tv The Presidency JFK Khrushchev CSPAN February 20, 2018 12:43pm-1:58pm EST
candidate who are running the super pac. so it's -- they also can share what are called common venders so they can use the same consultants. basically i think it's useful to see it as the other pocket on the candidate's coat. >> okay, but if the candidate tells a super pac exactly what to do with the money, that's legal? >> that would be illegal. >> okay. >> how. -- however, first they have to get caught and then the fec has to have a majority vote on whether to investigate it. as you may have heard, the fec has basically deadlocked on all of this in the last couple of years. >> that just a short portion from the first "unrig the system" summit in new orleans. watch it in its entirety tonight starting at 8:30 eastern on c-span. the university of virginia's miller center convenes scholars
for a two-day conference looking at the complicated history between u.s. and russian leaders over the last century. the focus of this next session is the relationship between john f. kennedy and nikita chrushchev in the 1960s. this is about an hour and ten minutes. >> ladies and gentlemen, back to our second panel accessing u.s.-soviet relations in the 1960s and '70s. i'm not going to chair the panel, but i will turn the duties over to my colleague here at the miller center, professor barbara perry, who is going to anchor the panel. barbara is herself a noted scholar of the '60s and of the kennedy era and the kennedy clan. she's also director of presidential studies here at the miller center. she is a very seasoned expert
oral historian as well as a written historian, and for many years she helped lead the oral history program here at the miller center, which was one of the signature undertakings that we do in interviewing the leading members of presidential administrations from the ford years on up until the present. or i should say the recent past. we have completed oral histories under her leadership and russel riley's leadership of every administration through the george w. bush administration, and we are planning to lay siege to the obama administration and we'll find out what the trump administration -- what their attitude is towards being interview for oral history when we get to that place. in any case, barbara is going to take us forward in this panel and i'll turn things over to her. barbara? >> thanks so much, will, and of course to mel and stiff new for
organizing and executing a timely yet history-based battle conference this year. of course this is the very essence of miller center scholarship and programming. i am delighted to moderate this 11:00 panel. we'll go until about 1:00 and we'll do this in two halves. the first half of our discussion will feature my miller center colleague immediately to my left, mark silverstone. mark is a professor of presidential study errs here at the center. which analyzes, transcribes, edits the secret white house tapes particularly from the kennedy, johnson and nixon administration. if you watch the ken burns vietnam series, you will have seen mark's name and our colleague ken hughes' name prominently displayed in the credits because they were crucial to providing the clips from particularly the nixon and the johnson years, but some of
the kennedy tapes as well. mark is a foreign policy historian of the first order, focussing on the cold war and especially one element of the hot war, vietnam in that era. and particularly the kennedy and johnson policies towards it. my favorite of his many publications is a book "a companion to john f. kennedy," which sounds like it might be about some of the girlfriends of the president, but it is meant itself to be a companion, and some of that story is covered in that volume. but it very seriously this is a major work that mark edited. it has seminal historical essays on virtually every topic related to jfk's career and his presidency and i rely on it almost exclusively as i am preparing to speak about president kennedy. and i think if tim naftali as my
colleague, even though he proceeded me at the miller center by many years, where he served here as the director of the miller center's kremlin decision-making project. then tim after serving as director of the nixon library has become a clinical associate professor of history and also of public service at nyu. he's the co-author among many books, but one particularly pertinent for today's discussion called khrushchev's cold war. and if like me you are a fan of cnn documentaries, you will readily recognize tim as the star of many of them. i highly recommend to you if you haven't read them already, the four essays for this panel. they are all informative. they are very accessible and compelling. and i want to begin with mark and actually begin with the end of his essay, which is a set of
conclusions that he draws on jfk's role and behavior in the cuban missile crisis, and most importantly for our conference here over these several days, to draw out the lessons of jfk's role and behavior in the cuban missile crisis for current issues. then after mark does that, we'll turn to tim and he'll offer some lessons as well from the khrushchev side, from the russian side. so with that, let me turn to mark. >> sure. thanks. good morning. good late morning to everybody. thanks again to mel and to will for the opportunity to participate in this. looking out at the audience, there are any number of people who have written copious amounts on the cuban missile crisis and i have not, so i have learned from all of you, but i appreciate the opportunity to try to distill a little bit of what i have learned and offer again some lessons on how that
may bear on contemporary matters. john f. kennedy had already learned some important lessons by the time he had to confront moscow's deployment of nuclear missiles to cuba. several of these cuba. some of the lessons involved matters to personnel process and useful during the crisis in october 1962. many grew out of kennedy's earlier crisis, the failed operation at the bay of pigs. meant that the lessons were hard earned. not without qualification, by in large serving him, the country and the world well. before highlighting these lessons which may or may not be applicable to contemptry u.s. relations. i wanted to touch on something that the president didn't translate into useful insight. the first of these lessons involved not the more
constructive ones related to personnel and process but to the negative ones related to policy and policy pronounce meant. while planning for the overthrow of castro, during the last year of the eisenhower era. came close to operationalizing it. the language -- but it raised the political cost of canceling what it would be the bay of pigs operation where he had to done so had he become -- when he became president. 1962 where words really mattered. while this public pronounce meant narrowed the room, the
failure for the administration to consider more creative policy measures stemmed from the absent conversation about the relative dangers that cuba posts. was castro a dagger to the heart or a thorn in the flesh? that conversation never took place. while kennedy did all of the meetings, large and small with planning the bay of pigs operation and military officials. they revolved around matters of tactics and operational details as opposed to the broader strategic applications of the operation or the underlining assumptions that they alluded to. moving against castro and the policy in trained to effect it and making it likely that
kennedy would mount aggressive operation to undermine the castro regime once he became president. the intensification of it after the bay of pigs would contribute to the onset of the missile crisis itself. as i mentioned in the paperer and as tim and others have documented so well. it was hardly the only reason for the missile deployment and the crisis it sparked. by fall of 1961 castro commanding more attention from the kennedy administration. and as those efforts and sabotage came to look more menacing to havana and moscow, helped pushed toward action that might protect the revolution with one being the deployment of nuclear missiles to the island. kennedy's overt rhetoric and the continuation of covert action
would complicate the presidency and raise the stakes of not following through on the stated intentions in an effort to derive political benefit on the a policy statement of cuba. kennedy declared in september 1962 two months before the midterm elections that the introduction to the weapons of the island would result in the gravest of circumstances. effectively, establishing a public red line for all to see. so both administration policy and pronouncements about it continues to heighten the drama around cuba and helped to shape khrushchev and kennedy's responses to the island. if kennedy failed to recognize or consider how the statements and opportunities might box himself into situations that created risks for his presidency and the nation and the world. he took positive steps to ensure that the way he managed national
security policy gave him at least a better shot at getting good advise and making wiser judgments. involving changes in the personnel and process and helpful in the october missile crisis. the aides he trusted most particularly his brother,played big roles and bobby severed as chief general in the private conversations with moscow. the conversations were not all to the good but helped conveyed key information. kennedy systemized policymaking effectively helping to improve the flow of information into the white house. and in an effort to scrub the options for addressing the soviet missile deployment, conversations among the military aides before settling on an
approach that gave himself and his adversary time to reflect on the magnitude of what laid before him and figure out how to untie the knot of war. and the sheer judgment of the president himself. who after initially lurjing toward a military response considered the less than ideal chances of success, the potential impact on adversaryryes and allies and those around him who supported it as the only acceptable option. so if there's to be a heroic narrative to harken back to yesterday within the cold war about leaders who took chances and faced down the hawks calling for war and preferred that his kids be red rather than dead. he should take one turn in the scarring role which i would say he continued to earn through his attempts to modulate the cold
war rhetorically through american university address. so can elements of this heroic spawn another one? how can this history provide useful lessons for rugs relations? on the matter of rhetoric. i mention in my written piece and this morning. red lines can be trouble. they were for kennedy who felt constrained with them. and president's trump different posture towards russia means he is less likely to make them. he hasn't thrown down a marker with regard to interference with u.s. domestic politic it is. it is easy to see him doing so with regard to north korea and iran. given his lack of discipline -- it is more likely than not that
he'll deliver this kind of ultimatum before long and, calculate the political costs of doing so. these lessons from the missile crisis are relevant for crisis situations. suggestive on the value and maintaining contact and jaw jaw is better than war war. and now reverted as we heard yesterday to that more historically natural condition of conflict which pre and post dates the cold war. i hope the virtuings of diplomacy -- empathy -- would commend themselves to leaders on both sides. finally, on the matter of combining that diplomacy with force. it certainly complicates the narrative. the heroic narrative if you will
that we've heard for a while. to acknowledge that khrushchev agreed to pack up the miss i wills and ship them home before hearing that jfk was willing to make the trade that khrushchev called nor on the 12th day. for khrushchev on purpose's, for allowing him to paper over him having to reverse course on the risky maneuver. but it dose suggest that the prospect of the a military enjaj meant prompted him and to forgo his public call for a missile swap when it seemed that war was imminent. that's it. this can have result in armed conflict and potentially nuclear armed conflict as many here and mike dobbs have written. so while kennedy mobileization
at force have seemed to made his diplomacy more effective. we have to be more granular in outlining what form, what strategic context and what implications it should be mobilized. if it is to play a role in a contemporary scenario in which americans and russiansen find themselves eyeball to eyeball. thank you. [ applause ] well, tim's essay has a title, called "grab god by the beard" khrushchev and the kennedys. >> thank you barbara and mel for inviting me back. it is nice to be home. we heard about the long dur ray. i'm a short dur ray because i drink a lot of express sew. but in part, i'm going to play
on a word that my former colleague and friend, present friend, former colleague. marc mentioned, granular. what we have is a granular understanding of this period because of the american side and the tapes which i spent some time with here and on the solvit side. so we have the capacity of understanding the international politics and domestic politics of that period in a way that is not true of every period in international politics. so we're going to -- as you benefitted from that and listening to marc. i'm going to try to do the same on the soviet side. to lay a basis, i want to remind you of a few things. because of the structure of this conference, we jumped over
korea. the korean war is fundamental to understand the mill tarization of the cold war and absent korea, you want to talk about possibilities, you don't have the korean war and i think there's a change in the nature of the competition between the soviets and the united states. perhaps, in the q and a we can talk about korea. it is extremely important. there are two other things that are extraordinarily important happening in the world shaping the environment that kennedy and khrushchev are seeking to manage. one is the decolonization of the -- what i guess third world and the developing world. that's a very important event and that is an independent variable from the u.s. soviet relationship. but it opens up the possibility for the soviets and khrushchev
to -- khrushchev sees it as a source of opportunity. the other is a soviet achievement and that is -- and that changes the relationship. as frank mentioned, once the american homeland gets threatened. that raises questions about the extent to which the extended deterrence is real. real americans actually put new york at risk for the sake of paris. and that happens because of sputnik. so you have these two destabilizing events that -- that are happening in the '50s and it's that world that khrushchev and kennedy are seeking to manage.
now, khrushchev's approach to that world is not what americans anticipated. the sense that kennedy has coming into office is that there's so much nuclear danger about that wise statesman ship involves reducing the state of nuclear war. as we see with khrushchev, khrushchev is all about disruption. he is a disrup tor and interested in crisis. and it's why he is interested in crisis that i think is the essence of understanding his behavior not simply in 1961 but in 1962. so let me talk to you about a summit conference in 1961 that people don't talk b. the one everybody talked about is
vienna. i'm writing a book about kennedy. and for me the more interesting summit conference is the gu gull/kennedy conference. they are explicit about their understanding of the world and they stair a lot. and the gull's argument is -- and it's an argument that has a relevance today. when you deal with a disrup tor, you should ignore them. he says let khrushchev hyperventilate about berlin. he's going to do nothing. he doesn't have the power to do anything and the only thing you can do is actually increase his desire to disrupt by engaging him. engagement is a mistake with a
disrupter. and kennedy's argument is i can't take that chance. he's already threatened us in '85 a' '58 -- something is forcing him to do that and i have to take that seriously because he could risk nuclear war out of his -- out of the urgency to change the status quo in central europe. gull said no, i disagree. let the soviet sign a peace treaty with east germ any. it doesn't matter it. is just a piece of paper. and kennedy says i don't agree with that at all. it would sense a sense of opportunity, burden and power to east berlin which might lead to more risk taking in europe.
it's that basic debate which you'll see over and over again about different countries and leaders. do you leave them alone or engage? and is the engagement, the decision to engage, somehow threat tong your own standing whether it at home or abroad? now, it turns out that degull was wrong. and we really only knew how wrong he was when we saw the soviet materials about 15 years ago. when -- oddly enough, a putin government declassified the resolutions and transcripts of the meetings in the 1950s through 1964. it turns out that khrushchev was committed to revising the cold
war, the world war ii settlement in europe. he was a revision nis, he was not seeking more security through reducing nuclear danger. he was prepared to take advantage of the existence of nuclear danger to have a revision of a cold war settlement particularly in berlin. and we learned from presidential records, khrushchev told his colleagues he was even willing to use force -- [ inaudible ] not use force. because khrushchev in before vienna tells his colleagues once we sign a peace treaty, we're not going to make a mistake that stall lin made we're not going
to allow the west to use the air corridors to continue to supply west berlin. we're going to shoot down a british or american plane to send a signal that the air quarters are closed. degull did not predict that. kennedy did. and kennedy's thinking was we must engage to give the russians a sense that if they choose diplomacy over militarized conflict that something good will come out of it. so in 1961, without having access to the internal discussions of the -- because the cia never penetrated. kennedy's deep sense of politicia politicians led him to make a different call than degull. i'll give you an aside on
kennedy and then we'll move to khrushchev. if you understand the way kennedy thought about foreign or domestic leaders, read "profiles encouraged" even though kennedy didn't write the final draft, i don't believe, it represents his thinking about power. and kennedy was all about understanding the interests and incentives that shaped politicians decision making. and what he did was projected that on the soviet leadership and projected it on france and every leader he dealt with. he assumed they had interests and if you can change the incentive structure you might alter the way they acted on their interest. now, when he tries this initially on khrushchev in 1961, it doesn't work. and it doesn't work because khrushchev is not interested in
engaging the united states. what he wants is the revised settlement in berlin. and he's willing to take risks to achieve it. and he's willing to have a bad summit consistent inference in vienna, one of the old arguments the conference between kennedy and khrushchev in 1961 was that kennedy screwed up. he was immature and didn't understand what he was doing. soviets laid to rest that art. khrushchev went to vienna for a fight. there was nothing john f. kennedy could have done. nato presence in west berlin, nothing he could have done to have a good conference at vienna. it was a set up and khrushchev set it up. it was an ambush. khrushchev wanted to put pressure on kennedy in the hope
that kennedy would give him something that eisenhower were not willing to give him. which was the removal of the nato presence in west berlin. kennedy stood up to him and didn't give in. went home and rattled some sabers, called up some reserves and khrushchev backs down. the essential thing to understand about khrushchev, i believe in foreign policy at the time is that he believed that the soviet union was strategically inferior. american viewers -- american observers assumed that countries that believe themselves to be strategically inferiors are not risk takers. it's a basic misunderstanding that you can see throughout the u.s. foreign policy elite.
they project the united states on the world tend to think that foreign leaders who know that they are stra tetegically infer will not take risks. they do the opposite, they are strategically infear dwrors and makes them to decide to take a risk. that's why there was attack on parole harbor and why the soviets in 1961 and '62 will under take a series of cry cease th -- kri sis. so the material that we have argue. make a strong argument in which the way he thought about the world. i use a metaphor of a puffer fish. khrushchev was a puffer fish. it dose not want to be eaten by a bigger fish so they puff
themselves up. khrushchev understood that the soviet union was strategically inferior. he saw the united states as a threat to the world system he hoped for and as vlad and bill had argued, khrushchev was a romantic. he believed -- he was ideological and he felt over time that history would serve the soviet very well. in the short-term, the involve yets were as a ruvulnerable. you puff up the fish to avoid a war you know you're going to lose. the puffing up the fish had an unintended consequence. the american doesn't handle the puffer fish well. americans get scared and that's what the soviets hoped for and
then americans spend money on nuclear weapons when they get scared and the soviets couldn't compete. so in 1961, khrushchev believes -- he is well aware of the missile gap crisis. he believes this will have a restraining effect on the use of american power and perhaps, will lead to an agreement in central europe. kennedy, because he believe that is he is always dealing with a rational actor wants to change the incentive structure for khrushchev. so what he does is once the satellites provide -- the soviets are behind in the missile competition, he decides to share it with them by having a public statement.
the u.s. government dose that thinking if the soviets know they are behind, they will stop the risk taking. they will realize they should not be doing it. it has the opposite effect. he can't be a puffer fish anymore, everybody knows he is small. and that leads, i believe to the cuban missile crisis. the more research i do, the less important i think cuba is. that's just the way -- and in 1962, khrushchev attempts two different strategies for dealing with american power. the first is the meniscus strategy deciding to increase -- he says the international system is a goblet. and what you do is fill water right to the brim. and you bring it to the point
where you have a meniscus and the next drop of water will spill. the only way to restrain american power is to create crisis along the periphery of the american empire. no american adviser would ever assume that was the soviet approach but khrushchev made that the soviet approach and lasted for a month. until he saw the that americans were so powerful they can deal with the crisis along the border. so he needed another approach and puts missiles in cuba. in order to scare the americans so he can contain american power. one of the lessons of studying khrushchev that is relevant to today or a couple of them and then i'll finish with that is that americans tend not to understand that their country is a threat to other people.
americans believe -- i hate what am i doing generalizing. more often than not, american policymakers will believe that specific american actions will define how other countries view this country. when it's the fact of american power. the hugeness of the economy. the size of the american military which is a daily threat to many countries. which either will bandwagon with you or are going to try to oppose you. it's -- our very existence that poses a threat. khrushchev never lost track of the fact that the united states was more powerful and richer. he believed in the future if the competition were kept to ideology and economic interaction that the soviets would ultimately bury us.
like we die and they continue to live, they will be at our funeral. if you believe that we are a threat, that makes you understand why people would act against you. the second is if you accept the proposition that strategically inferior countries will try to deter us by scaring us, then will allow you to understand certain foreign countries. ipg it is less useful in understanding putin than north korea. or if we can go back in time understanding saddam hussein in 2001 and 2002. we have a hard time understanding dictators because we assume that they play the game the way we do. and one of the outcomes of starting the khrushchev/kennedy relationship is that you see that khrushchev was rational.
it's just his inputs and incentives were different. the united states didn't understand them. but what kennedy understood was that when push came to shove, khrushchev was not suicidal. he was wreckless but not a madman. and it's that basic understanding that you have to engage and be empathetic that laid the basis for kennedy's masterful handling of the cuba missile crisis. i believe it is messier than people think but the understanding of khrushchev as basically being someone who was not a madman that made possible the peaceful resolution. so the lessons i believe to sum up are that your adversary can be irrational in your eyes and actually be rational and the irrationalty that you have in the assessment is a function of
your assumptions. if you assume them to do one thing and they do something else, they are irrational but in fact, their thinking is logical. the other thing to keep in mind is that other countries are afraid of us and that that fear can lead them to take risks. and that we should be more introspective about the nature of their fear. this is not a judgment about moral -- this is not moral kwif lan si. i'm arguing that the nature of the american success of the united states in developing its power also leads to challenges. and the early '60s is a time where the united states tried to engage the soviets and they were dealing with a leader who didn't want engagement but revision. it's when he changes his mind that the system becomes more stable. so this is an argument for the
importance of individuals. there are structural issues but in the end khrushchev decides enough with the approach, i'm going to let kentucky hanedy ha. thank you. [ applause ] i'll throw out one question that relates to both of your essays and comments and then we'll open up the floor. can you delve into the back channelling from marc what you know from the kennedy side and particularly the robert kennedy back chaning and tim, what you know having delved into the archives on the other side of the ocean and lessons for today. in light of issues relating to
the channelling of the russians. >> tim has done great work on the back channel and its lack of use in fact, at several moments and in fact, it's misuse or at least the misinterpretation of the value when kennedy came to use it to try to figure out what was going on in the caribbean in the summer of 1962, it became clear that there was more and more soviet shipments being sent to the island. it appeared there were weapon systems being delivered to the island and what is going on and used as khrushchev to provide disinformation. so while it had been helpful in various places particularly with the resolution of the october tank crisis in 1961 to have a chance to talk out of the public
eye and such, i do think that at key points it helped to keep the conversation going and with regard to its use during the missile crisis. some of that conversation from bobby kennedy with -- phillip indicated in other communications. that's a front channel. a case where kennedy was delivering a specific message to bobby to speak to the person you want to convey a message tochlt the ambassador of the soviet union. it's a recognition that the standard channels you might use through state department may not always be effective. kennedy wasn't thrilled with the performance of the state department or the system itself. so i think it provided him some other options to try to hear
from people who's voices are not heard as frequently. and as we heard, those channels are being used today with regard to north korea which sounds like it is an encouraging sign. it is another way to keep the conversation going publicly. >> i think the kennedy -- the robert kennedy back channel is interesting as a reflection of john f. kennedy's understanding of domestic politics than a reflection on how the soviets were thinking. khrushchev was bafleed by this back channel. if you look at the way in which they managed it. the soviets didn't want that back channel. they thought the front door was good enough. kennedy felt like he had to use the back channel because he
wanted to offer things to the soviets that he couldn't talk about publicly. he want it had to be -- he didn't trust the state department. he used his brother. so i see the back channel as what john kennedy thought about the cold war. so the american university speech of 1963 reflected ideas that kennedy had in '61. there's a basic narrative for the kennedy -- it is actually i don't share it which kennedy is learning. kennedy thought the way of the cold war in '61 and couldn't say it publicly. he didn't have the chops. it's the cuban missile crisis that frees him to share this. he is sharing this with the
soviets in '61 but they are not listening. when he is not saying berlin -- and talks to him in a skating rink and saying berlin. he is getting the back chanl stuff. he didn't want to hear about a joint project to the moon. john kennedy proposed a joint project to the moon first. before he told the world that we'll go to the moon at the end of the decade. he said to the soviets let's do it together, the soviets didn't want to. the back channel to me is a reflection of what kennedy is thinking than anything about the soviets. khrushchev, yes uses it to pollute the relationship in the summer of 1962.
and one of the -- one of kennedy's mistakes was that this back channel was dangerous in this regard. he didn't share -- bobby kennedy rarely wrote up notes about the meetings. there are a few but mostly he didn't. he told his brother orally. he didn't share this not only with dean russ but with john mccomb, the head of the cia. so the cia analysts didn't know anything about what the soviets were saying to the kennedys in the back channel. i assure you because i looked a the this. if the soviet analyst heard in august of 1962 that the soviets were asking that the khrushchev was asking the president not to undertake surveillance of their shipping, some pieces that had not been coming together would
have come together. and i'll be precise about this t. there was a debate between the pentagon and cia over the importance of the shipments. and max taylor, and the pentagon said it doesn't matter. even though the shipments were accelerating in the summer, the the u.s. military wasn't worried about them. the cia something is weird here. they are breaking precedent. if max taylor and the president heard that khrushchev and one of the few things, khrushchev rarely asked for anything in the back channel, asked the united states to stop the surveillance. it would have stopped the debate. kennedy didn't share that with anybody. just him and his brother. there are dangers of the back channel if you don't share the material with the foreign policy team. it's fascinating about kennedy and i think it changes one's
view of kennedy but it shows the dangers of those kinds of operations. and in the end, i think it endured khrushchev in believing what kennedy said. it made the end of the cuban missile crisis possible because when bobby went to speak to -- and offered to remove the missiles from turkey, the soviets are accustomed to the president. >> intriguing in light of certain presidential laws. bob in the back there, thank you. >> so an observation and two questions. the observation is the more i listen to the excellent presentations, the more you find in my mind relating to the experience not to relations with russia today but including north
korea. i urge you to expand the universe in which we apply this. two questions, an old historical one. i've been curious why the soviets didn't make more of the fact of the removal of the jupiter missiles from turkey. it strikes me in a public diplomacy, this would have given him an opportunity to say i got a better deal than everybody expected and the united states capitulated. and the more current question to tim's point about disrup ters. how would you apply your insights to a situation with korea today where we have two disrupters, kim jong-un, president trump and he is not only disrupting the korean peninsula but the traditional american
economic orderer and you have the third ones which is the revisors. tell me what insights you have from that. that's great. i'm going to share an argument i had a good fortune to give a lecture at the university. i got a chance to try out my approach to north korea. they don't want to hear about the cuban missile crisis they want to hear about north korea. i'm a student of ernest maze, and i to know to be careful of analogies. most of them are fraudulent and the incomplete. for my sins i see the north koreans as puffer fish. now, of course if i had clearances and maybe we know that they are suicidal, if you accept the proposition that they
are not suicidal, you have to accept that proposition. if you accept the proposition that they no longer believe, if possible to invade south korea. and i'm pos itting those two things, i don't know it for sure. if you accept those two propositions then what we have here is the north koreans reacting to the threat of the united states and the fact, i'm not engaging moral e equivalence here. the united states viewed them publicly and said publicly they are a threat to the international system. they're an unstable dictatorship and it is useful for them to have an enemy. if you accept that, you manage them differently. they are not really a military threat. in fact, i think it is unlikely they would attack guam. i don't think they can actually
target. i don't think they know for sure if they launched a missile it wouldn't hit japan and they don't want to do that. you have to accept the propositions and then there's an issue of deterrence and you accept the fact they have nuclear weapon because they do. historically, nonproliferation hasn't worked with regard to countries that want nuclear weapons. you know, the united states didn't want israel to have nuclear weapons, and it failed. as rallies did what they needed and achieved what they wanted. united states didn't want india to have nuclear weapons. and they used denial and deception to get them. it goes on and on. when you can delay their acquisition of nuclear weapons. and you delay it long enough until the world is ready to deal and delaying iran is a great
achievement. if you accept the proposition that north korea has nuclear weapons and treat them like a nuclear state and you at tdeter them. i would like south korea to deter them. it pulls us into a fight that is not ours. north korea doesn't matter to us, and let south korea deal with them. we can deal with the south china sea which is our problem, that's my lesson. >> you talked about the north korean disruption, but in this case in your deterrence strategy might work if -- but there are two disrupters. >> the american disrupter, this is a different kind of containment. in the cold war we dealt with containing another power and
here we are containing the president. >> -- >> yes, his rhetoric is enflaming. if you accept my view on why the north koreans act the way they do, there couldn't be anything worst than the approach our president is taking with pyongyang. >> i love when discussions are per voktive and you per voeked me. i agree with your basic conclusion that adversaries are more rational than we think and other nations are afraid of us. but i don't think that you frame this entire issue appropriately. i really don't. and i think it is illuminated by the fact that you keep saying khrushchev said berlin, berlin,
berlin. actually, when khrushchev wrote to kennedy and talked to kennedy at vienna he did not say, berlin berlin berlin, he said germany, germany, germany. let me talk to you about germany. why we believe germany is a threat. let me explain to you what it was like during world war ii. let me tell you what it was like to be in ukraine and to experience german occupation. let me tell you about the way we perceive the evolution of west german power. i won't tell you, but i'm really afraid that west germany is a magnet to east germany. i'm afraid of the prospect that west germany may acquire nuclear
weapons. these were all fundamental issues that under gourded. under gourded khrushchev's motives. when you say khrushchev is a disrupter and you use that as a way to characterize him, you simplify and trivialize and it raises the whole question about, did kennedy really understand adversaries interest? maybe he did. maybe he did. but he wasn't willing to accommodate them. i'm not saying that he should have. but there is a real confrontation here of vital interest. and the notion moreover that you say americans did not think weaker adversaries would be risk
takers, i think -- the major issue you said at the beginning. we really need to talk about korea. so the overriding lesson of korea is that we americans, must build up military capabilities so that no competitor in the world in the future will take risks. we will have a per pond rans of power to deter future risk taking and so much of american policy through 1950s was about how much power do we really need to have to deter risk taking? and if risk taking should take place, how much power do we need to have and what sorts of
military capabilities do we need to have to dominate aness ka la toir crisis. i would like you to respond to those issues and reflect on whether that should help us reunderstand this con sect and the implications. >> it's fun to provoke. i think, i see that we have a fundamentally different approach to this. i give khrushchev more agency in this story. and maybe because of my generation or the fact that all of this detail came out and the got lost in it and enjoyed it. i see the soviets as making choices and khrushchev and making choices.
and i -- i found that -- that analysis that made the united states more significant in these outcomes were skewed by the fact that u.s. documents had existed when people were writing these books. and that may be unfair. but i don't see this as this russians dealing with an american world. i see the russians making their own choices. and to go to the details to answer you with detail. the penpalleters. they are really boring. they're interesting for us because it's all about trying to seek on the american side some
kind of agreement that would make the soviets feel secure. and it's all about berlin. it's the details of what it is the soviets are ultimately seeking in berlin. and the americans draw a line. one thing that kennedy cannot agree with is the removal of nato. and for khrushchev that is -- known for an agreement. so yes, about the feeling about world war ii and the sense -- although kennedy did not need to be lectured about world war ii. kennedy is all about trying to seek an understanding with the soviets. and they go into great detail. this drives the french mad. they don't even want to participate in these discussions. it is all this back and forth between paris and washington on whether to get into detail about berlin. so in the united states was
blind to khrushchev's needs and interests, i don't think you would see these detailed negotiations. they failed in the end because the americans couldn't go to where the soviets wanted to go. i respect you enormously and you raised another point that hasn't to do with berlin but west germany acquisition of nuclear weapons. and there t i believe the americans did screw up. because -- because the americans came up with the multinational force. in an effort to calm -- actually to find a way to make the french happy because the french wanted nuclear weapons and the united states didn't want them to have nuclear weapons. it is more baa varian, strauss's
desire, this was a european-centered approach with unintended consequences for moscow. they sew a proliferation of nuclear weapons within nato. they are angry. with the pen palleters which set the stage for khrushchev's decision making. they are talking about the details of berlin. i think ber let me know is really important. you know what, historians disagree that's part of the fun of our business. >> some what more narrower point. it sounds tim, if you are saying degull's advice would apply to north korea. and sort of connected to that, i'm wondering if retro spec
eisenhower came close to taking degull's advice compared to kennedy. eisenhower let himself be pressured into having the visit to the united states by khrushchev and the sum are in paris in 1960. i don't think eisenhower produced the same at the bay of pigs and kennedy's behavior at the summit of vienna which you didn't take seriously. he did strike as a young man who might be pushed around in ways that eisenhower with all of his seniority and military background might not. >> i don't think you should ever debate with a pull itser
biographer. in the transcript of the sessions, khrushchev describes kennedy aspect the same as eisenhower. we can have this discussion offline why people are convinced that khrushchev had this view. with the materials released in 2002 and 2003, i didn't say evidence of him saying that he was an immature guy that we can't take serious. he saw structures more important than individuals so he was interested in wall street and the pentagon and the issue for him is who is bigger to deal with pentagon and wall street. again, it is a fool's game to debate with such a brilliant biographer. i saw data that lead me in a different direction. with regards to north korea, given that north korea is a --
and the soviet union was a threat to us that behooved engagement. that was the argument for engagement. north korea was not that important. letting the south koreans engage and find a way to make them the source of deterrence is a better idea. as he pointed out, we have two disrupters and we should somehow contain or persuade the americans as disrupters so he doesn't rach up the volume. >> if you can come forward, this will be the last question. we want to leave equal time for the second half of the panel. on the eisenhower point, i'm recommending his forthcoming
book this march on eisenhower will be definitive work on the 34th president. >> i want to follow up about khrushchev being a disrupter to berlin. east germany was a crown jewel and they were losing it as the immigration of the particularly the talented and educated people leaving east germany to berlin. we know that. and the berlin wall saw inelegantly brutally solved that problem and the berlin crisis dissipated shortly after that. in term offense being a disrupter, it seems khrushchev was trying to defend his position instead of disrupting. i didn't mention will's book, will is the one who will tell us what eisenhower was thinking and
if he liked degull enough to take his advice. i don't agree with you about berlin. the berlin did not end in 1961, i know that is the standard view. but the soviet materials made clear for khrushchev it didn't end. and you have to keep in mind that he wants a change in the nature of the settlement in central europe and he does it and makes clear that he wants it in '62. in the beginning he says we have time, we can leave this aside. in the meantime we have to deter american power. and then in the summer of 1962, after the cubans accept the missiles. the soviet -- the soviet decision making system was first among equals. khrushchev was clearly more
powerful than everybody else. he calmed khrushchev down. the soviet leadership was by hi putting missiles in cuba which he came up with his himself when he was in bulgaria. they wanted to slow him down and said we will do this if the cubans wanted. well, the cubans are surprised. and when they say yes he gets excited because he sees the opportunity to put pressure on the united states and maybe achieve the changes in central europe that he was seeing and you see in the summer of 1962 the preparation for what i feel is sort of the -- if you remember the old mouse trap
game, soviets were setting up for a phenomenal moment at the united nations where he would make a speech and where he would threaten war with the united states if there wasn't a new settlement in berlin and he was doing that on the basis of his knowledge that he would have nuclear weapons in cuba at that time to pose a real threat to the american homeland. so if berlin had been solved in his mind in '61, i don't see how these events would have occurred as they did in '62. this is not to say the united states wasn't involved in provoking the soviets but i think we don't give enough agency to him. he is making decisions not always in response to an american action. he often makes decisions in response to the existence of the united states. >> i would just add to follow up, one of my big takeaways from your work is that regarding berlin versus cuba and the
rational for the deployment of the missiles, he is saying different things to those different levels within the hierarchy. to first tier officials he is talking about berlin but to the second tier officials it doesn't mean it's the secondary reason but probably gravitating in that direction. those are the people hearing more about the cuba rational. >> it's spin. the cuba rational, the spin that comes out later because he's trying to explain why he did this. the question about why he doesn't take credit, that's a great question and i know why he doesn't initially because the americans say to him if you say anything about the turkish deal it won't happen. then he, 64 he's out. why he doesn't take credit in his memoirs i don't understand.
but at length, because i mean, because the chinese and the cubans were vicious in attacking him for the outcome and you'd think because he's quite repetitive in these -- in his that he would have really gone to town against them saying, you know, i just couldn't tell them and he doesn't do that and i can't explain why. >> we could spend the next half going back over this material but please join me in thanking tim and mark and we'll move on. >> here's what's coming up today on c-span 3 american history tv. up next, more about u.s. soviet relations with a look at president richard nixon and then how president reagan and george h.w. bush interacted and then later the working relationship
between george h.w. bush and bill clinton and the russian leader and be sure to join us tonight for american history tv in primetime. we will continue our look at the relationship between u.s. and soviet union leaders from the university of virginia's miller center. you can see american history tv primetime beginning at 8:00 eastern tonight here on cspan 3. elsewhere join us later today when new america here in washington hosts a panel discussion on the influence of politics on race. live coverage at 4:30 p.m. eastern on cspan. and later a discussion with white house press secretary sarah sanders and the former white house press secretary. that will be followed by a panel discussion with white house c r
correspondents also on cspan. >> where history unfolds daily. in 1979 cspan was created by america's cable television companies and today we continue to bring you unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme court and public policy events in washington d.c. and around the country. cspan is brought to you by your cable or satellite provider. >> join us tonight for portions of the first summit from new orleans. the event focussing on issues such as campaign finance, and redistricting. speakers include jennifer lawrence interviewing trevor potter regarding super packs and political candidates. here's a preview. >> okay. so if there's a wall between can
candidates and super pacts. if i throw big money at a super pacts my personal politician does not get to decide how it's spent, right? >> well, that is technically correct except that the people that do decide how to spend it are usually the former campaign manager of the candidate or close friends of the candidate and one of my favorite examples it was actually the parents of the candidate who are running the super pact they can also share common vendors so they can use the same consultants so it's useful to see it as the other pocket on the candidates coat. >> but if the candidate tells the super pact exactly what to do with the money that's illegal. >> that would be illegal. >> okay. >> however first they have to
get first and then the fec has to have a majority vote on whether to investigate it and they have basically deadlocked on it the last couple of years. >> that is just a short portion from the unrig the system summit in new orleans. watch it tonight starting at 8:30 eastern on cspan. the discussions included assessments of franklin d. roosevelt, jfk, george h.w. bush and bill clinton as well as their russian counter parts. this is about an hour.