John Paton Wu Ningkun
INT: You were talking about translation. ... Nancy Tang was the translator. ... Wasn't she good at translating jokes?
MG: Yes, I think that Nacy Tang was interesting because she was, first of all, very comely, very attractive, (Clears throat) almost magnetic. And her way of interpretation was to... in my opinion, somewhat unique. She interpreted the mood of the speaker, as well as what he said. So, if the President gets up, as he did, in the Great Hall of People the day of his arrival, to give a toast, and he does it with lots of little amusing side bars, before she interpreted she would break out laughing, which was a clear signal to everybody in the audience they'd damn well better laugh when theremark was interpreted. We were all set to have an American interpreter there for these talks, and for this particular performance of the President, but the President refused to give in advance his remarks to the interpreter, our interpreter; and the result is that our interpreter refused to interpret, because the President was using a quotation from Mao Tse Tung, but ... he didn't know which quotation it was, and for him to try to render into Chinese something Mao Tse Tung said in Chinese would have been impossible. So anyway, that was one more of the problems we faced on our trip to Peking. The Japanese interpreters, by the way, are very different, and that, as I mentioned earlier on, is... has a lot to do with sentence order and the personalities of the interpreters.
INT: Which events were you at, then, in 1972, with Nixon? There's the speech of the Great Hall. Were you inany of the private (Overlap) small meetings?
MG: (Overlap) No, no, I wasn't in the... of course, in all the public sessions, and we had one... the plenary sessions - we had one or two of those, and I was present; present at all the banquets. And...
INT: What were your impressions of Beijing?
MG: Of Beijing? Well, it's very different from what it is today, and it was pretty down. It was very dusty and bedraggled; unimpressive from the point of view... except the Tiananmen Square, which was in all its glory, as well as the old palaces, and we visited those sites. The relics of the past were being well maintained, but as a modern city, no. You go to Beijing, as I have more recently, and it's totally differently.
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MG: ... how to improve US-China relations at my very first conversation with President Nixon, when he came to Chicago in 1967. Now whether I used that particular phrase then...
INT: So, Ambassador Green, if you could just... sorry to bother you, but to tell me one more time how the phrase came about.
MG: The phrase came about - and I can't remember exactly when I first used it, but it came about in a discussion of how some of our Soviet experts were concerned that if we began to have a better relationship with Peking, that it would create a great deal of concern and consternation and would adversely affect progress in US-Soviet relations. And my argument was quite the contrary: that I thought (Clears throat) the road to Moscow led through Peking: by having a better relationship with Peking, we could have a better relationship with the Soviet Union. Quite clearly, the Soviets could take full advantage of our hostility. This way, they would have to play up to us a little bit more to prevent us going too far. That's the general idea. A view with which President Nixon fully agreed, and went on to say that we must never have a condominium of one against the other, with which I agreed.
INT: Thank you...
MG: We're talking about the Cold War and the Far East, as opposed to the Cold War in Europe, and clearly it was more complicated in the Far East because we were dealing with three great powers, all of them with nuclear capabilities, whereas in Europe basically we were only talking about two, unless you call so... England was a friendly country. But we're talking about three countries that had different positions in the case of the Far East, and that made it a very different kind of a cold war. Now in this situation (Clears throat) the Soviet Union played its hand in such a way that it greatly helped us in our relationship with China and with Japan. The Soviet Union could have extended... given back some of those northern islands - that would have cost them nothing, and it would have made a wonderful impact upon the Japanese and greatly strengthened the hand of the Communist Party in Japan, and probably produced a vast amount of money to (Clears throat) strengthen the Soviet Union's Siberian development plans. But they didn't do it. There are so many kinds of paradoxes, why this was so. For example, the Japanese (Clears throat) gained democracy and freedom not by fighting for it, not by aspiring for it: rather by fighting against free and democratic nations and losing. There's a paradox, for sure. The Japanese industries became some of the best, most advanced industries in the world. Why? Because of World War II. It destroyed all the old plants; they had to (.?.) the latest and best in technology. The paradox of President Nixon himself: here was this strong, violently anti-Communist Vice-President, totally against China, who as President was the man that opened the way to China. So you have all these paradoxes. And then, finally, you have the paradox that I felt when I was ambassador to Indonesia, and that is the paradox between Indochina and Indonesia. Indonesia was a far greater prize than Indochina. All the (Clears throat) the so-called choke points of the world's commerce go through Indonesia in that part of the world, not through Indochina. (Clears throat) And yet we were drawn into this long, desperate battle, bloody battle, in which lost so much in Indochina, whereas the whole thing turned around in Indonesia, when I was there, without the American involvement in any way. We just looked out. Ours was the fortune, or the wisdom, I might say, of a man who had the wisdom to get off the railroad tracks when the train was coming down. We just didn't get ourselves involved; the Indonesians settled it their own way. Now I'd been arguing for years, and it was represented in the Nixon doctrine, in which I had a hand, that the Asian problems demand Asian solutions, and we can't handle all these. Maybe we could do it at one time, when we had preponderance of military and economic power and we could play our hand, but now there were lots of other more and more powerful countries in the world, and they had greater capability of fending for themselves. Naturally, we didn't want them to go nuclear, and therefore we must be prepared to extend our nuclear umbrella, but they would take primary responsibility for their own events, which is basically what the Nixon doctrine was all about. So you do have these overall important factors that play on this whole scene that we've been talking about.
INT: Would you say the Cold War was a necessary war?
MG: Well, of course... it was a necessary war. I don't know if I'd use that term or know how to deal with it, but it came about not of our making. We extended the hand to the Soviet Union then, that rejected it. That the word "Asia"... in other words, we were up against communism, and we perceived communism as a single juggernaut force worldwide, and of course it wasn't: it also contained the seeds of its own destruction, which we didn't fully understand at that time. Communism basically was against human nature, and human nature was our ally in the long run, that the people in the Soviet Union couldn't stand the Soviet regime, and it basically was overthrown from within. China - the people basically are economically minded - all Chinese are - they're good businessmen, sharp business acumen, and that's... the communist way of doing business is not one they like very much. They are entrepreneurs, they're a nation of entrepreneurs. So that the free-market economy has great appeal to them, and to the extent that communism may be dismantled in China, it's coming about through that process. And so the Cold War came to an end through forces that were in their body, their system, from the very beginning, that as they asserted themselves over time, and while the United States stood firm... and by the way, when people talk about the United States role in East Asia during all this period, along with our fair allies like the British, that... it was a very important role. If we hadn't maintained a force in the West Pacific and had our alliances and our military support programs, it's very possible that all that part of the world would have crumbled, because China was so massive, it was such a huge central force, and with the Soviet Union to the north. But we didn't, we stoofirm, so I think that our effort and the sacrifices paid off. It isn't as though these things would have happened just out in the... they did happen to a considerable extent because of their own internal (Clears throat), faults. But it also came about because we stood up to them.
INT: What do think was the most dangerous time in the Cold War?
MG: I would think, as you go back in time, there were more dangerous periods earlier on than there were later on. But there was one period I mentioned in passing, and that was the attempted communist coup in Indonesia, and I think this was a momentous event in world affairs, and I don't think that the press and the public has ever seen it that way. And I don't think I'm saying this simply because I was there at the time: I think it was true - that here was what is now the fourth largest nation in the world... the country is very rich in resources, and it stands astride almost all the seaways in that part of the world: the Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, where two coand two oceans meet; enormously strategic... it was about to go communist, and almost did, except for the succe...
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