tv President Reagans Berlin Wall Speech CSPAN July 1, 2017 11:00am-12:26pm EDT
history tv, all week every weekend on c-span3. >> this year's the 30th anniversary of president ronald reagan's visit to berlin where he raised -- gave his teratoma down the wall speech. next, former u.s. ambassador to germany recall the president's speech and trip. the international center for journalist posted this event. it is an hour and a half. >> good evening, everybody. please find your seats. good evening. thanks for setting up this wonderful event. mr. robinson, members of the board, alumni in attendance, students, and ladies and gentlemen. for me, it is a pleasure and an honor to open the event today.
i am pleased to see so many faces. some fairly young faces. i am particularly pleased knowing the students today do not necessarily cherish things that happened 30 years ago. jon bon jovi or george michael or dirty dancing, there have in cooler times in history than the 80's. that is what my children keep reminding me. this is, however, different. with president reagan's speech. from president kennedy's visit, it might he better known in germany and the u.s. foreign policy nerds know that there is nothing like resident reagan's secretary-general
gorbachev and his call to tear down this wall. interestingly, the speech received very little coverage at the time. however, the chancellor immediately realized the impact. president reagan was a stroke of luck for the world. he would say after the speech. and the rather hysterical reaction, german leadership also gives us an indication of the strength of the speech. i myself refresh memories a couple of days ago. i was in new york at the time in 1987. i did not have a chance and it is indeed an impressive testimony, first and foremost to president reagan's unconditional will to stand behind and
side-by-side with his european partners, with germany, and with the citizens of religion. i still have something back in berlin and how he describes very special ties. every american president since 1945, to the city of berlin in particular, reagan's speech is also a clear commitment to freedom, democracy, and human rights. those values drove american values from the founding fathers to president lincoln through the 20th century until today. it is a commitment clearly reflected in this speech declaring unconditional support for european allies.
the commitment is clearly shown when the people of eastern germany and the people of all over eastern europe stood up for the rights for two test for liberty and democracy. despite the protests and the people's desire for freedom, we have to number one thing. in the end, it was only possible because of our allies and neighbors because they had faith in us. we have to recall that many people in europe, many governments, were skeptical, reunited germany would be as peaceful as it had been in the decades prior, the specter of the past was still very present. the american people and first
and foremost, political leaders, did have the east else. i see this as the strength of the oldest constitutional democracy in the world, that it recognized people and leadership in -- that we the people's power in strength. other countries in europe were more hesitant to recognize the historic or unstoppable force unfolding in eastern europe. without the support of the american leadership, of american people, two years later, it would not of happened. it is a lesson in how important and how effective the transatlantic alliance can be, how much we can change the world for the positive if we stand united.
so it is a nice coincidence that president reagan's speech fall on the same year as the fellowship. what better connection could we think of for our event tonight? the clear commitment, freedom, and alliance cannot be represented much better than in the combination of the two. welcome our panel today and in particular, marcus, the chairman of the fellowship program and the good spirit of this event and many other events happening with the fellowship program, thank you for doing this and please welcome with an applause. thank you. [applause]
>> thank you, ambassador, for the introduction. i will -- i would also like to thank the dean, who so generously arranged for us to hold the event today p while he could not be here, his team has been here to help us. commemorating to events 30 years ago. president reagan'speech in june 1987. let me start briefly with the fellowship. the program was created to foster deeper understanding between germany and the u.s. and more recently, canada as well. every year, nearly a dozen german journalists are now canadian journalists, they go to each other's side in the atlantic and spent time in newsrooms learning and understanding the way that other countries think.
many top journalists from both sides of the atlantic have participated in these. the program is supported by top news organizations to send an received journalists, among the news organizations that participated, new york times, wall street journal, washington post. npr, many others. nonprofit programs. they depend on contributions from companies including goldman sachs and others as well as as a result, you see in any of your so kind to make contribution to support the program, we will be grateful to have it. the burns program, as you will surmise, is named for arthur burns, the austrian economists starting with white eisenhower and was chairman of the federal
reserve in the 1970's before he became ambassador to germany in 1980's. in his long career, he trained economists like friedman, v-shaped postwar economic policy for the u.s. and fought inflation in the 1970's and cemented the close ties between the u.s. and what was then west germany. he died in june of 1987 when his program was established in his name. his goal is to strengthen the understanding between two powerful western allies, seldom more relevant than it is today here the importance of the relationship was front and center in berlin 30 years ago the summer. it was there that resident ronald reagan delivered one of his most memorable speeches. he recalled a tear down the wall that divided the post-world war ii world. and appealed to our common humanity and freedom and dignity. it is a call that should be trumpeted again today. we're fortunate to have with us today to talk about speech through -- three of the most
knowledgeable people of the moment. the ambassador onstage in berlin, with present reagan, also a trustee of the program. peter robinson, a white house speechwriter and had riemer responsibility for the speech. and the former deputy editor who wrote a book on it and will moderate today's conversations. i will hand it to them. thank you. [applause] >> thank you. it is a pleasure to be here. i will briefly introduce them, although mark already got us started.
the ambassador, many of you know, was the center of a whole range of conversations that dealt with the end of the cold war. the assistant secretary for european canadian affairs, the state department from 1983 to 1985, and he was of course the ambassador to west germany, and later a principal negotiator on the strategic arms reduction of the former soviet union. we will talk about his role in the speech.
peter robinson was the chief speech writer on the tear down the wall address. he worked in the white house for five years as special assistant and speechwriter to president reagan and previously had dennis speechwriter for vice president george h.w. bush. peter is now a research fellow at the hoover institution. the quarterly journal digests and hosts the wildly popular evader -- popular video series on television. i am hoping you indulge us as we talk about the history of the reagan speech. i think it is fascinating history. the fact that the book did not sell a lot of copies may mean that others did not agree my assessment. nevertheless, -- >> i bought two. >> there you go. i should have sent you a free
one. we will talk for about a half-hour, talk about the speech and its legacy, and then we will open it up to questions from all of you. i wonder if we could start with you, ambassador, i hope you could just take it back to the time leading up to president reagan's's visit to west berlin, and give us a sense of the mood among west germans and to take your spirit what now seems inevitable, the wall as we know would come down november of 1989, it was that something people were thinking about? did they think it was realistic at that time in june of 1987? >> that is i think a really great question and it is probably the most interesting question for understanding the impact of the reagan speech. i make a couple of points that need to be taken into account.
you have been talking about the impact on west germans that date. people at the speech were not considered west germans. they were her letters, not citizens of the federal republic of germany. at the time, berlin was still formally been occupied city. one of the reasons i got to sit so close to the president when he was delivering that speech, a chance for germany and the foreign minister of germany were not president. they were not wreck nice to officials in berlin. you had the governing mayor and representatives of the city council, but this was a kind of anomaly, still being an occupied city. when i went to berlin in that europe, i was not the u.s.
ambassador. i was the high commissioner. a strange responsibility, when i would meet on occasion with russian counterpart, the russian ambassador to the federal republic, when i was in berlin, i was in regular meetings with the ambassador to east germany. i was talking to two different russian ambassadors, given a very chillier and unique situation of berlin being occupied city. why that is important for the reagan speeches, one of the things we had to do, and we always talk about the allies and we talk about the allies in those days, we met the united states, britain, and french cut -- and france. and our collective responsibilities. all we recognized that we had to get political support from home. it was not just enough that west germany in the westermann parliament would support us financially, which they did. we needed public political support from the united states,
britain, and from france. the leadership needed to understand why we were still hanging around defending berlin. somebody, probably the governing mayor, came up with the idea that we should commemorate the 750th anniversary of her length. i think that was probably phony date. the first step was to berlin. but it gained traction. give us an opportunity to one of the big ideas was during the year, all three allies -- power -- allied powers should come to berlin. his visit from the queen, the president of france, and of course, ronald reagan.
that created the opportunity. i was thought was perfect we teed up for ronald reagan, that this was the opportunity to talk about an issue he believed in, that he would feel totally at home and comfortable with. but he did not, i think, and you can correct me if i'm wrong, and now i am getting to the heart of the question, there was a weariness, a fatigue, with the division of germany and of berlin. berlin was still an exciting place, a big youth culture, and a great place to be. i think by 1987, people had drawn a conclusion that the wall was not going to go away anytime soon. that it had become a kind of permanent fixture of light -- life in berlin.
in west germany, meanwhile, i found a different mentality, which was, somehow, the division of germany is again going to be semipermanent. no one saw a way out or a way of reuniting germany. i remember very clearly going to a meeting convened by the center-right party in germany, the cdu, where they asked me and the russian ambassador to speak, which i found in itself a little bit unusual. one of the things the russian ambassador said, you know, one thing you guys have got to stop doing is talk about reunification. it will not happen. i came back ferociously to argue that, whether you think it will happen next year or in 10 years, it would be a terrible thing if the people of west virginia gave up on unification.
that said, i did not think it would happen soon. you had efforts by the german government not to try and bring that wall down but to transcend the wall, to find ways of holding up ties for what was known as the inner german relationship. human contact, and find ways that were much bigger and richer. i will stop my answer here but there is a lot of mythology about east germany. and in west berlin. i learned an important historic low lesson. being close to a situation does not message daily mean you understand it. nobody in 1987 or really 1988 or even in 1989, thought that there was going to be some kind of popular uprising in the east.
there was a commitment to it process of trying to find ways to increase interaction between the two germany's. to try to somehow ignore it on the one hand, try to ease the pain and the feeling of the historical inevitability, and that is what made the reagan remark so refreshing. he stared head-on handing in front of the berlin wall and challenged the east to bring the wall down. >> i would now like to know, how much of that do you know?
tell us how the whole process works and when were you told you would write the speech? how did you start piecing together the elements of what goes into it? >> i will. let me begin by taking the ambassador. let me just i have wondered about the >> -- correct pronunciation. finally cared i spent years practicing. in a word, you brought me here after three decades to embarrass me because in a word, here we have immensely knowledgeable, all the nuances and sophistication. and that was at the time as well.
and in the reagan speech, we knew essentially none of this. you're right about the 750th anniversary being a sham when was berlin found it? it was not founded. it just sort of emerged. so very briefly, and i truly embarrassed about my younger self because i was just a kind of idiot child stumbling along. what happened was the speech in berlin, 750th anniversary. i cannot recall who gave me the direction. it must've been the chief speechwriter at the time. standing in front of the berlin wall, the date would be visible behind him in the shot. a crowd of about 10,000. the event was a -- was closer to 30,000. talk about foreign policy. that was really all the direction i was given.
there is a back story that he was holding back. he wanted me to do research in berlin with a clear mind. i went to berlin very briefly, four stops in berlin with me that day. the first is the site where the president would speak. i remember feeling a speechwriter is in trouble. i do not know how you convey to people who are not open enough to have seen it, it is a serious question. how you convey what it felt like to stand at the wall? behind you, west religion, motion, activity, people well-dressed, driving beautiful mercedes, and you look over the wall, and everything is gray and brown and you see very little street traffic.
i saw a couple of cars going by. i just had a feeling of a sense of moment, the weight of history. never in a place since and never before, where you just felt the weight of history. number two, i went to see your colleague. and john's title is minister. >> thank you. ok. and john, it was my point of view that it was what the president should not say. he said, no bashing. in berlin, these people are
acutely sensitive to the nuance involved and by the way, this might have been at point is similar to the weariness, don't make a big thing about the wall. number three, i was given a ride in the u.s. helicopter over the wall. it looks bad enough from the inside. you can forget for a moment -- in a modern city, the new turn. from the air, incomparably worse. from the air, you can see on the other side -- guard towers. for some reason, which i found a striking, there were large areas of rate ground. using walkie-talkie, or the intercom to ask the pilot what's going on. the pilot explained, for the young east german guards.
it was hard to explain the thinking -- footprints in the gravel. i thought, they thought of everything. then the final event, i broke away from the american party that evening. i left the hotel downtown berlin, went to a suburb. there, a lovely couple put on a dinner party for me. i have never met them. one had just retired from a long career. we had mutual friends in washington. they asked on a dozen or 18 of their friend's. it was a physician -- a couple people have taught university professors -- in any event, i said i have been told about the wall, is it true?
silence. one man raised his arm and said, my sister lived a few kilometers in that direction but i haven't seen her in more than 20 years. how do you think i feel about the wall? went around the room and every person spoke about it. hadn't gotten used to it, they stopped talking about it. they hated it. every day. lovely woman, just died a couple of years ago. although one ham and slapped it into the other, she became angry. if this man can come here and get rid of this wall -- i was there to listen as if i were ronald reagan. i was just this idiot child wandering around berlin, looking for something that the president
would respond to. i knew he would respond to that. back to washington. the painful process of writing -- technical problems, part of the immediate audience would be german. american audience with the english-speaking. at first wrote -- [speaking german] and someone said, when your client is the president of the u.s., give him your best lines in english. [laughter] as a long story about how that speech was revisited by much -- many of the foreign-policy professionals. in the end, it was ronald reagan alone who just said, no. i want to say -- what is other moment, should i take another? the president meeting in the oval office. we discussed to my speech, the
president said -- that's a good speech. always want more from ronald reagan. they might have time for one question -- so i explained that i have been told in berlin that people would be able to peer the speech on the other side of the wall. if weather conditions were right, you might be able to. as far east as moscow itself on radio. i said mr. president, is there anything in particular you would like to say to people, on the communist side of the wall. is one of those moments where i can just picture ronald reagan -- that's what i like to say to them, that wall doesn't come down. everybody understood, the president has already said he particularly liked to deliver that line, which enabled it to survive three weeks of quite a lot of pushback.
the inspiration for that one was a german. >> let me add just a quick anecdote to this. i saw, i can't remember when i saw the draft that i saw that language. it wasy liked it because authentic reagan. you couldn't ask reagan to come and stand before the berlin wall and not say that. as a courtesy i gave it to the governor of berlin.
he read it and said you had to take that passage out. you have to take that passage out. i told him, we can't do that. this is ronald reagan. i said what's wrong with it. he said, we've got intelligence that there will be protests on the other side of the wall, and there were. a smattering of protests, not very large. we are afraid that if they hear that, this will create a potentially create a riot, unrest, we could have a real seen on our hands. is no way,k, there you don't know how hard it was to get ronald reagan here this year. it was, it was very difficult to get that organized the way we did. i said, you have to allow him to make these remarks. he relented.
>> i'm started >> >> go ahead. i was not part of the traveling party so it is especially fascinating because you were there and saw with your own eyes. --ken duberstein was the ranking member of the staff and i get just before what happened, they are leaving the economic summit, boarding air force one, the fax machine at the back of the plane begins clacking away because the state department is submitting, by my count, its seventh alternative draft. they are considering this and the president makes his final decision in the limousine on the way to the wall. they talked about it and ronald reagan leaned over and slapped
, then the knee and said boys at state are going to kill me for this but it is the right thing to do. [laughter] >> that is the real reagan. [laughter] what was the of >> what was the opinion of reagan among the germans at that time? some were fears and even protests by leftist groups, anarchists and the like, leading up to his visit. what do people think of him at that point? >> reagan's image in germany a 180 degree change over the years. the first time i was with ronald reagan in germany was in 1982. visiting bonn and there
protestingrotesters the deployment of nuclear armed missiles in germany which had the capability of striking soviet homeland. this was an enormously controversial difficult decision. cole was holding firm along with others to that decision that alliance decision, in the face of tremendous public very ferocious news inpropaganda, fake the modern parlance, campaign to stop this deployment.
threatening what they called a new ice age. a lot of the left blamed reagan for this. he was a warmonger, he was going to get us into a nuclear war. as time went on things began gradually to shift. importantly, in 1986, reagan had his first summit meeting with gorbachev. productive,y optimistic meeting and both backn and gorbachev went with the shared belief that they could do business together. 1987, theo say, in 750thear as the anniversary, there was the famous meeting in reykjavik, where the two leaders were talking about substantial
reductions in nuclear weapons. 1987, the two sides were able to agree to the famous zero option. those missiles which were deployed in 1983, people laughed at reagan than, hey that's just a smokescreen for deployment. that is a facade. signed a inf treaty was which created the zero option. by 1980 seven people began to say, this guy reagan, is getting things done with gorbachev. -- by 1980 seven, people began to say this guy reagan is getting things done with gorbachev. this was in a propaganda line. people understood -- this wasn't a propaganda line. they had a relationship. it wasn't just a relationship
meaning they were good pals. it was a serious relationship where they were both repaired to press each other -- they were both prepared to press each other for important reasons. reagan wase beginning to be treated seriously. and seen -- this was the warner willargaret remember this, people began to realize that reagan was becoming a foreign policy success. that he was transforming the east-west relationship. himas the perfect time for to give that speech in the context of where u.s.-russian relations were headed. >> so when he finally did deliver the famous line, you were there on the days when he delivered it. what ran through your mind? did you have an inkling that
this would be a defining statement, not just for the reagan presidency but in a lot of ways for the cold war itself? what was your reaction and that moment? >> i can remember. i was very scared. immediately, i don't know if you will remember this immediately after that event there was another event at temple hoff airport. this was an event for the american community. , big air00 u.s. army force presence, all kinds of other u.s. personnel there. asked to introduce the president to the american community. five hours or me, six hours before, they wanted to
televise it. on german television. i introduced him in german. it was my finest hour. [laughter] i only mangled a few words in german. speech,ck to the reagan i knew it was a great applause line. i knew it was authentic ronald reagan. history, as president obama says, has an arc. we would never celebrate that famous speech if in fact, the events of 1989 had not transpired the way they did. the fact of the matter is, as i said before, being too close to an event can make you blind to
the bigger reality. think any american official, maybe with the exception of ronald reagan, really thought that mr. gorbachev would tear down the wall. to bee precisely allow it torn down. by the people of east germany. before we run out of time i want to make one other point. while we focus on the reagan speech and we focus on the wall coming down as it did and we focus as we should, on the diplomacy that immediately followed that. the discussions between the then east germans and the officials in bonn and the allies, -- weing the soviets focus on the german-american cooperation which made the reunification of germany possible -- the cooperation
.etween george bush and kohl what we don't focus on enough is the tremendous effort and sacrifice and courage and optimism that the german people showed to the whole decade of the 1990's into this century into creating a remarkably successful unified germany. what an achievement. what an achievement. a country that is now in public opinion polls, is always the most respected country in the world. a country that has developed a functioning social market economy, that has supported a european unity, and a country that has been given a lot of the static we have had over the last
couple of weeks between germany and america. weddedry that i know is to a strong transatlantic relationship. this is unthinkable in 1987. what the germans have incapable of doing, and i don't think frankly in this country or other countries, they get enough credit. >> go ahead. >> when i was with vice president bush not long before you went with president reagan . the vice president visited germany before the president. >> you are long. that's right. >> we had rocks thrown at the bus. >> yes. exactly. our bus was pelted with rocks and we had to get under the seat. --re was another event, >> the missile deployment. >> exactly. . the police are
holding the crowded they and the crowd is jeering. i thought to myself, wow, ronald reagan comes under pressure at home. bruce springsteen had done and anti-nuclear concert in central park. mrs. thatcher had pressure in britain. like thece pressure germans. the courage they had to stand up , to large segments of their own people. on remaining part of the west when the temptation to neutrality was so powerful for so many years and also the insistence, the explicit insistence, given all of german history on creating a good society. that is one of the most impressive efforts in human history.
>> all right. all done. >> let me ask one more question and then open it up to all of you. peter, it's a question that is a bit of a bank shot. in an era of 140 characters and 24 hour news cycles. do presidential speech is still matter the way they did 30 years ago? could a future president or this president give a speech like the one ronald reagan delivered in west berlin and had people talking about it 30 years from now? or are we just in a different era? >> the short answer is, we will find out. my own suspicion -- the longer answer -- speeches have to matter still. to hear i would love what other people have to say because my mind is not made up. my goodness, everything has
changed in the last 500 years. -- in the last 2500 years. what pericles did and what ronald reagan did was the same. you stand before your fellow beings an attempt to deploy arguments and persuade them. you establish a community of feeling and you attempt to deploy arguments. that back andaded be done in 140 characters. , if it comesieve to that, you have friends in the white house, rick, if it comes to that, the current chief executive gave a very good speech to a joint session of congress. i think it would have resonated a while longer if he had not undercut it by tweeting the next morning. he gave a remarkable speech. in saudi arabia 10 days ago. those speeches had the
opportunity to move policy, to establish an agenda. to show members of congress what he wanted to do and where he wanted to take the country and move the air of in a way that i just don't think, my formulation would be not only could he not have done it with 140 characters but i wish he would knock it off. the speeches are better than the tweeting. the tweeting undercuts the administration's own quite noble efforts. there is my at -- answer. i think we still need speeches. we will see. >> with that i would like to open it up to all of you. if you could go to the back there. we will bring microphones do. if you could stand up and state your name. g chan. a shortin
question about the security issue at the time. securityled about the prevention arrangement for president reagan during his speech at the wall. would you mind recalling about the circumstances? >> you mean the physical security? >> yes. even for today it is a big issue for an american president to at the wall just behind the iron gate. i am trying to remember, did he have -- you were not there. had, a kind of plexiglass -- >> i think that is right. >> behind him. yes. i think so.
say, i want to remind you that this speech took place in the american sector. i remember very well when i first visited berlin, i went almost every week when i was the nn. one of my bo first visits i was doing a spy i asked on the bridge. aides. we will tell of police. i asked how will you do that. they said, the police work for you. i remember saying to myself, this is great. really control the environment. we had the people and it wasn't just the secret service. you had a large american presence there. with there comfortable
security arrangements. >> thank you. the record show this is my favorite journalist on the planet. , i wask you, rick actually there and security was not what it is today. i was in the pool, i was sitting on the edge of the stage. i look at the picture and what they had was a pale blue background, behind the president and you, it was clear plexiglass so you could see through to the graffiti-marked wall. it is an incredible picture. there was nothing in front of you all. >> i think that is right. >> i'm going to ask peter a question. give us a little more of the back-and-forth of the state department. was george schultz against this? where was weinberger? you need to bear in mind that
howard baker had fairly recently become cheese -- chief of staff. he brought with him his longtime press aide. robinson's first ,tep on coming back from berlin tony dolan was sold on the idea of building a speech around tearing down the wall -- immediately we went to see tommy griscam, and he said it might work. we drafted it and then, this is a terrible admission but the record is what it is. the president was also going to rome and to the venice economic summit. there was a lot of speeches. the whole speechwriting staff worked fast to finish a whole bundle of speeches. tony dolan, the chief
speechwriter waited until a friday afternoon, may 16 or 15th, until he heard the helicopter descending to the south lawn. he went to the west wing and said to the staff secretary who was also new, the president has a leg wad of speeches -- a big wad of speeches. look it over at camp david. and he said that make sense. as the helicopter took off, the president had my draft with him. it was very rare. you could count on the fingers of one hand the time the speechwriters figured out how to get a draft to the president before it went out for staffing. then we met in the following monday. then he said, there is that line in the draft about tearing down the wall. that is what i want to say. he had seen the draft. and he singled out that passage before it went out to staffing. staffing,nt out to
the national security council opposed it, ride at ridgeway ,alled me -- ridgeway called me tommy called me, he went down the hall, howard baker called them down to the office and there was george schultz. who was representing his state , youtment and tom said don't understand mr. secretary, this is the line that will get press and the president has said he particularly wants to deliver it. ken told me that in italy the fighting never stopped. god bless them. i look back on it and i say, i was 30 years old and new this much of what rick knew. of whath of what new -- these foreign policies experts knew. but i've been to berlin. tommy called me to his office
and colin powell was there waiting for me. decorated general. number two man on the security council. used to talking to his troops in a certain way. 30 years old, i got right back in his face. this went on and on. duberstein told me that he had to take it to the president. the last thing you want to do is your president revisit a decision. the fighting wouldn't stop. in a garden and they talked about it. the state department didn't stop. a couple of days later when they went to berlin they tried to get another alternative. this was a fundamental decision. back,ld me when he came they talked about it and the it, thet, read
president had decided. the twinkle came into his eye. he said, i'm the president, aren't i? [laughter] >> well yes. decide that that line stays in. yes sir, it's your decision. well then it stays in. also knowing, having gone through many presidential speeches of reagan, when i was if you gotecretary, something out of the speech but you knew -- you learned quickly that if ronald reagan liked it, it got back in. he spent an enormous amount of time on his speeches. i could never -- you have much more reverence for the speech process and the importance of speechmaking than i did at the time. and thinkingy wonk
about arms control proposals. i realize that reagan, being an actor, understood the power of a speech. >> that's right. >> we would get speech drafts back -- we wrote a very important speech at the beginning of the second reagan administration where george schulz finally vanquished weinberger and richard perle. pre--gorbachev. the message was, we will start talking to the russians. here are the categories we will talk about. reagan invited the whole diplomatic corps to the east room of the white house to give that speech. schulz and i wrote that speech. he insisted it not go to the speechwriters. he wanted it to be wordperfect. we got a draft back that was
written up. i saw it. who got a hold of the speech at the white house? -- he said, no that's ronald reagan's handwriting. audience,s in the going to the reagan library and you get asked for the handwriting files of the presidents, it is remarkable how many speeches, especially the first half of his presidency -- even to the the end he was writing. in fairness there was a lot of the usual back-and-forth between the speechwriting operation and the state department and the national security council. if you listen to the speech, i have always maintained that after the call to tear down the wall, it becomes boring for five minutes. that is all the state department's fault. [laughter] >> probably true. >> the ending is nice. >> the ending comes back. there was the usual -- on that
line. said you loved it because it was ronald reagan, that was the point. you could not put this man -- at the berlin wall with it -- you couldn't put in their -- blob loblaw, state department, you couldn't do that to him. >> yes? [indiscernible] >> i am curious if you would the immediate future of the u.s.-german relationship? several speakers have noticed that it is a particularly relevant week to be talking about this in light of nato and you talk aboutif where you think things are going and what the challenges will be in the coming months? >> i will do it very briefly.
i think we may be overreacting a little bit. ofhink we have to sort distinguished between fundamental issues and let's behavior onoorish the other end. u.s.-germanof the relationship, there are three issues that can be discussed. one is the security-defense issue. i see some merit in the american , andt to ask the europeans the germans in particular, to do more. that said, those of you who follow these issues no that they europeans and germans have already started to do more. they have made commitments both at wales and warsaw and they are spending more. president wants to claim
credit for that and push a little harder, i can understand that. in the long sweep of history, the current allocation of spending is probably unsustainable. overtimeeans will need to do more. debatelly, this whole about maybe we can't depend as much as we did in the past on the american guarantees and so ironically, will lead the europeans to do more and to cooperate more closely. , it was my own judgment, a terrible mistake on the part of the president not to endorse article five in a full throated way, particularly standing in front of a memorial at 911. there is an irony there too.
time article five was ever invoked in the history of the alliance. on the economic issue, the germans have the right. they have the stronger argument. let's recognize the amount of german investment in this country. , there are more bmws produced in south carolina than there are in bavaria. look at substantial investments , othercar companies companies, presence in this country. real estate, all sorts of asset categories. two sort of blame the germans prudentthey pursue more economic policies than some of their neighbors or for that
matter the united states, is crazy. it is a logical in my -- it is illogical. it is a cultural argument. you'd don't in boorse -- you don't endorse policy to do that. i hope theing, united states continues to adhere to the paris accords. i think, as you can tell from my remarks, there are so many and sharedrests values between the united states, germany, and europe as a whole, that i think we can work through this admittedly, difficult. period. >> gentleman here. >> thank you. . i wanted to pick up on something rick said about
the relationship between reagan and gorbachev in the run-up to the speech. it made me wonder whether the decision for the phraseology was personal. it wasn't soviet leadership calling for the tearing down of the wall, it was mr. gorbachev, tear down this wall. was there cents on the president's part that making it senseersonal -- was there in making it that personal. or was it not as intentional? >> i think it was intentional. i remember listening to reagan talk about his first meeting with gorbachev in geneva. maybe remember this also. -- ine you back, they had the meetings they had in the morning, large groups, maybe 10 or 12 people on each side of the table.
arose of, let's let the two leaders take some time after lunch to sit and talk alone and talk together. this is something that reagan had always fantasized about. he was very frustrated in his first administration. he once famously said, they keep dying on me. [laughter] bunch, i remember that well because i went to all three of those funerals with george h.w. bush. he was frustrated. all presidents in one form or another, certainly that is true for donald trump, he really wanted -- maybe it wasn't so true for barack obama -- he wanted to sit down with the russian leader and try to work it out. he enjoyed that one-on-one.
there was something he said -- he came back from that first he, as they were -- when they were coming to pick them up. him according to to the president, god bless you. , according to president reagan, he saw the gorbachev was wearing a crucifix. to be fair, he had a simplistic view of the russians, the soviets. as being anti-religion. the fact that he saw, here's a
, really is religious had a big impact on reagan. i think he felt from that moment .n thatcher famously said, someone he could do business with. before even margaret thatcher mulooney,hev, brian the prime minister of canada, wantedeeting with him, to know about gorbachev. brian said, you know, i thought brezhnev in a $1000 suit.
he could not have been more wrong. the canadian prime minister wasn't able to figure gorbachev out in the same way that ronald reagan was. don regan is now the chief of staff. i liked him to tell you the truth. but he was catastrophe as chief of staff. he said boys, the president wants you to light up on gorbachev. he does, you hell want us to. he shrugged. a day later we went to the oval said, mr. he president, i told them. they won't take it from me.
i just think this fellow gorbachev is different from the others, reagan said, i think he's serious about getting out of afghanistan. this had not been in the washington post. i had not heard anyone speculate . the first time i heard it was from the lips of ronald reagan. a speech writers walked out and asked, what do you do when ronald reagan go soft on communism? [laughter] reagan and, mike mikell gorbachev had a speaking gig going, in the 90's. mike and i were friends so he had me help him with questions. this is in sacramento, california. gorbachev,n is mr.
1953 in the soviets move in to put down the east germans. in 1956 they do it in hungary. then they move into prod then in 1989 -- in progress -- i np ague. then inpr 1989 you didn't. you, your father and i shared christian morality. then gorbachev said, when i was growing up, my grandfather was the big communist in our town but my grandmother was always a believer. we would have a communist meeting and up would go pictures of stalin and lennon. . then as soon as the communists would leave, the pictures would go down and be replaced by saint. saints.
then she would go to church and she would say i'm going to pray for you atheists. gorbachev would say that i am a good communist, but we share a certain morality. reagan was onto something. he saw it. >> yes sir. >> hello. why was it so good for gorbachev -- four ronald reagan -- for -- when president trump is trying to do the same with putin, all these calls for impeachment. what is the difference? putin also goes to church. >> who claims to be a religious guy.
he has played a role in centrality of the orthodox church in russia which is interesting. it is one of the guises of food. .e seems to have -- of putin he seems to have different guises. i don't think that's the problem. the problem right now with russia, i have to say, as every day goes by in this town, it becomes more of a domestic lyrical issue and less of a foreign-policy issue. i happen to be one of those that ithat believes probably is possible to get somewhere with russia right now. i think for a variety of strategic reasons putin was to see if it is possible to get a deal that is consistent with his interest. i think he is in the long-term, the russians are playing with a
weak hand. economically. demographically. but -- i think- for one reason or another, i don't quite entirely understand, trump wants to do business with putin. he is never really explained, why, other than he suggests he thinks he can get along with putin. he is never provided a thought through strategic rationale for some kind of agreement. i think it is more of a strategic point -- if you want to do business with russia, you want to have a strong, united alliance with nato allies. we are not doing that right now. that is a mistake. now the whole issue of russia has become a domestic-political
football. there is a kind of, hysterical element to the debate about russia in washington today. -- i think democrats there are democrats that see this as an issue you can wound the president. i think other democrats see it as -- have convinced themselves that if the russians haven't intervened in our elections, then hillary might have one. i don't know. -- hillary might have won the election. i think these domestic issues are now dominating the process. unfortunately, reducing the room for maneuvering for the administration. to actually try to get something done. with the russians at this point. >> could i talk about the reagan example and see what you think? -- twoan didn't just
terms of the reagan administration, you mentioned in 1987, in 1988 they signed the inf treaty. ronald reagan proposed most of the terms of that treaty. when back in 1981. the russians walked away from the table. >> they walked away. i remember well. in 1983 after -- >> the point is, there was a marvelous moment where ronald reagan, in 1981 this event took place, reagan is rejecting the jimmy carter to track option on the ins negotiations and he is adopting a 0-0 option which is that the soviets remove their missiles, we won't put a single missile in place. >> that was totally consistent with the nato december 12, 1979 -- decision. >> this is not an act of
defiance against nato. was told -- the russians have an investment of millions of rubles and you are asking me to tell them that we are about to render that investment worthless. -- i don't even know how to say that to my counterpart read. reagan said, tell the soviets you are dealing with one tough son of a bits. -- bitch. hard position and rebuilt the military and started spending money on research. all of that before it became time to talk to the soviets. first you demonstrated strength and then you rebuild the alliance. >> it all seems more logical in retrospect.
there was no one to talk to in those early years. have oneould just point, i think, it goes to marx question -- mark's question. reagan did not negotiate eastern europe. we had this vision. if you look at the memoranda of the conversations of the summits between reagan and gorbachev, reagan did not put eastern europe on the table. we had a vision and that was not negotiable. arms control and how to avoid armageddon. somethingrope was that reagan felt strongly that was not something we were going to find some sort of compromise. it >> it wasn't. >> this happen in the first year or so of the bush administration. it was one thing to be shocked and happily surprised by the crumbling of the berlin wall. was another thing to be shocked
and surprised by the collapse of the soviet union. early 90's the during the bush administration. that allowed the geopolitical opportunity to create a europe, whole and free. with the breakup of the soviet union, the collapse of the warsaw pact, the reunification of germany, then it became not just arms control, a new geopolitical reality in europe. >> time for one more question. yes or. >> [indiscernible] >> you mention the summit, i was wondering what the discussion there, what influence they might've had on the events that came later? >> several schools of thought about that. eagleman --nd,ken
lman. he wrote a book last year which tries to make the argument that there was a direct line between reykjavik and the collapse of the berlin wall and the end of the cold war. i don't see it that clearly. to tell you the truth. i think it was more complex. then to simply suggest that one step led to the other. was a very important turning point because it opened the opportunity for the first time, real substantial reductions in nuclear weapons. which we achieved in 1987 and then with the treaty i helped negotiate in the early 1990's which had a 50% reduction in the
strategic intercontinental nuclear weapons. not process has continued as rapidly as i would like to to have had. war, that of the cold is the result of a number of different variables. ronald reagan deserves part of the credit. in terms of his leadership and some of the pressure, on the one hand, he put the russians under and on the other hand a willingness to talk and to relieve the pressure. there were a lot of people who could make a compelling argument, if you want to understand why the soviet union collapsed and why the cold war ended, look at what happened to oil prices in the 1980's. the russian economy was hollowed out by the end of the 1980's. we forget, as late as the 1970's, there was
still a debate about what kind of system works best. there was a debate about whether communism would actually work better and if you had more economic growth. that debate totally disappeared in the 1980's. anyone who visited moscow, all you saw was a bunch of world war ii era trucks belching smoke into empty streets. slogans that the russians did not even read any longer. there were a lot of reasons that it collapsed. one thing that is also very important was the end of the brezhnev doctrine. a month or two before, the berlin wall came down, gorbachev visited east berlin. he gave a famous speech on hanukkah. he said you are on your own.
-- we don'toing to have the capacity or will any longer to tell you -- to save your bacon if you get into trouble. gorbachev already began to change the rules of the game within the eastern bloc, that gave a green light to a lot of , when they haddr a sense that there was not going to be hordes of russian troops moving in to the cities of the gdr. in the event of an uprising. have had a simple understanding of the soviets but you have the essential points. the stories on the soviet economy, what woman buys a refrigerator -- but this will not be available for 20 years. will youto this day?
deliver it in the morning or the afternoon? [laughter] >> what difference could it make , the plumber is coming in the morning. the end of the cold war is complicated and you cannot describe it all without events on the ground in east germany, the pope's visit -- but, reykjavik mattered. in my judgment, in at least this much. had brought to bear on the soviet union not just conventional military strength, where the soviets had matched us, then spent a decade and a half developing a navy, a nuclear arsenal that roughly was equivalent with ours, maybe, all right. with fdi, reagan says no, we will also bring to bear, economic and technical dynamism.
and whether we cannot missiles out of the sky 141 and provide a perfect -- who knows? if we start doing research, we bring to bear our dynamism and you cannot match us. gorbachev went to reykjavik and jumped in. reykjavik was supposed to be a presummit summit. he went there with the trap. he said mr. president, look at all that you can have. he went to bed feeling pretty well and the next morning gorbachev said there is one little detail. confine fdi to laboratory testing and reagan said no. that strikes me as decisive. gorbachev goes back to moscow and the game is over. it is correct that they cannot equal our economic and technical dynamism. they just can't play that game. been able to put
reagan back in the box, may be they could have continued. but it reykjavik, a certain relationship ends. a certain kind of possibility for the soviet union and. it is over. >> we disagree on that. >> we will leave it there. we will come back in 30 years. >> we went to 40 minutes only one disagreement. >> join me in thanking these two gentleman for wonderful discussion. [applause] [no audio] >> you're watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. to join the conversation, like us on facebook, at c-span history. after words.on examining gender identity.
mr. davis is interviewed by sarah ellis, glad president and ceo. >> when we are talking about transgender discrimination we are talking about something different witches about the -- we're talking but something different which is, it is not about what you should or shouldn't do as a man or woman but do you belong to the category of man or woman in the first place? i think that is an important distinction to draw. transgender people, like anyone experiencing -- they experience sexism. but i try to point out the book is that there is something else going on when we talk about transgender discrimination, which is about the longing to the categories themselves. >> right here at you put forward in this book that we should eliminate those categories.
in a lot of different places. tom a birth certificate college or professional level and everything in between or most things in between. >> watch after words sunday night on c-span2's book tv. next, on the presidency, the massachusetts historical society in boston host a discussion about john quincy adams 's and views on slavery with readings from his own writings. matthew mason talks about the book, "john quincy adams and the politics of slavery." selections from the diary. this is about an hour. >> a remarkable historical study ofd an academic the late