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tv   The Presidency Ronald Reagan Cold War Politics  CSPAN  November 4, 2018 8:35pm-9:27pm EST

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as far as providing future generations with the basic understanding they need of our andory and the principles the both moral and also patriotic foundations, which have gotten us to this point in our history and the history of the world. iii, thank you. [applause] next on the presidency, a discussion about ronald reagan's cold war politics from a conference titled ronald reagan and john paul the second: the partnership that changed the world. speakers include to formal national -- former national security council staffers that served under reagan. the white house writers group organized this event. >> the ambassador has held a number of prominent positions in
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diplomacy and academia, serving as the national security council's director of soviet and european affairs during the ministry should of george w. of georgeministration w. bush. a resident scholar at the university of california berkeley, a fellow at ashland university, a fellow at pacific research institute and a frequent contributor to powerline, dr. steven hayward is the author of a number of books including a magisterial two-volume work, the age of reagan. the founder and president of the institute of world politics here the authoron, he is of many works including his book, full spectrum diplomacy and grand strategy. he served on the national security council in the white house of ronald reagan.
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dr., or as ir., have known you all for years, paula, steve, and john, welcome. three quotations. [applause] quotations. in may 1973., we seek a stable structure. national security must rest upon equilibrium. president jimmy carter in 1977. we have moved to engage the soviet union. our goal is stability, parity, and security. president ronald reagan speaking in december 1981 about the crackdown on solidarity of the polish trade union. there must be an awful lot of people in the iron curtain countries who feel the same way as the people of poland. we may never get another chance like this in our lifetime.
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if this were sesame street, you would say, two of these quotations sound like each other. but one does not fit. reagan do that? , richardto the mindset nixon and jimmy carter. then along comes reagan. where did it come from, paula? >> ronald reagan was a leader. ronald reagan came into the white house with a vision. this did not happen suddenly. vision,urpose, he had and it was a platform he definitively campaigned on and then not just only one the election, but executed. what is remarkable when you think about it is the consistency of purpose and the
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the as in true, the integrated diplomacy. there was a strategy. all the elements were tied together. the economic components. crucial to this execution. also the military. the military in the sense of focus ofs was the peace through strength. you had a president who had a in, putting in place all the elements and executing. it was a privilege to be part of that team and that execution. i want to askeve, you to establish the background. how bad was it?
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geo-strategy, of the soviets have entrenched themselves in cuba and africa, on and on it goes. this is the background is ronald reagan takes office. john, is this something we could have lived with? as a matter of geo-strategy, how bad is the situation ronald reagan inherits when he takes the oath of office in january 1981? in thesoviet union 1970's was on the march. it was involved in helping to bring about communist takeovers in many countries around the world. you mentioned indochina. the soviets were heavily responsible for the north vietnamese victory in south vietnam. they and their propaganda apparatus was a huge part of it.
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the north vietnamese generals the fundamental reason, may be the decisive reason for their victory, was the effectiveness of their propaganda and psychological operations against the united states during that war. to inou had procommunist south -- coup in south yemen. you had a near communist take over in namibia. you had a near communist take over in grenada and another one in nicaragua. soviet-cuban subversion all over latin america. much of this is documented in the grenada archives, which nobody studies anymore. these were the internal , whennts of the movement we invaded grenada, we got a hold of their internal documents
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, which had black on white agreements, soviet and east german, cuban military assistance, intelligence agreements, and so forth. there were blueprints for the destruction of the churches in grenada, which included such things as the promulgation of liberation the elegy on the island and bringing experts on that subject from cuba and nicaragua. demoralizedonly after vietnam and divided as a nation, but the soviets perceived us as increasingly weakening. they were beginning their own -- they had their own massive peace movement. hundreds, maybe as many as a thousand front organizations operating around the world. that did not count the active communist parties involved.
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it was a massive global movement backed up by their massive military and diplomatic operations. ,spionage and active measures which is to -- this information -- disinformation. >> john just mentioned the world demoralized -- the word demoralized. we are talking about 30 years ago. 30 years from now we will all be tottering around work on. it is important -- around or gone. it is important to get this down. the question of national morality 1979 -- morality buying by 1979. i tell kids we didn't have remotes, they are shocked.
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you are trying to explain the demoralization of the country, the famous speech of president reagan's predecessor. students can't believe it. it's a whole different world to them. what people need to know, and it bears on the title of our panel, we may never get another chance like this. the whole story of getting to that moment is this dramatic, it is moving, it is profound. it testifies to reagan's greatness as a statesman. i stay he was a statesman in the old sense of that word. it means an attachment to principal and a profound grasp of the circumstances. let me say more about reagan's grasp of the circumstances. one of the key elements there of his many virtues is patience. there is another sense in which that statement, our title, is wrong. i don't mean inaccurate, not truthful to the moment.
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not in any revisionist sense. what i mean is it takes it back to something else reagan said early in his political career. he said we are only one generation away from losing our freedom. we are now one generation past reagan. as you and i were talking, socialism is back. how did this happen? john, you put your finger on it recently when i heard you talk. this is the second oldest at the roof this. -- the root of this. we don't want to leave it just the chance. a lot of things came together. the pope, president reagan, margaret thatcher should be mentioned. what are the odds of that happening?
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and by the way, all three of them suffered an assassination attempt. make a point of gy, but --y, -- theolo >> a couple of events in the reagan administration, decisions , tell us what they meant. national security decision statesve 75, the united will contain it over time byerse soviet expansionism competing with the soviet union in all arenas and promote the process of change in the soviet union toward a system in which the power of a privileged ruling elite is reduced. did that feel as aggressive at the time as it sounds today? it is interesting the way
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u.s. the question. -- you asked the question. this may be surprising. there was actually a kind of unity of purpose. agenciesven with other , that's not to say there were not battles here and there, but there was a unity of purpose. .t was breathtaking at the time it was something that mobilized us and guided us. , beautifulith me reflections by margaret thatcher on her view of reagan. one of them relates to what you just asked. she said his view that we should fight the battle of ideas for freedom against communism throughout the world and to refuse the concept, to accept the permanent exclusion of captive nations from being benefits of freedom. nsdd 75.rgirds
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75r first question, nsdd underscores the first question. ronald reagan wanted to advance freedom, not accept the existence of captive nations worldwide, no less the soviet 75ion which is what nsdd targets, but he wants to do something about it and apply all instruments of policy toward that end. secondly, what was also significant, it was not just the actions, also the words. ideas mattered. the ideas that were put on the table were followed up by policies. thirdly, to me, being in foreign these, i think about directives and i do think about
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that directive and how that directive has provided a kind paradigm for many, not only at that time, but even up until this present day. recently, some were telling me they look back at that directive in thinking about how you deal with iran at this time. interestingly enough. the blueprint for action was not .nly relevant and grabbing then at the same time, extremely relevant up to this time. >> address from the oval office, let me share with you a vision of the future that offers hope. we embark on a program to counter the soviet missile threat, measures which are defensive. what if we could intercept and destroy strategic ballistic missiles before they reached our own soil or that of our allies? close quote.
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the strategic defense initiative, which the new york dream,ermed a pipe strategic importance? >> i think it was extremely important. those material administration, the president applied in the various pressures on the soviet system. let me summarize the material things. ultimately it would not have happened without the nonmaterial things, which is what this conference is mostly about. the nonmaterial things did require some kind of a material complements. there was the military buildup. in quantitative terms, the reagan military buildup did not match the gorbachev military buildup.
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we had the advantage of had the computer ,evolution in military affairs waslth technology, and sdi one of those things. that presented the soviet union with the prospect of trumping its potential -- either complete or partial first strike capability with nuclear weapons. the military buildup that huge pressure on the soviet military economy. people talk about a crisis in the soviet economy. the principal crisis was in the military economy. the crisis in the civilian economy started in 1917 and it was the inability to keep up
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with us technologically that compelled the soviets to experiment with different types of reforms, but they never could do reforms gorbachev for example never decentralized his economy even as much as crew shot did. -- khrushchev did. we deprive them of energy earnings by stimulating the saudi's to increase energy production. we had a massive security program to deprive them of technology. we supported the anti-communist resistance movement in afghanistan thomas central america, southern africa. all of those are material things. they were incredibly important. none of those material things explain how a million people can take to the streets of moscow.
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in 1990not explain how -- it does not explain how the coal miners were going on strike not for safer working conditions , more wages, or better vacations. they were demanding political change. none of those things explain that. what explains it is the nonmilitary strategy that ronald reagan rot to bear -- brought to bear. you said, what is the difference between the nixon-carter discussion of stability versus reagan's idea? sovietsnderstood the were on the political strategic offensives. instead of engaging in moral equivalence and 19th-century balance of power politics kissinger style, which assumed
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there was no fundamental threat of one side to the other by remember,our dna, george cannon said the soviets hate us not for what we do, but for who we are. understood that if they are going to be on the offensive , why should we be on the defensive? we should do reciprocity in all this. what is the cold war? not hurling guns and rockets. it is the war of ideas. two different philosophies of life. relationship between man and the state. a concept of human rights versus anti-human rights. it is that war which reagan fought, which nobody else fought. address to the national association of evangelicals in 1983. in your discussions of the nuclear freeze proposals, i urge
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you to be where the temptation ofpride, the temptation declaring yourselves above it all and labeling both sides equally at fault. of ignoring the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire to simply call the arms race a giant misunderstanding and remove yourselves from the struggle between right and wrong and good and evil. now, that was over the top, don't you think? >> not a bit. discussion of a nuclear freeze proposal, explain that. movement a religious that started with the catholics. it spread to protestants. there are several initiatives calling for a nuclear freeze. this thing had momentum.
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what alarmed the white house was when the southern baptist convention, one of the southern baptist convention's, they abducted -- adopted a nuclear freeze. this could be problematic to go too far into this. unlike pope john paul, for lots of reasons, protestant christianity, certain parts of it, have often said, we are maybe americans, but our first loyalty is to god. your obligations as a citizen may sit on the back burner. there is a lot more to discuss than we have time to today. there are basically conservative anti-communist people and reagan wanted to rally them. serious a very protestant theological explanation of why you can't check out of this.
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you certainly can't offer implicit or explicit aid to the moral equivalency at the heart of the nuclear freeze movement. he does not directly attack the nuclear freezers as being people of bad motives, which we know they were. it is very effective. >> that the background. he calls the soviet union an evil empire and says, do not remove yourselves from the struggle between right and wrong. terms?h to defend those >> yes. back to your first question, the old equilibrium theory everyone had, why does reagan depart from that? by the way, conservatives believe that. they thought soviet communism is going to be here for 100 years. sooner or later we're going to
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have to have a war with these people. what reagan thinks is, it is not a durable form of rule. they can make missiles but they cannot make cornflakes. beyond that he said it was unnatural, and a moral system. an immoral system cannot survive in the long-term. he instinctively and philosophically rejected the core theory of the establishment. that is why it is easy for him to say evil empire. >> may i jump in on that one? to me, the result of that was so consequential because he was speaking to the audience, -- well, in the soviet union, in russia, and also around the globe, and he was speaking to the truth. margaret thatcher said one of the most strong weapons deployed
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by ronald reagan was his acknowledgment and upholding of human rights. and the hope people want. >> just briefly, i have to ask you because you have been talking about the unity behind nsdd 75. i just read a speech that got to the president over the objections of his senior staff. like the westminster address he delivered in june 1982. like the berlin wall address. do you remember because you and were -- >> -- involved in that speech -- of the whitebers house staff in the foreign-policy apparatus objected to all three of those speeches. you didn't. >> i didn't either. >> this is a serious question.
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how much of a problem for president reagan and those of us was the -- so to speak, deep state? >> you ask me about nsdd 75. engaged also at the time and i remember that process. i am making a distinction between that process, which was a longer-term process of versus a speech, a single speech. you were quite right on everything you said about speeches, it was a battleground. i remember yours, the one you worked on for berlin, turn down that wall. i remember distinctly.
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even our colleagues on the national security council staff, we had a fierce debate because some of us were in favor of this, some of us were against it. the wonderful thing about ronald reagan, and that was your first absolutely a statesman. but it is not just having the vision, it is implementing it and seeing it through. he went with his passion and instinct and what he knew was right. concerning the deep state, he was overcoming resistance from within his own office. the proper running of government is the forces of contiguity versus the forces of change and bureaucracy is the force of continuity and the newly affected -- newly elected
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officials are the forces of change. it is always a struggle. what has been well ensconced for over a decade inside the government was an understanding of the ussr that it was a permanent feature of the international landscape and never going to change. we had to learn to accommodate and thereality imbalance of power and policy of dealing with the symptoms attention, rather than the causes of the tension. the causes of the tension were not missiles, it was the dna of the soviet system, and expressed -- an aggressive human rights violating system that had to expand in order to demonstrate the veracity of its ideology. the president did not accept
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this precisely because he saw the nature of the system as andrary to human nature having intrinsic vulnerabilities. our intelligence community was never, throughout that decade and a half, collecting any intelligence on soviet vulnerabilities. it was not done. there was a report done on civil unrest in the ussr. andas published in 1985 written in our intelligence community, but the cia, even under l casey, -- under bill casey, were not write it -- would not publish it. under thelished moniker of the national intelligence council, not the cia.
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the only person doing vulnerability studies of the meyer,union was herb working for bill casey. we were collecting no intelligence on the cold war stuff, the war of information and ideas. nothing on propaganda or active measures. anti-anti-communist .ttitude >> reykjavik, for a day and a half gorbachev proposes sweeping cuts in all kinds of weapons, including nuclear weapons, and ronald reagan agrees. and to quote steve hayward in
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"e second volume of his book, the unheard-of had occurred. the president and general secretary agreed the abolition of all weapons." near the end of the second day, gorbachev says, by the way, one condition. sci toe to confine limited lab research. reagan says nothing to him and -- ends.t and's e - everyone thought it was a disaster, at least at first. why was that such an important point in the cold war? several reasons, one of which directly involves them. that whatd early on he really wants to be able to do
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is say nyet, or say yes. several important moments have gotten lost in the general narrative. the speech after what you quoted, they said, look at the long-term project. when go but shock was trying to andal to him emotionally there is this missile-defense thing you want to do to -- thing you want to do. this, therewe do could be a rogue nation, they mentioned libya. we will be unable to defend against that. and here we are in a war with north korea and iran. it shows you how farsighted
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reagan was on these issues. right before reykjavik in the timeline was a memo from someone on the national security staff that had it exactly right. i read it 15 years ago, it said, what is up -- what is gorbachev up to? we want to smoke him out early if we can. do you remember this memo? it struck me as being that he nailed it. becausewas skeptical summitry was a battlefield that benefited the soviets. it always benefits the bad guy. summitry is one of the most dangerous things american presidents can do.
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peter: everything has to be compressed. a fair summary of what happened at reykjavik is that gorbachev makes one run at reagan's effort to bring to bear technical dimon is him -- dynamism on this right -- this race and read it to a conventional balance and reagan says no. moment, gorbachev cannot compete. is that correct? it is a decisive moment. paula: it was. and it is worth going back to when he made the announcement about sti and as it was called star wars at the time. you are reading the reagan library literature and memos. if one looks at what was coming
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out of moscow at the time, a number of these things have been declassified. this was one of the most foratening militarily moscow. it is not a surprise that gorbachev did what he did, because when you look at the material years later, you see that the actual announcement in development, when reagan announced it and in the meeting leading up to reykjavik, this was singled out as one of the most threatening military developments. reagan liked to argue about ideas. transcript, reagan -- youu communists,
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communists. says, there he is again, quoting phony lennon quotations. and then reagan says, look. every soviet leader from lenin down, but you have not set it. maybe you don't believe it. you do not say it. myself,s thinking to that is the moment where you could declare that the cold war was over and over chop missed it. -- gorbachev missed it. he missed the chance and there saying it. talks oflost in most
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it. the pope visits poland in 1979 for all eight years of the reagan administration. coordination at a minimum between the white house and the vatican. how central, how important, there is a lot going on in the world. what is the role that poland played in the end of the cold war? , can i answerlike
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this in the context of the way this panel was described, which is the grant strategy issue? ronald reagan had a grand strategy. it was to harness all of the different instruments of power, as paula eloquently describes, in order to compete in the cold war. the cold war was not simply an aircraft intersecting each other over the bering strait or north atlantic and submarines chasing each other. it was a war of ideas, of philosophies of life, and so on. as policy that, central to it was presidential rhetoric. the president told the truth. he told the truth. s about the nature of the soviet system, which all his predecessors, except maybe john f. kennedy, all the president servers -- present --
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predecessors censored themselves. if you are languishing in the gulags, what do you think when american presidents are playing issy-facee with -- k with their oppressors, like carter did? moscow is so powerful, even the americans have to go along with the political correct party line that this is a legitimate regime and there is nothing objectionable about it. so ronald reagan broke the self censorship. evil empire, his words reverberated in the darkest corners of the gulags and gave them hope that finally here is someone who has the courage to bear moral witness.
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then they have to be the force multipliers. speechin his westminster in sin of just being anti-communist, he was offering a positive alternative. democracy,s, legitimate government. this is the vision we would like to see. meanwhile, alexander sullenness was describing the voice of america as the most powerful weapon we possess in the cold war. scratch your favorite foreign and askxpert in d.c. them for an explanation. radioswer is that those andonly broadcast the truth
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gave them religious programming when they were denied religion. give them alternative ideas, which they had been denied. it also served as a vehicle to break the atomizer nation of society, to enable people to communicate with each other. civiler there is a disturbance in the communist world, what do they do? they cut off communication to place. then they crash the disturbance -- crush the disturbance. if news gets out that there was a riot that was crushed, it was crushed. resistance is futile. then what happened? we were getting a good signal into poland and there was a strike in the lenin shipyards. the strikers new that if they could develop an underground line of communication with the
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rehberg -- radio liberty and the voice of america, the very fact of the strike could be broadcast to millions in real time, before it is crushed. that is when, in solidarity with the strikers, practically the entire adult population of poland rises up and joined the solidarity union overnight. with the moralt witness of the pope and the courage that he gave everybody in poland. within a conflagration the middle of the soviet empire. let me start with poland, but i want to make a comment about grand strategy. pivotal., poland was
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people will remember when i say this. that yould reagan saw had soviet troops of the border, which they were at the border in poland in 1981 when reagan came in. martial law had been imposed. charles wick was the head of the usia. he was also a cabinet member as a member of the usia. public diplomacy was integrated as policy was being developed, not after the fact. remember the simple phrase, let poland be poland. light a candle in every window. i remember this. the simple experts -- excerpts from reagan's speech. let poland be poland. light a candle in every window.
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it motivated people and brought them together. it was a force, a movement, and they felt connected. the church was absolutely connected. consciencefrom the and spirit and words of pope the paul ii, it also dissemination of aid that was smuggled into poland. well-known member of the poppel -- of the catholic church was beaten to death because of his involvement in supporting solidarity. poland was crucial in the movement because of the confluence of all of the elements, of the political support and leadership from the throughoutpport europe, no less in terms of the church and the movement on the
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ground. let me say one less thing on grant strategy, because i think it is important. significantmacy was thate importance of ideas there was a goal and target that tied together the speeches and tied together what president reagan advance, there was not 75, there was 77 about public diplomacy itself, using the radios and using instruments john described. ,nd significantly, i would add because i do not know that this has continued, but on the nsc hadf on which i served, you a public diplomacy unit. others,ed colleague and i engaged in it,
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so to john. that was an important part of states craft. he understood it was not just the political relationships, the economic, the military. it is about a grand strategy and making sure your policies are well understood by your audience and also provide inspiration and hope. steven: i am so conscious that we are describing events, the students in your classroom, i am not talking about six brighter -- sixth-graders. i am talking about your college students. we might as well have served for ulysses s. grant. how do you sum it up? what do you tell them they need to grasp about the grand strategy of ronald reagan?
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i emphasize the ability of the statesman to understand the circumstances deeply and have the judgment to know what to do. as great as the grand strategy was, i'm not sure it would have succeeded without john paul ii. as a 20 rolled, i was reading time and newsweek about the visit the pope made. some details stuck with me. soviet troops confined to bases in poland. and the civil government had ceased to function during the pope's five days there. i remember thinking, these people are in trouble. back, the pope did not call for a revolt, instead he turned the hourglass upside down and started the sand running out
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on that form of role. reagan could help, but he could not have done it without that happening. pope have donee it without the united states, without reagan? steven: that is a big question. i think the reagan casey bill clark thought of the vatican as a better source of intelligence and insight into what was going on. paula: on poland, i do not know how many people know this, but at the same time reagan said poland should be poland, he sent documents about the troops that were amassed on the border and made an appeal. moral uplifting,
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involvement, engagement, i believe was vital. some little tidbits are part of this that have not been mentioned in this conference. there were regular briefings by cia director bill casey and his deputy general vernon walters. they would come regularly to the vatican and brief the holy father about the nuclear balance in europe. the soviets had been engaged in a huge anti-inf deployment campaign to prevent us from balancing their intermediate range nuclear forces with their own -- with our own. the europeans had invited us to do this. the soviet campaign was so great that they had managed to distant
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form large numbers of europeans thinking this was an american initiative to nuclear eyes and make a nuclear battlefield out of europe. as a result of the briefings, which were a lot about soviet inf deployment, the holy father did not object to american nuclear deployments. normally, you would think, all the men of the cloth just want ande swords into plowshares you would expect the vatican bureaucracy to oppose this. but the holy father, having gotten the briefings, did not do so. we could go and do that with confidence. another tidbit. bill casey once called the chairman of our board, owen , his son-in-law and former business partner.
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said, you know those memo machines? buy 50 off them -- them. send them to the vatican. when went up -- oh when -- owen asked about those machines and he said they had picked them up at church. john, stephen, paula, thank you. [applause] from george washington to george w. bush, every sunday at 8:00 p.m. and midnight eastern we feature the presidency, a weekly series exploring the presidents, their politics, and legacies.
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