tv Guillaume Serina An Impossible Dream CSPAN July 28, 2019 4:50pm-5:41pm EDT
i am reading that. also book by pastor tony evans. he pastors a big church in dallas texas. it's called america turning a nation to god. from washington to lincoln to john f. kennedy. they all acknowledged the role that faith paid there has been times in our nations history where we need to be on our knees i'm so often times driven to my knees because i'm overwhelmed i have nowhere else to turn. we have some issues today that will need divine intervention. we would be wise to listen to that counsel.
good evening everyone and welcome. we are to date --dash delighted to have them join us. they specialize in history. an experienced journalist who is reddens for more. with the presidential election and has published five books in french. including the first french biography of barack obama. his new book is for sale here tonight. i am a senior program officer here.
please come introduce yourself. after the program we are recording tonight's conversation so please take a moment to silence yourself on. additionally, note that after the conclusion let's turn it over to our moderator paul carol. >> think you for joining us tonight. i will take more about that later if you are interested. i apologize. >> is my pleasure to be here with you tonight he joins us this evening to discuss the summit in 1986. for those of you who did not maybe lived through it if you google it and read about it in this wonderful book you will understand why it has become such a crucible and a historical landmark for what might have been and i would add what still could be. today's leaders we feel could
learn from this missed opportunity. i'm going to be discussing the book and questions that i head with it and then at the end of the conversation thank you so much for joining us. can you hear me. >> thank you. thank you to the council for inviting me. it is our pleasure. let's begin by discussing i think the question on everyone's mind. what got you interested in this topic. why write a book on the summit. i was born in the 70s and i remembered it as a kid on tv i remember reagan and gorbachev
shaking hands and its strange white house. i have always been fascinated in the cold war. one day i was talking with a friend of mine and we were talking about the leaders from that era reagan and bush these are people whether you agree with them on the policy matter. i was comparing them to the readers it was in there that the leaders were so different. in the world and the world has changed so much. what happened between reagan and gorbachev more than what i knew. and i discovered the summit
which is quite the particular and so he you mentioned the personalities of world leaders as we all know today can be extremely important in understanding or maybe confounding but a lot of the book also mentions and describes the politics at home and surprisingly not just in the united states. in the soviet union you talk about gorbachev and the powers that be but the desire to develop the economy and for reagan it was politics. it was an upcoming midterm election cycle. it was the promise he have bought -- brought to the american people. aside from these big
personality. the opportunity that public power and political power might play in these type of affairs. i do think we were able to get along on a human level. they were somehow very rooted you do have to opposite political systems. and you can see that in the conversations. you can see that in the book. they are constantly reproaching to each other reagan and plane of the dictator have the press.
there was defiance because there was no trust because of the systems and then in addition i just said you did the whole background of current affairs in both countries. and he started that just one year before starting to have some effects. also. unlike what we all suppose this union was not necessarily one man decided everything. with the red army in the free
power. it have it really quickly. really quickly in one year he have the whole support of the whole mission. right before they have that meeting. he has a blank check to discuss whatever he wants. i think he is quite unique it is quite unique in the history of that system and you could feel that during the two days. the americans ended up being more divided. a lot of this information is fairly new. you did a lot of research and the documents.
what was it. put in that decided we can take the lid off of some of the stuff. i'm not sure about putin but actually under boris yeltsin after the collapse of the soviet union. people be able to been able to speak and read russian. they were the first ones historians. look at all of the archives. the sources i head in the book. and even the kremlin archives they're actually in the united
states. from george washington university. their whole department dealing with the soviet archives. i was lucky enough to work with that and work with the reagan presidential library. it was interesting to compare and actually see that the notes. almost 100% identical from both sides. .. .. >> if you have ever been to the
reagan library in southern california, it's a pretty nice place. you mentioned that gorbachev was able to -- if dough he don't know i consolidate is the right word but getting the backing of the politburo. what do you attribute that to? was it young like he was or the recognition it is time to pass the torch? i'm curious. >> i'm not sure. the youngest for sure. when year rising power at 55, as you remember, all the previous general secretaries died one year after another, starting brezhnev in 82, and then they finally find a younger guy who was the number two and number three but he has to deal with older people, and with all these balances between all these inside institutions. i think he did have that power
of communicating really well. he was the first soviet leader to go in the streets with cameras around him to talk to the soviet people. he was i think really a master in that. but he wasn't necessarily popular within his team. when i talked to his nuclear adviser-he was pretty cynical but gorbachev. saying he loved to listen to himself. and definitely -- i had the chance to meet him a couple of years nothing moscow, and the is definitely a straight shooter, straightforward, looks as you in the eyes so that was new. and when the americans first started to speak to him and the first one was vice president bush, during the funeral of
children. >> this is george h.w. bush,. >> reagan's vice president before he was president. he came back and had the same impression and saying this is guy we can work with. he's different. >> i want to keep this theme of the personalities that matter going, but go down a level. so, obviously reagan and gorbachev you can say withelected or select but there's a whole cast of characters that are not elected and this is the way the system works. you elect your congress or parliament or duma and then they appoint people, and so you mentioned the russian or soviet science adviser who interestingly married susan eisenhower and in the book you said we'll use that's wokes from eisenhower to get at reagan. so it's interesting the kind of close knit nature of the personalities. but then you also have people
like george schultz, edward she robert mcfor land and a guy named richard pearl who in his small arms control community is -- how to put this nicely -- doesn't he a big fan base. but the way he characterized the meetings happening, it seemed very mission oriented. there seemed to be a clear eye on what could be, and so i just wondered, is there something beneath what you say in the book about those characters? was there more miss chief than i greens. >> i could talk to them and obviously 30 years later they were keen and happy to talk but it without any pressure. that was really nice. talk to pat buchanan, was the head of communications, or
admiral poindexter the national security adviser, for example, and for them it's good memories. it was nice to have them talk about it, and dig a little bit. the feeling i have reading the notes, they were sending to each other at the time, within the white house, or between departments, it was really professional, it was really interesting. definitely they were not agreeing on many things. you could, as i'm sure it's true in many administrations, seeing the weight of defense, the military, and the diplomats not wanting the same thing, and that became the big issue in reykjavik. so, you have to deal with personalities indeed. and as you can see in the book,
schultz and the two foreign affairs people, who are sitting with the presidents in the room, bring something different, bring a different kind of emotion or different kind of thinking things through. and that what the collaborative effort. at the end of the day it's two leaders choosing, which have all these people, sometimes with a different agenda, and it's really fascinate, same thing on the soviet side. various strong characters. >> well, you also mentioned the size of the delegations was limited. in fact, dr. zabe wasn't there, which may have had some interesting roles. what he is emblem matic of, the role that scientists and technical expertise plays in these kinds of negotiations. not just the pageantry of
summits but on the fact we're talk about incredibly powerful weapons, it doesn't take scientist to understand the devastation these can wreak, but when it comes to getting down to the nitty-gritty of an arms control negotiation or treaty and how you ensure that each side ises a hering to it and technical means and verification, these are extremely important the question is have from your read offering the archives and understanding of reykjavik or maybe summitry at large, can you procedure observation offers the role, the importance of that technical expertise, not only from a government or official aspect but from citizen science, because you mentioned the strategic defense initiative, sdi, was ultimately a spoiler alert, it's sort of a sticking point of the whole summit.
there were harsh critics about whether it would work, whether even if it work you wanted to identity because of the underlying deterioration over the deterrence, so i'm curious about whether you feel scientists, technical experiments, how important they are, where they should and could play a role and what the health of that is today. that's a life. apologize. >> i'll try. obviously it's extremely important. when reagan announces sdi in '83, strategic defense initiative, nicknamed star wars by the media, which is the key point in the book, he takes the -- the american defense community by surprise and the reaction of the u.s. scientist are all over the place and they're against its almost the next day.
he does that speech in the white house and you can read in the newspapers of the next few days, the american scientist don't understand and they say, not only it's dangerous, you're taking the risk to arm space but this is not achievable in terms of costs and in terms of science, how you put a laser on a satellite and maintain it in space for years. the irony of that story is that 35 years later, it still not possible. so, you had to -- a historic missed opportunity based on something that was not scientifically possible. but politics and the policy was based on that. on something that couldn't exist. certainly not in the next ten years, so, i indeed, that's where science and technique, technology, advisers, become
extremely important. i don't -- i'm not sure issue didn't see nit the archives that reagan had the whole knowledge of how it would work or even how nuclear international intercontinental missile work or the implication of that. what was interesting to see in the summit and in the preparation of the summit is that the soviets came with extremely precise and specific points, category by category, of nuclear weapons and of missiles, et cetera. so, to an very broadly to your question because i'm not an expert myself, on the scientific way, it's extremely important. in geneva the first time they
meet in '85. reykjavik was notes an official momentum, an enter immediateat summit, kind of rushed and surprise in a surprising way. it was not planned. but he definitely has several meetings with gorbachev before hand and afterhand and had stroke of notes with gorbachev himself. so, you're asking me but today? i'm not sure how the current american president works about this issues. don't know who advise him on the questions and if the technicians and scientist have access to him. i can't answer that. >> fair enough. there's still going back to the question about the archives, still a fair amount of secrecy out there although i think the good news is there's an incredible amount of access to information that in 1986 the
wouldn't have been. one thing i want to ask, and it's not a criticism and i hope i'm right in my assumption, a lot of the focus begins appropriately in sort of '84, '85, '86, when the geneva summit in the fall of '8 5. you talk but the context of chernobyl and this spy affair as well as making it's challenging environment. but what i did not see and perhaps i missed it is any reference to the american television program the day after, which aired in 1983. around the time of the sdi speech. or the 1982 nuclear freeze march, and this was still in reagan's first term. so i'm cures yaws curious because -- cure news nuclear arms commune these are iconic and the day after is credited with -- come to jesus moment for ronald reagan.
>> you're right. i don't address it in the book. i probably should have. so thank you for pointing it. i decided to stop the book with ronald reagan's second inaguration segregation two months later they come to pour, three months later to gorbachev so i could have linked to it, i didn't do it. but it is a book for mainstream audience, and i thought about the story-telling, and the human interactions between the two of them i had to make some choices. >> thank you. that's very clear. and just a small -- maybe a quick yelp review, before hand, that i found this very easy to read. i'm not a huge reader, as it turns out, but this is written like a series of newspaper articles so i think the journalist background in you
comes out so it's very quick and very, i think, precise, so i appreciated that aspect of it. >> thank you. >> you made a fair amount -- you spent a fair amount of page real estate on this issue of sdi, the sticking opinion and are it was painful to ready they were really trying to get together and land on some agreement, but the strategic defense initiative became the sticking point because as much as i think the engineers and scientists mights have said this isn't going to work at the soviets were afraid of it and felt one of two things would happen. it's going to work and that's scary 0, even if it doesn't work we'll spend ourselves into oblivion to overcome a marginal defense system. so what gorbachev was willing to offer was limited testing in the laboratory over a decade, and that word "laboratory" became a big problem and i couldn't help
but think about is in in the current context with north korea where the u.s. line is they're going deke denuclearize and my colleagues say neighbor talks but the whole peninsulas, a much grander scheme. any question is your own broad learning or observation you mentioned the record-keepers being very insync. the words, particularly dealing with different languages but the terminology, the definition of words and the preparation, at reykjavik and in today's world. >> that's very interesting. i think in a nutshell, the americans oversold sd toye the soviets and the soviets overbought it. really. in terms of -- okay, the context
with the chernobyl accident forces gorbachev to write that letter to reagan that summer in july, so three months after chernobyl, saying i know we decided to meat in washington or moscow next year, but i would really like to meet first, and try to discuss arm race, nuclear issues. definitely the impact of chernobyl within the politburo and the soviet system was huge. so i think there was that fear and that need to address its with the americans. you mentions the laboratory, maybe you should explain what they discuss the reykjavik during these two days in october '86. on the first day, to summarize they agree to reduce intermediate missile. so that's the deal.
but the second day in the morning, gorbachev basically plays his cards and say, why don't we get rid of all nuclear weapons, all categories, all of them weapon offensive, defensive, whatever. but in return, we do that in ten years. but in turn, you have to get rid of the sdi. so, the whole day they go back and forth, and it's really dramatic and human and they laugh, they're almost crying, they joke, there's a lot of tension, it's extremely touching in a way when you read that. the whole talk become but that word laboratory because reagan keeps saying i don't want to give it up. i don't want to give up research and development of the sdi. promised to its the american
people. i cannot go back on that. and gorbachev says, why don't you do it in the laboratory, because anyway you don't have the technology right now. we know you had some breakthrough, but it's not ready and its won't be ready within ten years. so why don't you stick it to the lab and not deploy it in space. in the meantime, we reach an agreement of eliminating all nuclear weapons within ten years, with that trust and verify system, where american experts would go into soviet union and make sure they would indeed destroy their weapons and the same thing here in the u.s. and that failure of these talks are because of that definition of "laboratory." when you bring it to the former advisers and, for example -- he says it could
have meant anything. laboratory is not necessarily a basement with people in white coats trying to do something. it could have been into space in a very safe way. it could have been elsewhere in a very safe way. so, it looks like there might have been even a misunderstanding there, we're not sure. ate least they are ways to interpret that. and at the end the decision of reagan to not accept the deal, which was actually badly wanted by schultz of his side, was very moving and it was really deeply linked to that promise probably. >> and you wrote eloquently but reagan's own -- a principle and a value he was negotiating with
but he also said things like, i can't bring that back home, or that will hurt me back home so there would this internal cop. >> the mid-term in no weeks and that's the democracy and with the express polls about his popularity. gorbachev didn't have that. he says you don't have to deal with that. so, yeah, he has to deal with that. now, the intimate decision of not striking a deal, i think nobody will really ever know. his advisers say different things about it him was right, he was wrong. but who exactly knows. there's even that anecdote where he was -- at the time reagan is 75. he is 20 years older than gorbachev. they've been sitting for two days in these not very comfortable chairs in that house
in reykjavik, pretty sparse do you say that in -- spartan, not very comfortable, and in the sunday afternoon, when these conversation becomes so incredibly intense about the possibility of getting rid of all nuclear weapons arrives, the possibility of extending the summit to a third day comes, and reagan says, oh, shit, i quote. and nancies not here, nancy stayed in washington. >> host: ronald reagan, didn't say oh, golly? i'll take your word for it. >> it's in the archives -- no, it's not in the archives but gorbachev's wife is in reykjavik and who knows, maybe played a role. maybe he didn't want to stay one more night, maybe he was exhausted. who knows. >> well, 75 in 1986 is not like
75 in 2019 so you have to take that into account, too. one thing that was interesting, which i had -- did seem that the soviets had put on offer several things right away, one of which was we're north going to talk about france and the uk some their neck clear arsenal, which they had it and have nuclear arsenal. substantial one, and i'm curious as a frenchman, if that was sort of interesting to you and what you feel about france's continuance to have a nuclear arsenal. france has roughly 300 nuclear weapons today, half of which are on submarines and the other are air launch crews missiles on aircraft. so one way i think if youer the soviet union, it's sort after like we we got so upset theys that missiles in cuba because they w. 90 miles from our shores
the soviets live with that every day. >> how do know i'm french, by the way. >> your dapper attire. >> yeah, it was interesting to see that it and was interesting to see the letter of the french ambassador to washington to the white house, after the sdi speech, saying don't arm the space. basically saying, you guys are not the only ones there. we europeans have to be taken into consideration, and let's put things in context. europe is speaking, too. you have germany's -- and on each side the border you have the pershing missle and the ss20 missiles facing each other. so europe was held hostage during that whole era, so it was interesting to -- i remember being brought in the mid-'70s
i remember all of that. i remember the french president, mitterrand's speech in the -- at the german parliament, basically allowing the americans to deploy pershing 2, saying i'm okay with that. so, it was interesting to see how the uk, france, tried to have a say, but obviously probably failing at it. i mean, it's still true today but it was more true at the time. 90% of the arsenals are healed by the russians and the americans, so it's true that today, france has i think is number three in terms of number of nuclear weapons, 300 as you said. and more than the chinese, even
though we are not sure but the chinese numbersle you know better than me. but, yeah, what is interesting is that despite the end of the cold war, and being now in a world with many more powers, but in a more unstable world, in a less rational world, the cold war was scary, cuba was scary, but we're dealing with two major players which are still thinking in a rational way. today we have nine countries who have nuclear weapons, and i'm not sure all -- who is really rational about it. and you should take the french example. still totally in that dogma of the deterrence, and if we have to keep spending billions every year to maintain that arsenal and for me that whole idea is
totally obsolete. me a we'll talk but it but still very much a cold war approach in a world that has changed so much. >> now, thank you for that. do want to get back to that in a moment. think that it's pivotal. at the core to the negotiatings which wasn't explicit in the book so much as this belief in nuclear deterrence, and when you say there are nine nations now that possess nuclear weapons and is everyone still being rational-pat over my once to that would be, the problem lies when using nuclear weapons is considered rational, and some nations have said, they've gotten away from pure deterrence and gone into, well, we would consider using them if somebody uses chemical weapons. the lines have become blurred but i want to hold there because i have another question i -- a little bit different but i think very important for every
audience. there is this cast of characters and you did a great job of naming them and who they were and providing a fluid -- a bit of their background. the warrant all farmers. some came out of west point or annapolis but one name jumped out. rosan ridgeway who i got meet who was george schultz, the secretary of states, special assistant on european affairs, and jump he out another me because it was the only woman's name in the book and this was in the mid-7le 0s but -- missouri '8s but i find exciting organizations and groups promoting women and minority groups in nuclear security in national security, and i think we should all applaud that and encourage that. i just wanted to ask you your own experience, did that strike you and -- >> of yours. >> do you find your aid mence is more diverse thankin' 1986. >> for sure i. was shocked to see it was only very old white
males, talking -- dealing with these issues in each administrations. rose being the only woman, as you mention. tied who ini go to some -- today when guy to some congresses or book signings, there's a lot of young people and a lot of women for sure. still, it's a very much still unknown topic. as you know people don't think or talk about it. presidential candidates are never asked about it. what is with that? we have more than 13,000 nuclear warheads today, approximately the number on earth. why don't we talk about that? and the price tag that comes with it? i think it's $16 billion per year within a different budget
here in the united states. for smaller country like france it's around 5 billion euros each year. so, let's talk but that. let's make sure our leaders are being asked about it. it's important. >> i appreciate that. think just to add a bit of context there, you're absolutely right, the -- any problem i would offer with respect to nuclear weapons today is not only their continued presence, roughly 15,000 -- not a single treaty in the entire cold war history, whether it was the strategic arms limitation talks which capped weapons the strategic arms reduction talks, none of them actually mandates a warhead be destroyed. all but missiles and aircraft and how many you're allowed to have but none have said you have to talk apart the bomb. that's one thing. the other thing is even though the numbers have come down dramatically, we are improving
accuracy, -- when i say we the united states -- but as a matter of fact all the nuclear nations have some modernization plans and i think if you think about an axe, well, it's a new handle and it's a new head but still my old axe. well, actually not so much and the cost is astronomical. this united states us supposed to spend a trillion, with a t, dollars the new submarinesmarind news missile and acraft between now and 2030. ... i think that is really the question for something that we never use, how do we solve
crisis like syria or ukraine with a nuclear weapon, no. right? so we think there is a risk to keep these weapons that can be hacked and can explode by accident, that can be taken by terrorists. the risks are major and when i talked to some people in your field or even the defense bill, embarrassing, and t again we are spending all that money for what? what is the strategy behind it. for the theory is based -- my feeling that is it a miracle. are we going to keep playing for fire or scarcely talk about
reducing the number and go around the table. i think it could get some kind of a frame for national discussion. i think the agreement varies, we try saying that every single country can also be a model of international negotiation. obviously there that is a treaty and that i was say two years ago to band nuclear weapons, i think seven countries have signed it. it's a long way. but that is also a frame, a method that we can try. but you had to have political will. >> that is one of the things that you do in the book. the momentum in the achievement post ranking coming up very recently, but i don't think when you finish the book, the acronym, because we love acronyms, pt and w which is the prohibition of nuclear weapons.
it's an official un document and instrument and has been approved, it needs more states to ratify to enter into course. i think i would offer that it is an expression of frustration, but most of the world and the nonnuclear nations with the other lack of progress on article six of the treaty which some may argue. it obligates nuclear weapon states to disarm. and whether you agree with it or not, it is a thing. and it's a force. >> it's very much like the whole world is knocking at the door and inside there just nine people, nine nuclear weapon countries. in all the other ones say we count, were on the same plane. but the ability of the nuclear powers to stay deaf to that is mind blowing to me. so it will be interesting to see
the ministration in the next ten or 20 years what do we do about it. >> we are just about out of time. i one last question. it's a really simple one to answer. it is actually a two and one. was the summit of success or failure and is the stream still impossible? >> i see it as a failure. i see it as a breakthrough but of course there are two ways to stay. they fail to reach the deal but it also led the way to the first treaty. and to the ins, the international range agreement. it's a victory in that way. and it created a dynamic to talk into have some reassurance. as they say, during these two days, it could never happen
before and it might never happen again. and that is exactly what happened. so we can say that was the only window where it could happen. because who would know who would come after within the system? it may be a hoax. reagan was old and you don't know who comes next in a democracy. it's a missed opportunity for me. i think a lot of the diplomatic groups felt that way. they kind of denied it but when you see and you look at the conversations, most of the time he take side with the soviets. he tries to convince reagan districtostrike the deal. are you saying that you want to
get the nuclear weapons within ten years, maybe really. and then he seizes the conversation. his reaction after the collapse, he gives the press conference, one or two hours later it is live on a make a television at night and he had tariffs in his eyes. he is exhausted. he cannot find his words. in the journalist thought -- they don't know what happens. are you saying that you were almost getting rid of nuclear weapons? and why did you not do it. and in the same way, i don't want to be too long, but it's amazing conversation in the back of air force one on the way back to washington between the journalist there pretty of the near times, cbs news, everybody is there. and he is telling what happened.
and they cannot believe their eyes that they did not accept the deal. so, again, who knows what will come next. so, that is how i feel. so, i don't want to be too optimistic, but definitely today the world as we were couple kitted, more countries with nuclear weapons. even the democracy semen crisis in our western leaders do not seem to walked or do not know how to deal with it. maybe a younger generation we want to reason the talk. >> book tv attends book fairs and festivals throughout the year. recently at the annapolis festival in maryland, independent counsel can start
talking on the investigation into president bill clinton. >> how do we, in a free society that believes in rule of law and accountability keep the president and those around him or her honest? and if there are serious allegations of wrongdoing, recently going to say, which is the case in some countries, excuse me. our chief executive, who ever he or she might be, is above the law. in the united states. i think that is part of the glory, it's unpleasant as all get out. and especially not fun for those wrapped up in it. president clinton, hillary, chelsea, this is a horrible episode to go through. so at a personal level, yes, lots of cost. but interns of who we are as a free people and constitutional democracy, isn't it reassuring to know that truly, no one is above the law. that is the goal.
that is the goal. no one is above the law. >> to watch the rest of the program visit our website booktv.org and search for the author's name at the top of the page. >> tonight on the tv are coverage from freedom breast continues at 8:00 p.m. with former georgia congressman bob barr talking about his book the meaning of is. >> we have allowed public discourse and political activity to sink to the level where we do not demand a requisite amount of understanding, education, civility and professionalism in what we do and demand of our elected officials. and what happens then, important mechanisms such as impeachment, are devalued.
>> at nine eastern on "after words", in his new book, the fifth gentlemen, former george w. bush administration special advisor first security talks about how to make cyberspace less dangerous. >> there are corporations in america in the pretty secure. are they invulnerable? no. but there are resilient to it. can someone penetrate their net worth? i'm not sure there's no perimeter anymore. can they do real damage to those companies and the answer is, no. >> watch book tv tonight on c-span2. [inaudible conversations] >> i have more microphones appear that i know what to do with. good evening everybody. i am bradley graham i'm a co-owner of politics and prose of longit