Paul H


John F.




INT: That's wonderful. Did the US Administration... would it like to have seen the Soviet Empire break up? Was it actually a sort of policy to encourage that process?

CR: There were many in the Administration who believed that our policy ought to be the break-up of the Soviet Union. There were others who believed that the policy ought to be to see whether the Soviet Union could reform. I think, over time, those differences didn't matter very much in policy, because no one was arguing for an active US policy to try to break up the Soviet Union. That would have simply been far too dangerous. [In] the early stages, I don't think anybody fathomed that the Soviet Union might break up, but yes, it might break up over some very, very long period of time; if things kept going this way, [in] 20-25 years, you might have no Soviet Union. But that it could happen in a couple of years, I don't think was really on anybody's agenda until very late in the game, and that... by that time, it became a matter of managing the break-up of the Soviet Union, worrying a lot about how to deal with the debris that the Soviet Union might drop on various parts of Europe. It's very important to remember how powerful the state was: 12 different time zones; a population of 286 million; an army of, at that point, more than four million men spread out all over this empire; and 30,000 nuclear weapons, 12,000 of them aimed at the United States. This was not something that you took lightly. And those on the outside who advocated for a more active US policy to break up the Soviet Union, I think didn't simply have the responsibility of power. Had they had that responsibility, I think they would never have advocated such.

INT: That's a great answer. You told me that you believe the Cold War ended when Germany reunified. A very difficult question: why did it end in that case, and could it have ended without the break-up of the Soviet Union?

CR: I think that the Cold War ended with the unification of Germany because I believe that the Cold War began in Europe. If one wants to make the argument that the Cold War began the day the Soviet Union was born in 1917, then you look to the break-up of the Soviet Union as the end of the Cold War. But I think of the Cold War as a specific historical period: the end of World War II, the division of Europe, the presence of Soviet troops in Eastern Europe, the communization of Eastern Europe, and the division of Germany. When those conditions were undone, unraveled, and Europe was whole again, to my mind the Cold War was over. So it could have ended with the Soviet Union still intact. Now, there is a more interesting philosophical issue in some ways, which is that perhaps, once Soviet power started rolling back, it was inevitable that it would end up in the break-up of the Soviet Union. I think that that's at least a plausible argument, because once the Soviet Union decided to have a doctrine that no longer believed in class conflict at the center of international politics, that no longer talked about the historic battle between communism and capitalism, what really was the purpose of the Soviet Union? Not of Russia, which could have been communist; but after all, this was the doctrine that also held Ukraine in the Soviet Union; it was also the doctrine that held Armenia in the Soviet Union; it was a doctrine that said, "We are communist, and that overcomes nationality." Once you were no longer communist, in the sense of opposed to capitalism, nationality was bound to rise again, and that I think is what ultimately unraveled the Soviet Union. So in that sense, once Soviet power was out of Europe, perhaps it was only a matter of time until Soviet power was confined again to the walls of the Kremlin.

INT: That's another great answer - thank you. ... A number of questions. What's the legacy of the Cold War?

CR: The legacy of the Cold War is actually not a bad legacy, and that will come as a surprise to some people. I think, well, many people focus on the tear of the Cold War. I was a little girl in Birmingham, Alabama at the time of the Cuban missile crisis. I remember day-to-day duck-and-cover drills, and being fearful of nuclear weapons. Of course, that's part of the legacy of the Cold War, that we built these arsenals to a point that we had the chance or the opportunity to destroy ourselves many times over, and some would say it's a minor miracle that we didn't. It certainly is also a legacy of the heavy militarization of a lot of economies, including the Soviet economy - ultimately its own collapse; and indeed a little bit of the militarization of our own economy. But I think that, most importantly, the Cold War should be remembered as a time when Europe, at least its Western half, learned to live in peace; a time when Germany and France, historic enemies, became historic friends; a time when peace and prosperity in parts of the world were spread by an open trading system that allowed the entire world to get richer; a time in which the United States broke out of its historic isolation that went all the way back to George Washington's farewell address and his desire to keep America out of, quote unquote, "entangling alliances", to see the United States emerge in the Cold War as a leader, and a great balancer, a country with no historical territorial claims, but willing to engage in the affairs of others. Those are the real legacies of the Cold War, and I hope that, as we look back, we'll not remember only the tear and the difficult times, but that this world in which live today could not have taken place, could nohave come about without the Cold War.

INT: ... Was there a victor in the Cold War?

CR: When I'm asked the question of whether there's a victor in the Cold War, I'm really of two minds. On a very basic, superficial level, of course there was a victor: the United States and the Western alliance were victorious. The Soviet Union collapsed, the Warsaw Pact collapsed; Soviet power is no longer in Europe; Germany unified on Western terms. I had a talk once with Gorbachev's adviser, his specialist for American policy, in February of 1990, and it was late one day in the Kremlin, and he came in and he was about an hour late. He said, "Professor Rice, I'm very sorry to be late," he said, "but every day I come to see what disaster has befallen us now." And I suddenly realized what it was like to be on the wrong side of history. Because I was working very, very long hours and under great pressure, and countries were changing their social system overnight, and it was hard to manage, we were on the right side of history. So of course, in that sense the West won. But of course, also, everybody won. I think that you could argue that Russia, with all of its problems and with its still clouded future... the Russian people are so much better off today, than to have to live in the body of the Soviet Union, which I believe was an evil state, in the way that it treated its people, in what it tried to do in the world. And in that sense, the peoples of the Soviet Union won the Cold War as well. Just as I think you can argue the peoples of Germany won as a result of the destruction of Nazism in World War II, the peoples of the Soviet Union won by the destruction of the Soviet Union in the Cold War.

INT: Is the world a safer place?

CR: The world is a much safer place today than it was in the Cold War. There are lots of low-level conflicts, there are lots of potentials for really bad conflicts: certainly nuclear proliferation, terrorism, environmental dangers - these are all concerns that everyone has. But the world is safer because the world is more like-minded today than it has been at any other time in its history, where all over the world there is at least a desire to have elections, where rulers are accountable to the ruled, where free presses are more in evidence than they ever were, where the economic system is one that is free and where open trade is supported, where private property and private capital are understood to be important pillars of economic development. This is a very like-minded world. It's ours to win or lose. It's entirely possible that we could sit here 20 years from now and say, "The world is more dangerous today than it was during the Cold War." But we have an opportunity, I think, not to see that be the case, because in this like-minded world there's an opportunity to really build the pillars for a stable future.

(Change tape)

INT: Is the world a safer place since the end of the Cold War?

CR: The world is most assuredly a safer place since the end of the Cold War. That is not to say that there aren't still challenges to security. Some of them are old challenges, and very old challenges, from the 19th century, of ethnic conflict. Some of them are challenges that are new: biological weapons and environmental degradation. And clearly there are still bad actors and bad states in the international system. But the world is safer today because it is more like-minded today than it has been at any time in maybe human history. It is a world in which rulers understand that they need to be accountable to the ruled, it's a world in which free presses are spreading, it's a world in which people understand that economic development can be tied to issues of private property and private capital, and where human rights is actually on the agenda of international politics. I think for those reasons, because the philosophical underpinnings of societies are so much more alike than they've ever been, that we have a real chance to see it be a safer place. Now it may be that 20 years from now we will be sitting here and we will say, "There's been the rise of a power that has really threatened the world in the way that the Soviet Union did, or Germany before it." It may be that we'll be sitting here and say, "We can't control the threats of terrorism or nuclear proliferation or weapons of mass destruction." But I think we have an opportunity in this world in which so many states are like-minded to put in place pillars that could make this a safe and stable world for a very, very long time.

INT: Wonderful. You mentioned to me the Cuban missile crisis and your memories of duck-and-cover and so on. How close during the Cold War do you think we came to a nuclear holocaust?

(Wait for phone to be answered. A bit of irrelevant chat.)

INT: OK, so how close did we come during the Cold War to a nuclear exchange?

CR: It's very difficult to know how close we actually came to a nuclear exchange during the Cold War. One can take this question at several levels. On the one hand, there were myriad near-misses from the point of view of warning systems that warned of impending nuclear attack, when in fact there was no impending nuclear attack. So, at one level, we probably came close in the sense of the military thinking that something was happening that wasn't. But there were always lots of controls in place to make sure that no one actually launched under those conditions. In a political sense, I think we probably came close three times: perhaps at the time of the first Berlin crisis, between '58 and '61; the second time at the Cuban missile crisis, when quite clearly now what is emerging is that the Soviets might not have been able to retaliate, but they most certainly thought about retaliating against Europe - they wouldn't have been able to retaliate against the United States, but perhaps against Europe; and then probably in 1973, with the war in the Middle East: there's some evidence that Soviet forces went to alert status on response of our having alerted our forces. But the really remarkable thing about the period is that you have to stretch very hard to believe that we would have actually come to blows. Some of that's good luck, some of it was leadership, some of it is just the absolute terror of nuclear weapons. It's very often forgotten that when you know that the chances are that you will lose it all, that you will pick very carefully any opportunity to use them. (Noise) Shall we do this again?

(A bit of talk. Cut.)

CR: Many of us forget that the characteristics of nuclear weapons, as destructive as they are, the fact that you really are committing suicide if you use them, is a very good way to make certain that people will carefully choose the chances, the times at which they would want to even contemplate the use of nuclear weapons; and that, since they're not like conventional weapons, you can't use nuclear weapons in the hopes that that 90% chance that you will win, because that 10% chance that you will lose is so devastating. I think the reason that we never came close was, nothing was ever important enough to take the chance of using nuclear weapons.

INT: OK. Was the Cold War necessary, was it inevitable?

CR: The Cold War was probably inevitable, coming out of World War II, the way that it did. I'm quite convinced that Joseph Stalin had no intention of trying to bring about a peaceful resolution of the issues that caused the Cold War: elections in Poland, the unification of Germany. The Soviet Union had a mindset of two camps - a word that was used... a phrase that was used by Stalin's closest adviser, Zandov [ph]. It was a view that eventually the Western world would try to come after the Soviet Union again, so it had to stabilize the gains that it had won in World War II. Out of that mentality, I think it was not possible to do anything but end up with a divided Europe; and once you had a divided Europe, you were going to have a cold war.

INT: OK. Can I just briefly return to the nuclear weapons thing - do you believe that if push hcome to shove, the president of the United States, whoever it was at the time, would have pressed the button and set the missiles flying?

CR: It is very hard to know what a president, confronted with an order or with a decision whether to order the use of nuclear weapons, when he knew that to do so would have invited catastrophic retaliation from the Soviet Union, would have actually done so. But I think every American president, before taking the oath of office, has to convince himself that he would have done it, because without a convincing presence in the American presidency, the American nuclear guarantee to Europe meant nothing, the American nuclear guarantee to Japan, to Korea, meant nothing. And I suspect that on the night before presidents took the oath of office during the Cold War, that was the single most important question that they asked themselves, and that they had to come to the conclusion that faced with that fateful decision, they would do it.

INT: Very good. You mentioned to me briefly that to some extent there was a militarization of American society. What was the impact onCalifornia when the Cold War ended? America has this vast military-industrial complex.

CR: The Cold War had interesting effects on the United States, some of them quite positive. Much of the federally funded research in universities really comes out of an effort to keep a science base alive out of World War II during the Cold War, that could then support military operations. The United States also had everything, from the National Defense Languages Act, National Defense Student Loans, coming out of the sputnik period, when we got very worried about Soviet technological advances and decided to strengthen American technology and American engineering and science education. Those were actually very good things about the Cold War, even though they had a rather odd origin. The United States also, of course, built up a major defense industry. Without the Cold War, you probably would not have needed the kind of defense industrial base that you had, and California was really the locus of much of that. So when the Cold War ended, there were really questions about whether or not this entire defense base would now be anachronistic. What's very interesting about the United States is, even though in California we went through a very difficult time, a period of time in which recession hit California harder than the rest of the United States, principally because of downturns in the defense industry and in aerospace and the like, the market really has readjusted remarkably well. I'm a great believer in markets. When one set of industries decline, for whatever reason, the market will find another set of industries to replace it. Sometimes the transition is rocky and difficult on individuals, but it is almost always the case that conversion of an industry does take place. In conversations with the Soviets, when they were worried about how to convert their defense industries, I could always only say to them: "Try to free up the entrepreneurship and the potential of your people to decide what else they can do. If people in one part of your country only make rocket motors for ICBMs, see if they can't find something else to make. But you can't order that all from the center." The United States is blessed with having a market system that rewards entrepreneurship, and therefore rewards transitions to different kinds of economies.

INT: OK. And my final question: the Cold War is over; we now have what is called a "uni-polar world". What are the responsibilities and difficulties, very briefly, that the United States faces?

CR: The world is uni-polar at least for the time being. It's entirely possible that several years from now, the United States will not be the dominant power. But as long as it is the dominant power, the United States has several responsibilities. First and foremost, to stay engaged with the rest of the world, to understand that there will be times when American power is the only answer. To my mind, those times are particularly when there are threats to regional stability, when a regional hegemon like Saddam Hussein starts to rise up, when China threatens Taiwan, that American military forces are really to deter big conflict, not just peacekeeping efforts or ethnic conflict, but big conflict. I think the second responsibility is to maintain a commitment to open trade, not to use our current economic circumstances to try and hold on in a projectionist way to our piece of the pie. After World War II, the United States had 55% of the world's GNP, and what did we do with it? We enriched others so that we could create competitors in Germany, Japan and the rest of Europe, and have an open trading system in which everybody got richer. That's a lesson for today as well. And then finally, I think the United States has a special responsibility, because for many it is still an example, an existence proof, if you will, that a multi-ethnic democracy can work, that you do not have to push yourself into small, ever-smaller enclaves where difference is a license to kill. And that perhaps is the most important thing that the United States can do: make certain that its own multi-ethnic democracy is indeed an example of what can happen when citizenship belongs equally to all.

INT: Condoleezza Rice, thank you very much indeed.