INTERVIEWER: You say all of us in the west had always wanted the importance of this,
JAMES BAKER: No I said all of us in the west had rhetorically supported German unification for 40 years. We had talked about bringing freedom and democracy and free markets to the captive nations of the east including east Germany and so it was important that we put our money where our mouth was, now, now everyone knows that it was not a popular idea in France, and it was not a popular in the United Kingdom, it was not a popular idea certainly in the Soviet Union. One of the most remarkable things that happened to me as Secretary of State was a meeting I had with President Gorbachev I don't remember the date when we were talking about German unification and he said to me, we hope you Americans will keep your forces in Europe. This is the Secretary General of the communist party of the Union of Soviet Socialists Republic, telling the American Secretary of State "we hope you keep your troops in Europe". Remarkable, but it showed the fear that they had and shared if I might say so by some in Britain and France that history might repeat itself if Germany unified. So that hadn't been the case.
INTERVIEWER: So Gorbachev and Shevernadze were about as helpful to you in that matter as they could have been.
JAMES BAKER: I don't think they were helpful, they resisted it as vigorously as they could resist it, but they really ended up not having any other alternative. If they really meant what they said about we will not use force to keep the empire together, that meant that a country should be free to choose its own alliances. They could take no other position if they renounced the use of force. And they ultimately agreed to that and East Germany of course chose to come in to unify with West Germany and become a member of the North Atlantic Alliance.
INTERVIEWER: Kate I'm going to skip the questions about the Baltics because I think we've had that okay. So lets try to sum up the Cold War and its ending. When in your view did the Cold War end, at what point was it definitely over?
JAMES BAKER: Well when I think the Cold War ended was when the foreign minister of the Soviet Union stood side by side with the American Secretary of State on august the 3rd in 1990 at an airport in Moscow and condemned the action of a Soviet client state Iraq in marching over Kuwait, in occupying Kuwait. Not only condemned the action but agreed to join the United States in an arms embargo against Iraq. It was quite obvious then that the Cold war was over. You had the United States and the Soviet Union, not just moving from a position of confrontation to cooperation, but moving from a position of confrontation to partnership, against a Soviet client state. And that's when I really would pin, that's the time, that's the date I would pin point as the day the Cold war ended. Others could argue that there were other dates and it was ending of course over a period of years but that was a significant date. A pretty significant event.
INTERVIEWER: whose policies ended the Cold War and what were those policies?
JAMES BAKER: The policies that ended the Cold War were the policies of the leaders of the west from the end of the second world war until 1991, all of the leaders of the west. And I think they all deserve a share of the credit, I think they were all steadfast. I think that clearly President Reagan and Prime Minister Thatcher and President Mitterand and President Kohl, Chancellor Kohl, these people were all there when it ended and they deserved a lot of the credit, President Bush of course among them. But it was everybody from the end of the Second World War on, and the people they represented who remained steadfast against the communist threat, or against the Soviet Union's effort to promote its hegemonistic tendencies around the world. That's what I think gets the credit. the leaders who were on the scene when the wall came down and when the cold war actually ended get an awful lot of credit for seeing to it that it ended peacefully. It didn't have to end peacefully. It might have ended in favor of the west but it could have ended in a very bloody way.
INTERVIEWER: Do you give Gorbachev credit?
JAMES BAKER: I give Gorbachev a lot of Gorbachev a I think I've already said here that without the personal and political courage of Gorbachev and Shevernadze, I don't think it would have ended peacefully. I think ultimately it would have ended, I think it would have ended favorably to the west because the principles and the values that the west supported, freedom, free markets and democracy and the right to assemble and express your views, the freedom of the press and all the rest, were principles and values that were going to triumph over the philosophy of communism and the central state and statist planning and so forth, but it wouldn't have happened in the way it happened, and it probably wouldn't have happened at the time it happened without the personal and political courage of Gorbachev and Shevernadze, but also without the personal and political courage of these leaders of the west that I have already mentioned.
INTERVIEWER: Is the world a safer place today?
JAMES BAKER: Absolutely, yeah the world is clearly a safer place today and if there is any nostalgia for the cold war on the part of anybody it is certainly misplaced, we don't go to bed at night worrying about thermal nuclear war and nuclear bombs or strategic missiles hitting this country and its just a far safer place. Now that's not to say that there are not conflicts, there are conflicts and some of those conflicts are a consequence of the end of the cold war, because of the end of the communist domination of the Soviet Union's domination the many areas of ethnic tension and rivalry has been lifted and those rivalries and tensions have come to the surface, but we do not have to fear a global catastrophe in the form of nuclear war, we have a lot of lower intensity conflicts of a lesser nature that we do have to deal with.
INTERVIEWER: Thank you very much indeed excellent.
INTERVIEWER: What were your concerns?
JAMES BAKER: We were looking at a pause in respect of all foreign policy issues in respect of the United States, this was a new administration coming in, it was quite appropriate for a new president to wanna put his stamp on foreign policy and to review all of the foreign policy issues that were out there, so it was a generic review. What was really important from the standpoint of the relationship with the Soviet Union was to satisfy ourselves that what we were hearing from Gorbachev and Shevernadze was true, that they had indeed renounced force. And you have to remember during this period of time, Gorbachev was playing to western publics. He was doing a lot of these high profile unilateral reductions of conventional air forces or short range nuclear weapons or things that were designed in part at least to divide the United States from its western allies, particularly in the range of short range nuclear forces. Going back to the intermediate range nuclear weapon dispute, so it was really important for us to make sure that they were for real. That is the Soviet leadership was for real, and it was quite appropriate I think to analyze and review all elements of our policy approach in that regard.
INTERVIEWER: Some Americans on the right if you like, but very close to, very prominent in Washington and in American politics and life, refused to believe that the Soviet Union ever could change its spots.
JAMES BAKER: That's right, there was a lot of resistance to the idea, and there were some who were suggesting that because President Reagan's second term was ending that he and Secretary Schultz were too anxious to get an agreement and they were pushing too hard, interesting that they would make that suggestion about President Reagan who was of course a strongly conservative and staunchly principled president but they were, so it was in that context and in that atmosphere that the Bush administration's foreign policy review took place.
INTERVIEWER: Very good that's made your point Kate, next point?
KATE: The other one is that in one of the things that came out of Jacksonville in the book was that that the real change was that you went from competition through dialogue to cooperation which was a major change I think it seemed at the time
JAMES BAKER: At Jacksonhole of course we were able to move the relationship from one of confrontation to one of dialogue and ultimately to one of cooperation.
INTERVIEWER: look lets just do it once again I suggest that dialogue had already begun but it was at Jacksonhole that you got from dialogue to the sense that you were able to move together.
JAMES BAKER: At Jacksonhole we were able to move the relationship from one of dialogue to one of cooperation we had already moved it from confrontation to dialogue at Jacksonhole we moved it from dialogue to cooperation, later on of course we were able to move the relationship from cooperation to one of partnership.
INTERVIEWER: I think that's admirable.
INTERVIEWER: And the last one is can you describe your feelings when the wall came down?
KATE: When I first heard that the wall had fallen and it was in the middle of this lunch with President Aquino that I as hosting at the State Department, we drank a toast to the fact that the wall was coming down, I think went to the White House and watched it on television live on cable television with President bush and there was a real sense of Euphoria and of emotion but we talked about how important it was, not to let that euphoria move us towards a position of gloating if you will. And as president told reporters later, look you want me to get up and dance on the remains of the wall, because I'm not gonna stick it in the eye of the people in the Soviet Union that in effect let this happen. They didn't have to let it happen.