INT: Was the Cold War inevitable.
RB: I think given the policies of Stalin and the inherent vulnerability of Europe at the time when Stalin began to suggest that he was gonna pursue a policy which was hostile and aggressive it, it almost surely was I think there was a clash of, conceptions of what would be an acceptable world on the two sides, which made it a a confrontation or a clash inevitable whether it's conceivable to me that it need not have gone to quite the degree of, of militarisation in the sense of the extreme build up of both sides of weapons, but as long as the Soviets seemed to be determined to, if possible surpass whatever the West had I guess that was inevitable too I don't, because in the first phase of the Cold War up to 1950 Truman held the defence budget in the United States down to around thirteen billion dollars, and was sat on, in requests by Forestal and others, to expand it so, as long as Marshall and Kennan were there and before you had the Soviet nuclear capability and more particularly before you had the Korean war in middle of, 1950, the United States had really not gone in for very much capability here it, it simply was particularly, primarily relying on it's nuclear monopoly, to simply deter any move by the Soviets, and, many, many people said that, the Soviets were just too weak after the costs of the World War Two, to be thinking about any serious aggression in the short run. but it's, it seems to me that as long as the Soviets were committed to the view that their, their role was to expand, and to, take over as much area as possible, no, no, not necessarily by military aggression but, in, in all sorts of other ways and even, even use of force to some degree particularly puppet forces or, proxy forces that the West was almost bound to have to resist or, or they were gonna like kind of creeping expansion by the Soviets which ultimately would have been probably, could probably been much more of a threat. second I don't think the West could, just have settled for Soviet domination of Eastern Europe ever, I think that if that you, it was just too contrary to the whole, all the values of the West that you should accept this, you know you do for a long time you wouldn't be able to do much about it.
INT: And what was the worse moment, in the Cold War, in your opinion.
RB: I think that's very hard to judge because, obviously the worst moment would have been when there was a real possibility or at the largest possibility of a war, after both sides began to have ready nuclear arsenals of some consequence. you it, it, you know, it really depends on how much you think there might have been mis-steps concat, at one of the Berlin crisis could have been a terrible spark, which generated such a war, such a general war. But we got by that and, and so then it, you discount that but I mean that the risk was there, of the, particularly that the Soviets would misjudge the situation and provoke something. I think probably in terms of misunderstanding on both sides and a, feeling of risk on both sides, I would guess maybe the Cuban missile crisis was the, I think, I was, was one of the most chancy ones but I think that too, people's views on that are overblown, my feeling is that Khrushchev was keenly aware at that point, and in Berlin really that a nuclear war with the United States was simply not conceivable as you simply couldn't do it, and the reason I think that he thought that he undertook both the Berlin particularly in the, under Kennedy and the missile affair, was that he thought these were situations where you could control the risk, with respect to Berlin this was perfectly clear, he could always back off, if he thought it was getting to near something breaking out in to a war, he thought maybe he could engage in chicken and maybe get what he wanted by (unintelligible) war but at any point he was, perfectly capable in the case say of Berlin of pulling back, and not, not letting get to the point where he was thought it was dangerous. I think he thought that was the nature of the Cuban case too, I think he thought that he could, turn it on off, that if the missiles were discovered he could say to Kennedy well let's negotiate, let's discuss this let's, let's go to the UN let's make a trade off with the Turkish missiles we could, he could do any sorts of thing or less, regularise the situation of Berlin, it would, it would have been ploy in which he could have, not had a great risk, cause he could have said look I'm not gonna...
INTERVIEWER: Continuation for the, and the final question, questions for Sir Robert Bowie, could you pick up on what you were saying about Kennedy and Khrushchev particularly Khrushchev during the Cuban missile crisis.
ROBERT BOWIE: As I was saying, the my belief is that Khrushchev thought that the missile crisis, like the Berlin crisis was something which he could manipulate and control the risk, that is to say he, he could always, propose some stand off or settlement or agreement or negotiation, if the missiles were discovered. I think what, what, he had not at all anticipated was that the, possible blockade, which then presented the positive necessity of his either pursuing the effort to continue to supply Cuba, or, with which would probably involve direct fighting between the United States navy and his navy or his ships, and that, direct confrontation or actual fighting, was something he didn't want to have happen because I think he like Eisenhower thought that if you had ever, ever had the start of, conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union, there was no telling where it would end where it, where might, might escalate to, and so, this then ceased to be a controllable risk. It became something which was just a risk and it was not under any longer under his control. so I think at that point he made a quick decision that this is not for me I've gotta get out of here. therefore I've, I'd not persuaded myself that we really got near to nuclear war, unless the Kennedy people had decided they were going to attack as some of them wanted to do, and actually try to take out missiles in Cuba by American attacks what then would have happened I don't know. Maybe that Khrushchev would have still just backed off, but it seemed to me this would have been such a blow to the prestige and standing of the Soviets that there's no telling that they might not have done something then in Berlin themselves or something else in other words, it had the possibility of getting out of hand which was the very thing, which Eisenhower didn't want to have but I think also Khrushchev by that time was convinced that that was also what he didn't want to have. so it, it certainly this, one, had more of a potential, for getting out of hand than I think most of the other situations which arose during the, Cold War period but, I would not myself rate the prospect, probability of a war even then, given the attitude on the part of the Soviets and my belief the attitude on the part of the Americans of being, of being very careful not to step over the line which would in fact generate direct American, Soviet, military conflict. But if you ask me where, where it was most uncertain, most unpredictable, I guess I would, come to that.
INT: In the Cold War, do you think there are any clear winners, and clear losers.
RB: Oh yes I think in the end the Soviet Union obviously lost in the sense that it it obviously the empire disintegrated and in fact the Soviet Union fell apart, so obviously if you ask, what whether the outcome favoured on or the other it certainly did. I think talk about our winning is, is a, poor way to put it, I think we prevailed, and I think we prevailed because of the containment policy I do not credit all these ideas of some of the renegades to the effect, that, by threatening a big build up that's what brought it about I think what really brought it about was Khrushchev's own convictions, I think he thought, I think he must have, gotten his earlier views from Khrushchev Khrushchev's view that somehow or rather it was possible, for communism to have a planned party and also to present a more attractive model that it was doing. INT: You mean Gorbachev there.
INT: You mean Gorbachev there.
RB: Well and I think Gorbachev picked those ideas up from Khrushchev and when the time came that he was in charge I think he was convinced that you could clean up the party, you could even have pluralism, but have the, party would still be able to be a leading influence, that you would have a communist system but it was more like Dupchek's communism with a human face, and that this was the desired outcome I think nobody was more surprised than he was that Eastern Europe said, not, none, not for us, we don't want any communism with a human face we want to be done with you entirely. And I think similarly he was not prepared for the degree to which once the lid was off, the people of the Soviet Union the nationalists feelings prevailed and that there was really no sense of real sense of commitment or, loyalty at all to the Soviet state, and that even in Russia there was, virtually total rejection except for what we see now how the ideology in of the of the system. So, I think that it was well as I say as early as 1953 we thought the outcome at least with respect to the disintegration of the empire and of the loss, of a law, with respect to communism was sooner or later gonna happen I think that was, that, developed as, as one, in to a remarkable degree as had been foreseen. As, the other thing that seems to me remarkable is, that an alliance of democrats of democracies, could hold together, and pursue essentially a course that was set, forty years before, over a period of that length, and that I think is where, the real contribution was made on the part of the, Western side toward, to the change, and I think that was remarkable I think that testifies to the view that democracy are capable of doing things over a period an extended period, which involves sacrifice in which involved co-operation. And so, I think it, I think, I have no with this sort of triumphalism because we've got plenty of problems on our side in my opinion with respect to our own society in respect to our relations among ourselves and all the rest, but nevertheless I think if you ask which side prevails so to speak which side came out worse or better, it's pretty clear.
INT: You use the word, little bit sort of (unintelligible) LDC, I just wonder if you could tell me what LDC stands for.
RB: LDC is one of these acronyms which is widely used it means, less developed countries, it means the developing world, largely the people who formerly were colonial, not exclusively so, but mostly that, people who are the, poverty stricken part, particularly were but some parts of which like thpeople in East Asia, some of the ones like Korea, and Shanghai and, Taiwan have shown remarkable ability to develop, but in general it's the areas like Africa and use, used to include certainly India and all South Asia and Middle East and so it's most of the non industrial world.
INT: Sir, Robert Bowie, thank you very much indeed.
RB: It's a pleasure.