.

We believe that consultations and discussions within the framework of the "two + four" mechanism should guarantee that Germany's unification will not lead to NATO's military organization spreading to the east.


Baker: I want to ask you a question, and you need not answer it right now. Supposing unification takes place, what would you prefer: a united Germany outside of NATO, absolutely independent and without American troops; or a united Germany keeping its connections with NATO, but with the guarantee that NATO's jurisprudence or troops will not spread east of the present boundary?

Gorbachev: We will think everything over. We intend to discuss all these questions in depth at the leadership level. It goes without saying that a broadening of the NATO zone is not acceptable.

Baker: We agree with that.

-- Record of Conversation between Mikhail Gorbachev and James Baker, The National Security Archive, Source: Archive of the Gorbachev Foundation, Fond 1, Opis 1. Translated by Anna Melyakova, February 9, 1990

the new documents show that this was not the case.

Gorbachev only accepted German reunification—over which the Soviet Union had a legal right to veto under treaty—because he received assurances that NATO would not expand after he withdrew his forces from Eastern Europe from James Baker, President George H.W. Bush, West German foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, the CIA Director Robert Gates, French President Francois Mitterrand, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, British foreign minister Douglas Hurd, British Prime Minister John Major, and NATO secretary-general Manfred Woerner.

Indeed, as late as March 1991, the British were reassuring Gorbachev that they could not foresee circumstances under which NATO might expand into Eastern and Central Europe. As former British Ambassador to the Soviet Union recounted in March 5, 1991, Rodric Braithwaite, both British foreign minister Douglas Hurd and British Prime Minister John Major told the Soviet that NATO would not expand eastwards.

“I believe that your thoughts about the role of NATO in the current situation are the result of misunderstanding,” Major had told Gorbachev. We are not talking about strengthening of NATO. We are talking about the coordination of efforts that is already happening in Europe between NATO and the West European Union, which, as it is envisioned, would allow all members of the European Community to contribute to enhance [our] security.”

Of course, later, in 1994, Bill Clinton decided to expand NATO eastward despite the various assurances that the previous administration had offered Gorbachev—and despite legendary diplomat George F. Kennan’s repeated warnings.

Svetlana Savranskaya and Tom Blanton’s full report along with 30 of these documents can be found here.

Dave Majumdar is the defense editor for The National Interest . You can follow him on Twitter: @davemajumdar.

Image Credit : NATO/Flickr.
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Re: Spinning Boris, directed by Roger Spottiswoode

Postby admin » Sat Sep 08, 2018 1:30 am

Part 1 of 2

NATO Expansion: What Gorbachev Heard
Briefing Book #613
by Svetlana Savranskaya and Tom Blanton
Published: Dec 12, 2017



Michail Gorbachev discussing German unification with Hans-Dietrich Genscher and Helmut Kohl in Russia, July 15, 1990. Photo: Bundesbildstelle / Presseund Informationsamt der Bundesregierung.

Declassified documents show security assurances against NATO expansion to Soviet leaders from Baker, Bush, Genscher, Kohl, Gates, Mitterrand, Thatcher, Hurd, Major, and Woerner

Slavic Studies Panel Addresses “Who Promised What to Whom on NATO Expansion?”

Washington D.C., December 12, 2017 – U.S. Secretary of State James Baker’s famous “not one inch eastward” assurance about NATO expansion in his meeting with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on February 9, 1990, was part of a cascade of assurances about Soviet security given by Western leaders to Gorbachev and other Soviet officials throughout the process of German unification in 1990 and on into 1991, according to declassified U.S., Soviet, German, British and French documents posted today by the National Security Archive at George Washington University (http://nsarchive.gwu.edu).

The documents show that multiple national leaders were considering and rejecting Central and Eastern European membership in NATO as of early 1990 and through 1991, that discussions of NATO in the context of German unification negotiations in 1990 were not at all narrowly limited to the status of East German territory, and that subsequent Soviet and Russian complaints about being misled about NATO expansion were founded in written contemporaneous memcons and telcons at the highest levels.

The documents reinforce former CIA Director Robert Gates’s criticism of “pressing ahead with expansion of NATO eastward [in the 1990s], when Gorbachev and others were led to believe that wouldn’t happen.”[1] The key phrase, buttressed by the documents, is “led to believe.”

President George H.W. Bush had assured Gorbachev during the Malta summit in December 1989 that the U.S. would not take advantage (“I have not jumped up and down on the Berlin Wall”) of the revolutions in Eastern Europe to harm Soviet interests; but neither Bush nor Gorbachev at that point (or for that matter, West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl) expected so soon the collapse of East Germany or the speed of German unification.[2]

The first concrete assurances by Western leaders on NATO began on January 31, 1990, when West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher opened the bidding with a major public speech at Tutzing, in Bavaria, on German unification. The U.S. Embassy in Bonn (see Document 1) informed Washington that Genscher made clear “that the changes in Eastern Europe and the German unification process must not lead to an ‘impairment of Soviet security interests.’ Therefore, NATO should rule out an ‘expansion of its territory towards the east, i.e. moving it closer to the Soviet borders.’” The Bonn cable also noted Genscher’s proposal to leave the East German territory out of NATO military structures even in a unified Germany in NATO.[3]

This latter idea of special status for the GDR territory was codified in the final German unification treaty signed on September 12, 1990, by the Two-Plus-Four foreign ministers (see Document 25). The former idea about “closer to the Soviet borders” is written down not in treaties but in multiple memoranda of conversation between the Soviets and the highest-level Western interlocutors (Genscher, Kohl, Baker, Gates, Bush, Mitterrand, Thatcher, Major, Woerner, and others) offering assurances throughout 1990 and into 1991 about protecting Soviet security interests and including the USSR in new European security structures. The two issues were related but not the same. Subsequent analysis sometimes conflated the two and argued that the discussion did not involve all of Europe. The documents published below show clearly that it did.

The “Tutzing formula” immediately became the center of a flurry of important diplomatic discussions over the next 10 days in 1990, leading to the crucial February 10, 1990, meeting in Moscow between Kohl and Gorbachev when the West German leader achieved Soviet assent in principle to German unification in NATO, as long as NATO did not expand to the east. The Soviets would need much more time to work with their domestic opinion (and financial aid from the West Germans) before formally signing the deal in September 1990.

The conversations before Kohl’s assurance involved explicit discussion of NATO expansion, the Central and East European countries, and how to convince the Soviets to accept unification. For example, on February 6, 1990, when Genscher met with British Foreign Minister Douglas Hurd, the British record showed Genscher saying, “The Russians must have some assurance that if, for example, the Polish Government left the Warsaw Pact one day, they would not join NATO the next.” (See Document 2)

Having met with Genscher on his way into discussions with the Soviets, Baker repeated exactly the Genscher formulation in his meeting with Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze on February 9, 1990, (see Document 4); and even more importantly, face to face with Gorbachev.

Not once, but three times, Baker tried out the “not one inch eastward” formula with Gorbachev in the February 9, 1990, meeting. He agreed with Gorbachev’s statement in response to the assurances that “NATO expansion is unacceptable.” Baker assured Gorbachev that “neither the President nor I intend to extract any unilateral advantages from the processes that are taking place,” and that the Americans understood that “not only for the Soviet Union but for other European countries as well it is important to have guarantees that if the United States keeps its presence in Germany within the framework of NATO, not an inch of NATO’s present military jurisdiction will spread in an eastern direction.” (See Document 6)

Afterwards, Baker wrote to Helmut Kohl who would meet with the Soviet leader on the next day, with much of the very same language. Baker reported: “And then I put the following question to him [Gorbachev]. Would you prefer to see a united Germany outside of NATO, independent and with no U.S. forces or would you prefer a unified Germany to be tied to NATO, with assurances that NATO’s jurisdiction would not shift one inch eastward from its present position? He answered that the Soviet leadership was giving real thought to all such options [….] He then added, ‘Certainly any extension of the zone of NATO would be unacceptable.’” Baker added in parentheses, for Kohl’s benefit, “By implication, NATO in its current zone might be acceptable.” (See Document 8)

Well-briefed by the American secretary of state, the West German chancellor understood a key Soviet bottom line, and assured Gorbachev on February 10, 1990: “We believe that NATO should not expand the sphere of its activity.” (See Document 9) After this meeting, Kohl could hardly contain his excitement at Gorbachev’s agreement in principle for German unification and, as part of the Helsinki formula that states choose their own alliances, so Germany could choose NATO. Kohl described in his memoirs walking all night around Moscow – but still understanding there was a price still to pay.

All the Western foreign ministers were on board with Genscher, Kohl, and Baker. Next came the British foreign minister, Douglas Hurd, on April 11, 1990. At this point, the East Germans had voted overwhelmingly for the deutschmark and for rapid unification, in the March 18 elections in which Kohl had surprised almost all observers with a real victory. Kohl’s analyses (first explained to Bush on December 3, 1989) that the GDR’s collapse would open all possibilities, that he had to run to get to the head of the train, that he needed U.S. backing, that unification could happen faster than anyone thought possible – all turned out to be correct. Monetary union would proceed as early as July and the assurances about security kept coming. Hurd reinforced the Baker-Genscher-Kohl message in his meeting with Gorbachev in Moscow, April 11, 1990, saying that Britain clearly “recognized the importance of doing nothing to prejudice Soviet interests and dignity.” (See Document 15)

The Baker conversation with Shevardnadze on May 4, 1990, as Baker described it in his own report to President Bush, most eloquently described what Western leaders were telling Gorbachev exactly at the moment: “I used your speech and our recognition of the need to adapt NATO, politically and militarily, and to develop CSCE to reassure Shevardnadze that the process would not yield winners and losers. Instead, it would produce a new legitimate European structure – one that would be inclusive, not exclusive.” (See Document 17)

Baker said it again, directly to Gorbachev on May 18, 1990 in Moscow, giving Gorbachev his “nine points,” which included the transformation of NATO, strengthening European structures, keeping Germany non-nuclear, and taking Soviet security interests into account. Baker started off his remarks, “Before saying a few words about the German issue, I wanted to emphasize that our policies are not aimed at separating Eastern Europe from the Soviet Union. We had that policy before. But today we are interested in building a stable Europe, and doing it together with you.” (See Document 18)

The French leader Francois Mitterrand was not in a mind-meld with the Americans, quite the contrary, as evidenced by his telling Gorbachev in Moscow on May 25, 1990, that he was “personally in favor of gradually dismantling the military blocs”; but Mitterrand continued the cascade of assurances by saying the West must “create security conditions for you, as well as European security as a whole.” (See Document 19) Mitterrand immediately wrote Bush in a “cher George” letter about his conversation with the Soviet leader, that “we would certainly not refuse to detail the guarantees that he would have a right to expect for his country’s security.” (See Document 20)

At the Washington summit on May 31, 1990, Bush went out of his way to assure Gorbachev that Germany in NATO would never be directed at the USSR: “Believe me, we are not pushing Germany towards unification, and it is not us who determines the pace of this process. And of course, we have no intention, even in our thoughts, to harm the Soviet Union in any fashion. That is why we are speaking in favor of German unification in NATO without ignoring the wider context of the CSCE, taking the traditional economic ties between the two German states into consideration. Such a model, in our view, corresponds to the Soviet interests as well.” (See Document 21)

The “Iron Lady” also pitched in, after the Washington summit, in her meeting with Gorbachev in London on June 8, 1990. Thatcher anticipated the moves the Americans (with her support) would take in the early July NATO conference to support Gorbachev with descriptions of the transformation of NATO towards a more political, less militarily threatening, alliance. She said to Gorbachev: “We must find ways to give the Soviet Union confidence that its security would be assured…. CSCE could be an umbrella for all this, as well as being the forum which brought the Soviet Union fully into discussion about the future of Europe.” (See Document 22)

The NATO London Declaration on July 5, 1990 had quite a positive effect on deliberations in Moscow, according to most accounts, giving Gorbachev significant ammunition to counter his hardliners at the Party Congress which was taking place at that moment. Some versions of this history assert that an advance copy was provided to Shevardnadze’s aides, while others describe just an alert that allowed those aides to take the wire service copy and produce a Soviet positive assessment before the military or hardliners could call it propaganda.

As Kohl said to Gorbachev in Moscow on July 15, 1990, as they worked out the final deal on German unification: “We know what awaits NATO in the future, and I think you are now in the know as well,” referring to the NATO London Declaration. (See Document 23)

In his phone call to Gorbachev on July 17, Bush meant to reinforce the success of the Kohl-Gorbachev talks and the message of the London Declaration. Bush explained: “So what we tried to do was to take account of your concerns expressed to me and others, and we did it in the following ways: by our joint declaration on non-aggression; in our invitation to you to come to NATO; in our agreement to open NATO to regular diplomatic contact with your government and those of the Eastern European countries; and our offer on assurances on the future size of the armed forces of a united Germany – an issue I know you discussed with Helmut Kohl. We also fundamentally changed our military approach on conventional and nuclear forces. We conveyed the idea of an expanded, stronger CSCE with new institutions in which the USSR can share and be part of the new Europe.” (See Document 24)

The documents show that Gorbachev agreed to German unification in NATO as the result of this cascade of assurances, and on the basis of his own analysis that the future of the Soviet Union depended on its integration into Europe, for which Germany would be the decisive actor. He and most of his allies believed that some version of the common European home was still possible and would develop alongside the transformation of NATO to lead to a more inclusive and integrated European space, that the post-Cold War settlement would take account of the Soviet security interests. The alliance with Germany would not only overcome the Cold War but also turn on its head the legacy of the Great Patriotic War.

But inside the U.S. government, a different discussion continued, a debate about relations between NATO and Eastern Europe. Opinions differed, but the suggestion from the Defense Department as of October 25, 1990 was to leave “the door ajar” for East European membership in NATO. (See Document 27) The view of the State Department was that NATO expansion was not on the agenda, because it was not in the interest of the U.S. to organize “an anti-Soviet coalition” that extended to the Soviet borders, not least because it might reverse the positive trends in the Soviet Union. (See Document 26) The Bush administration took the latter view. And that’s what the Soviets heard.

As late as March 1991, according to the diary of the British ambassador to Moscow, British Prime Minister John Major personally assured Gorbachev, “We are not talking about the strengthening of NATO.” Subsequently, when Soviet defense minister Marshal Dmitri Yazov asked Major about East European leaders’ interest in NATO membership, the British leader responded, “Nothing of the sort will happen.” (See Document 28)

When Russian Supreme Soviet deputies came to Brussels to see NATO and meet with NATO secretary-general Manfred Woerner in July 1991, Woerner told the Russians that “We should not allow […] the isolation of the USSR from the European community.” According to the Russian memorandum of conversation, “Woerner stressed that the NATO Council and he are against the expansion of NATO (13 of 16 NATO members support this point of view).” (See Document 30)

Thus, Gorbachev went to the end of the Soviet Union assured that the West was not threatening his security and was not expanding NATO. Instead, the dissolution of the USSR was brought about by Russians (Boris Yeltsin and his leading advisory Gennady Burbulis) in concert with the former party bosses of the Soviet republics, especially Ukraine, in December 1991. The Cold War was long over by then. The Americans had tried to keep the Soviet Union together (see the Bush “Chicken Kiev” speech on August 1, 1991). NATO’s expansion was years in the future, when these disputes would erupt again, and more assurances would come to Russian leader Boris Yeltsin.

The Archive compiled these declassified documents for a panel discussion on November 10, 2017 at the annual conference of the Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES) in Chicago under the title “Who Promised What to Whom on NATO Expansion?” The panel included:

* Mark Kramer from the Davis Center at Harvard, editor of the Journal of Cold War Studies, whose 2009 Washington Quarterly article argued that the “no-NATO-enlargement pledge” was a “myth”;[4]

* Joshua R. Itkowitz Shifrinson from the Bush School at Texas A&M, whose 2016 International Security article argued the U.S. was playing a double game in 1990, leading Gorbachev to believe NATO would be subsumed in a new European security structure, while working to ensure hegemony in Europe and the maintenance of NATO;[5]

* James Goldgeier from American University, who wrote the authoritative book on the Clinton decision on NATO expansion, Not Whether But When, and described the misleading U.S. assurances to Russian leader Boris Yeltsin in a 2016 WarOnTheRocks article;[6]

* Svetlana Savranskaya and Tom Blanton from the National Security Archive, whose most recent book, The Last Superpower Summits: Gorbachev, Reagan, and Bush: Conversations That Ended the Cold War (CEU Press, 2016) analyzes and publishes the declassified transcripts and related documents from all of Gorbachev’s summits with U.S. presidents, including dozens of assurances about protecting the USSR’s security interests.[7]

[Today’s posting is the first of two on the subject. The second part will cover the Yeltsin discussions with Western leaders about NATO.]


Document 01: U.S. Embassy Bonn Confidential Cable to Secretary of State on the speech of the German Foreign Minister: Genscher Outlines His Vision of a New European Architecture.
Source: U.S. Department of State. FOIA Reading Room. Case F-2015 10829

One of the myths about the January and February 1990 discussions of German unification is that these talks occurred so early in the process, with the Warsaw Pact still very much in existence, that no one was thinking about the possibility that Central and European countries, even then members of the Warsaw Pact, could in the future become members of NATO. On the contrary, the West German foreign minister’s Tutzing formula in his speech of January 31, 1990, widely reported in the media in Europe, Washington, and Moscow, explicitly addressed the possibility of NATO expansion, as well as Central and Eastern European membership in NATO – and denied that possibility, as part of his olive garland towards Moscow. This U.S. Embassy Bonn cable reporting back to Washington details both of Hans-Dietrich Genscher’s proposals – that NATO would not expand to the east, and that the former territory of the GDR in a unified Germany would be treated differently from other NATO territory.

Document 02: Mr. Hurd to Sir C. Mallaby (Bonn). Telegraphic N. 85: Secretary of State’s Call on Herr Genscher: German Unification.
Source: Documents on British Policy Overseas, series III, volume VII: German Unification, 1989-1990. (Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Documents on British Policy Overseas, edited by Patrick Salmon, Keith Hamilton, and Stephen Twigge, Oxford and New York, Routledge 2010). pp. 261-264

The U.S. State Department’s subsequent view of the German unification negotiations, expressed in a 1996 cable sent to all posts, mistakenly asserts that the entire negotiation over the future of Germany limited its discussion of the future of NATO to the specific arrangements over the territory of the former GDR. Perhaps the American diplomats missed out on the early dialogue between the British and the Germans on this issue, even though both shared their views with the U.S. secretary of state. As published in the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s official 2010 documentary history of the UK’s input into German unification, this memorandum of British Foreign Minister Douglas Hurd’s conversation with West German Foreign Minister Genscher on February 6, 1990, contains some remarkable specificity on the issue of future NATO membership for the Central Europeans. The British memorandum specifically quotes Genscher as saying “that when he talked about not wanting to extend NATO that applied to other states beside the GDR. The Russians must have some assurance that if, for example, the Polish Government left the Warsaw Pact one day, they would not join NATO the next.” Genscher and Hurd were saying the same to their Soviet counterpart Eduard Shevardnadze, and to James Baker.[8]

Document 03: Memorandum from Paul H. Nitze to George H.W. Bush about “Forum for Germany” meeting in Berlin.
Source: George H. W. Bush Presidential Library

This concise note to President Bush from one of the Cold War’s architects, Paul Nitze (based at his namesake Johns Hopkins University School of International Studies), captures the debate over the future of NATO in early 1990. Nitze relates that Central and Eastern European leaders attending the “Forum for Germany” conference in Berlin were advocating the dissolution of both the superpower blocs, NATO and the Warsaw Pact, until he (and a few western Europeans) turned around that view and instead emphasized the importance of NATO as the basis of stability and U.S. presence in Europe.

Document 04: Memorandum of Conversation between James Baker and Eduard Shevardnadze in Moscow.

Source: U.S. Department of State, FOIA 199504567 (National Security Archive Flashpoints Collection, Box 38)

Although heavily redacted compared to the Soviet accounts of these conversations, the official State Department version of Secretary Baker’s assurances to Soviet Foreign Minister Shevardnadze just before the formal meeting with Gorbachev on February 9, 1990, contains a series of telling phrases. Baker proposes the Two-Plus-Four formula, with the two being the Germanies and the four the post-war occupying powers; argues against other ways to negotiate unification; and makes the case for anchoring Germany in NATO. Furthermore, Baker tells the Soviet foreign minister, “A neutral Germany would undoubtedly acquire its own independent nuclear capability. However, a Germany that is firmly anchored in a changed NATO, by that I mean a NATO that is far less of [a] military organization, much more of a political one, would have no need for independent capability. There would, of course, have to be iron-clad guarantees that NATO’s jurisdiction or forces would not move eastward. And this would have to be done in a manner that would satisfy Germany’s neighbors to the east.”

Document 05: Memorandum of conversation between Mikhail Gorbachev and James Baker in Moscow.

Source: U.S. Department of State, FOIA 199504567 (National Security Archive Flashpoints Collection, Box 38)

Even with (unjustified) redactions by U.S. classification officers, this American transcript of perhaps the most famous U.S. assurance to the Soviets on NATO expansion confirms the Soviet transcript of the same conversation. Repeating what Bush said at the Malta summit in December 1989, Baker tells Gorbachev: “The President and I have made clear that we seek no unilateral advantage in this process” of inevitable German unification. Baker goes on to say, “We understand the need for assurances to the countries in the East. If we maintain a presence in a Germany that is a part of NATO, there would be no extension of NATO’s jurisdiction for forces of NATO one inch to the east.” Later in the conversation, Baker poses the same position as a question, “would you prefer a united Germany outside of NATO that is independent and has no US forces or would you prefer a united Germany with ties to NATO and assurances that there would be no extension of NATO’s current jurisdiction eastward?” The declassifiers of this memcon actually redacted Gorbachev’s response that indeed such an expansion would be “unacceptable” – but Baker’s letter to Kohl the next day, published in 1998 by the Germans, gives the quote.

Document 06: Record of conversation between Mikhail Gorbachev and James Baker in Moscow. (Excerpts)

Source: Gorbachev Foundation Archive, Fond 1, Opis 1.

This Gorbachev Foundation record of the Soviet leader’s meeting with James Baker on February 9, 1990, has been public and available for researchers at the Foundation since as early as 1996, but it was not published in English until 2010 when the Masterpieces of History volume by the present authors came out from Central European University Press. The document focuses on German unification, but also includes candid discussion by Gorbachev of the economic and political problems in the Soviet Union, and Baker’s “free advice” (“sometimes the finance minister in me wakes up”) on prices, inflation, and even the policy of selling apartments to soak up the rubles cautious Soviet citizens have tucked under their mattresses.

Turning to German unification, Baker assures Gorbachev that “neither the president nor I intend to extract any unilateral advantages from the processes that are taking place,” and that the Americans understand the importance for the USSR and Europe of guarantees that “not an inch of NATO’s present military jurisdiction will spread in an eastern direction.” Baker argues in favor of the Two-Plus-Four talks using the same assurance: “We believe that consultations and discussions within the framework of the ‘two+four’ mechanism should guarantee that Germany’s unification will not lead to NATO’s military organization spreading to the east.” Gorbachev responds by quoting Polish President Wojciech Jaruzelski: “that the presence of American and Soviet troops in Europe is an element of stability.”

The key exchange takes place when Baker asks whether Gorbachev would prefer “a united Germany outside of NATO, absolutely independent and without American troops; or a united Germany keeping its connections with NATO, but with the guarantee that NATO’s jurisdiction or troops will not spread east of the present boundary.” Thus, in this conversation, the U.S. secretary of state three times offers assurances that if Germany were allowed to unify in NATO, preserving the U.S. presence in Europe, then NATO would not expand to the east. Interestingly, not once does he use the term GDR or East Germany or even mention the Soviet troops in East Germany. For a skilled negotiator and careful lawyer, it seems very unlikely Baker would not use specific terminology if in fact he was referring only to East Germany.

The Soviet leader responds that “[w]e will think everything over. We intend to discuss all these questions in depth at the leadership level. It goes without saying that a broadening of the NATO zone is not acceptable.” Baker affirms: “We agree with that.”

Document 07: Memorandum of conversation between Robert Gates and Vladimir Kryuchkov in Moscow.

Source: George H.W. Bush Presidential Library, NSC Scowcroft Files, Box 91128, Folder “Gorbachev (Dobrynin) Sensitive.”

This conversation is especially important because subsequent researchers have speculated that Secretary Baker may have been speaking beyond his brief in his “not one inch eastward” conversation with Gorbachev. Robert Gates, the former top CIA intelligence analyst and a specialist on the USSR, here tells his kind-of-counterpart, the head of the KGB, in his office at the Lubyanka KGB headquarters, exactly what Baker told Gorbachev that day at the Kremlin: not one inch eastward. At that point, Gates was the top deputy to the president’s national security adviser, Gen. Brent Scowcroft, so this document speaks to a coordinated approach by the U.S. government to Gorbachev. Kryuchkov, whom Gorbachev appointed to replace Viktor Chebrikov at the KGB in October 1988, comes across here as surprisingly progressive on many issues of domestic reform. He talks openly about the shortcomings and problems of perestroika, the need to abolish the leading role of the CPSU, the central government’s mistaken neglect of ethnic issues, the “atrocious” pricing system, and other domestic topics.

When the discussion moves on to foreign policy, in particular the German question, Gates asks, “What did Kryuchkov think of the Kohl/Genscher proposal under which a united Germany would be associated with NATO, but in which NATO troops would move no further east than they now were? It seems to us to be a sound proposal.” Kryuchkov does not give a direct answer but talks about how sensitive the issue of German unification is for the Soviet public and suggests that the Germans should offer the Soviet Union some guarantees. He says that although Kohl and Genscher’s ideas are interesting, “even those points in their proposals with which we agree would have to have guarantees. We learned from the Americans in arms control negotiations the importance of verification, and we would have to be sure.”

Document 08: Letter from James Baker to Helmut Kohl
Source: Deutsche Enheit Sonderedition und den Akten des Budeskanzleramtes 1989/90, eds. Hanns Jurgen Kusters and Daniel Hofmann (Munich: R. Odenbourg Verlag, 1998), pp. 793-794

This key document first appeared in Helmut Kohl’s scholarly edition of chancellery documents on German unification, published in 1998. Kohl at that moment was caught up in an election campaign that would end his 16-year tenure as chancellor, and wanted to remind Germans of his instrumental role in the triumph of unification.[9] The large volume (over 1,000 pages) included German texts of Kohl’s meetings with Gorbachev, Bush, Mitterrand, Thatcher and more – all published with no apparent consultation with those governments, only eight years after the events. A few of the Kohl documents, such as this one, appear in English, representing the American or British originals rather than German notes or translations. Here, Baker debriefs Kohl the day after his February 9 meeting with Gorbachev. (The chancellor is scheduled to have his own session with Gorbachev on February 10 in Moscow.) The American apprises the German on Soviet “concerns” about unification, and summarizes why a “Two Plus Four” negotiation would be the most appropriate venue for talks on the “external aspects of unification” given that the “internal aspects … were strictly a German matter.” Baker especially remarks on Gorbachev’s noncommittal response to the question about a neutral Germany versus a NATO Germany with pledges against eastward expansion, and advises Kohl that Gorbachev “may well be willing to go along with a sensible approach that gives him some cover …” Kohl reinforces this message in his own conversation later that day with the Soviet leader.

Document 09: Memorandum of conversation between Mikhail Gorbachev and Helmut Kohl

Source: Mikhail Gorbachev i germanskii vopros, edited by Alexander Galkin and Anatoly Chernyaev, (Moscow: Ves Mir, 2006)

This meeting in Moscow was the moment, by Kohl’s account, when he first heard from Gorbachev that the Soviet leader saw German unification as inevitable, that the value of future German friendship in a “common European home” outweighed Cold War rigidities, but that the Soviets would need time (and money) before they could acknowledge the new realities. Prepared by Baker’s letter and his own foreign minister’s Tutzing formula, Kohl early in the conversation assures Gorbachev, “We believe that NATO should not expand the sphere of its activity. We have to find a reasonable resolution. I correctly understand the security interests of the Soviet Union, and I realize that you, Mr. General Secretary, and the Soviet leadership will have to clearly explain what is happening to the Soviet people.” Later the two leaders tussle about NATO and the Warsaw Pact, with Gorbachev commenting, “They say what is NATO without the FRG. But we could also ask: what is the WTO without the GDR?” When Kohl disagrees, Gorbachev calls merely for “reasonable solutions that do not poison the atmosphere in our relations” and says this part of the conversation should not be made public.

Gorbachev aide Andrei Grachev later wrote that the Soviet leader early on understood that Germany was the door to European integration, and “[a]ll the attempted bargaining [by Gorbachev] about the final formula for German association with NATO was therefore much more a question of form than serious content; Gorbachev was trying to gain needed time in order to let public opinion at home adjust to the new reality, to the new type of relations that were taking shape in the Soviet Union’s relations with Germany as well as with the West in general. At the same time he was hoping to get at least partial political compensation from his Western partners for what he believed to be his major contribution to the end of the Cold War.”[10]

Document 10-1: Teimuraz Stepanov-Mamaladze notes from Conference on Open Skies, Ottawa, Canada.

Source: Hoover Institution Archive, Stepanov-Mamaladze Collection.

Soviet Foreign Minister Shevardnadze was particularly unhappy with the swift pace of events on German unification, especially when a previously scheduled NATO and Warsaw Pact foreign ministers’ meeting in Ottawa, Canada, on February 10-12, 1990, that was meant to discuss the “Open Skies” treaty, turned into a wide-ranging negotiation over Germany and the installation of the Two-Plus-Four process to work out the details. Shevardnadze’s aide, Teimuraz Stepanov-Mamaladze, wrote notes of the Ottawa meetings in a series of notebooks, and also kept a less-telegraphic diary, which needs to be read along with the notebooks for the most complete account. Now deposited at the Hoover Institution, these excerpts of the Stepanov-Mamaladze notes and diary record Shevardnadze’s disapproval of the speed of the process, but most importantly reinforce the importance of the February 9 and 10 meetings in Moscow, where Western assurances about Soviet security were heard, and Gorbachev’s assent in principle to eventual German unification came as part of the deal.

Notes from the first days of the conference are very brief, but they contain one important line that shows that Baker offered the same assurance formula in Ottawa as he did in Moscow: “And if U[nited] G[ermany] stays in NATO, we should take care about nonexpansion of its jurisdiction to the East.” Shevardnadze is not ready to discuss conditions for German unification; he says that he has to consult with Moscow before any condition is approved. On February 13, according to the notes, Shevardnadze complains, “I am in a stupid situation – we are discussing the Open Skies, but my colleagues are talking about unification of Germany as if it was a fact.” The notes show that Baker was very persistent in trying to get Shevardnadze to define Soviet conditions for German unification in NATO, while Shevardnadze was still uncomfortable with the term “unification,” instead insisting on the more general term “unity.”

Document 10-2: Teimuraz Stepanov-Mamaladze diary, February 12, 1990.
Source: Hoover Institution Archive, Stepanov-Mamaladze Collection.

This diary entry from February 12 contains a very brief description of the February 10 Kohl and Genscher visit to Moscow, about which Stepanov-Mamaladze had not previously written (since he was not present). Sharing the view of his minister, Shevardnadze, Stepanov reflects on the hurried nature of, and insufficient considerations given to, the Moscow discussions: “Before our visit here, Kohl and Genscher paid a hasty visit to Moscow. And just as hastily – in the opinion of E.A. [Shevardnadze] – Gorbachev accepted the right of the Germans to unity and self-determination.” This diary entry is evidence, from a critical perspective, that the United States and West Germany did give Moscow concrete assurances about keeping NATO to its current size and scope. In fact, the diary further indicates that at least in Shevardnadze’s view those assurances amounted to a deal – which Gorbachev accepted, even while he stalled for time.

Document 10-3: Teimuraz Stepanov-Mamaladze diary, February 13, 1990.
Source: Hoover Institution Archive, Stepanov-Mamaladze Collection.

On the second day of the Ottawa conference, Stepanov-Mamaladze describes difficult negotiations about the exact wording on the joint statement on Germany and the Two-Plus-Four process. Shevardnadze and Genscher argued for two hours over the terms “unity” versus “unification” as Shevardnadze tried to slow things down on Germany and get the other ministers to concentrate on Open Skies. The day was quite intense: “During the day, active games were taking place between all of them. E.A. [Shevardnadze] met with Baker five times, twice with Genscher, talked with Fischer [GDR foreign minister], Dumas [French foreign minister], and the ministers of the ATS countries,” and finally, the text of the settlement was settled, using the word “unity.” The final statement also called the agreement on U.S. and Soviet troops in Central Europe the main achievement of the conference. But for the Soviet delegates, “ the ‘Open Sky’ [was] still closed by the storm cloud of Germany.”

Document 11: U.S. State Department, “Two Plus Four: Advantages, Possible Concerns and Rebuttal Points.”

Source: State Department FOIA release, National Security Archive Flashpoints Collection, Box 38.

This memo, likely authored by top Baker aide Robert Zoellick at the State Department, contains the candid American view of the Two-Plus-Four process with its advantages of “maintain[ing] American involvement in (and even some control over) the unification debate.” The American fear was that the West Germans would make their own deal with Moscow for rapid unification, giving up some of the bottom lines for the U.S., mainly membership in NATO. Zoellick points out, for example, that Kohl had announced his 10 Points without consulting Washington and after signals from Moscow, and that the U.S. had found out about Kohl going to Moscow from the Soviets, not from Kohl. The memo pre-empts objections about including the Soviets by pointing out they were already in Germany and had to be dealt with. The Two-Plus-Four arrangement includes the Soviets but prevents them from having a veto (which a Four-Power process or a United Nations process might allow), while an effective One-Plus-Three conversation before each meeting would enable West Germany and the U.S., with the British and the French, to work out a common position. Especially telling are the underlining and handwriting by Baker in the margins, especially his exuberant phrase, “you haven’t seen a leveraged buyout until you see this one!”

Document 12-1: Memorandum of conversation between Vaclav Havel and George Bush in Washington.
George H.W. Bush Presidential Library, Memcons and Telcons (https://bush41library.tamu.edu/)

These conversations might be called “the education of Vaclav Havel,”[10] as the former dissident-turned-president of Czechoslovakia visited Washington only two months after the Velvet Revolution swept him from prison to the Prague Castle. Havel would enjoy standing ovations during a February 21 speech to a joint session of Congress, and hold talks with Bush before and after the congressional appearance. Havel had already been cited by journalists as calling for the dissolution of the Cold War blocs, both NATO and the Warsaw Pact, and the withdrawal of troops, so Bush took the opportunity to lecture the Czech leader about the value of NATO and its essential role as the basis for the U.S. presence in Europe. Still, Havel twice mentioned in his speech to Congress his hope that “American soldiers shouldn’t have to be separated from their mothers” just because Europe couldn’t keep the peace, and appealed for a “future democratic Germany in the process of unifying itself into a new pan-European structure which could decide about its own security system.” But afterwards, talking again to Bush, the former dissident clearly had gotten the message. Havel said he might have been misunderstood, that he certainly saw the value of U.S. engagement in Europe. For his part, Bush raised the possibilities, assuming more Czechoslovak cooperation on this issue, of U.S. investment and aid.

Document 12-2: Memorandum of conversation between Vaclav Havel and George Bush in Washington.

George H.W. Bush Presidential Library, Memcons and Telcons (https://bush41library.tamu.edu/)

This memcon after Havel’s triumphant speech to Congress contains Bush’s request to Havel to pass the message to Gorbachev that the Americans support him personally, and that “We will not conduct ourselves in the wrong way by saying ‘we win, you lose.’” Emphasizing the point, Bush says, “tell Gorbachev that … I asked you to tell Gorbachev that we will not conduct ourselves regarding Czechoslovakia or any other country in a way that would complicate the problems he has so frankly discussed with me.” The Czechoslovak leader adds his own caution to the Americans about how to proceed with the unification of Germany and address Soviet insecurities. Havel remarks to Bush, “It is a question of prestige. This is the reason why I talked about the new European security system without mentioning NATO. Because, if it grew out of NATO, it would have to be named something else, if only because of the element of prestige. If NATO takes over Germany, it will look like defeat, one superpower conquering another. But if NATO can transform itself – perhaps in conjunction with the Helsinki process – it would look like a peaceful process of change, not defeat.” Bush responded positively: “You raised a good point. Our view is that NATO would continue with a new political role and that we would build on the CSCE process. We will give thought on how we might proceed.”

Document 13: Memorandum of Conversation between Helmut Kohl and George Bush at Camp David.

George H.W. Bush Presidential Library, Memcons and Telcons (https://bush41library.tamu.edu/)

The Bush administration’s main worry about German unification as the process accelerated in February 1990 was that the West Germans might make their own deal bilaterally with the Soviets (see Document 11) and might be willing to bargain away NATO membership. President Bush later commented that the purpose of the Camp David meeting with Kohl was to “keep Germany on the NATO reservation,” and that drove the agenda for this set of meetings. The German chancellor arrives at Camp David without Genscher because the latter does not entirely share the Bush-Kohl position on full German membership in NATO, and he recently angered both leaders by speaking publicly about the CSCE as the future European security mechanism.[12]

At the beginning of this conversation, Kohl expresses gratitude for Bush and Baker’s support during his discussions with Gorbachev in Moscow in early February, especially for Bush’s letter stating Washington’s strong commitment to German unification in NATO. Both leaders express the need for the closest cooperation between them in order to reach the desired outcome. Bush’s priority is to keep the U.S. presence, especially the nuclear umbrella, in Europe: “if U.S. nuclear forces are withdrawn from Germany, I don’t see how we can persuade any other ally on the continent to retain these weapons.” He refers sarcastically to criticisms coming from Capitol Hill: “We have weird thinking in our Congress today, ideas like this peace dividend. We can’t do that in these uncertain times.” Both leaders are concerned about the position Gorbachev might take and agree on the need to consult with him regularly. Kohl suggests that the Soviets need assistance and the final arrangement on Germany could be a “matter of cash.” Foreshadowing his reluctance to contribute financially, Bush replies, “you have deep pockets.” At one point in the conversation, Bush seems to view his Soviet counterpart not as a partner but as a defeated enemy. Referring to talk in some Soviet quarters against Germany staying in NATO, he says: “To hell with that. We prevailed and they didn’t. We cannot let the Soviets clutch victory from the jaws of defeat.”

Document 14: Memorandum of conversation between George Bush and Eduard Shevardnadze in Washington.
George H.W. Bush Presidential Library, Memcons and Telcons (https://bush41library.tamu.edu/)

Foreign Minister Shevardnadze delivers a letter to Bush from Gorbachev, in which the Soviet president reviews the main issues before the coming summit. Economic issues are at the top of the list for the Soviet Union, specifically Most Favored Nation status and a trade agreement with the United States. Shevardnadze expresses concern about the lack of progress on these issues and the U.S. efforts to prevent the EBRD from extending loans to the USSR. He stresses that they are not asking for help, “we are only looking to be treated as partners.” Addressing the tensions in Lithuania, Bush says that he does not want to create difficulties for Gorbachev on domestic issues, but notes that he must insist on the rights of Lithuanians because their incorporation within the USSR was never recognized by the United States. On arms control, both sides point to some backtracking by the other and express a desire to finalize the START Treaty quickly. Shevardnadze mentions the upcoming CSCE summit and the Soviet expectation that it will discuss the new European security structures. Bush does not contradict this but ties it to the issues of the U.S. presence in Europe and German unification in NATO. He declares that he wants to “contribute to stability and to the creation of a Europe whole and free, or as you call it, a common European home. A[n] idea that is very close to our own.” The Soviets—wrongly—interpret this as a declaration that the U.S. administration shares Gorbachev’s idea.

Document 15: Sir R. Braithwaite (Moscow). Telegraphic N. 667: “Secretary of State’s Meeting with President Gorbachev.”
Source: Documents on British Policy Overseas, series III, volume VII: German Unification, 1989-1990. (Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Documents on British Policy Overseas, edited by Patrick Salmon, Keith Hamilton, and Stephen Twigge, Oxford and New York, Routledge 2010), pp. 373-375

Ambassador Braithwaite’s telegram summarizes the meeting between Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Douglas Hurd and President Gorbachev, noting Gorbachev’s “expansive mood.” Gorbachev asks the secretary to pass his appreciation for Margaret Thatcher’s letter to him after her summit with Kohl, at which, according to Gorbachev, she followed the lines of policy Gorbachev and Thatcher discussed in their recent phone call, on the basis of which the Soviet leader concluded that “the British and Soviet positions were very close indeed.” Hurd cautions Gorbachev that their positions are not 100% in agreement, but that the British “recognized the importance of doing nothing to prejudice Soviet interests and dignity.” Gorbachev, as reflected in Braithwaite’s summary, speaks about the importance of building new security structures as a way of dealing with the issue of two Germanies: “If we are talking about a common dialogue about a new Europe stretching from the Atlantic to the Urals, that was one way of dealing with the German issue.” That would require a transitional period to pick up the pace of the European process and “synchronise it with finding a solution to the problem of the two Germanies.” However, if the process was unilateral – only Germany in NATO and no regard for Soviet security interest – the Supreme Soviet would be very unlikely to approve such a solution and the Soviet Union would question the need to speed up the reduction of its conventional weapons in Europe. In his view, Germany’s joining NATO without progress on European security structures “could upset the balance of security, which would be unacceptable to the Soviet Union.”
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Re: Spinning Boris, directed by Roger Spottiswoode

Postby admin » Sat Sep 08, 2018 1:31 am

Part 2 of 2

Document 16: Valentin Falin Memorandum to Mikhail Gorbachev (Excerpts)
Source: Mikhail Gorbachev i germanskii vopros, edited by Alexander Galkin and Anatoly Chernyaev, (Moscow: Ves Mir, 2006), pp. 398-408

This memorandum from the Central Committee’s most senior expert on Germany sounds like a wake-up call for Gorbachev. Falin puts it in blunt terms: while Soviet European policy has fallen into inactivity and even “depression” after the March 18 elections in East Germany, and Gorbachev himself has let Kohl speed up the process of unification, his compromises on Germany in NATO can only lead to the slipping away of his main goal for Europe – the common European home. “Summing up the past six months, one has to conclude that the ‘common European home,’ which used to be a concrete task the countries of the continent were starting to implement, is now turning into a mirage.” While the West is sweet-talking Gorbachev into accepting German unification in NATO, Falin notes (correctly) that “the Western states are already violating the consensus principle by making preliminary agreements among themselves” regarding German unification and the future of Europe that do not include a “long phase of constructive development.” He notes the West’s “intensive cultivation of not only NATO but also our Warsaw Pact allies” with the goal to isolate the USSR in the Two-Plus-Four and CSCE framework.

He further comments that reasonable voices are no longer heard: “Genscher from time to time continues to discuss accelerating the movement toward European collective security with the ‘dissolving of NATO and WTO into it.’ ... But very few people … hear Genscher.” Falin proposes using the Soviet Four-power rights to achieve a formal legally binding settlement equal to a peace treaty that would guarantee Soviet security interests as “our only chance to dock German unification with the pan-European process.” He also suggests using arms control negotiations in Vienna and Geneva as leverage if the West keeps taking advantage of Soviet flexibility. The memo suggests specific provisions for the final settlement with Germany, the negotiation of which would take a long time and provide a window for building European structures. But the main idea of the memo is to warn Gorbachev not to be naive about the intentions of his American partners: “The West is outplaying us, promising to respect the interests of the USSR, but in practice, step by step, separating us from ‘traditional Europe.’”

Document 17: James A. Baker III, Memorandum for the President, “My meeting with Shevardnadze.”
Source: George H. W. Bush Presidential Library, NSC Scowcroft Files, Box 91126, Folder “Gorbachev (Dobrynin) Sensitive 1989 – June 1990 [3]”

The secretary of state had just spent nearly four hours meeting with the Soviet foreign minister in Bonn on May 4, 1990, covering a range of issues but centering on the crisis in Lithuania and the negotiations over German unification. As in the February talks and throughout the year, Baker took pains to provide assurances to the Soviets about including them in the future of Europe. Baker reports, “I also used your speech and our recognition of the need to adapt NATO, politically and militarily, and to develop CSCE to reassure Shevardnadze that the process would not yield winners and losers. Instead, it would produce a new legitimate European structure – one that would be inclusive, not exclusive.” Shevardnadze’s response indicates that “our discussion of the new European architecture was compatible with much of their thinking, though their thinking was still being developed.” Baker relates that Shevardnadze “emphasized again the psychological difficulty they have – especially the Soviet public has – of accepting a unified Germany in NATO.” Astutely, Baker predicts that Gorbachev will not “take on this kind of an emotionally charged political issue now” and likely not until after the Party Congress in July.

Document 18: Record of conversation between Mikhail Gorbachev and James Baker in Moscow.
Source: Gorbachev Foundation Archive, Fond 1, Opis 1.

This fascinating conversation covers a range of arms control issues in preparation for the Washington summit and includes extensive though inconclusive discussions of German unification and the tensions in the Baltics, particularly the standoff between Moscow and secessionist Lithuania. Gorbachev makes an impassioned attempt to persuade Baker that Germany should reunify outside of the main military blocs, in the context of the all-European process. Baker provides Gorbachev with nine points of assurance to prove that his position is being taken into account. Point eight is the most important for Gorbachev—that the United States is “making an effort in various forums to ultimately transform the CSCE into a permanent institution that would become an important cornerstone of a new Europe.”

This assurance notwithstanding, when Gorbachev mentions the need to build new security structures to replace the blocs, Baker lets slip a personal reaction that reveals much about the real U.S. position on the subject: “It’s nice to talk about pan-European security structures, the role of the CSCE. It is a wonderful dream, but just a dream. In the meantime, NATO exists. …” Gorbachev suggests that if the U.S. side insists on Germany in NATO, then he would “announce publicly that we want to join NATO too.” Shevardnadze goes further, offering a prophetic observation: “if united Germany becomes a member of NATO, it will blow up perestroika. Our people will not forgive us. People will say that we ended up the losers, not the winners.”

Document 19: Record of conversation between Mikhail Gorbachev and Francois Mitterrand (excerpts).
Source: Mikhail Gorbachev i germanskii vopros, edited by Alexander Galkin and Anatoly Chernyaev, (Moscow: Ves Mir, 2006), pp. 454-466

Gorbachev felt that of all the Europeans, the French president was his closest ally in the construction of a post-Cold War Europe, because the Soviet leader believed Mitterrand shared his concept of the common European home and the idea of dissolving both military blocs in favor of new European security structures. And Mitterrand did share that view, to an extent. In this conversation, Gorbachev is still hoping to persuade his counterpart to join him in opposing German unification in NATO. Mitterrand is quite direct, telling Gorbachev that it is too late to fight this issue and that he would not give his support, because “if I say ‘no’ to Germany’s membership in NATO, I will become isolated from my Western partners.” However, Mitterrand suggests that Gorbachev demand “appropriate guarantees” from NATO. He speaks about the danger of isolating the Soviet Union in the new Europe and the need to “create security conditions for you, as well as European security as a whole. This was one of my guiding goals, particularly when I proposed my idea of creating a European confederation. It is similar to your concept of a common European home.”

In his recommendations to Gorbachev, Mitterrand is basically repeating the lines of the Falin memo (see Document 16). He says Gorbachev should strive for a formal settlement with Germany using his Four-power rights and use the leverage of conventions arms control negotiations: “You will not abandon such a trump card as disarmament negotiations.” He implies that NATO is not the key issue now and could be drowned out in further negotiations; rather, the important thing is to ensure Soviet participation in new European security system. He repeats that he is “personally in favor of gradually dismantling the military blocs.”

Gorbachev expresses his wariness and suspicion about U.S. effort to “perpetuate NATO,” to “use NATO to create some sort of mechanism, an institution, a kind of directory for managing world affairs.” He tells Mitterrand about his concern that the U.S. is trying to attract East Europeans to NATO: “I told Baker: we are aware of your favorable attitude towards the intention expressed by a number of representatives of Eastern European countries to withdraw from the Warsaw Pact and subsequently join NATO.” What about the USSR joining?

Mitterrand agrees to support Gorbachev in his efforts to encourage pan-European processes and ensure that Soviet security interests are taken into account as long as he does not have to say “no” to the Germans. He says “I always told my NATO partners: make a commitment not to move NATO’s military formations from their current territory in the FRG to East Germany.”

Document 20: Letter from Francois Mitterrand to George Bush
Source: George H.W. Bush Presidential Library, NSC Scowcroft Files, FOIA 2009-0275-S

True to his word, Mitterrand writes a letter to George Bush describing Gorbachev’s predicament on the issue of German unification in NATO, calling it genuine, not “fake or tactical.” He warns the American president against doing it as a fait accompli without Gorbachev’s consent implying that Gorbachev might retaliate on arms control (exactly what Mitterrand himself – and Falin earlier – suggested in his conversation). Mitterrand argues in favor of a formal “peace settlement in International law,” and informs Bush that in his conversation with Gorbachev he “indicated that, on the Western side, we would certainly not refuse to detail the guarantees that he would have a right to expect for his country’s security.” Mitterrand thinks that “we must try to dispel Mr. Gorbatchev’s worries,” and offers to present “ a number of proposals” about such guarantees when he and Bush meet in person.

Document 21: Record of conversation between Mikhail Gorbachev and George Bush. White House, Washington D.C.
Source: Gorbachev Foundation Archive, Moscow, Fond 1, opis 1.[13]

In this famous “two anchor” discussion, the U.S. and Soviet delegations deliberate over the process of German unification and especially the issue of a united Germany joining NATO. Bush tries to persuade his counterpart to reconsider his fears of Germany based on the past, and to encourage him to trust the new democratic Germany. The U.S. president says, “Believe me, we are not pushing Germany towards unification, and it is not us who determines the pace of this process. And of course, we have no intention, even in our thoughts, to harm the Soviet Union in any fashion. That is why we are speaking in favor of German unification in NATO without ignoring the wider context of the CSCE, taking the traditional economic ties between the two German states into consideration. Such a model, in our view, corresponds to the Soviet interests as well.” Baker repeats the nine assurances made previously by the administration, including that the United States now agrees to support the pan-European process and transformation of NATO in order to remove the Soviet perception of threat. Gorbachev’s preferred position is Germany with one foot in both NATO and the Warsaw Pact—the “two anchors”—creating a kind of associated membership. Baker intervenes, saying that “the simultaneous obligations of one and the same country toward the WTO and NATO smack of schizophrenia.” After the U.S. president frames the issue in the context of the Helsinki agreement, Gorbachev proposes that the German people have the right to choose their alliance—which he in essence already affirmed to Kohl during their meeting in February 1990. Here, Gorbachev significantly exceeds his brief, and incurs the ire of other members of his delegation, especially the official with the German portfolio, Valentin Falin, and Marshal Sergey Akhromeyev. Gorbachev issues a key warning about the future: “if the Soviet people get an impression that we are disregarded in the German question, then all the positive processes in Europe, including the negotiations in Vienna [over conventional forces], would be in serious danger. This is not just bluffing. It is simply that the people will force us to stop and to look around.” It is a remarkable admission about domestic political pressures from the last Soviet leader.

Document 22: Letter from Mr. Powell (N. 10) to Mr. Wall: Thatcher-Gorbachev memorandum of conversation.
Source: Documents on British Policy Overseas, series III, volume VII: German Unification, 1989-1990. (Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Documents on British Policy Overseas, edited by Patrick Salmon, Keith Hamilton, and Stephen Twigge, Oxford and New York, Routledge 2010), pp 411-417

Margaret Thatcher visits Gorbachev right after he returns home from his summit with George Bush. Among many issues in the conversation, the center of gravity is on German unification and NATO, on which, Powell notes, Gorbachev’s “views were still evolving.” Rather than agreeing on German unification in NATO, Gorbachev talks about the need for NATO and the Warsaw pact to move closer together, from confrontation to cooperation to build a new Europe: “We must mould European structures so that they helped us find the common European home. Neither side must be afraid of unorthodox solutions.”

While Thatcher speaks against Gorbachev’s ideas short of full NATO membership for Germany and emphasizes the importance of a U.S. military presence in Europe, she also sees that “CSCE could provide the umbrella for all this, as well as being the forum which brought the Soviet Union fully into discussion about the future of Europe.” Gorbachev says he wants to “be completely frank with the Prime Minister” that if the processes were to become one-sided, “there could be a very difficult situation [and the] Soviet Union would feel its security in jeopardy.” Thatcher responds firmly that it was in nobody’s interest to put Soviet security in jeopardy: “we must find ways to give the Soviet Union confidence that its security would be assured.”

Document 23: Record of Conversation between Mikhail Gorbachev and Helmut Kohl, Moscow (Excerpts).
Source: Mikhail Gorbachev i germanskii vopros, edited by Alexander Galkin and Anatoly Chernyaev, (Moscow: Ves Mir, 2006), pp. 495-504

This key conversation between Chancellor Kohl and President Gorbachev sets the final parameters for German unification. Kohl talks repeatedly about the new era of relations between a united Germany and the Soviet Union, and how this relationship would contribute to European stability and security. Gorbachev demands assurances on non-expansion of NATO: “we must talk about the nonproliferation of NATO military structures to the territory of the GDR, and maintaining Soviet troops there for a certain transition period.” The Soviet leader notes earlier in the conversation that NATO has already began transforming itself. For him, the pledge of NATO non-expansion to the territory of the GDR in spirit means that NATO would not take advantage of the Soviet willingness to compromise on Germany. He also demands that the status of Soviet troops in the GDR for the transition period be “regulated. It should not hang in the air, it needs a legal basis.” He hands Kohl Soviet considerations for a full-fledged Soviet-German treaty that would include such guarantees. He also wants assistance with relocating the troops and building housing for them. Kohl promises to do so as long as this assistance is not construed as “a program of German assistance to the Soviet Army.”

Talking about the future of Europe, Kohl alludes to NATO transformation: “We know what awaits NATO in the future, and I think you are now in the know as well.” Kohl also emphasizes that President Bush is aware and supportive of Soviet-German agreements and will play a key role in the building of the new Europe. Chernyaev sums up this meeting in his diary for July 15, 1990: “Today – Kohl. They are meeting at the Schechtel mansion on Alexei Tolstoy Street. Gorbachev confirms his agreement to unified Germany’s entry into NATO. Kohl is decisive and assertive. He leads a clean but tough game. And it is not the bait (loans) but the fact that it is pointless to resist here, it would go against the current of events, it would be contrary to the very realities that M.S. likes to refer to so much.”[14]

Document 24: Memorandum of Telephone Conversation between Mikhail Gorbachev and George Bush
Source: George H.W. Bush Presidential Library, Memcons and Telcons ((https://bush41library.tamu.edu/)

President Bush reaches out to Gorbachev immediately after the Kohl-Gorbachev meetings in Moscow and the Caucasus retreat of Arkhyz, which settled German unification, leaving only the financial arrangements for resolution in September. Gorbachev had not only made the deal with Kohl, but he had also survived and triumphed at the 28th Congress of the CPSU in early July, the last in the history of the Soviet Party. Gorbachev describes this time as “perhaps the most difficult and important period in my political life.” The Congress subjected the party leader to scathing criticism from both conservative Communists and the democratic opposition. He managed to defend his program and win reelection as general secretary, but he had very little to show from his engagement with the West, especially after ceding so much ground on German unification.

While Gorbachev fought for his political life as Soviet leader, the Houston summit of the G-7 had debated ways to help perestroika, but because of U.S. opposition to credits or direct economic aid prior to the enactment of serious free-market reforms, no concrete assistance package was approved; the group went no further than to authorize “studies” by the IMF and World Bank. Gorbachev counters that given enough resources the USSR “could move to a market economy,” otherwise, the country “will have to rely more on state-regulated measures.” In this phone call, Bush expands on Kohl’s security assurances and reinforces the message from the London Declaration: “So what we tried to do was to take account of your concerns expressed to me and others, and we did it in the following ways: by our joint declaration on non-aggression; in our invitation to you to come to NATO; in our agreement to open NATO to regular diplomatic contact with your government and those of the Eastern European countries; and our offer on assurances on the future size of the armed forces of a united Germany – an issue I know you discussed with Helmut Kohl. We also fundamentally changed our military approach on conventional and nuclear forces. We conveyed the idea of an expanded, stronger CSCE with new institutions in which the USSR can share and be part of the new Europe.”

Document 25: September 12 Two-Plus-Four Ministerial in Moscow: Detailed account [includes text of the Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany and Agreed Minute to the Treaty on the special military status of the GDR after unification]
Source: George H.W. Bush Presidential Library, NSC Condoleezza Rice Files, 1989-1990 Subject Files, Folder “Memcons and Telcons – USSR [1]”

Staffers in the European Bureau of the State Department wrote this document, practically a memcon, and addressed it to senior officials such as Robert Zoellick and Condoleezza Rice, based on notes taken by U.S. participants at the final ministerial session on German unification on September 12, 1990. The document features statements by all six ministers in the Two-Plus-Four process – Shevardnadze (the host), Baker, Hurd, Dumas, Genscher, and De Maiziere of the GDR – (much of which would be repeated in their press conferences after the event), along with the agreed text of the final treaty on German unification. The treaty codified what Bush had earlier offered to Gorbachev – “special military status” for the former GDR territory. At the last minute, British and American concerns that the language would restrict emergency NATO troop movements there forced the inclusion of a “minute” that left it up to the newly unified and sovereign Germany what the meaning of the word “deployed” should be. Kohl had committed to Gorbachev that only German NATO troops would be allowed on that territory after the Soviets left, and Germany stuck to that commitment, even though the “minute” was meant to allow other NATO troops to traverse or exercise there at least temporarily. Subsequently, Gorbachev aides such as Pavel Palazhshenko would point to the treaty language to argue that NATO expansion violated the “spirit” of this Final Settlement treaty.

Document 26: U.S. Department of State, European Bureau: Revised NATO Strategy Paper for Discussion at Sub-Ungroup Meeting
Source: George H. W. Bush Presidential Library, NSC Heather Wilson Files, Box CF00293, Folder “NATO – Strategy (5)”

The Bush administration had created the “Ungroup” in 1989 to work around a series of personality conflicts at the assistant secretary level that had stalled the usual interagency process of policy development on arms control and strategic weapons. Members of the Ungroup, chaired by Arnold Kanter of the NSC, had the confidence of their bosses but not necessarily the concomitant formal title or official rank.[15] The Ungroup overlapped with a similarly ad hoc European Security Strategy Group, and this became the venue, soon after German unification was completed, for the discussion inside the Bush administration about the new NATO role in Europe and especially on NATO relations with countries of Eastern Europe. East European countries, still formally in the Warsaw Pact, but led by non-Communist governments, were interested in becoming full members of international community, looking to join the future European Union and potentially NATO.

This document, prepared for a discussion of NATO’s future by a Sub-Ungroup consisting of representatives of the NSC, State Department, Joint Chiefs and other agencies, posits that "[a] potential Soviet threat remains and constitutes one basic justification for the continuance of NATO.” At the same time, in the discussion of potential East European membership in NATO, the review suggests that “In the current environment, it is not in the best interest of NATO or of the U.S. that these states be granted full NATO membership and its security guarantees.” The United States does not “wish to organize an anti-Soviet coalition whose frontier is the Soviet border” – not least because of the negative impact this might have on reforms in the USSR. NATO liaison offices would do for the present time, the group concluded, but the relationship will develop in the future. In the absence of the Cold War confrontation, NATO “out of area” functions will have to be redefined.

Document 27: James F. Dobbins, State Department European Bureau, Memorandum to National Security Council: NATO Strategy Review Paper for October 29 Discussion.
Source: George H. W. Bush Presidential Library: NSC Philip Zelikow Files, Box CF01468, Folder “File 148 NATO Strategy Review No. 1 [3]”[16]

This concise memorandum comes from the State Department’s European Bureau as a cover note for briefing papers for a scheduled October 29, 1990 meeting on the issues of NATO expansion and European defense cooperation with NATO. Most important is the document’s summary of the internal debate within the Bush administration, primarily between the Defense Department (specifically the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Dick Cheney) and the State Department. On the issue of NATO expansion, OSD “wishes to leave the door ajar” while State “prefers simply to note that discussion of expanding membership is not on the agenda….” The Bush administration effectively adopts State’s view in its public statements, yet the Defense view would prevail in the next administration.

Document 28: Ambassador Rodric Braithwaite diary, 05 March 1991
Source: Rodric Braithwaite personal diary (used by permission from the author)

British Ambassador Rodric Braithwaite was present for a number of the assurances given to Soviet leaders in 1990 and 1991 about NATO expansion. Here, Braithwaite in his diary describes a meeting between British Prime Minister John Major and Soviet military officials, led by Minister of Defense Marshal Dmitry Yazov. The meeting took place during Major’s visit to Moscow and right after his one-on-one with President Gorbachev. During the meeting with Major, Gorbachev had raised his concerns about the new NATO dynamics: “Against the background of favorable processes in Europe, I suddenly start receiving information that certain circles intend to go on further strengthening NATO as the main security instrument in Europe. Previously they talked about changing the nature of NATO, about transformation of the existing military-political blocs into pan-European structures and security mechanisms. And now suddenly again [they are talking about] a special peace-keeping role of NATO. They are talking again about NATO as the cornerstone. This does not sound complementary to the common European home that we have started to build.” Major responded: “I believe that your thoughts about the role of NATO in the current situation are the result of misunderstanding. We are not talking about strengthening of NATO. We are talking about the coordination of efforts that is already happening in Europe between NATO and the West European Union, which, as it is envisioned, would allow all members of the European Community to contribute to enhance [our] security.”[17] In the meeting with the military officials that followed, Marshal Yazov expressed his concerns about East European leaders’ interest in NATO membership. In the diary, Braithwaite writes: “Major assures him that nothing of the sort will happen.” Years later, quoting from the record of conversation in the British archives, Braithwaite recounts that Major replied to Yazov that he “did not himself foresee circumstances now or in the future where East European countries would become members of NATO.” Ambassador Braithwaite also quotes Foreign Minister Douglas Hurd as telling Soviet Foreign Minister Alexander Bessmertnykh on March 26, 1991, “there are no plans in NATO to include the countries of Eastern and Central Europe in NATO in one form or another.”[18]

Document 29: Paul Wolfowitz Memoranda of Conversation with Vaclav Havel and Lubos Dobrovsky in Prague.
Source: U.S. Department of Defense, FOIA release 2016, National Security Archive FOIA 20120941DOD109

These memcons from April 1991 provide the bookends for the “education of Vaclav Havel” on NATO (see Documents 12-1 and 12-2 above). U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Paul Wolfowitz included these memcons in his report to the NSC and the State Department about his attendance at a conference in Prague on “The Future of European Security,” on April 24-27, 1991. During the conference Wolfowitz had separate meetings with Havel and Minister of Defense Dobrovsky. In the conversation with Havel, Wolfowitz thanks him for his statements about the importance of NATO and US troops in Europe. Havel informs him that Soviet Ambassador Kvitsinsky was in Prague negotiating a bilateral agreement, and the Soviets wanted the agreement to include a provision that Czechoslovakia would not join alliances hostile to the USSR. Wolfowitz advises both Havel and Dobrovsky not to enter into such agreements and to remind the Soviets about the provisions of the Helsinki Final Act that postulate freedom to join alliances of their choice. Havel states that for Czechoslovakia in the next 10 years that means NATO and the European Union.

In conversation with Dobrovsky, Wolfowitz remarks that “the very existence of NATO was in doubt a year ago,” but with U.S. leadership, and NATO allied (as well as united German) support, its importance for Europe is now understood, and the statements of East European leaders were important in this respect. Dobrovsky candidly describes the change in the Czechoslovak leadership’s position, “which had revised its views radically. At the beginning, President Havel had urged the dissolution of both the Warsaw Pact and NATO,” but then concluded that NATO should be maintained. “Off the record,” says Dobrovsky, “the CSFR was attracted to NATO because it ensured the U.S. presence in Europe.”

Document 30: Memorandum to Boris Yeltsin from Russian Supreme Soviet delegation to NATO HQs
Source: State Archive of the Russian Federation (GARF), Fond 10026, Opis 1

This document is important for describing the clear message in 1991 from the highest levels of NATO – Secretary General Manfred Woerner – that NATO expansion was not happening. The audience was a Russian Supreme Soviet delegation, which in this memo was reporting back to Boris Yeltsin (who in June had been elected president of the Russian republic, largest in the Soviet Union), but no doubt Gorbachev and his aides were hearing the same assurance at that time. The emerging Russian security establishment was already worried about the possibility of NATO expansion, so in June 1991 this delegation visited Brussels to meet NATO’s leadership, hear their views about the future of NATO, and share Russian concerns. Woerner had given a well-regarded speech in Brussels in May 1990 in which he argued: “The principal task of the next decade will be to build a new European security structure, to include the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact nations. The Soviet Union will have an important role to play in the construction of such a system. If you consider the current predicament of the Soviet Union, which has practically no allies left, then you can understand its justified wish not to be forced out of Europe.”

Now in mid-1991, Woerner responds to the Russians by stating that he personally and the NATO Council are both against expansion—“13 out of 16 NATO members share this point of view”—and that he will speak against Poland’s and Romania’s membership in NATO to those countries’ leaders as he has already done with leaders of Hungary and Czechoslovakia. Woerner emphasizes that “We should not allow […] the isolation of the USSR from the European community.” The Russian delegation warned that any strengthening or expanding of NATO could “seriously slow down democratic transformations” in Russia, and called on their NATO interlocutors to gradually decrease the military functions of the alliance. This memo on the Woerner conversation was written by three prominent reformers and close allies of Yeltsin—Sergey Stepashin (chairman of the Duma’s Security Committee and future deputy minister of Security and prime minister), Gen. Konstantin Kobets (future chief military inspector of Russia after he was the highest-ranking Soviet military officer to support Yeltsin during the August 1991 coup) and Gen. Dmitry Volkogonov (Yeltsin’s adviser on defense and security issues, future head of the U.S.-Russian Joint Commission on POW-MIA and prominent military historian).

Page from Stepanov-Mamaladze's notes from February 12, 1990, reflecting Baker's assurance to Shevardnadze during the Ottawa Open Skies conference: "And if U[nited] G[ermany] stays in NATO, we should take care about non-expansion of its jurisdiction to the east."

Eduard A. Shevardnadze (right) greets Hans-Dietrich Genscher (left) and Helmut Kohl (middle) on their arrival in Moscow on February 10, 1990, for talks on German reunification. Photo: AP Photo / Victor Yurchenko.

The agreement to begin the Two Plus Four talks is presented to the press by the six foreign ministers at the “Open Skies” Conference in Ottawa on February 13, 1990. Left to right: Eduard Shevardnadze (USSR), James A. Baker (US), Hans-Dietrich Genscher (FRG), Roland Dumas (France), Douglas Hurd (Great Britain), Oskar Fischer (GDR). Photo: Bundesbildstelle / Presseund Informationsamt der Bundesregierung.

First official round of the Two Plus Four negotiations, with the six foreign ministers, in Bonn on May 5, 1990. Photo: Bundesbildstelle / Presseund Informationsamt der Bundesregierung.

From right to left: Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher (FRG), Minister President Lothar de Maizière (GDR), and Foreign Ministers Roland Dumas (France), Eduard Shevardnadze (USSR), Douglas Hurd (Great Britain), and James Baker (USA) sign the so-called Two Plus Four Agreement (Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany) in Moscow on September 12, 1990. Photo: Bundesbildstelle / Presseund Informationsamt der Bundesregierung.

The working sessions at Camp David met on the deck, outdoors, here clockwise from top left, interpreter Peter Afanasenko, Baker, Bush, Vice President Dan Quayle (the only one in a tie), Scowcroft, Shevardnadze, Gorbachev, and Akhromeyev (back to camera), June 2, 1990. (Credit: George H.W. Bush Presidential Library, P13412-08)

President Bush greets Czech President Vaclav Havel outside the White House, Washington, D.C., February 20, 1990. Credit: George Bush Presidential Library and Museum

Foreign Minister Genscher presents President Bush with a piece of the Berlin Wall, Oval Office of the White House, Washington, D.C., November 21, 1989. Credit: George Bush Presidential Library and Museum.

The principals gathered for a group photo at Camp David, all smiles except for the Soviet marshal at right. From left, Baker, Barbara Bush, President Bush, Raisa Gorbacheva, President Gorbachev, Shevardnadze, Scowcroft, Akhromeyev. June 2, 1990. (Credit: George H.W. Bush Presidential Library, P13437-14)

The Washington summit arrival on May 31, 1990, featured high ceremony on the White House lawn, here with formal greetings from President Bush for Mikhail Gorbachev, now president of the USSR. (Credit: George H.W. Bush Presidential Library, P13298-18)



[1] See Robert Gates, University of Virginia, Miller Center Oral History, George H.W. Bush Presidency, July 24, 2000, p. 101)

[2] See Chapter 6, “The Malta Summit 1989,” in Svetlana Savranskaya and Thomas Blanton, The Last Superpower Summits (CEU Press, 2016), pp. 481-569. The comment about the Wall is on p. 538.

[3] For background, context, and consequences of the Tutzing speech, see Frank Elbe, “The Diplomatic Path to Germany Unity,” Bulletin of the German Historical Institute 46 (Spring 2010), pp. 33-46. Elbe was Genscher’s chief of staff at the time.

[4] See Mark Kramer, “The Myth of a No-NATO-Enlargement Pledge to Russia,” The Washington Quarterly, April 2009, pp. 39-61.

[5] See Joshua R. Itkowitz Shifrinson, “Deal or No Deal? The End of the Cold War and the U.S. Offer to Limit NATO Expansion,” International Security, Spring 2016, Vol. 40, No. 4, pp. 7-44.

[6] See James Goldgeier, Not Whether But When: The U.S. Decision to Enlarge NATO (Brookings Institution Press, 1999); and James Goldgeier, “Promises Made, Promises Broken? What Yeltsin was told about NATO in 1993 and why it matters,” War On The Rocks, July 12, 2016.

[7] See also Svetlana Savranskaya, Thomas Blanton, and Vladislav Zubok, “Masterpieces of History”: The Peaceful End of the Cold War in Europe, 1989 (CEU Press, 2010), for extended discussion and documents on the early 1990 German unification negotiations.

[8] Genscher told Baker on February 2, 1990, that under his plan, “NATO would not extend its territorial coverage to the area of the GDR nor anywhere else in Eastern Europe.” Secretary of State to US Embassy Bonn, “Baker-Genscher Meeting February 2,” George H.W. Bush Presidential Library, NSC Kanter Files, Box CF00775, Folder “Germany-March 1990.” Cited by Joshua R. Itkowitz Shifrinson, “Deal or No Deal? The End of the Cold War and the U.S. Offer to Limit NATO Expansion,” International Security, Spring 2016, Vol. 40, No. 4, pp. 7-44.

[9] The previous version of this text said that Kohl was “caught up in a campaign finance corruption scandal that would end his political career”; however, that scandal did not erupt until 1999, after the September 1998 elections swept Kohl out of office. The authors are grateful to Prof. Dr. H.H. Jansen for the correction and his careful reading of the posting.

[10] See Andrei Grachev, Gorbachev’s Gamble (Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2008), pp. 157-158.

[11] For an insightful account of Bush's highly effective educational efforts with East European leaders including Havel – as well as allies – see Jeffrey A. Engel, When the World Seemed New: George H.W. Bush and the End of the Cold War (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017), pp. 353-359.

[12] See George H.W. Bush and Brent Scowcroft, A World Transformed (New York: Knopf, 1998), pp. 236, 243, 250.

[13] Published in English for the first time in Savranskaya and Blanton, The Last Superpower Summits (2016), pp. 664-676.

[14] Anatoly Chernyaev Diary, 1990, translated by Anna Melyakova and edited by Svetlana Savranskaya, pp. 41-42.

[15] See Michael Nelson and Barbara A. Perry, 41: Inside the Presidency of George H.W. Bush (Cornell University Press, 2014), pp. 94-95.

[16] The authors thank Josh Shifrinson for providing his copy of this document.

[17] See Memorandum of Conversation between Mikhail Gorbachev and John Major published in Mikhail Gorbachev, Sobranie Sochinenii, v. 24 (Moscow: Ves Mir, 2014), p. 346

[18] See Rodric Braithwaite, “NATO enlargement: Assurances and misunderstandings,” European Council on Foreign Relations, Commentary, 7 July 2016.
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Re: Spinning Boris, directed by Roger Spottiswoode

Postby admin » Sat Sep 08, 2018 2:19 am

Putin's Prepared Remarks at 43rd Munich Conference on Security Policy
Courtesy Munich Conference on Security Policy
Monday, February 12, 2007; 11:24 AM
© 2007 The Washington Post Company



Putin (in Russian): Thank you very much dear Madam Federal Chancellor, Mr Teltschik, ladies and gentlemen!

I am truly grateful to be invited to such a representative conference that has assembled politicians, military officials, entrepreneurs and experts from more than 40 nations.

This conference's structure allows me to avoid excessive politeness and the need to speak in roundabout, pleasant but empty diplomatic terms. This conference's format will allow me to say what I really think about international security problems. And if my comments seem unduly polemical, pointed or inexact to our colleagues, then I would ask you not to get angry with me. After all, this is only a conference. And I hope that after the first two or three minutes of my speech Mr Teltschik will not turn on the red light over there.

Therefore. It is well known that international security comprises much more than issues relating to military and political stability. It involves the stability of the global economy, overcoming poverty, economic security and developing a dialogue between civilisations.

This universal, indivisible character of security is expressed as the basic principle that "security for one is security for all". As Franklin D. Roosevelt said during the first few days that the Second World War was breaking out: "When peace has been broken anywhere, the peace of all countries everywhere is in danger."

These words remain topical today. Incidentally, the theme of our conference -- global crises, global responsibility -- exemplifies this.

Only two decades ago the world was ideologically and economically divided and it was the huge strategic potential of two superpowers that ensured global security.

This global stand-off pushed the sharpest economic and social problems to the margins of the international community's and the world's agenda. And, just like any war, the Cold War left us with live ammunition, figuratively speaking. I am referring to ideological stereotypes, double standards and other typical aspects of Cold War bloc thinking.

The unipolar world that had been proposed after the Cold War did not take place either.

The history of humanity certainly has gone through unipolar periods and seen aspirations to world supremacy. And what hasn't happened in world history?

However, what is a unipolar world? However one might embellish this term, at the end of the day it refers to one type of situation, namely one centre of authority, one centre of force, one centre of decision-making.

It is world in which there is one master, one sovereign. And at the end of the day this is pernicious not only for all those within this system, but also for the sovereign itself because it destroys itself from within.

And this certainly has nothing in common with democracy. Because, as you know, democracy is the power of the majority in light of the interests and opinions of the minority.

Incidentally, Russia - we - are constantly being taught about democracy. But for some reason those who teach us do not want to learn themselves.

I consider that the unipolar model is not only unacceptable but also impossible in today's world. And this is not only because if there was individual leadership in today's - and precisely in today's - world, then the military, political and economic resources would not suffice. What is even more important is that the model itself is flawed because at its basis there is and can be no moral foundations for modern civilisation.

Along with this, what is happening in today's world - and we just started to discuss this - is a tentative to introduce precisely this concept into international affairs, the concept of a unipolar world.

And with which results?

Unilateral and frequently illegitimate actions have not resolved any problems. Moreover, they have caused new human tragedies and created new centres of tension. Judge for yourselves: wars as well as local and regional conflicts have not diminished. Mr Teltschik mentioned this very gently. And no less people perish in these conflicts - even more are dying than before. Significantly more, significantly more!

Today we are witnessing an almost uncontained hyper use of force - military force - in international relations, force that is plunging the world into an abyss of permanent conflicts. As a result we do not have sufficient strength to find a comprehensive solution to any one of these conflicts. Finding a political settlement also becomes impossible.

We are seeing a greater and greater disdain for the basic principles of international law. And independent legal norms are, as a matter of fact, coming increasingly closer to one state's legal system. One state and, of course, first and foremost the United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way. This is visible in the economic, political, cultural and educational policies it imposes on other nations. Well, who likes this? Who is happy about this?

In international relations we increasingly see the desire to resolve a given question according to so-called issues of political expediency, based on the current political climate.

And of course this is extremely dangerous. It results in the fact that no one feels safe. I want to emphasise this -- no one feels safe! Because no one can feel that international law is like a stone wall that will protect them. Of course such a policy stimulates an arms race.

The force's dominance inevitably encourages a number of countries to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Moreover, significantly new threats - though they were also well-known before - have appeared, and today threats such as terrorism have taken on a global character.

I am convinced that we have reached that decisive moment when we must seriously think about the architecture of global security.

And we must proceed by searching for a reasonable balance between the interests of all participants in the international dialogue. Especially since the international landscape is so varied and changes so quickly - changes in light of the dynamic development in a whole number of countries and regions.

Madam Federal Chancellor already mentioned this. The combined GDP measured in purchasing power parity of countries such as India and China is already greater than that of the United States. And a similar calculation with the GDP of the BRIC countries - Brazil, Russia, India and China - surpasses the cumulative GDP of the EU. And according to experts this gap will only increase in the future.

There is no reason to doubt that the economic potential of the new centres of global economic growth will inevitably be converted into political influence and will strengthen multipolarity.

In connection with this the role of multilateral diplomacy is significantly increasing. The need for principles such as openness, transparency and predictability in politics is uncontested and the use of force should be a really exceptional measure, comparable to using the death penalty in the judicial systems of certain states.

However, today we are witnessing the opposite tendency, namely a situation in which countries that forbid the death penalty even for murderers and other, dangerous criminals are airily participating in military operations that are difficult to consider legitimate. And as a matter of fact, these conflicts are killing people - hundreds and thousands of civilians!

But at the same time the question arises of whether we should be indifferent and aloof to various internal conflicts inside countries, to authoritarian regimes, to tyrants, and to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction? As a matter of fact, this was also at the centre of the question that our dear colleague Mr Lieberman asked the Federal Chancellor. If I correctly understood your question (addressing Mr Lieberman), then of course it is a serious one! Can we be indifferent observers in view of what is happening? I will try to answer your question as well: of course not.

But do we have the means to counter these threats? Certainly we do. It is sufficient to look at recent history. Did not our country have a peaceful transition to democracy? Indeed, we witnessed a peaceful transformation of the Soviet regime - a peaceful transformation! And what a regime! With what a number of weapons, including nuclear weapons! Why should we start bombing and shooting now at every available opportunity? Is it the case when without the threat of mutual destruction we do not have enough political culture, respect for democratic values and for the law?

I am convinced that the only mechanism that can make decisions about using military force as a last resort is the Charter of the United Nations. And in connection with this, either I did not understand what our colleague, the Italian Defence Minister, just said or what he said was inexact. In any case, I understood that the use of force can only be legitimate when the decision is taken by NATO, the EU, or the UN. If he really does think so, then we have different points of view. Or I didn't hear correctly. The use of force can only be considered legitimate if the decision is sanctioned by the UN. And we do not need to substitute NATO or the EU for the UN. When the UN will truly unite the forces of the international community and can really react to events in various countries, when we will leave behind this disdain for international law, then the situation will be able to change. Otherwise the situation will simply result in a dead end, and the number of serious mistakes will be multiplied. Along with this, it is necessary to make sure that international law have a universal character both in the conception and application of its norms.

And one must not forget that democratic political actions necessarily go along with discussion and a laborious decision-making process.

Dear ladies and gentlemen!

The potential danger of the destabilisation of international relations is connected with obvious stagnation in the disarmament issue.

Russia supports the renewal of dialogue on this important question.

It is important to conserve the international legal framework relating to weapons destruction and therefore ensure continuity in the process of reducing nuclear weapons.

Together with the United States of America we agreed to reduce our nuclear strategic missile capabilities to up to 1700-2000 nuclear warheads by 31 December 2012. Russia intends to strictly fulfil the obligations it has taken on. We hope that our partners will also act in a transparent way and will refrain from laying aside a couple of hundred superfluous nuclear warheads for a rainy day. And if today the new American Defence Minister declares that the United States will not hide these superfluous weapons in warehouse or, as one might say, under a pillow or under the blanket, then I suggest that we all rise and greet this declaration standing. It would be a very important declaration.

Russia strictly adheres to and intends to further adhere to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as well as the multilateral supervision regime for missile technologies. The principles incorporated in these documents are universal ones.

In connection with this I would like to recall that in the 1980s the USSR and the United States signed an agreement on destroying a whole range of small- and medium-range missiles but these documents do not have a universal character.

Today many other countries have these missiles, including the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the Republic of Korea, India, Iran, Pakistan and Israel. Many countries are working on these systems and plan to incorporate them as part of their weapons arsenals. And only the United States and Russia bear the responsibility to not create such weapons systems.

It is obvious that in these conditions we must think about ensuring our own security.

At the same time, it is impossible to sanction the appearance of new, destabilising high-tech weapons. Needless to say it refers to measures to prevent a new area of confrontation, especially in outer space. Star wars is no longer a fantasy ¿ it is a reality. In the middle of the 1980s our American partners were already able to intercept their own satellite.

In Russia¿s opinion, the militarisation of outer space could have unpredictable consequences for the international community, and provoke nothing less than the beginning of a nuclear era. And we have come forward more than once with initiatives designed to prevent the use of weapons in outer space.

Today I would like to tell you that we have prepared a project for an agreement on the prevention of deploying weapons in outer space. And in the near future it will be sent to our partners as an official proposal. Let's work on this together.

Plans to expand certain elements of the anti-missile defence system to Europe cannot help but disturb us. Who needs the next step of what would be, in this case, an inevitable arms race? I deeply doubt that Europeans themselves do.

Missile weapons with a range of about five to eight thousand kilometres that really pose a threat to Europe do not exist in any of the so-called problem countries. And in the near future and prospects, this will not happen and is not even foreseeable. And any hypothetical launch of, for example, a North Korean rocket to American territory through western Europe obviously contradicts the laws of ballistics. As we say in Russia, it would be like using the right hand to reach the left ear.

And here in Germany I cannot help but mention the pitiable condition of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe.

The Adapted Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe was signed in 1999. It took into account a new geopolitical reality, namely the elimination of the Warsaw bloc. Seven years have passed and only four states have ratified this document, including the Russian Federation.

NATO countries openly declared that they will not ratify this treaty, including the provisions on flank restrictions (on deploying a certain number of armed forces in the flank zones), until Russia removed its military bases from Georgia and Moldova. Our army is leaving Georgia, even according to an accelerated schedule. We resolved the problems we had with our Georgian colleagues, as everybody knows. There are still 1,500 servicemen in Moldova that are carrying out peacekeeping operations and protecting warehouses with ammunition left over from Soviet times. We constantly discuss this issue with Mr Solana and he knows our position. We are ready to further work in this direction.

But what is happening at the same time? Simultaneously the so-called flexible frontline American bases with up to five thousand men in each. It turns out that NATO has put its frontline forces on our borders, and we continue to strictly fulfil the treaty obligations and do not react to these actions at all.

I think it is obvious that NATO expansion does not have any relation with the modernisation of the Alliance itself or with ensuring security in Europe. On the contrary, it represents a serious provocation that reduces the level of mutual trust. And we have the right to ask: against whom is this expansion intended? And what happened to the assurances our western partners made after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact? Where are those declarations today? No one even remembers them. But I will allow myself to remind this audience what was said. I would like to quote the speech of NATO General Secretary Mr Woerner in Brussels on 17 May 1990. He said at the time that: "the fact that we are ready not to place a NATO army outside of German territory gives the Soviet Union a firm security guarantee". Where are these guarantees?

The stones and concrete blocks of the Berlin Wall have long been distributed as souvenirs. But we should not forget that the fall of the Berlin Wall was possible thanks to a historic choice - one that was also made by our people, the people of Russia - a choice in favour of democracy, freedom, openness and a sincere partnership with all the members of the big European family.

And now they are trying to impose new dividing lines and walls on us ¿ these walls may be virtual but they are nevertheless dividing, ones that cut through our continent. And is it possible that we will once again require many years and decades, as well as several generations of politicians, to dissemble and dismantle these new walls?

Dear ladies and gentlemen!

We are unequivocally in favour of strengthening the regime of non-proliferation. The present international legal principles allow us to develop technologies to manufacture nuclear fuel for peaceful purposes. And many countries with all good reasons want to create their own nuclear energy as a basis for their energy independence. But we also understand that these technologies can be quickly transformed into nuclear weapons.

This creates serious international tensions. The situation surrounding the Iranian nuclear programme acts as a clear example. And if the international community does not find a reasonable solution for resolving this conflict of interests, the world will continue to suffer similar, destabilising crises because there are more threshold countries than simply Iran. We both know this. We are going to constantly fight against the threat of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Last year Russia put forward the initiative to establish international centres for the enrichment of uranium. We are open to the possibility that such centres not only be created in Russia, but also in other countries where there is a legitimate basis for using civil nuclear energy. Countries that want to develop their nuclear energy could guarantee that they will receive fuel through direct participation in these centres. And the centres would, of course, operate under strict IAEA supervision.

The latest initiatives put forward by American President George W. Bush are in conformity with the Russian proposals. I consider that Russia and the USA are objectively and equally interested in strengthening the regime of the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their deployment. It is precisely our countries, with leading nuclear and missile capabilities, that must act as leaders in developing new, stricter non-proliferation measures. Russia is ready for such work. We are engaged in consultations with our American friends.

In general, we should talk about establishing a whole system of political incentives and economic stimuli whereby it would not be in states¿ interests to establish their own capabilities in the nuclear fuel cycle but they would still have the opportunity to develop nuclear energy and strengthen their energy capabilities.

In connection with this I shall talk about international energy cooperation in more detail. Madam Federal Chancellor also spoke about this briefly - she mentioned, touched on this theme. In the energy sector Russia intends to create uniform market principles and transparent conditions for all. It is obvious that energy prices must be determined by the market instead of being the subject of political speculation, economic pressure or blackmail.

We are open to cooperation. Foreign companies participate in all our major energy projects. According to different estimates, up to 26 percent of the oil extraction in Russia - and please think about this figure - up to 26 percent of the oil extraction in Russia is done by foreign capital. Try, try to find me a similar example where Russian business participates extensively in key economic sectors in western countries. Such examples do not exist! There are no such examples.

I would also recall the parity of foreign investments in Russia and those Russia makes abroad. The parity is about fifteen to one. And here you have an obvious example of the openness and stability of the Russian economy.

Economic security is the sector in which all must adhere to uniform principles. We are ready to compete fairly.

For that reason more and more opportunities are appearing in the Russian economy. Experts and our western partners are objectively evaluating these changes. As such, Russia's OECD sovereign credit rating improved and Russia passed from the fourth to the third group. And today in Munich I would like to use this occasion to thank our German colleagues for their help in the above decision.

Furthermore. As you know, the process of Russia joining the WTO has reached its final stages. I would point out that during long, difficult talks we heard words about freedom of speech, free trade, and equal possibilities more than once but, for some reason, exclusively in reference to the Russian market.

And there is still one more important theme that directly affects global security. Today many talk about the struggle against poverty. What is actually happening in this sphere? On the one hand, financial resources are allocated for programmes to help the world's poorest countries - and at times substantial financial resources. But to be honest -- and many here also know this - linked with the development of that same donor country's companies. And on the other hand, developed countries simultaneously keep their agricultural subsidies and limit some countries' access to high-tech products.

And let's say things as they are - one hand distributes charitable help and the other hand not only preserves economic backwardness but also reaps the profits thereof. The increasing social tension in depressed regions inevitably results in the growth of radicalism, extremism, feeds terrorism and local conflicts. And if all this happens in, shall we say, a region such as the Middle East where there is increasingly the sense that the world at large is unfair, then there is the risk of global destabilisation.

It is obvious that the world's leading countries should see this threat. And that they should therefore build a more democratic, fairer system of global economic relations, a system that would give everyone the chance and the possibility to develop.

Dear ladies and gentlemen, speaking at the Conference on Security Policy, it is impossible not to mention the activities of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). As is well-known, this organisation was created to examine all - I shall emphasise this - all aspects of security: military, political, economic, humanitarian and, especially, the relations between these spheres.

What do we see happening today? We see that this balance is clearly destroyed. People are trying to transform the OSCE into a vulgar instrument designed to promote the foreign policy interests of one or a group of countries. And this task is also being accomplished by the OSCE's bureaucratic apparatus which is absolutely not connected with the state founders in any way. Decision-making procedures and the involvement of so-called non-governmental organisations are tailored for this task. These organisations are formally independent but they are purposefully financed and therefore under control.

According to the founding documents, in the humanitarian sphere the OSCE is designed to assist country members in observing international human rights norms at their request. This is an important task. We support this. But this does not mean interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, and especially not imposing a regime that determines how these states should live and develop.

It is obvious that such interference does not promote the development of democratic states at all. On the contrary, it makes them dependent and, as a consequence, politically and economically unstable.

We expect that the OSCE be guided by its primary tasks and build relations with sovereign states based on respect, trust and transparency.

Dear ladies and gentlemen!

In conclusion I would like to note the following. We very often - and personally, I very often - hear appeals by our partners, including our European partners, to the effect that Russia should play an increasingly active role in world affairs.

In connection with this I would allow myself to make one small remark. It is hardly necessary to incite us to do so. Russia is a country with a history that spans more than a thousand years and has practically always used the privilege to carry out an independent foreign policy.

We are not going to change this tradition today. At the same time, we are well aware of how the world has changed and we have a realistic sense of our own opportunities and potential. And of course we would like to interact with responsible and independent partners with whom we could work together in constructing a fair and democratic world order that would ensure security and prosperity not only for a select few, but for all.

Thank you for your attention.
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Re: Spinning Boris, directed by Roger Spottiswoode

Postby admin » Sat Sep 08, 2018 2:29 am

Record of Conversation between Mikhail Gorbachev and James Baker
The National Security Archive
[Source: Archive of the Gorbachev Foundation, Fond 1, Opis 1. Translated by Anna Melyakova]
February 9, 1990



Gorbachev: At the beginning of this part of our talk I would like to add to what has been said about the all-European meeting in the year 1990.

Judging by numerous signs, the situation in Europe is leaping out of our control. That is why this top-level meeting will help to channel the processes. These developments, if directed in democratic evolutionary forms, could bring favorable results for the West and for the East.

I had a thought: our prediction that the world will change, and change dramatically and in many areas, turned out to be correct. And it is a very good coincidence that at the same time relations between the world's two most powerful and influential countries are in a favorable phase. This is important for the present and stock for the future.

We can still do a good deal right now; it will be more difficult later. I have said that our countries are "doomed" to cooperate. We need to make this cooperation stable. There are no insurmountable conflicts between us. We must strive to place the existing conflicts within the framework of cooperation.

Now I would like to say a few words to you about the plenum and the situation in our country.

Baker: Yes, that would be very interesting.

Gorbachev: In addition, we could exchange views on the German question and on Afghanistan. If you would like to discuss something else in this composition, I would have no objection. Perhaps we will discuss Central America.

The plenum was very important for us. We have come to a stage of perestroika where it is time to provide answers to many of the questions. Positions are beginning to crystallize in society, movements have become visible, and a major realignment is underway. It is not easy to understand all of this....

From the right and from the left, even with different aims, there is pressure on the center. We have come to the conclusion that it is necessary to accelerate the economic reform. Before us the problem arose of creating a mechanism that would allow [us] to regulate monetary income more strictly. We came to the conclusion that we cannot avoid reforming the [system of] price formation. We will have to take some unpopular measures.

For that we need to regroup our power, particularly in its highest echelons. A stronger mechanism for implementing decisions is necessary. In connection with this the question arose of creating an institute of presidential power and broadening the government's resources. This is needed to keep the situation in check.

We need to quickly adopt laws dealing with the demarcation of powers between the republics and the Union--laws that must broaden the powers and rights of the Union. The election process and the formation of governmental bodies will almost be complete by March 4. The new governmental bodies must have a legal basis to function. As for relations between the republics and the center, the matter at hand concerns a perestroika for our federation. There is a great diversity of approaches to the question of reforming our federation. It must be said that we are behind here and events have preceded our decisions. Much will have to be done. The resolution for all these questions is in the platform that we adopted at the plenum.

There are many discussions surrounding the question of the party and its new role. This issue has stirred strong passions, which is quite understandable. In its former role, the party was the framework of the governing structure. And these are not just institutions, these are real living people. That is why the process of realigning power to favor the Soviets and the economic organs, and returning the party to its role as a political organization is proceeding so painfully. The statement that the party renounces its power monopoly and that it will earn its right within a democratic process rather than it being fixed in the Constitution, did not come easily for everyone. But in general we approved such an approach.

Baker: Will article 6 of the Constitution be revoked?

Gorbachev: That is not the plenum's prerogative. However, we decided that the party will produce a legislative initiative to revise this article.

Discussions about reforming relations of production and property questions were also very heated. These are very important links in the perestroika process. In the outcome of the discussion, the plenum confirmed and radicalized our approach toward this aspect of perestroika. A resolution on moving up the dates for the party congress has also been passed. A realignment and renewal of power is taking place, which allows perestroika to continue and develop.

I have been asked what would happen to my posts in the party and in the government. I answer that in general I am for separating these posts, but not right now. If we took this step right now, two centers of power would form. This would not strengthen but weaken the process of perestroika. Even with the emergence of new political organizations in the arena, the CPSU will remain a major influence. For now there is a logic to combining the two posts.

Unusual work on the idea of creating presidential power will emerge in the near future. I don't know how it will go. Maybe passions will heat up again. However, the mood in society is favorable to such a decision.

Right now we are going through a critical point on our journey. I mean the economic situation and ethnic relations.

In connection with this, I would like to say that I properly appreciate the president's and your position with respect to the processes going on in our country, your position supporting perestroika. I consider this to be very important.

Baker: I thank you for this very condensed, but comprehensive summary.

I already said to Mr. Shevardnadze that we have taken a firm stand in support of perestroika and your efforts. We seek to assist you with our policies. In particular, we aim to do everything that we can in order to provide stable international conditions for the fulfillment of your plans. We hope that your domestic policy will continue to be aided by evidence of the productive development of Soviet-American relations, and by [both] sides' achievement of important agreements in the sphere of arms reductions and limitations. You are probably aware that although our administration took it slowly for the first four-five months, now we are not only ready but full of resolve to move the arms limitation process forward.

The proposals we have brought to Moscow are evidence of that. I said to your minister that in conditions of deep and rapid change in the world there is a danger that we may fall behind events and our efforts could be depreciated if we do not act decisively.

Gorbachev: I agree with you.

Baker: Allow me to say a few words on the economic questions.

One aspect troubles me very much, and I spoke about this almost a year ago when speaking with your minister. An economy can be either command or market. There is not some third system that would function effectively.

In connection with this it is very important that you have decided to create a new price formation system. I am glad to hear about this decision. However, it will not be easy to arrive at this system. Before it can be implemented it will be necessary to take certain steps. I have in mind at least two steps. The first is liquidation of the surplus money supply. This can be done in different ways. As I understand, you are already implementing some measures, such as selling apartments to individuals. As far as I know, you are considering the options of a devaluation, of issuing bonds backed by gold, etc. I think all of this should be done before you introduce a new price formation system. Otherwise you risk facing 1,000-percent inflation.

And secondly: before introducing a new price system, it is necessary to create a protective social mechanism that would secure the interests of the poorest layers of society. These steps will reduce, although not eliminate completely, the population's discontent due to the price reform.

I do not want to appear as a lecturer here, but sometimes the finance minister in me wakes up; that is a position I held some time ago. So there is my free advice; I hope it is worth something to you.

In a word, we want your efforts to be successful. And if somewhere in the course of events you feel that the United States is doing something undesirable to you, without hesitation call us and tell us about it.


Baker: [...] This morning I had a detailed discussion of the German question with Minister Shevardnadze. I would also like to hear your thoughts on this matter.

Gorbachev: I would like to hear you [on this issue].

Baker: Firstly, this process is going much faster than anyone would have expected last year, even in December of last year. During the past week I met with the foreign ministers of Great Britain, France, and the FRG. All of them are of this opinion.

On March 18, the people of the GDR will vote in their elections. The overwhelming majority will be for unification, and they will elect leaders who support the idea of German unification. Soon the two German states will start discussions on the internal aspects of unification, such questions as the unification of the governments, parliaments, a common capital, common currency, an economic union. All of this is going on de facto.

The Soviet Union's concern is well known to me, I spoke about it with the minister. At the same time we take your recent statement and E.A. Shevardnadze's speech in Brussels in December of last year as the expression of your understanding of the fact that unification is inevitable. The most important thing is for this process to take place under stable conditions and to ensure the prospect of stability. We believe that this requires a framework and a mechanism for resolving questions related to the external aspects of unification. At the same time, creating such a mechanism must be approached very carefully in order not to cause an outburst of German nationalism. Its creation should not be started until the two Germanys begin discussing unification's internal aspects.

With the French and the Germans we have initiated a preliminary discussion of the possibility of creating a "two + four" mechanism, without aiming at an agreement yet.

Gorbachev: I wanted to ask you, what do you think about the possibility of a "four + two" mechanism?

Baker: I think that it would be better to have a "two + four" mechanism. I explained to Mr. Shevardnadze why, in our opinion, a four-sided approach will not work. I think that the idea of using the CSCE process is also difficult to realize since it would be too cumbersome. I would also like to point out that I do not have confirmation from the FRG side that the Germans will agree to the "two + four" approach.

It goes without saying that when developing an approach to the external aspects of unification it is necessary to a certain degree to consider the concerns of Germany's neighbors. Therefore it is quite possible that the CSCE forum could be used for the ratification of agreements developed within the framework of the "two + four" mechanism.

We fought alongside with you; together we brought peace to Europe. Regrettably, we then managed this peace poorly, which led to the Cold War. We could not cooperate then. Now, when rapid and fundamental changes are taking place in Europe, we have a propitious opportunity to cooperate in the interests of preserving the peace. I very much want you to know: neither the president nor I intend to extract any unilateral advantages from the processes that are taking place.

Some other details. We indeed are not speaking in favor of Germany being neutral. The West Germans have also said to us that they do not consider such a decision to be satisfactory. I would like to explain why.

If Germany is neutral it does not mean it will not be militaristic. Quite the opposite, it could very well decide to create its own nuclear potential instead of relying on American nuclear deterrent forces. All our West European allies and a number of East European countries have made it known to us that they would like the United States to keep its military presence in Europe. I do not know whether you support such a possibility. But I would like to assure you that as soon as our allies tell us that they are against our presence, we will bring our troops home.

Shevardnadze: I do not know about your other allies, but a united Germany may demand it.

Baker: If that happens, our troops will return home. We will leave any country that does not desire our presence. The American people have always had a strong position favoring this. However, if the current West German leadership is at the head of a unified Germany then they have said to us they will be against our withdrawal.

And the last point. NATO is the mechanism for securing the U.S. presence in Europe. If NATO is liquidated, there will be no such mechanism in Europe. We understand that not only for the Soviet Union but for other European countries as well it is important to have guarantees that if the United States keeps its presence in Germany within the framework of NATO, not an inch of NATO's present military jurisdiction will spread in an eastern direction.

We believe that consultations and discussions within the framework of the "two + four" mechanism should guarantee that Germany's unification will not lead to NATO's military organization spreading to the east.

These are our thoughts. Perhaps a better way can be found. As of yet, we do not have the Germans' agreement to this approach. I explained it to Genscher and he only said that he will think it over. As for [French Foreign Minister Roland] Dumas, he liked the idea. Now I have given an account of this approach to you. I repeat, maybe something much better can be created, but we have not been able to do that yet.

Gorbachev: I want to say that in general we share this way of thinking. Indeed, the process has begun and is underway. And we need to try to adjust to the new reality. A mechanism is needed that would assist stability in Europe--a very important center of world politics--in remaining undisturbed. Of course we have some differences in looking at this situation. I think there is nothing terrible in that. The most important thing is not to approach this situation in too simplistic a manner.

Firstly, we want the situation in Europe to improve. The situation cannot be allowed to worsen as a result of what is taking place. We need to think about how to act under conditions of the new reality. A question arises: what will this Germany be like? How will it tend to act in Europe and the world? These are fundamental questions. And as we see it, they are perceived differently in, say, Paris, London, Warsaw, Prague, Budapest.

Baker: I understood that.

Gorbachev: Yesterday I spoke with Jaruzelski on the phone. He knows that you are in Moscow right now; he also knows that Kohl and Genscher are arriving tomorrow. Considering this, Jaruzelski expressed his opinions on a number of questions, about Germany in particular. And Germany is a real question for a Pole! He thinks that contact should be maintained and we should consult on this question. He expressed the opinion that the presence of American and Soviet troops in Europe is an element of stability.

In Czechoslovakia and Austria there is apprehension that powers might develop in a unified Germany that would lay claim to the 1938 borders--the Sudeten region, Austria. Of course, today such claims are not being voiced. But what will happen tomorrow? And in France and Great Britain the question arises: will they remain major players in Europe? In short, it is easier for us in this situation due to the mass and weight of our countries. Kohl and his team are speaking to us with an understanding of what that means.

Baker: I agree.

Gorbachev: Thus, it is necessary to proceed delicately and with consideration, understanding the national feelings of the people and not hindering them, but aiming to channel the process. As for a "four + two" or "two + four" mechanism that would rest on an international-legal foundation and provide an opportunity to consult with each other and evaluate the situation, maybe following our exchange of opinions we should continue consultations with our partners in the West and the East--you as you see fit, and we correspondingly. That does not yet mean that we have an agreement, but we should continue to seek one. You said that the FRG did not express agreement with this approach. As for Modrow, judging by our talks with him it seems that he will support such an approach. Tomorrow we can ask Kohl what he thinks about this.

Baker: That would be good. But I would like to voice one precaution.

Even if we have a chance to convince the Germans to support the 'two + four" approach, this should only be done after March 18, only after the GDR's self-determination, and after they begin discussing the internal aspects of unification. Otherwise they will say that the four powers' pressure is unacceptable, and unification is solely a German question. Our approach provides that unification's internal aspects are indeed a matter between the two Germanys. However, the external aspects must be discussed with consideration of Germany's neighbors' security interests; they must be acceptable to them. Besides that, we must discuss Berlin's status. If we approach the matter in that way there is a chance that the Germans will agree to the proposed mechanism.

I must once again admit that I did not discuss this at all with the chancellor, and Genscher did not give me an answer. He only said that he will consider this approach. I think that he will approve it. But with the chancellor it is a different matter: he is a candidate in the forthcoming elections.

Gorbachev: This is a very important factor that leaves its imprint on the situation.

Baker: Such are the whims of democracy. He will have to act very carefully in order not to create the impression in Germany that he is handing the question of Germany's unification over to others.

Gorbachev: I would like to tell you about the symposium that was recently organized by the Evangelical academy and which was attended by representatives from all the FRG and GDR parties and groups, with the exception of Modrow's party. As a result of the discussion most of the participants spoke in favor of the confederation. The GDR representatives emphasized that the two Germanys' economic convergence does not have to mean a sell-out or colonization of the GDR. They said they do not want to be spoken to like little children.

The second conclusion was that unification must take place only on the territory of the present-day FRG and GDR, respecting existing boundaries, and keeping the two parts of Germany members of NATO and the Warsaw Treaty.

At the same time there were differences of opinion. Some FRG and GDR representatives spoke in favor of making the future Germany a neutral state. However, the majority of representatives of the two countries spoke in favor of preserving membership in the two unions, which would change from military to new political structures.

[Willy] Brandt's speech was the most surprising. He asserted that no one should hinder Germany's self-determination. He said that the Germans should not wait for the CSCE process, that the all-European convergence should not precede Germany's unification but the other way around--Germany's unification should take place earlier. He rejected a confederation and spoke in favor of a federal German state. At the same time the West German part of this federation must remain in NATO. As for the former GDR--it needs further consideration.

Many FRG representatives criticized Brandt for fueling German nationalism, and for trying to get ahead even of Kohl.

The speech by the renowned scholar, [Carl Friedrich] Weizsacker (brother of the current FRG president), was very interesting. He said that it is necessary to avoid aggravating German nationalism for many reasons, one of them being that it could lead to a wave of nationalism in the Soviet Union. He understands what a reminder of the past war means for a Soviet person. He also emphasized that an outburst of nationalism in the USSR could become a threat to perestroika. The more Germans shout for unification, the more it implicates the neighbors. In Europe, Weizsacker stressed, Auschwitz has not been forgotten.

The writer Gunter Grass emphasized that a unified Germany has always been a breeding ground for chauvinism and anti-semitism. The economic costs of unification were also discussed. A number was given: in the next 8-10 years the economic price of unification will amount to 50 billion marks. The speakers emphasized that when the Germans find out about this they will think thrice whether unification is worth it.

This is the interesting mosaic of opinions. I told you about it in such detail because I think that in the end we should not fall under a wave of emotion, we should not yield to this pressure and move away from considerations and predictions about what all this could mean and how to channel this process. There are powers in both German states that see the danger. This is important. I would ask you to tell the president that we want to stay in contact with you, to exchange information and, if necessary, ideas about this problem.

Baker: I will do that without fail. I would like you to understand: I am not saying that we should yield to a wave of emotion. But I think that soon Germany's internal integration will become a fact. In these circumstances our duty before all people and our duty for the sake of peace in the world is to do everything possible in order to develop external mechanisms that will secure stability in Europe. That is why I proposed this mechanism.

As for the economic price of unification, most likely this question will be discussed during the election campaign. However, I think that it will be swept over by the emotional outburst, by people's striving to unite and be together.

I want to ask you a question, and you need not answer it right now. Supposing unification takes place, what would you prefer: a united Germany outside of NATO, absolutely independent and without American troops; or a united Germany keeping its connections with NATO, but with the guarantee that NATO's jurisprudence or troops will not spread east of the present boundary?

Gorbachev: We will think everything over. We intend to discuss all these questions in depth at the leadership level. It goes without saying that a broadening of the NATO zone is not acceptable.

Baker: We agree with that.

Gorbachev: It is quite possible that in the situation as it is forming right now, the presence of American troops can play a containing role. It is possible that we should think together, as you said, about the fact that a united Germany could look for ways to rearm and create a new Wehrmacht, as happened after Versailles. Indeed, if Germany is outside the European structures, history could repeat itself. The technological and industrial potential allows Germany to do this. If it will exist within the framework of European structures this process could be prevented. All of this needs to be thought over.

Much in what you have said appears to be realistic. Let us think. It is impossible to draw a conclusion right now. You know that the GDR is closely tied to us, and the FGR is our primary trade partner in the West. Historically, Germany and Russia have always been strong partners. We both have the possibility to make an impact on the situation. And we could use these possibilities when we develop a rational approach that considers our and other countries' interests, when we develop a corresponding mechanism. We should not underestimate these possibilities. Of course, right now the matter is complicated by the election campaigns and the intensity of emotions that are heating up society right now. We will watch the situation and think about how to act.


Gorbachev: By the way, with respect to trade and economic collaboration between our countries, it is good that some large-scale projects are being discussed right now. I am speaking about collaboration in using the Baikal-Amur Railroad, in building a fiber-optic communications line, and in the joint construction of aircraft. These are interesting plans. If they are realized, our collaboration will reach a new level. Here once again, it seems, the problem of COCOM will arise. If it does not then we are speaking about the technologies of yesterday.

Baker: Right now we are analyzing the COCOM rules. We intend to reconsider them so that, metaphorically speaking, the walls would be higher but there would be fewer of them. But I would like to say that at the same time we realize the pressure you are facing from some conservatives for your policies.

Gorbachev: Yes, it is a struggle for power.

Baker: I said to Eduard yesterday: in April, May, and June last year, when I started saying for the first time that we want to help perestroika, that we trust Gorbachev and Shevardnadze, American conservatives attacked me with criticism. But now, when we are reconsidering the COCOM rules and discussing the possibility of your participation in international financial organizations, the same conservatives are saying: why do the Russians give Cuba MIG-29s? Of course, Cuba is not a threat to the U.S. But it is a certain threat to some small democratic countries in Central America. Castro continues to export revolution. There is only one person he criticizes more often than Bush, and that is Gorbachev.


[Source: Archive of the Gorbachev Foundation, Fond 1, Opis 1. Translated by Anna Melyakova]
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Re: Spinning Boris, directed by Roger Spottiswoode

Postby admin » Sat Sep 08, 2018 2:51 am

Did NATO Promise Not to Enlarge? Gorbachev Says “No”
by Steven Pifer
Thursday, November 6, 2014



It is abundantly evident that Russian President Vladimir Putin is no fan of NATO. Indeed, he displays a pronounced—almost obsessive—antipathy toward the Alliance. He claims that NATO took advantage of Russian weakness after the collapse of the Soviet Union to enlarge to its east, in violation of promises allegedly made to Moscow by Western leaders. But no such promises were made—a point now confirmed by someone who was definitely in a position to know: Mikhail Gorbachev, then president of the Soviet Union.

Baker: And the last point. NATO is the mechanism for securing the U.S. presence in Europe. If NATO is liquidated, there will be no such mechanism in Europe. We understand that not only for the Soviet Union but for other European countries as well it is important to have guarantees that if the United States keeps its presence in Germany within the framework of NATO, not an inch of NATO's present military jurisdiction will spread in an eastern direction.

We believe that consultations and discussions within the framework of the "two + four" mechanism should guarantee that Germany's unification will not lead to NATO's military organization spreading to the east.


Baker: I want to ask you a question, and you need not answer it right now. Supposing unification takes place, what would you prefer: a united Germany outside of NATO, absolutely independent and without American troops; or a united Germany keeping its connections with NATO, but with the guarantee that NATO's jurisprudence or troops will not spread east of the present boundary?

Gorbachev: We will think everything over. We intend to discuss all these questions in depth at the leadership level. It goes without saying that a broadening of the NATO zone is not acceptable.

Baker: We agree with that.

-- Record of Conversation between Mikhail Gorbachev and James Baker, The National Security Archive, Source: Archive of the Gorbachev Foundation, Fond 1, Opis 1. Translated by Anna Melyakova, February 9, 1990


The West’s supposed violation of a pledge not to enlarge NATO has long figured as a key element in Putin’s narrative about (and against) the Alliance. In his bombastic February 2007 speech to the Munich Security Conference, he said:

And we have the right to ask: against whom is this [NATO] expansion intended? And what happened to the assurances our Western partners made after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact? … I would like to quote the speech of NATO General Secretary Mr. Woerner in Brussels on 17 May 1990. He said at the time that: ‘the fact that we are ready not to place a NATO army outside of German territory gives the Soviet Union a firm security guarantee.” Where are these guarantees?

The Russian president returned to the subject in his March 18, 2014, Kremlin speech justifying Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea: “… they [Western leaders] have lied to us many times, made decisions behind our backs, placed before us an accomplished fact. This happened with NATO’s expansion to the east, as well as the deployment of military infrastructure at our borders.” Although it has been clear for several years that the Alliance has no appetite for putting Ukraine on a membership track, Putin went on to express horror at the prospect of NATO forces in Crimea: Russian inaction “would have meant that NATO’s navy would be right there in this city of Russia’s military glory [Sevastopol], and this would create not an illusory but a perfectly real threat to the whole of southern Russia.”

Western leaders never pledged not to enlarge NATO, a point that several analysts have demonstrated. Mark Kramer explored the question in detail in a 2009 article in The Washington Quarterly. He drew on declassified American, German and Soviet records to make his case and noted that, in discussions on German reunification in the two-plus-four format (the two Germanys plus the United States, Soviet Union, Britain and France), the Soviets never raised the question of NATO enlargement other than how it might apply in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR).


What the Germans, Americans, British and French did agree to in 1990 was that there would be no deployment of non-German NATO forces on the territory of the former GDR. I was a deputy director on the State Department’s Soviet desk at the time, and that was certainly the point of Secretary James Baker’s discussions with Gorbachev and his foreign minister, Eduard Shevardnadze. In 1990, few gave the possibility of a broader NATO enlargement to the east any serious thought.

The agreement on not deploying foreign troops on the territory of the former GDR was incorporated in Article 5 of the Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany, which was signed on September 12, 1990 by the foreign ministers of the two Germanys, the United States, Soviet Union, Britain and France. Article 5 had three provisions:

1. Until Soviet forces had completed their withdrawal from the former GDR, only German territorial defense units not integrated into NATO would be deployed in that territory.

2. There would be no increase in the numbers of troops or equipment of U.S., British and French forces stationed in Berlin.

3. Once Soviet forces had withdrawn, German forces assigned to NATO could be deployed in the former GDR, but foreign forces and nuclear weapons systems would not be deployed there.

When one reads the full text of the Woerner speech cited by Putin, it is clear that the secretary general’s comments referred to NATO forces in eastern Germany, not a broader commitment not to enlarge the Alliance.


We now have a very authoritative voice from Moscow confirming this understanding. Russia behind the Headlines has published an interview with Gorbachev, who was Soviet president during the discussions and treaty negotiations concerning German reunification. The interviewer asked why Gorbachev did not “insist that the promises made to you [Gorbachev]—particularly U.S. Secretary of State James Baker’s promise that NATO would not expand into the East—be legally encoded?” Gorbachev replied: “The topic of ‘NATO expansion’ was not discussed at all, and it wasn’t brought up in those years. … Another issue we brought up was discussed: making sure that NATO’s military structures would not advance and that additional armed forces would not be deployed on the territory of the then-GDR after German reunification. Baker’s statement was made in that context… Everything that could have been and needed to be done to solidify that political obligation was done. And fulfilled.”

Gorbachev continued that “The agreement on a final settlement with Germany said that no new military structures would be created in the eastern part of the country; no additional troops would be deployed; no weapons of mass destruction would be placed there. It has been obeyed all these years.” To be sure, the former Soviet president criticized NATO enlargement and called it a violation of the spirit of the assurances given Moscow in 1990, but he made clear there was no promise regarding broader enlargement.

Several years after German reunification, in 1997, NATO said that in the “current and foreseeable security environment” there would be no permanent stationing of substantial combat forces on the territory of new NATO members. Up until the Russian military occupation of Crimea in March, there was virtually no stationing of any NATO combat forces on the territory of new members. Since March, NATO has increased the presence of its military forces in the Baltic region and Central Europe.

Putin is not stupid, and his aides surely have access to the former Soviet records from the time and understand the history of the commitments made by Western leaders and NATO. But the West’s alleged promise not to enlarge the Alliance will undoubtedly remain a standard element of his anti-NATO spin. That is because it fits so well with the picture that the Russian leader seeks to paint of an aggrieved Russia, taken advantage of by others and increasingly isolated—not due to its own actions, but because of the machinations of a deceitful West.

Steven Pifer: Nonresident Senior Fellow - Foreign Policy, Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence, Center on the United States and Europe, Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Initiative
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Re: Spinning Boris, directed by Roger Spottiswoode

Postby admin » Sat Sep 08, 2018 6:42 am

Ambassador Rodric Braithwaite diary
by National Security Archive
05 March 1991



The Permanent Representatives in Moscow of the Baltic States come to breakfast: Bickauskas (Lithuania), Peters (Latvia) and Kahn (Estonia). Bickauskas is the fiercest. He says that yesterday's ratification in the supreme Soviet of the German treaties, which was meant to "draw a line under the Second World War", did no such thing, since the Balts - who had lost their freedom because of the war were still not independent. He and Peters argued that the West should now formally recognise the independent status of the Baltic states. All are very pleased with the results of their various referenda. They agree with Major that they need to negotiate in good faith with Moscow, and that the outcome of the negotiations must cover the interests of the Russian and other minorities, Soviet security interests, and the complex tangle of economic links. But they all say that Moscow has so far shown no sign of being willing to start a genuine negotiation nor to accept that independence must in principle be one of the objects of negotiation. Peters remarks that the Balts need to make positive offers to Moscow, as well as insisting on their rights; and to be more tactful in the language they use about the Russians. Major promises to support their case with Gorbachev.

Four "influential liberals" then come to the Residence for a discussion: Sobchak, Ryzhov, Boris Fedorov, and Aleksei Arbatov. Fedorov says that, as far as the economic reform is concerned, the last five years have been wasted. Some microeconomic reforms had been made. But the government had no understanding of macroeconomics. No-one was making any real economic decisions. Gorbachev had abandoned the idea of radical reform when he saw that the military-industrial complex and the republics were against it. The result was a "drift to reform", rather than a deliberate policy of reform by the government. Meanwhile ordinary people are sick of all the talk. They will support anyone who could deliver, even if he does not use democratic means.

Sobchak says that 1991 marks the turning point: real economic and political change are now inevitable. But Gorbachev made a major error last year when he abandoned his strategy of splitting the Party - and its property and organisation - between the liberal and the conservative wings. Had he stuck to his guns, the liberals would have had a proper organisational base, and could have given Gorbachev their effective support. Instead, Gorbachev had chosen at the XXVIIIth Congress to hold the Party together at the cost of losing a few liberals, and was now trapped by the right. His main present obsessions are to preserve the Union and to fend off demands for private property in land. Opposition to private land ownership much antedates the Revolution: it is in the genetic makeup of the Russian people. Major comments that without private ownership the economic reform cannot possibly succeed: it would be like trying to produce milk without cows.

On his way out, Ryzhov remarks sourly that Sobchak has once again talked much too much.

After the usual wreath-laying ceremony, Major goes off to his tete-a-tete with Gorbachev (only Charles Powell accompanying) and I hang around with Gus O'Donnell, the PM's press spokesman, briefing the Press until it is time to go to the official lunch given by lunch in the Aleksei Tolstoy house. I stand around waiting for the two leaders with Bessmertnykh and Yazov, who are both still purring about their performance in the ratification debate. Pavlov is also there. Gill doesn't agree that he is a garden gnome: she thinks he is something more sinister: I suggest he is perhaps a troll. We have indeed had a couple of reports recently that he is not to be underestimated: he is a powerful, ruthless, and effective politician, of whom even Gorbachev has reason to be wary.

Gorbachev bounces in, ahead of Major. He looks puffier than in the past. He comes straight up to thank me for my Turgenev quote. He says that Chernyaev's people have found him another quote, which he used in a speech on his sixtieth birthday on Saturday: Lincoln's remarks about his critics at the blackest moment of the Civil War.

Over lunch there is a rambling discussion of economic and political change in the Soviet Union. Gorbachev says it is not easy to establish the market in the Soviet Union: "market" had been a dirty word until recently. And only a handful of countries which had market economies managed to run them successfully. Land reform was particularly difficult: no one wanted to force people out of the collective farms, so repeating the experience of the nineteen thirties, when they had been forced into them. Meanwhile he had to impose tight restrictions to prevent the complete collapse of the economy: he was in the same position as Roosevelt had been in in 1929 and 1930 (not very accurate history or even chronology). He concludes that we should believe in his commitment to reform, despite the reporting of Western ambassadors who only hobnob with the opposition. "Not your ambassador, of course: we know that his reporting is objective. We appreciate his efforts. Now I've praised him, you'll probably decide to withdraw him immediately". Major laughs and asks if I want to leave. I say I'm happy to stay here for ever (or something like that).

After lunch, we meet Pavlov in the Kremlin. Major opens with a stream of questions: what is the mechanism for transition from the command to the market economy? How is interest rate policy managed? Who controls the money supply and how is it measured? Over what period does Pavlov intend to cut subsidies? What is the inflation level and how is it measured? Pavlov says that the fundamental issue is whether state property should be sold off or given away. If it's given away, people won't appreciate it. If it's sold, people will acquire a sense of ownership and responsibility. But the process will take time: there is no scope for a revolutionary breakthrough. As for credit policy and the interest rate, this is settled by the central bank under the new legislation. The government controls money supply, both cash and credit: "We know the quantity, the composition, and the location of our money. But people are not psychologically prepared for a squeeze, so we are not currently applying the brakes." There is suppressed inflation: but last year the government actually reduced the budget deficit. The Soviet Union is entirely creditworthy: but British banks have been withdrawing their deposits from Soviet banks. Major complains about the failure of Soviet enterprises to pay their commercial debts to British firms. Pavlov says with a grin of sly triumph that the unpaid debt is almost exactly equal to the sum which the British banks have withdrawn from Moscow Narodny Bank in London. He favours joint ventures. But British firms have been very slow to sign up, and most of the joint ventures in which they are involved don't work.

Pavlov must know that Major can see straight through this appalling display of bullshit (= vranyo).

Next we go to meet the Generals. Yazov leads the pack, and is in fine form. He emphasises the value of military exchanges, and remarks that this is the first time since the war that East and West have not been afraid of one another. Major asks him what professional lessons he draws from the Gulf about the role of armed forces in the new world security situation. This gives him a chance to launch into a great harangue about the need for trust and security in Europe which rapidly evolves into a justification of the Soviet position on NATO and the CFE. He professes to be worried that the Czechs, Poles and Hungarians will join NATO: Havel has been making equivocal statements. Major assures him that nothing of the sort will happen. He complains about the unfairness of the CFE, which was lopsided right from the beginning, unlike the SNF and START negotiations, which had clear aims and took proper account of the interests of the two sides. He claims that Western figures for the equipment transferred East of the Urals are inflated by a factor of ten. As for the resubordination of three divisions to the Navy, this was decided before the CFE mandate had been finalised in the Vienna negotiations, and the Americans had been told as much at the time.

Yazov is thought of as a clod by the outside world. But as usual he is a fluent master of his brief, and adopts the same tactic of filibustering his interlocutor as Moiseev, though his manner is more urbane. Although many of his arguments seem implausible (and differ from previous attempts by the Soviet military to defend their position on CFE), he gives every appearance of believing them himself. Perhaps he has managed to convince himself that he is telling the truth. In any case it is a more attractive performance than Pavlov's.

Major shows his nervousness again as he prepares for the standard press conference. He copies out Charles' illegible notes himself. His performance in front of the journalists is worthy but dull.

Shevarnadze comes to supper, bringing Tarasenko with him. He seems rather unhappy, not only about Georgia (which, he tells Gill, he hasn't visited for a long time) but about his own role in life. He has lots of excellent ideas about what to do in the Middle East following the Gulf war: imaginative ideas which he would have been one of the few people with the guts to implement. But he no longer has the power. Major mentions Yazov's claim that the Americans were told ages ago about naval resubordination: Shevarnadze says that the first time he himself heard about it was last autumn. But some compromise will be needed. Shevarnadze says that in the end Gorbachev will have to negotiate personally with the leaders of those republics which are refusing to associate themselves with the draft Union treaty. The negotiation will have to be very detailed, very practical, and conducted as meticulously as a negotiation between East and West.

Major then flies off in his VC10 to the Gulf to review his victorious troops. Pavlov makes a kind remark about me "and my charming wife", which wouldn't please Gill if I told her. Zamyatin says that Gorbachev told him after lunch that he had been very pleased with his discussions with Major. Indeed I believe it has been a very successful and useful visit, despite the lack of histrionics.  
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Re: Spinning Boris, directed by Roger Spottiswoode

Postby admin » Sun Sep 09, 2018 6:07 am

Memorandum of conversation between Robert Gates and Vladimir Kryuchkov in Moscow.
by National Security Archive
9 February 1990





PARTICIPANTS: Robert M. Gates, Assistant to the President and Deputy for National Security Affairs

V.I. Kryuchkov, Chairman, State Committee for Security (USSR)

PLACE and TIME: KGB Headquarters (New Building)
Dzerzhinskaya Square, Moscow
1500 a 1715, 9 February 1990

Kryuchkov received Gates in his office in the New KGB Building. After exchanging greetings, Gates informed Kryuchkov that he had just left the meeting between Gorbachev and Secretary Baker, which was still underway after more than three hours. Gates said that Gorbachev had been explaining what had taken place during the just concluded Central Committee plenum, joking that the latter had been so eventful that it would take all day for Gorbachev to finish.

Kryuchkov said that the plenum had been heated and had accomplished a great deal. It had not, he added, satisfied those who had hoped to see a change of leadership, or some kind of scandal. There had of course been sharp discussion, even between members of the Politburo. This was not the first time that had happened, of course, but never before had the details of such disagreements been published in the press. Kryuchkov continued that he had just come from a Politburo meeting, and knew from many such meetings that discussions there were often sharp over interpretations of law, personnel changes, and so on. He assumed that such things happened in the U.S. as well.

Kryuchkov continued that all of the materials of the plenum would be published. Hundreds of suggestions had been submitted for changes to the political platform, and they would be published as well, though in the Izvestiya of the Council of Ministers, not in the daily press. Everything, he grimaced, was now published. He said this made things easier for the US "Services" and therefore hoped they had a proper understanding of developments in the USSR.

Gates said that this public debate made it more difficult for foreign analysts to understand what was happening, because there are now several versions of events available. In the old days it was simpler -- only one version.

Kryuchkov thanked Gates for that idea, and said he would use it next time he had to justify a request for personnel or budget increases -- the more information was available, the harder it was to understand. Gates said this was especially the case now in the Soviet Union, with so many important events taking place all over the country.

Kryuchkov said "of course, perestroyka is encountering problems," and that had been reflected in the debates at the plenum. We should have planned for the changes to take place over a longer period of time, he said, because the hardest thing of all to change is the way people think. It takes time, especially to bring about substantial changes. We had hoped to bring about large-scale change quickly, but it was more than our people could take. Change should be applied gradually, like oxygen. Too much too quickly could make one dizzy. Nevertheless, he continued, there is no way back now. We must push ahead. We will make adjustments as we go, making sure we remain in touch with the people, checking their views and attitudes. We had to do this so the leadership would not go one way, the people the other.

Kryuchkov argued that Article Six of the constitution, which gave the party the leading role in the society, need not be "eternal." It had been inserted in the new constitution in 1977, but no longer corresponded to reality. It should be either changed or omitted entirely. Doing so would present no big problem. Its presence had spoiled the party. Party decisions were too easily turned into law. The party was not then or now equivalent to society as a whole, and neither was the Central Committee. Since the article no longer corresponded to reality, if it remained in force it could cause philosophical and practical problems.

As for establishment of a multi-party system, he said, many informal organizations already exist which function like parties. Nevertheless, a multi-party structure should be introduced gradually. Standards and regulations should be established concerning registration, minimum requirements for membership, etc. A monarchist "party" now exists which wants to restore a monarchy. That obviously is not in keeping with the times, and such a party is out of place. Nevertheless, all such groups have a right to exist. There are some quite extreme groupings -- anarchists, for example. Formal requirements should be put into place governing their activity. They are not, he continued, like companies. The U.S. had many companies -- 15 to 18 million, he understood, some of which lasted only a few days, some for decades. But parties should not be such temporary phenomena ....

Kryuchkov said that the plenum had also decided to move the party congress forward, from fall to summer. This was done because of the heightened political activity of the people. Moreover, the role of the party is changing, so party statutes and basic documents should change as well.

Kryuchkov said that of course there had been disagreement at the plenum on perestroyka, but only one delegate had spoken out against perestroyka itself. But others criticized or doubted one aspect or the other -- certain policies, or the pace of change. My own attitude, he continued, was made clear in my presentation, which was printed in the press. "I argued that we should take stock, see exactly where we were in the process of change so we could be very careful in the further steps we took." I said also that while we were creating a state in which law ruled, we had to develop means within the law to deal with violence. We had laws, but they were not sufficiently specific. We should especially strengthen our criminal law.

For many years we should have been paying more attention to interethnic disputes. But we had this idea that everything was developing without a problem. We were wrong. In regard to Eastern Europe, we should let things take their own course, give them a chance to develop normally. But of course we could not "forget the results and costs of the war." Kryuchkov noted that that had been a brief outline of his thinking and his presentation. He assumed that U.S. analysts would take a closer look at the latter and the results of the plenum.

Kryuchkov added that Gates should know that this plenum would continue to work for a few more months in its present composition, but with the report/election campaigns and the congress coming up, a new central committee would soon be in place. What would it be like? That's a valid question for both Soviet and U.S. analysts. There are many variables. If US-Soviet relations improved, and we concluded agreements, that would present good prospects for the future, and would help those who support new thinking. If, on the other hand, the U.S. "tried to corner us, to exploit our current difficulties, or put us in awkward situations," that would influence the attitude not only of the party but also the people.

The economic situation is also important, of course, and would influence the make-up of the committee. The Soviet government, and its intelligence services, are studying the experience of the West in extricating itself from difficult economic situations. And despite our problems, the Soviet leadership believes that we could find ways to resolve our economic problems fairly quickly. Not all problems, of course, but enough to begin the economy moving. "We will soon engage these problems in a big way."

In response to the notion of the U.S. exploiting Soviet problems, Gates replied that Kryuchkov should know that the President had spoken the truth when he had said that he supported perestroyka. The President's attitude was clear. He has handled problems and challenges in the relationship with caution and prudence, and had not attempted to take advantage of Soviet domestic troubles. Gates said he could assure Kryuchkov that no element of the U.S. government is engaged in activities in the USSR harmful to perestroyka or to cause difficulty for reform. He continued that the possibility of real instability in the Soviet Union is frightening, and the U.S. would do nothing to encourage it. The President supports perestroyka because it is in our mutual interest, and because it serves peace in the world in general.

Gates said he would like to outline briefly for Kryuchkov three general problems he sees the USSR facing now. The first concerns interethnic relations. Gorbachev had inherited the problems of an Empire in this regard. Many of the regions that now made up the USSR had not joined the Empire voluntarily, but by force of arms. Many now want independence, and want it quickly. The time needed to work out a form of voluntary federation thus might not be available.

Second, political developments are outrunning economic developments in the society. And the problem is that many of these economic problems need to be tackled at the same time. Moreover, many of these changes are such that they require painful adjustments by the people. Thus, this process of change is indeed difficult.

Third, reform is weakening the old institutions before new institutions can be put in place. The society's ability to implement necessary change is thereby also weakened.

Gates said one thing is difficult to understand, however. What has caused the recent, sharp increase in crime, especially large-scale, organized crime? There have even been reports of hijacking of trains.

Kryuchkov said that Gates' observations deserve serious study. But they represent a view from the outside. And for all of us, our analysis is supplemented by our emotional reactions. History has it uses. Gates is correct when he says that not all of the regions had incorporated themselves voluntarily. There are perhaps no parallels easily drawn between the U.S. and the USSR, but the Civil War in the U.S. indicated that not all of the fifty states had agreed to their incorporation either. History was history, but it could not by itself be allowed to be a determining factor. History could not be ignored, but "if it is put up front, it just complicates our life." New factors always arose.

In the case of the USSR, over the past seventy years, growing interdependence among the republics had increasingly tied them together, especially economically. The Baltic states, for example, got more from the rest of the Soviet Union than they gave. Estonia got cotton, oil, energy, grain, forage, non-ferrous metals, and so on. Of course it also contributed to the rest of the USSR, but not as much. The most dependent of all of the republics was Lithuania, which was paradoxical, for it is exactly there that the drive for independence is most developed. But the interdependence of all of the republics is now very strong. It had developed because of an intentional policy, the result of a conscious effort by the center to develop the outer periphery of the country. No republic can leave tomorrow without feeling this interconnection. Interdependence painfully affects the Union. Armenia now wants to shut down a plant that is polluting the area. But the plant produces something on which seven hundred fifty other plants depend.

Nevertheless, there is much in what Gates had to say. Much effort has to be devoted toward developing a new federation as soon as possible. Some areas want political independence, with continuing economic interdependence. Even that possibility cannot be rejected out of hand.

Concerning shortages in goods, Kryuchkov said, we in fact have increased the number of goods considerably in the past five years. The problem is the enormous increase of money in people's hands, plus our "atrocious" pricing system. Wage and pension increases have contributed to the problem of the ruble overhang, but the main culprit is conversion of very large amounts of what in the past had been non-liquid funds-- columns of figures in accounting books -- to cash. In the old days if an enterprise had 50 million rubles, 40 million would have been non-liquid. Under the new system much more of it was available in cash. So now we have hundreds of billions of rubles of "bad money" -- money not backed up by goods circulating in the system.

The FRG after the war had had a similar problem, and had carried out a money reform which left each person only forty marks in his pocket. If we could do the same, we could return to the situation as it was in 1987, when we were not managing badly. But such a reform would not be popular. Another source of excess money is of course the cooperatives. They take one billion worth of products and sell it for ten billion. For this reason everyone hates the coops. Kryuchkov said he personally supports the concept of coops, but they must be closely regulated. But some say that we should let them operate like in the West, without regulation. He added with a smile that while we were breaking our heads here over how to make firms operate with less regulation, in the West the governments are trying to increase public regulation of business.

Gates said that in fact most states in the West are now concerned with reducing state involvement in their economies. France, the UK, Mexico, and others are selling state enterprises.

Our price system, Kryuchkov continued, is terrible. A foreigner had told him that the Soviet Union would never get rich with such a pricing system. Bread cost nothing. The poorest person could buy a kilo of bread and throw it away.

Kryuchkov said that these economic anomalies coupled with democratization, taken together, have brought about a sharp increase in crime. Nevertheless, while the Soviet Union wished to overtake the U.S. in some indicators, it did not want to do so in all -- especially in crime. And so far it was still lagging behind. The KGB is now engaged against large-scale crime. Gates had mentioned a train hijacking in the Soviet Union? Kryuchkov said he had not heard of such an incident. If it had happened, it would have been publicized, because everything was these days.

Kryuchkov related that a foreigner had recently been apprehended with three million dollars in contraband. Had he been able to sell it here, he would have realized twelve to fourteen million rubles. If he had then converted that back into goods, and smuggled it into the U.S., he could have ended up with twelve to fourteen million dollars. The U.S. and Soviet Union should work together against such traffic in contraband. Perhaps we should consider an agreement regarding national treasures -- if when stolen they ended up here we would return them, and you would do the same for us. It would be worth considering.

Kryuchkov said that frenetically active rumor mills are characteristic of our situation here now. We are hearing about alleged pogroms. An official report is under preparation in the KGB denying that such pogroms would take place. In the past such rumors had been short-lived. Now, because of instability in the society, they fall on fertile soil and prosper. In the U.S. rumors are confined to stock markets. Now, the entire Soviet Union is a stock market.

Gates asked how Kryuchkov personally viewed prospects for reestablishing order, putting the economy on the right track, and resolving the interethnic problems. Is he a pessimist or an optimist?

Kryuchkov replied that the German philosppher Berghoff had discussed the problem of pessimism and optimism in a treatise. He had concluded that a pessimist lost nothing, for if he was wrong, he simply shrugged his shoulders and no one paid attention to him. An optimist, however, staked everything on his bet, and stood to lose it all. Nevertheless, Kryuchkov continued, I am an optimist. We have no choice but to change the system, because other kinds of change in the USSR and around its borders make change in the system inevitable. It was unfortunate that some of this change had come about only after loss of life. But we should strengthen our laws to avoid such loss. And we had to continue with politization of the people to create the need for enterprise among the people, and to transfer power to individual enterprises and local councils in order to develop responsibility at those levels. With increasing frequency this was now happening. In a number of areas around the country local citizenry or local party members have risen up against inefficient or corrupt party organs and booted the rascals out. That is encouraging, and a sign that what we want to happen is happening.

In the past, all decisions and political power flowed from the top down. Now it is beginning to flow in the other direction. Most elections are now multi-candidate. A process of democratic education is underway. It would take time to reach the level of the U.S. But once it reached a certain level, the situation here would stabilize. When we met last May, I asked you how officials in the U.S. could respond to insults in the press. You told me they could do nothing, not even sue for libel. Here it should be different. Take those two crooks, Gdlyan and Ivanov, two prosecuting attorneys who used demagoguery to assure their political success. In the old days it would have been different. There would have been no publication of their remarks, no slander, and they would simply have been fired. Now we could not do that "because Mr. Gates tells us not to."

Gates asked Kryuchkov what would happen if an election were held in the Soviet Union in which the communists lost -- as had happened in Eastern Europe.

Kryuchkov (misunderstanding the question) responded that as for Eastern Europe, "the changes are not agitating the public here." The people there would decide their own fate. But we should not be passive. We are not making use of our influence and capabilities. It is important that there be no revenge, no persecution of communists. If they are jailed or otherwise harassed (as the Romanians had almost done), that would be the best way to compromise the new democratic movements from the outset. If that happened, the time could come "when all of the political movement in Eastern Europe would go backward."

As far as we are concerned, he continued, the situation in Eastern Europe is not destabilizing. Our people are concerned, but willing to let events their take their normal course. But they should not be determined by people in the streets.

Kryuchkov went on, it is the case here, and probably elsewhere as well, that very active, sometime extreme minorities establish the course for a society, because the majority is passive. These extremist groups could cause authorities to react against them. Sometimes it is forgotten that the years of socialism had done much good for Eastern Europe -- they had done away with unemployment, provided free medical care, jobs, etc. Moreover, people had had no fear of the future. Now change is unsettling these people, making them uncertain. The best course is simply to be patient with them, let events proceed. That had proven the best course on Afghanistan. Events eventually forced a solution. But we would maintain a wide range of economic ties with Eastern Europe. What did Mr. Gates think, should we sell them our goods cheaply or go to world prices? The USSR sold them cotton, oil, timber, non-ferrous metals, and so on cheaply. If we charged more it would cost them billions of dollars. Perhaps the U.S. could help them in that case.

Gates replied that we are already helping. Kryuchkov said "not very much." Gates responded that we are a rich society, but our government resources are limited.

Gates asked again, what would happen if many communists in the USSR were to lose in free elections. Kryuchkov responded that most candidates for elections in the USSR were now members of the party. Actually, fewer non-party members were now being elected than in the past -- only about 10% now compared to 27% in the past. But that of course was no accident. "Not the worst people go into the party," pointing to himself and the KGB interpreter. But the proportions different among the republics. In the Baltic states people often had party cards, but could not be considered communists. The same in Azerbaydzhan. But even the non-party people were for the present order. Few were against perestroyka, though they might have a different understanding of it.

But what would happen to communists in a multi-party election? Good question. Communists had no experience in political campaigns. They are not skilled at persuading people. But they are learning fast -- even the KGB. We have found that with our new open attitude toward the public we gained from the 90% of the material we made public, while losing only 10% of the time.

Perhaps, jibed Kryuchkov, we should divide the party into two parties with identical platforms. Then we would be like the U.S., where nobody could tell the difference between the two parties. Gates asked whether one of the parties could be capitalist.

Kryuchkov said that there was already much socialism in Western parties. He had always thought that private property in the West was sacred, untouchable. But he was learning that relatively little property was indeed held "privately" -- much is held collectively -- stock in companies, for example. Moreover, there is state provided insurance, law-enforcement (sic), and so on. You in the West would reach socialism faster than we in the Soviet Union.

Gates asked if the Soviet Union would permit private property -- the large scale ownership of land and equity. Would peasants be able to pass land on to their children?

Kryuchkov said that cooperative land-holding is now possible, and groups of 15-20 people in essence control the land they farmed. But we wish to protect our people from exploitation in the Marxist sense, when people could enrich themselves purely from the labor of others. Your political systems in the West are more sophisticated. In most countries there are two parties, liberal and conservative. After several years of moving toward the left under liberal democrats, the conservatives were voted in to provide the people a rest. A great system. Thatcher had now been in power for what -- thirteen years? It was time for a change.

Kryuchkov said that the question of selling land is not yet decided. There are two points of view -- one for, one opposed. Peasants could not be given the land free of charge. But if they were asked to pay for it they would reply that they should not pay for something they "the people" already owned. The new laws on land and on property would include provision for leases unlimited in time. But people would be reluctant to leave the kolkhozes, especially the more economically stable. In Eastern Europe they would not dissolve the kolkhozes, especially in Czechoslovakia and the GDR, where there was an ideal proportion of collective and individually-owned land.

Gates said he would like to pursue that issue further, but knew that Kryuchkov was busy, and would like to move on to two other subjects. First, the German question. Events are moving faster than anticipated. We might see some GDR initiative after the 18 March elections. Under these circumstances, we support the Kohl-Genscher idea of a united Germany belonging to NATO but with no expansion of military presence to the GDR. This would be in the context of continuing force reductions in Europe. What did Kryuchkov think of the Kohl/Genscher proposal under which a united Germany would be associated with NATO, but in which NATO troops would move no further east than they now were? It seems to us to be a sound proposal. There are in any case only three options for a unified Germany: either it would be a member of NATO, neutral, or a member of the Warsaw Pact.

Gates said that alignment with the Warsaw Pact clearly was not possible in terms of present realities. A neutral Germany would suffer from the same insecurities and uncertainties regarding its security that Germany had experienced before World War I. In an effort to assure its security it would be tempted to develop nuclear weapons and turn in different directions, seeking reassurance. A large, economically powerful Germany just could not be neutral. The third option, membership in NATO, would provide for a secure Germany integrated in Western Europe which the Soviet Union would have no reason to fear. It would anchor Germany in a way that would leave it secure, able to exercise a positive economic influence (including in the East), and without being a security problem for the USSR.

Kryuchkov replied that as Gates should know, the events in the GDR concern the Soviet people. The other countries are different. But the USSR had paid a terrible price in World War II - 20 million killed. "We can't exclude that a reborn, united Germany might become a threat to Europe. We would hate to see the US and USSR have to become allies again against a resurgent Germany."  

"Germany's technical possibilities and intellectual potential are well known. It is difficult to predict what directions its military and technology might take." That is no idle question, for "influential forces in the FRG do not wish to recognize the results of the War or to accept the post-World War II borders." The Poles are also concerned. We never said that Germany could never reunite -- but the basis on which reunification took place was always important to us. Trust between the US and USSR is growing, true, but that trust still had to be "materialized." The Soviet Union, under present circumstances, could have "no enthusiasm" about a united Germany in NATO. We should look for other options. You, Great Britain, and France would develop a common view, and we in the Warsaw Pact would do so, and we would discuss them. We need not hurry so much. Kohl and Genscher had interesting ideas -- but even those points in their proposals with which we agree would have to have guarantees. We learned from the Americans in arms control negotiations the importance of verification, and we would have to be sure.

The U.S. had to participate in World War II even though it had been protected by oceans. Now the oceans were meaningless. An interdependent world would not allow any great power to escape involvement in a new war. "People here say that we have had peace for forty-five years because Germany is divided." And of course Japan did not become a military superpower. But the question of German unity is a very serious one, and requires far-reaching, frank exchanges of opinions between the US and USSR.

Gates said he had two points to make on professional matters.

First, Kryuchkov would have noted that Vladimir Apinidze had returned to the USSR, without any publicity. Kryuchkov nodded assent.

Second, could Kryuchkov frankly state what had happened to Major General Dimitry Polyakov ("Donald")? Kryuchkov replied that he had been shot in 1988. He added that Polyakov had "told all." "We know everything, and you know everything."

Gates said that Kryuchkov occupied an especially responsible position at this time of momentous happenings. It was very important that our foreign ministers and heads of state met to discuss matters of mutual concern. It was also important that he and Kryuchkov be able to discuss matters in this channel. Gates said that if ever Kryuchkov believed that a special meeting was necessary, that could be arranged through existing channels. We preferred not to use the intelligence channel for political issues. And, of course, we should not meet without the knowledge of our foreign ministers. Kryuchkov nodded assent.

Kryuchkov thanked Gates for his observations, which were useful, whether or not one necessarily agreed with them all. Though he was an optimist, he continued, that does not mean that he is not aware of the many problems the country faced. There is a struggle underway between those who want change and those who do not. Each side might have to make concessions. "A political climate is being formed in which on occasion certain actions might have to be taken. The external reaction would be important. It would be one thing to understand our actions, perhaps even to support us. It would be another to attempt to take advantage of our problems." We heard nice words from you, but if there were no corresponding action -- for example, development of good trade relations -- your intentions would be interpreted differently. We are not asking for material assistance, "for anything free." Our resources are such that we do not need that. Our increasing contacts with the U.S. had helped us increasingly to understand the U.S. and its foreign policy, though we could not approve of Panama, where you invaded a small country in order to try one possible criminal. Noriega may be a very evil fellow, but that was too much. On the other hand, we understand and support your struggle against narcotics trafficking.

Kryuchkov then handed Gates a list of names prepared by the KGB which he said were persons engaged in drug running operations in Europe and the U.S. They happened to be members of the Afghan opposition. He added with a smile that it was a rare opportunity in which he could kill two birds with one stone -- promote the struggle against drugs and show the U.S. the true face of its alleged friends. He asked that Gates not reveal the source of this information. How Gates used it was of course up to him. If the U.S. did nothing more than end that supply channel that would be enough.

Gates said he would quickly respond to four points Kryuchkov had made. First, he noted that twice in the discussion Kryuchkov had made reference to the possibility that the U.S. would be tempted to take advantage of Soviet domestic troubles for its own ends. He said he wished to repeat with all seriousness that the President did not want to cause problems for Gorbachev or perestroyka. He supports perestroyka as something very much in our mutual interest. Gates added with a smile that sometimes he thought Gorbachev regarded him as a "bad influence" in Washington. Gates continued that that was not the case. He supported the President's view on perestroyka fully.

Second, as the President had made clear in Malta, we are prepared to move ahead in some areas of trade. He recalled the Presidents' comments on MFN, the Stevenson amendment and a new Trade Agreement.

Third, he also wanted to emphasize that the U.S. was aware of Soviet security concerns about a reunified Germany, and understood that they must be treated seriously.

Fourth, on Panama, the U.S. had Treaty arrangements authorizing our presence and that, in violation of those rights, Americans had been harassed and even killed. We had intervened to protect our citizens, our Treaty rights, and to remove an indicted drug dealer who had thwarted a free election. The Panamanians received us as liberators. Our troops would be out by the end of February.

Kryuchkov said he would pass all of these messages to Gorbachev without fail.

Kryuchkov noted that it was a sign of the times that 24 years ago his predecessor, Semichastnyy, had harshly criticized Pasternak. Tonight, he, Kryuchkov, was attending a gala at the Bolshoi in celebration of the centenary of Pasternak's birth.

In parting Kryuchkov asked Gates to pass his greetings to "Mr. Powell," and, if possible, to the President.

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Re: Spinning Boris, directed by Roger Spottiswoode

Postby admin » Thu Sep 27, 2018 8:27 pm

Bill Clinton-Boris Yeltsin Discussions of the Nuclear Football
by William Burr
National Security Archive
Washington D.C.,
September 25, 2018



Yeltsin: “Let Us ... Get Rid of the Nuclear Footballs” – “No Need to Drag Around ... These Briefcases”

Clinton Emphasized the Football’s “Symbolic Importance” – Civilian Control of the Military

See the original July 9, 2018, posting below this update

Possibly for the first time in U.S. diplomatic history, the nuclear “Football” became a subject of a heads-of-state discussion when Russian President Boris Yeltsin proposed getting “rid” of it during a meeting with U.S. President Bill Clinton in September 1994.

According to a recently declassified meeting record published for the first time by the National Security Archive, Clinton discouraged the idea on the grounds that the Football was an important symbol of civilian control of the military. Yeltsin brought up the idea again in a 1997 meeting and Clinton administration officials gave a similar response.

The new documents update our previous posting on the Football and complement other materials on presidential control of nuclear weapons on the Archive’s web site.

* * * * *

U.S. President William J. Clinton and Russian Federation President Boris Yeltsin during their meetings at the White House on 24 September 1994. Standing between them is U.S. interpreter Peter Afanasenko. (Photo courtesy of William J. Clinton Presidential Library).

The “Football,” the nominally secret command-and-control system used to assure presidential control of nuclear use decisions, was the unusual subject of high-level discussion between President William J. Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin during meetings in 1994 and 1997. According to recently declassified memoranda of conversation (memcons) published for the first time by the National Security Archive, Yeltsin suggested getting “rid” of the Football, so that military aides no longer had to “drag” it around. He saw the U.S. Football and the Russian equivalent (“chemodanchik”) as obsolete because of the advanced communications technologies that presidents had at their disposal.

Clinton politely demurred because he saw the Football as an important symbol of civilian control of nuclear weapons. When Yeltsin brought up his proposal at a second meeting in 1997, Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbot commented that it was better for presidents “to have these devices with you at all times rather than to have the function assigned to a computer somewhere or to anyone else.”

Besides the Football, the Clinton-Yeltsin meetings included discussions of the North Korean nuclear negotiations, tactical nuclear weapons, submarine incidents at seas, missile sales to India and Iran, and relations with Iran.

Document 1: Memorandum of Conversation, “Expanded Session on Security Issues with President Yeltsin of the Russian Federation,” 27 September 1994. Confidential

Source: William J. Clinton Presidential Library, Clinton Presidential Records, NSC Records Management, [Yeltsin and Tel*...], 9408513, OA/Box 48

With newspaper articles and books mentioning it for years, the Football was no secret, not least to the Russians and their Soviet predecessors, as Russian Federation President Boris Yeltsin made evident to President William J. Clinton and his advisers during his September 1994 state visit. On 27 September, after a wide-ranging discussion of security issues, Yeltsin proposed getting “rid of the nuclear footballs.” With the advanced state of communications, he saw no need to have someone “drag around one of these briefcases.”

Possibly considering the Football as a symbol of superseded Cold War rivalries, Yeltsin may have seen his proposal as a way to develop a U.S.-Russian partnership. But neither Clinton nor Vice President Al Gore were receptive, only agreeing that it needed study. Gore implied that the Football might be necessary because nuclear proliferation was posing more dangers and “deterrence [had] a new orientation.” The implication was the need for presidential readiness in the event of a surprise attack from a new proliferant, Clinton raised the Football’s “symbolic importance”: the need for a “double check that only a civilian, elected leader can make [the] decision” to launch nuclear war. In the back of his mind, Clinton may have considered the domestic political risk (looking soft on defense!) of ending an arrangement used by presidents since Eisenhower.

Document 2: Memorandum of Conversation, “Private Dinner with Russian President Yeltsin: Middle East, China, Iran, Nuclear Control,” 21 March 1997, Confidential

Source: William J. Clinton Presidential Library, Clinton Presidential Records, NSC Records Management, [Yeltsin and Tel*...], 9702044, OA/Box 1609

Three years after their 1994 meetings, during summit talks with Clinton in Helsinki, Yeltsin indicated his continuing interest in getting rid of the Football. Recalling that during his recent surgery he had passed temporary control over Russia’s nuclear arms to Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, Yeltsin mentioned that he had taken part in a recent exercise with the Russian “Football” where a nuclear weapon was launched at the Kamchatka Peninsula. This reminded Clinton of the plot of the popular film “The Crimson Tide,” which involved “nuclear hair triggers,” but which his advisers had told him “could not actually happen.”

Possibly confusing the Football with the Hotline, Yeltsin said it was unnecessary “to have our fingers next to the button” because “we have plenty of ways of keeping in touch with each other.” When he proposed that the “chemodanchik” (the Russian term for their Football) did not have to be carried around, Clinton once more said he would have to “think about this” and asked Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott to comment. Taking the principle of civilian control of the military as his subtext, Talbott observed that it was better for presidents “to have these devices with you at all times rather than to have the function assigned to a computer somewhere or to anyone else.” It would not be necessary to worry about nuclear weapons control, Clinton declared, “if we do the right thing in the next four years” and reduce the nuclear stockpile further.

** Original “Football” Posting **

Washington D.C., July 9, 2018 - Online blustering about nuclear “buttons” has brought new attention to the issue of presidential control over nuclear weapons, and to the special satchel or “Football” of emergency and nuclear planning information carried by White House military aides when the President is traveling. Declassified documents published today by the National Security Archive describe the Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson arrangements for the “Football”; and the posting includes newly discovered White House photographs of six recent Presidents with military aides and the Football nearby.

by William Burr

The on-line discussion of "nuclear buttons" during the Korean crisis has deepened concern about the problem of presidential control of nuclear weapons and whether a president can initiate a nuclear war over the doubts and opposition of top civilian and military advisers.[1] Symbolizing the reality of presidential control is the “Football,” the special briefcase that contains information on U.S. war plans and emergency procedures, carried by a military aide whenever the President is outside the White House, whether at a Washington, D.C. location or traveling on Air Force One or Marine One. Variously known as the “emergency kit,” the “President’s Black Bag,” the “satchel,” or the “suitcase,” the Football and the military aide carrying it are near the president’s side in the event of a terrible crisis, such as a nuclear attack, so that the president has the information and the communications arrangements needed to make a timely decision. Today, the National Security Archive publishes for the first time a variety of declassified documents discussing the procedures and a wide array of White House photographs, from the Kennedy administration to the Clinton administration, showing military aides carrying the Football standing by or walking near the president.

It is not clear when or why the “Black Bag” became known as the Football[2], but during the Eisenhower administration it became the practice, when the president was traveling, for a military aide to carry a briefcase including emergency action documents, such as presidential proclamations and information on authorization of nuclear weapons use. An aide was also assigned to Vice President Richard Nixon in the event that something happened to the president.

A number of important developments made Football-type arrangements important both to the president and the Pentagon leadership. The emergence of a Soviet ICBM threat in the late 1950s greatly reduced warning time and the need for rapid decisions in a crisis made it important to establish procedures for convening emergency conferences between the president, the secretary of defense, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Moreover, the creation of the Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP) in the early 1960s, soon gave the president (or a successor) a menu of preemptive or retaliatory nuclear attack options. The Football came to include the “SIOP Execution Handbook,” with detailed information on the strike options.

Today’s posting includes documents published for the first time on the early history of the Football/Black Bag/satchel, including what may be the first declassified reference to the Football. Included in today’s materials are:

• The record of a briefing in January 1961 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower and White House Staff Secretary Andrew J. Goodpaster to President-elect John F. Kennedy about the contents of the emergency “satchel”
• White House questions from January 1962 about whether the president could order a nuclear strike in an emergency without consulting the Pentagon
• A Pentagon memorandum from November 1962 on an “Emergency Actions Folder” forwarded to a White House Naval aide concerning actions that could be taken under various Defense Readiness Conditions [DEFCONs].
• Documents from 1963 on the making of the “SIOP Execution Handbook,” created expressly for the president’s use in a crisis and one of the major items in the Football.
• Documents from 1964 on the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s creation of the “Gold Book,” the renamed emergency actions folder, for inclusion in the emergency satchel.
• Memoranda from 1964 on President Johnson’s first briefing on the nuclear war plans, the Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP), with White House military aides among the listeners.
• A draft memorandum from early 1965 suggesting that President Johnson did not like to “be followed so closely” by a military aide carrying the Football and that he wanted other arrangements.
• A June 1965 memorandum by a White House naval aide explicitly referring to the “FOOTBALL.”

The existence of the Football embodies the presidential control of nuclear weapons that is essential to civilian direction of the military, but it points to the risks of one person having exclusive power to make fateful decisions to use nuclear weapons. President John F. Kennedy spoke to the problem in November 1962 by saying, “From the point of view of logic there was no reason why the President of the United States should have the decision on whether to use nuclear weapons,” but “ history had given him this power.”

The first public reference to the “Football” may have been in an article by journalist Bob Horton in The Baltimore Sun in November 1965. It was partly based on an interview with Army warrant officer and Football-carrier Ira Gearhart, who had been in the back of the President’s motorcade in Dallas on 22 November 1963 (Warrant officers have shared responsibility with military aides for the Football's security). When Gearhart learned about Kennedy’s death, he and the Football moved into the hospital suite where Vice President Johnson had been sitting. According to Horton’s account, the “satchel” included a “portfolio of cryptographic orders” to the Joint Chiefs for authorizing nuclear retaliation. The message could be sent either by telephone, teletype, or microwave radio. Horton also learned that through arrangements established by the Defense Communications Agency, the authorizing messages could also be sent to the North American Air Defense Command or the Strategic Air Command. Because the orders were encrypted, they would be meaningless to a thief; as former Chief of the White House Communications Office Lt. Colonel George J. McNally explained: “Visualize the thing as a dollar bill torn in half,” with half of it at the Pentagon. “Only when the President sends his half will the two pieces key together or fit.” [3]

Another public reference to the “satchel’s” existence appeared in 1965 when former president Eisenhower alluded to it in a memoir, but more information became public in 1967 when William Manchester published The Death of a President. Manchester described the “black bag” that Ira Gearhart had carried on 22 November 1963 as a “thirty-pound metal suitcase with an intricate combination lock.” Uncertainty about Gearhart’s whereabouts during the chaos of that day caused alarm at the Pentagon, but he was on Air Force One when Lyndon Johnson took the oath of office. Johnson was told about the Football for the first time by White House military aide General Chester Clifton. [4]

Manchester’s sources described the black bag’s contents: launch codes, contact phone numbers for the British prime minister and the president of France (with whom U.S. presidents had agreed to consult, if possible, when making nuclear weapons use decisions), and information on nuclear strike options. According to Manchester’s account, the presentation of the latter “looked like comic books… because they had been carefully designed so that any one of Kennedy’s three military aides could quickly tell him how many casualties would result from Retaliation Able, Retaliation Baker, Retaliation Charlie, etc.” This may not be wholly accurate: the satchel may not have include launch codes, which were closely held at the Pentagon, but it did include authentication information needed so the president could communicate with the JCS war room and issue nuclear strike orders. Neither Horton’s nor Manchester’s account mentioned the Emergency Action Papers.

More information reached the public in 1980 when William Gulley, the former director of the White House Military Office, published a memoir, Breaking Cover. Gulley’s book was controversial in part because it included sensational charges about White House spending abuses, but it included interesting points about the Football. One was that most presidents had not been very interested in it and seldom asked for updates about the Football’s changing contents (changes in strike options, targeting, etc.). Gulley further observed that there was “a kind of mythology” that the Football is an “ever ready Answer Box” for presidential action in a crisis. “The truth is that it raises as many questions as it answers.” Gulley explained that if the United States was under attack, the president would have to quickly make complex decisions in minutes about retaliatory options. The implication was that the information in the Football was so complex and demanding that few presidents had the background needed to make sound decisions in a crisis.[5]

From all accounts President Jimmy Carter immersed himself in the details of nuclear planning so it is possible that he became conversant with the Football’s contents, including the SIOP handbook.[6] Yet as far as this writer knows, no substantive information about his or other presidents’ briefings about the Football has been declassified. One of the few pieces of declassified information concerns the Reagan administration: a few days before the inauguration, White House military aide Major John Kline briefed president-elect Ronald Reagan about White House emergency communications procedures “in the event of an attack.” Later in the year, on 16 November 1981, Kline provided “additional detail regarding the ‘black bag’ that the aides carry – and its role in the strategic release process.” Yet as far as this writer knows, except for the briefing to John F. Kennedy [See Document 1], substantive information about the briefings for presidents, much less the “Football’s” specific contents, remains secret.

Additional research and declassifications may shed more light on the history of the Football, presidential briefings about it, and how its contents have changed over the years. The memorandum that General Goodpaster prepared of the briefing for president-elect Kennedy is exemplary for providing some information about the “satchel’s” contents. Whether comparable records of related briefings during subsequent presidential transitions were prepared needs further investigation.


Document 01. Memorandum for the Record by Brigadier General Andrew J. Goodpaster, 25 January 1961, Top Secret
Source: Dwight D. Eisenhower Library, Ann Whitman Files, Presidential Transition Series, box 1, Memos re Change of Administration (4)[7]
On 19 January 1961, the day before John F. Kennedy’s inauguration, President Eisenhower and General Goodpaster gave the president-elect a briefing on the contents of the emergency satchel whose contents related to the “operational arrangements and preparations in existence so the president could give direction to the government and the nation in the event of emergency.” The bag included a book of Emergency Action Documents that were ready for a presidential signature. For perspective on emergency planning and the EADs, Goodpaster showed Kennedy “Plan D-Minus.” Included in the satchel was the text of a document for calling Congress into special session and the unspecified use of FBI offices “at that time” (possibly for bringing members of Congress to the Greenbrier). Another document related to authorizing the use of nuclear weapons in an emergency.

Goodpaster also showed Kennedy a “book containing the policy statement, instructions, and controls on the matter of existing advance authorizations for the use of atomic weapons” designed so that “the U.S. could not be caught by surprise.” Those were the predelegation arrangements that remained secret for many years. Another book described the Defense Department’s “emergency actions,” possibly a reference to DEFCONS [Defense Readiness Conditions] and the means by which the Joint Chiefs would communicate with the president “in event of an emergency.”

Goodpaster’s briefing covered emergency plans to move the president and his family, emergency facilities [at Mount Weather and other locations] “from which he would operate, and the initial operations [also not specified] planned to be performed.” Goodpaster also reviewed the “arrangement” that President Eisenhower and Vice President Nixon had established in the event that the president was temporarily incapacitated: “the Vice President would accede to the powers of the Chief Executive.” Although Eisenhower may not have mentioned it, Nixon had been routinely accompanied by his own emergency satchel-holder. For his vice president, Lyndon B. Johnson, Kennedy made no such arrangement.

During the briefing, Eisenhower said something to this effect to Kennedy: the satchel would be “carried by an unobtrusive man who would shadow the president for all his days in office.” To demonstrate the White House’s emergency capabilities, Eisenhower later recounted that he pushed a button, said “Send a chopper,” and in six minutes “a helicopter sat down on the lawn outside my oval office.”[8]

Document 02. Executive Office of the President, Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization, Federal Emergency Plan D-Minus, April 1959
Source: Dwight D. Eisenhower Library, Office of White House Staff Secretary, Emergency Action Series, box 2, Fed. Emergency Plans (1), copy from Declassified Documents Reference Service.
One of the items in the emergency satchel that General Goodpaster mentioned in the briefing to John F. Kennedy was Federal Emergency Plan D-Minus. This Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization report reviewed plans for U.S. government actions in emergency conditions, including the Emergency Action Documents that would be signed in those conditions. If emergency measures did not have a statutory basis and trying to obtain the proper authority would “jeopardize the national security, the extraordinary powers of the President under the Constitution shall be used as legal authority for the required actions.”

Among the documents cited, and presumably included in the satchel, were several proclamations. One declared “the existence of an unlimited national emergency and a state of civil defense emergency.” Given the assumption that nuclear war would involve disastrous breakdowns of civil society and government at all levels, the various orders and proclamations provided for broad assumption of authority by federal officials. One proclamation provided that whenever the Director of [Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization] determines that a state government or political subdivision thereof is unable or unwilling to perform essential civil functions,” the Director would take responsibility for those functions with assistance from military commanders that had resources “not needed for the conduct of military operations.” Another proclamation established what amounted to martial law, such as authorizing the secretary of defense when “necessary to maintain public order and enforce Federal, State and local laws.”[9] Other proclamations authorized “apprehension of persons considered dangerous to national security” while an executive order established an Office of Censorship.

Document 03. Tazewell Shepard to the President, “JCS Emergency Actions File,” 16 January 1962, with attached “Alert Procedures and JCS Emergency Actions File,” Top Secret
Source: John F. Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1/62-12/62
With the Berlin situation on his mind as a possible source for a nuclear conflict, President Kennedy even considered the possibility of a preemptive strike against the Soviet Union in the event that country was preparing an attack. Although the “black bag” included information on how to the Joint Chiefs would get in touch with the president, Kennedy wanted more than that: he sought a reliable set of procedures in place for the control of nuclear use decisions. According to questions prepared for JCS Chairman Lyman Lemnitzer by White House naval aide Captain Tazewell Shepard, the president wanted to know whether in an emergency he could order a nuclear strike without consulting the Joint Chiefs or the secretary of defense, what he would say to the War Room when he called, how could it be proven that the caller was in fact the president, and whether it was necessary to authenticate to the secretary of defense presidential approvals for nuclear weapons use. For Shepard the key problem was whether the procedures described in the “JCS Emergency Actions File” were flexible enough to enable the president to take such actions. Plainly, Kennedy did not want to be in a position where he would only say “yes” or “no” to the Joint Chief’s request for strike authorization in a crisis.[10]

Document 04. McGeorge Bundy to Secretary of Defense McNamara. “JCS Emergency Alerting Procedure,” 17 January 1962, Top Secret
Source: John F. Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1/62-12/62
No record has surfaced of the Kennedy-Leminitzer meeting, but according to Bundy the takeaway from the discussion was that the president expected to be able “to initiate, as well as participate in, an emergency conference with the secretary of defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.” Apparently, this framework would create routines for authenticating the president’s identity so that nuclear weapons use decisions could be made. In order to develop experience at the Joint War Room so that staff could handle a presidential request for an emergency conference, Bundy advised McNamara that Captain Tazewell would be carrying out “random” drills to set up “conference checks” with the secretary and the Joint Chiefs. The “drill” could cause some inconvenience but “occasional practice has become a necessity.”

Document 05. JCS Chairman Lemnitzer, memorandum for General Clifton, 20 January 1962, with routing slip attached, Top Secret
Source: National Archives, Record Group 218, Records of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (RG 218), Records of JCS Chairman Lyman Lemnitzer, box 1, CMs.
One other point can be made about the Kennedy-Lemnitzer meeting: that the president got fairly deep in to the weeds of nuclear targeting, as indicated by a question that he asked about SIOP targeting of Poland. The response that went to Kennedy cannot be found at the JFK Library and a copy was not kept in Lemnitzer’s papers. But the JCS had such information at hand; for example, according to a June 1961 report, Warsaw Pact air bases in Poland would have been slated for targeting (along with others in Eastern Europe). If the alert force had been launched, casualties in Poland would have been in the 497,000 range; a full force attack would have caused at least 2.6 million casualties.

Perhaps Kennedy wanted the information to get a better grasp of the targeting of Soviet satellite countries and the provisions planned for SIOP 63 for the possibility of withholding nuclear strikes against those countries or China.

Document 06. Memorandum from Major General F. T. Unger to General Taylor, “Revision of Information for Inclusion in the President's ‘Black Bag’,” 13 October 1962, with routing sheet attached, Secret
Source: RG 218, Chairman Maxwell Taylor Papers, box 2, 031.1. Meetings with the President October 1962
By the eve of the Cuban Missile Crisis, if not earlier, the satchel carried by military aides had another moniker: the “President’s Black Bag.” What information was being revised for inclusion remains unknown.

Document 07. JCS Chairman Maxwell Taylor to Admiral Riley, “Emergency Actions Folder,” 12 November 1962, Secret
Source: RG 218, Maxwell Taylor Papers, box 2, 031.1. Meetings with the President October 1962
The JCS had provided the president’s naval aide, Captain Shepard, with an “Emergency Actions Folder,” presumably for inclusion in the “Black Bag.” The “folder” may have been an update of the “Emergency Actions File,” with more provisions for presidential initiative, as requested in document 1. According to Shepard, the information met White House requirements “very satisfactorily,” perhaps a reference to the flexibility that President Kennedy had requested earlier in the year. Apparently, the folder included information on military actions required by various Defense Readiness Conditions (DEFCONS), complementing the more detailed information that would be available to the Joint Chiefs.

Document 08. JCS Chairman Maxwell Taylor to Director, Joint Staff, “SIOP Execution Handbook,” 4 June 1963, Top Secret
Source: RG 218, Chairman Maxwell Taylor Papers, box 1. CM 1963 619-63 -- 698-63
One of the key elements in the Black Bag would be the “SIOP Execution Handbook” laying out the key nuclear strike options available to the president as codified in the SIOP. Basic work on the handbook had been done so that it could be considered further by the Chiefs as well as by the president and the secretary of defense “if appropriate.” More work was to be done, however, especially on the “Consequences” section which would estimate the fatalities and industrial damage that would result in the Free World and the Sino-Soviet bloc caused by SIOP execution. In addition, the section would estimate the residual nuclear forces that would be available to both sides. A recent war game had resulted in a “more favorable Free World posture” and Taylor believed that should be taken into account in the “Consequences” section.

Document 09. JCS Chairman Maxwell Taylor to General LeMay et al., “SIOP Execution Handbook,” 6 July 1963, Top Secret, CM 720-63
Source: RG 218, Maxwell Taylor Papers, box 1, CM 669-63---795-63
A month later, the first “SIOP Execution Handbook” had been completed and Taylor found it to be a “valuable compendium of data for ready reference,” providing in “outline and summary form a discussion of the major decisions required for implementing the SIOP.” He asked the Joint Chiefs for their comments.

Document 10. Memorandum of Conference with the President Prepared by Naval Aide Tazewell Shepard, 24 July 1963, Top Secret
Source: RG 218, Maxwell Taylor Papers, box 35, Memos from President 1963
During this meeting, General Taylor presented Kennedy with a copy of the “SIOP Execution Handbook.” After Taylor reviewed the decisions required for SIOP implementation, Kennedy asked questions about the handbook.

Document 11. JCS Chairman Maxwell Taylor to Director, Joint Staff, “CPX of SIOP Execution,” 5 December 1963, Top Secret
Source: RG 218, Maxwell Taylor Papers, box 1, CM-1051-63 -- CM-1102-63
In the wake of President Kennedy’s assassination, Air Force Chief of Staff Curtis LeMay wanted to get the new president, Lyndon B. Johnson, up to speed on the SIOP. He proposed a special command post exercise (CPX) to “familiarize him with the intelligence that would probably be available, the military considerations involved, and the decisions that he would have to make in order to execute the SIOP.” Despite LeMay’s efforts, Johnson was not interested.

Document 12. Memorandum from G.C. Bullard to General Taylor, “President’s Emergency Actions ‘Gold Book,’” 11 January 1964, Top Secret
Source: RG 218, Maxwell Taylor Papers, box 2, 031.1 Meetings with the President
One of Taylor’s aides handed off the latest version of the “Gold Book,” which covered the emergency actions that the Joint Chiefs would take during an emergency. The “Gold Book” would be part of the president’s “emergency kit.”

Document 13. JCS Chairman Maxwell Taylor to General LeMay et al., “SIOP Execution Handbook,” 15 February 1964, Top Secret, excised copy
Source: RG 218, Maxwell Taylor Papers, box 2, CM 1964 1163-64--1229-64
With the “Gold Book” finalized, the handbook for the “Execution of the JCS Single Integrated Operational Plan” had also been updated so that it reflected the latest version of the war plan, SIOP-64. Recommending reproduction and distribution to the appropriate officials, Taylor noted that the “decision section” had been reorganized so that it had a breakdown of the recommendations that the Chiefs would make to the president, the decisions that the latter would have to make, and the “implementing directives” that the Chiefs would issue to the appropriate military commands.

Document 14. Memorandum from C.V. Clifton to Mr. [McGeorge] Bundy and Mr. [Bromley] Smith, 23 March 1964, Top Secret
Source: Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library, Files of C.V. Clifton., box 1, Gold Book
A discussion of the possible role of the secretary of state in emergency “Gold Book” conferences provided an explanation of what the “Gold Book” was actually about. According to General Clifton, the Joint Chiefs saw the “Gold Book business ... [as] really a military command procedure in which they would go down the line after national decisions have been taken.” Presumably, the secretary of state would participate in the basic “national decisions” about the use of nuclear weapons.

Document 15. Memorandum from C.V. Clifton to Mr. Bundy, 23 March 1964, Top Secret

Source: Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library, Files of C.V. Clifton, Box 1, Gold Book
General Clifton relayed to Bundy the Joint Chiefs’ continuing interest in the president’s participation in a “small-scale ‘command post exercise,” where the Chiefs went over the SIOP with the president, Bundy, and the “aides who are going to cart the Gold Book around.” Based on a scenario, it would involve a “typical situation involving SlOP and the Gold Book -- national decisions, etc., and the choices he would have to make.” By having the military aides and other key staff members as observers at the exercise, they would learn how they would be “able to help the President in an emergency.” According to Clifton, Joint Staff Director General Andrew Goodpaster wanted staff members present, but advised the briefers to be careful not to mention the super-secret “Furtherance” instructions concerning the emergency pre-delegation of presidential nuclear use decisions.

Document 16. Untitled memorandum prepared for General Clifton by J.V. Josephson and James M. Connell, 21 August, 1964
Source: LBJ, National Security File. Files of C.V. Clifton, box 2. SIOP
Prepared by two of President Johnson’s military aides, this memorandum describes the SIOP briefing given to President Johnson by Joint Staff vice director J-3 (operations) General John McPherson. The briefing reviewed the “five decisions [not specified] which the President must make, together with the advice he might expect from the Joint Chiefs for each decision,” the JCS’s procedures for implementing the decisions, and the “consequences of SlOP execution in terms of human casualties.”

Apparently “absorbed” by the briefing, Johnson “expressed particular interest in the casualties which would result from a nuclear exchange.” When he asked what would happen if a crisis occurred when he was in mid-air, Wheeler said that the Chiefs would communicate with him by radio and implied that General Clifton or other military aides would help the president with the “interpretation of the problem at hand.” Generals LeMay and Wheeler made another effort to convince Johnson to participate in a SIOP exercise, but no president would be willing to do so until Jimmy Carter.

Document 17. Draft memorandum to the President, Secretary of Defense, and Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, information copy to McGeorge Bundy, n.d. [1965), Top Secret, excised copy, under appeal with Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel (ISCAP)
Source: LBJL Files of C.V. Clifton, box 1, Hold for CVC, Volume 1
In a proposal to define the responsibilities of the White House military aide in connection with procedures for presidential decisions during a military crisis, Clifton provided some perspective on the history of the Football and its antecedents: “the development of the requirement for the president to have certain documents accompanying him and be made available to him on short notice has developed over the past 15 years, largely because of the possibility of the Presidency being destroyed by nuclear attack.” But the Football’s contents and presidential communications requirements expanded with the growing complexity of the emergency response problem (development of SIOP and options, predelegation arrangements, etc.)

Mentioned in this document were unspecified rulings by the Attorney General concerning presidential decisions on the use of nuclear weapons. Also mentioned was the was the formal role, beginning in 1958-1960, of the White House Communications Agency [then known as the White House Signals Detachment] in the transportation of the “emergency powers documents.”

Document 18. Untitled two-part draft memorandum, n.d. [1965], Top Secret, excised copy under appeal with ISCAP
Source: LBJL Files of C.V. Clifton, box 1, Hold for CVC, Volume 1
This massively excised document, probably drafted by Clifton who retired in June 1965, suggests that President Johnson did not like to be “followed so closely” by the Football carrier and that he had discussed with McNamara a system that would eliminate the “need for an aide to be in constant attendance upon him.” As those sentences were crossed out, Clifton may have thought that they were too indiscreet or perhaps the situation changed.[11] In any event, he proposed a new system by which the White House Communications Agency would maintain constant communications with the president. Clifton also suggested consolidation of the PEADS into the two or three most important documents that the president would need “very quickly.”

Thinking more broadly in terms of continuity of government and presidential succession, Clifton recommended arrangements to ensure that the vice president and the next two presidential successors could be located and communicated with whenever the president was traveling.

Document 19. Untitled memorandum from J.V. Josephson to General Clifton, 14 June 1965, Top Secret, excised copy, under appeal with ISCAP
Source: LBJL Files of C.V. Clifton, box 1, Hold for CVC, Volume 1
This may be the only declassified document that actually mentions the Football, which apparently was heavy enough that the weight problem was mentioned twice. In this massively excised memorandum, Naval aide Josephson provided his thoughts on the Football, Presidential Emergency Action Documents (PEADS), the SIOP, secure communications, and the duties of White House military aides. Possibly new Presidential Emergency Action Documents had been added to the Football, thus increasing its weight. Josephson did not see that as a problem but was concerned that because only a few of the PEADS had actually been approved by the president, there could be some question of legality. In any event, Josephson wanted to make sure in a crisis that the president could sign off on essential orders before something happened to him. Besides the Football’s weight, the other issue that came through was whether SIOP execution should involve coordination between the national security adviser and the Joint Chiefs. Josephson did not believe that it should, apparently thinking that there should be no mediation between the president and the Joint Chiefs.


The photos of U.S. presidents with a military aide carrying the Football or “Black Bag” or “satchel” in the same frame are familiar to many readers. This posting includes a number of those photographs as described below. Yet, for some recent U.S. Presidents it is not easy to find such photographs. So far, the highly diligent archivists at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library and the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library have been unable to find any such photos because they apparently do not exist. For President Kennedy, only one photo has surfaced and only a handful from the Richard Nixon administration. By contrast, archivists at the Ford, Reagan, Bush I, and Clinton administrations were able to identify relevant photographs without significant difficulty. It partly depends on how the Presidential Library indexes the photographs and whether the archivists can search for a term such as Football as they can, for example, in the indexes to the Ford Library’s databases of photographs.

For the Bush II and Obama administrations, White House photographs are not yet available to the public, but images of Football holders have appeared in the mass media, for example, this photograph taken during the Obama administration. Early in the Trump administration, a visitor to Mar-a-Lago engaged in conversation with a Football holder and took photographs showing the military aide in the president’s retinue.

White House military aide Gen. Chester Clifton carrying the Football, with President Kennedy and David Powers, approaching the “cottage” at Hyannis Port, 10 May 1963, where Kennedy was about to meet with Canadian Prime Minister Lester Pearson (photograph ST-250-15-63, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library)

During an inspection tour of defense installations in the western U.S., President Kennedy visited the underground command post at Strategic Air Command headquarters on 7 December 1962. In the first row: President Kennedy, Commander-in-Chief Strategic Air Command General Thomas Power, and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson. Standing behind Kennedy, Power, and Johnson, are Air Force Chief of Staff General Curtis LeMay, National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy, Secretary of the Air Force Eugene Zuckert, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral George W. Anderson, and Air Force aide to the President General Godfrey T. McHugh. Just to LBJ's right are Senior Military Aide to the President and sometime Football carrier General Chester V. Clifton, and Naval Aide to the President Captain Tazewell T. Shepard. (Photograph ST-335-15-62, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library).

President Richard Nixon speaking with senior Air Force officers, with Football carrier (Naval Aide) Lt. Commander T. Stephen Todd in the immediate background, at Homestead Air Force Base (Florida), 11 March 1974 (Photograph E2360-13, Richard M. Nixon Presidential Library)

Football carrier (Naval Aide) Lt. Commander T. Stephen Todd with President Gerald Ford leaving the White House, 5 May 1975 (Photograph A4417—13A, Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library)

Football carrier Lt. Commander William Lee, Coast Guard aide, walking next to President Ronald Reagan (who recently had hand surgery), 10 January 1989 (Photo by Pete Souza, photograph C51392-24, Ronald Reagan Presidential Library)

Major Michelle D. Johnson, White House Air Force aide, 1992-1994, jogging behind President George H. W. Bush, 21 August 1992, Branson, Missouri (Photograph P34802-17, George H. B. Bush Presidential Library)

Football carrier Major Darren W. McDew, Air Force aide to President Bill Clinton, 22 May 1998 (Photograph P63456-06a, Bill Clinton Presidential Library)



[1] See for example, Bruce Blair, “Strengthening Checks on Presidential Nuclear Launch Authority,” Arms Control Today, January-February 2018; Alex Wellerstein, "No one can stop President Trump from using nuclear weapons. That's by design." Washington Post, 1 December 2016; Alex Wellerstein and Avner Cohen, "If Trump wants to use nuclear weapons, whether it’s ‘legal’ won’t matter": Washington Post, 22 November 2017, and Amy Wolf, “Defense Primer: Command and Control of Nuclear Forces,” Congressional Research Service, 1 December 2016.

[2] The very useful print and on-line discussion of the Football and its history frequently asserts that “Football” derives from a code word, “Drop-kick,” either for the first SIOP or an early U.S. nuclear war plan. The implication is that a drop-kick required a football. That may be the case, but no evidence supports this claim. There is no evidence of a U.S. war plan code-named Drop-kick, although a special study of war planning requirements was code-named DROPSHOT while the code-name of another one, OFFTACKLE, referred to a football play. The only place where a reference to “Drop-kick” can be found is in a statement by General Buck Turgidson in Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 black comedy Dr. Strangelove: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

[3] Bob Horton, “Instant Nuclear Readiness; ’Box’ Follows President,” The Baltimore Sun, 21 November 1965. Thanks to Alex Wellerstein, Stevens Institute of Technology, for providing a copy of this fascinating article.

[4] William Manchester, The Death of a President November 20-November 25 1963 (New York: Harper and Row, 1967), 62-63, 261, 321.

[5] Billy Gulley with Mary Ellen Reese, Breaking Cover, (New York: Simon & Shuster, 1980), 15, 187-190, 193; also cited in Daniel Ford, The Button: The Pentagon’s Strategic Command and Control System (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1985), 89-90. It is worth noting that White House military aides have played a wide variety of roles. depending on the wishes and the personal style of the president whom they served; carrying the Football has been only one responsibility. Charles H. Mead, an Air Force aide during the Ford administration, recalls any number of tasks, including serving as advance man for speeches, setting golf-tee times, making sure Ford’s favorite pipe tobacco was at hand, and setting up arrangements for an upcoming International Summit. E-mail to editor from Charles H. Mead, 29 June 2018.

[6] On Carter’s interest, see Daniel Ford, The Button, 26-27, and Garrett M. Graff, Raven Rock: The Story of the U.S. Government’s Secret Plan to Save Itself- While the Rest of Us Die (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2017), 248, 250-252.

[7] This important document is cited in David F. Krugler’s valuable study, This Is Only a Test: How Washington D.C. Prepared for Nuclear War (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), 169-171 and 232, note 5.

[8] Dwight D. Eisenhower, Waging Peace, 1956-1961 (Garden City: Doubleday & Company, 1965), 617.

[9] According to Goodpaster, underlying the emergency orders was the assumption that “martial law, martial rule” would be in effect. See Krugler, This Is Only a Test, 162.

[10] Shepard’s questions were first quoted in Scott Sagan’s The Limits of Safety: Organizations, Accidents, and Nuclear Weapons (Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press, 1993), at 149. See also Marc Trachtenberg, A Constructed Peace: The Making of a European Settlement, 1945-1963 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999), at 294.

[11] Johnson’s preferences in this area are corroborated by other sources; see Garrett M. Graff, Raven Rock, 177. His apparent aversion to the presence of military aides nearby may have had something to do with his determination to “lower the military presence” in the White House, which he saw as excessive, and to replace, without firing outright, General Clifton and others in the Military Office whom he saw as being part of the Kennedy crowd. See Gulley. Breaking Cover, 47-49. By contrast, Johnson apparently did not mind having his own man, Col. James U. Cross, Clifton’s successor, carrying the Football, close at hand, during a flight across New Zealand in October 1966. See James U. Cross with Denise Gamino and Gary Rice, Around the World With LBJ: My Wild Ride as Air Force Pilot, White House Aide, and Personal Confident (Austin: University of Texas, 2008), 112.
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