Leslie H.








INT: Quickly on the SALT II opposition, can you just explain to people - if arms control sounds like a good idea, why was there opposition to SALT II?

JK: Well, because... in a word, because it would have...

INT: Could you mention SALT II in your answer...?

JK: Right. SALT II was opposed really very strongly by the Committee on the Present Danger, for example. That was one of the really important issues on the Committee on the Present Danger, was ratification of SALT II, and we were opposed to it. And we were opposed to it because we felt it would freeze the United States into a position of great disadvantage, which would result in a growing diminution of our strength vis--vis the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union was building very large weapons, missiles, intercontinental ballistic missiles, and in very great quantities, and they already had a significant numerical advantage in those intercontinental ballistic missiles over the United States and over the West... I mean the United States and NATO, and great vulnerabilities had developed in Western Europe with our Western allies, and we felt that SALT II would freeze that disadvantage, as it were, and condemn us to a sort of perpetually growing vulnerability, which we in the Reagan team and the Committee on the Present Danger believed to be very dangerous. We believe it is dangerous for the United States and the democracies to be vulnerable to the world's most powerful dictatorship. You know, arms agreements are only as useful as they are enforced and enforceable, and the fact is that the Soviets have a long record of violating their own arms agreements, too, which is another very important factor.

INT: The human rights issue - again something that (unclear words). Tell your own view of Carter's stand on human rights.

JK: But may I tell you something that precedes that? In 1976, the year that Jimmy Carter was nominated and elected as President, I had been very active in the political campaign, in the presidential campaign of Henry Jackson - Scoob Jackson, as he was called - and a good many of us who later came to be called "neo-conservatives" were in the Jackson campaign i'72 and '76. At the time of the Platform Committee hearings for the Democratic Convention in '76, Ben Wattenberg and I were representing Scoob Jackson in the Democratic Party's platform in the hearings, and one of our purposes in that hearing was in fact to secure the inclusion in the Democratic Party platform of a human rights plank, which the Democratic Party had never had. And Jackson had already authored the Jackson-Vanik Bill by then, I think, or was planning it, in any case. And we had a debate, a significant debate in the Democratic Party Platform Committee hearings on the inclusion of a human rights plank, making that a commitment of the Democratic Party in that election. The Carter forces in the Platform Committee opposed this, and Stu Eisenstadt, by the way, was heading that group, and we had conversations - Stu and I talk about this today. Stu Eisenstadt is the Under-Secretary of State for Economic Affairs today in the Clinton Administration. , the Carter forces were not committed to a human rights plank. This is what's not generally understood. I mean, people have a sort of simplistic notion that President Carter brought human rights to the Democratic Party. It isn't so. You know, Hubert Humphrey and Scoob Jackson really were the first major figures in the Democratic Party to emphasize human rights as a central political issue that should have been central to the Democratic Party. Now what was the difference? Carter became President, and he won and Humphrey and Jackson lost, so the Carter conception of reality dominated. The difference was that we believed - Jackson, Humphrey, Wayne believed in a conception of human rights that was like a Western democratic conception of human rights, that provided the rights that are present in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, for example, of the United Nations that Eleanor Roosevelt negotiated. The Carter Administration adopted in Central America - in El Salvador, I think, initially, and also in Nicaragua - a conception of human rights which was just very one-sided. They looked at human rights violations of incumbent governments which were under attack. This happened in Iran, it happened in Nicaragua, and in both of those countries in the name of advancing human rights, the Carter Administration worked to assist in the deposition, dismissal of those governments, the Shah and the Somoza government. Now neither one of those governments was a good government, but both of them turned out to be a good deal better than the governments that followed them, however. And.. you know, some people, including me, argue that policies to advance human rights had to be very carefully considered in their context and in relationship to alternatives in every case, including in places like Iran and Nicaragua.

INT: But the human rights issue could be used to influence opinion about the Soviet threat. Could you comment on human rights (Overlap) in relation to the Soviet Union?

JK: (Overlap) Well, the Soviet Union was simply, you know, a very great offender against (Overlap) human rights...

INT: Sorry, my voice overlapped with yours there. Could you...

JK: The Soviet Union was a great offender against human rights... you know... and it had an absolutely unbroken history of offending against human rights, above all the human rights of the Soviet people, but also the human rights of the people whom it, you know, governed by force in, you know, the countries of Eastern Europe, for example. So the Soviet Union was a major human rights violator. It wasn't the only human rights violator in the world, but it was a major human rights violator.

INT: How far did human rights get used by groups in America to influence opinion about the Soviet threat?

JK: I don't think I could answer that question. But you see, I think that so far as the politics of 1976, the Carter election, 1980: the Reagan election, I think that the issue was fought much more exclusively, really, on the basis of the deteriorating American, you know, military strength and Western military strength and our loss of military superiority, our growing vulnerability, and, you know, Soviet aggressiveness. Those were the issues on which, you know, the groups that I was engaged with were sort of fighting these elections. Now the Carter record became a sort of factor, and then a piece that I wrote that became sort of famous and infamous, depending on your point of view: Dictatorships and Double Standards - I suggested that the transfer of power, as it were, from the Shah of Iran, for example, in Iran, to the Ayatollah Khomeini, was not only a very serious mistake in US foreign policy - not just serious for Iran, but serious for the region and serious for the stability of the region - but that it represented a serious misunderstanding of sort of political forces in the world, and I think we charged the Carter Administration with that pretty regularly.

INT: The final area of questioning is...

JK: They thought... you know, I think they thought that the Sandinistas were agrarian reformers and they weren't: they were Marxist-Leninists engaged in the spread of Soviet power.

INT: I'm watching your time...

(Five more minutes agreed)

INT: (Overlap) That's why I wanted to quickly get in a question about the importance of the Solidarity movement in Poland in 1980.

JK: Right. Well, the rise of the Solidarity movement was hugely important, because ideas are important, symbols are important, and Solidarity was the very first example or case of a popular movement developing in a society which had been dominated by the Soviet Union and by a communist government. After World War II, all of the governments of Eastern Europe were, you know, communist governments, except Yugoslavia - that was a communist government but it wasn't a Soviet bloc government - and all of the others would have been pushed into the Soviet bloc and were held in the Soviet bloc by force. The people in the region had been simply dominated by, above all, the shadow of the Soviet Red Army, and the rise of Solidarity demonstrated a kind of vitality and strength in the people in a society which was supposed to have been, you know, thoroughly conquered and transformed, moreover. That was very exciting and very gratifying, and wonderful for the Polish people, and we in the Reagan Administration were certainly pleased about it. But we were pleased about the strength of a free trade union movement - that's the assertion and the persistence, and existence even, of a free trade movement that could express itself and could participate actively and effectively in Poland, even with many difficulties, but its appearance, you know, was very exciting, and it raised some very serious questions about whether the Soviet Union was really the wave of the future, communism was the wave of the future, whether the Soviets' triumph was inevitable, as they had insisted for so many years. Solidarity was the movement that turned the direction of history, I think.

INT: Thank you.