tv Stephen Randolph Interview CSPAN December 1, 2013 5:15am-5:46am EST
want to introduce you to stephen raldolf. the historian of the u.s. department of state, dr. raldolf. what do you do? i direct the history program here. i have about -- historian. from predominantly diplomatic and area study background. we have a series of missions. the one that bring you here, i think, today. we published the foreign relations of the united states series. but just to make sure we understand the context. the other third of the office or so do historical able cease and support of policy making at the state department and normal official history aspect
documenting the history of the department. so incredibly productive and interesting work i get to do. the formulation series began in 1861 with a request from congress for some of the documentation associated with a diplomacy of the opening of the civil war. and it's continued ever since then. which is a series of incredible miracles, i think, that this series has survived and matured as it has. we operate under now a -- 1990 in the immediate after math of the cold war, which put the series, for the first time in this entire history on a statutory basis. it districts the state department through my office to compile and publish the thorough, accurate, and reliable history of american foreign relations and the significant diplomatic activity. it provides us by law, access to archives from all across the government. the intelligence community, department of defense, national security counsel, state department, obviously, and man
dates that we try to publish this material within 30 years of the events as they occurred. and we're very good at every part of our mandate except the 30 year part. our hawaiians, we have 20 of them go to the presidential library and the various archive and different agencies. amass the material, come back and select from among thousands of documents they come up with. the generally 350 that tell a narrative of the development and execution of policy. then it goes, again, within the office through an editorial process two different levels of edit. once it's cleared up who had the extremely complicated and granular task of coordinating declassification across the different agencies and the intel community. department of defense. once it's taken care of.
we send it to the editors. we have about six editors on staff here. they are what i call the goal keeper for quality. one of the aspects of the program that surprised me when i got here, which was a couple of years ago. i used the series as a researcher just my academic work and teaching in my prior existence. i was surprised to find the extremely rigid disciplined editorial process, and standards that are kept here. and extremely important the overall value of the series. the idea is not just to publish the documentary history. but to tell a community where to get to get the rest of the story. where they can find the right documents. it's done within the footnoting and the appation that is done. >> host: so stephen raldolf, is it because of the classified materials that it takes up to 30 plus years to publish the official history? >> guest: pretty much, yeah.
the timeline to publish is kind of expanded gradually throughout the entire history of the series. when it first began up until a century ago, in fact, it was basically kind of a working compilation of the ongoing diplomacy of the department. they publish one year's documents the following year. and over time for various reasons, the public indication date slipped further and further from the date of the activity. now by law, material 25 years old is subject to declassification review. and so we get access to the material at 25 and troy to publish it by 30. given the complexity of the process and the declassification, the editorial, and publication processes, of course, take considerable time or -- we're pretty much challenged to get forward the 30-year point. >> host: do you base it on presidential administrations? >> guest: yeah. we do. that's been a change over the course of the history. there have been various sort of editorial strategies used.
now, for example, we're working predominantly in the carter administration and working with the nixon administration and ford material out through the declassification and publication process. the carter material is kind of the heart of our current endeavor. we're working about 22 volumes of the reagan administration as well. and so just by total, we have about 68 volumes in word now, which is a by a wide margin, i think the largest documentary history program on earth. even before you set aside the other functions of the office on the declassification and access issues that we face, it's just a huge very complicated endeavor. >> host: do you cover soup to nuts when you talk about the foreign relations? foreign policy? >> guest: yeah. a lot of aspects of the series i think has matured with diplomacy, as a matter of fact. it's something i'm proud of.
with respect to how we approach an administration, for example, when i first got here a couple of years ago. we were beginning to kind of gaze across the pond at the reagan administration coming down the line. we had to figure out how to organize the series. and so you have a series of thought processes that is to go through. what are the major issues and cry seize. what are the ongoing lines of diplomacy. what are your resource, actually. if you publish the stuff in anything close to 30 years. you have to make sure you have the staff on hand to dot work rapidly enough to meet the statutory requirement. so we sat down upfront and always realizing things change as you got box and find the archive. we have an overall plan for the series that comprise 48 volumes for the eight years of the reagan administration. we did '64, i think for the nixon administration. about 30 for the carter administration. by the time we are done. and typically we make a plan, as
we say, to be able to vector our efforts toward the main lynn of activity of the administration. as i say, once you get in to the archives you don't want to be so unflexible you are up able to respond what you find. that's the beauty of research. these are the best researchers sitting outside my office here. what has happened over time as diplomacy has kind of evolved. the means of government decision making about diplomacy of change -- the series has changed to accommodated -- accommodate all of those things. it's part of the real beauty of the law passed? 1991. it anticipated this. it made the series the gold standard, i think, for similar around the world. we have know desire to do that. it's something that the editorial process among other things is known make sure that we avoid, you know, our historians are out there
strictly to find it's one reason it's not a narrative history tended to be intempted by definition. even just in doing documentary history, it's hard to avoid bias. and so we have the historians do this work under the supervision of a division chief who does a careful review for the substance of the material being provided and the annotation. then it goes through the general editor for the final quality to make sure we achieve the statutory mandate. that's the bar we're jumping over. it's a high bar. accurate and reliable. >> host: stephen, behind you are some of the volume of the foreign relations of the united states. are these assessable to the american public? >> host, you know. that's a good news story we have. first of all, yes they are. and the beauty of what is ongoing as we speak here. it --
we transitioned to the world of technology. i have an ipad with 15 of these volumes stored. you can it's just a marvel louse utility. both for the individual researcher and the office as a whole. we have the material mounted our website. it gets downloaded all over the world. it's not just assessable to the american audience but policy makers and student of foreign relations worldwide. to include a lot of people who learn about their own nation's foreign policy, in large part, by access to our volumes. >> host: what is your sphwhkd >> guest: i had a career in the office, actually. i grew up on a farm and went to the air force academy 27 years retired as a colonel. and spent time on thes who knee ya war.
i had a look at the interagency policy process which has been hugely important to the work here. understanding how it works in practice. and toward the end of my career i went to the national defense university and started work on doctoral program at george washington university. got a doctorate along the way and got contact bid the state department a about two two and a half years ago. the incumbent asked me to consider coming to work here. it got me to thinking. here we are. >> dr. raldolf, who uses these volumes? who reads these? >> guest: well, first of all, there's an answer to that. a philosophical answer. the real purpose of the volume is to provide the transparency and the accountability that is courted with democracy. if you don't have insight in to what your government is doing in the end, you can't create that
kind of understanding and accountability. and there are various proxies. they have changed over time. when the series first started, again, it was primarily an internal audience within the state department as working documents. as the series evolved, i would say that at this point there are several primary audiences. first of all, you have policy makers, really, across the government studying the anteseed end to the issues they are now working. very often they are the same issues either identical or in a sort of similar guise. the educational establishment. when i was at the national defense university, for example, we used the material we find here to teach the upcoming senior leadership of the government and the military about strategic decision making and how the government works. the most visible and active, i think, audience is the academic community. we have historyial advisory committee, again, mandated by
the same 1990 law that created our overall activity of at this point. most of those members are representatives of the major historical, political science, the american society for international laws is represented there. and what we find is that our immediate feedback and whatever good or bad we do is most often noticed by the academic community. and what we create here, i think, is the foundation to the understanding of how this government performs in a world of foreign relations. you have to do a lot of work in addition to what we provide. but you can't avoid going through this pathway we established. >> do you know do other departments have historian on the same mandate? >> they don't. i returned from a conference on my counter part orlando the world staged in geneva. it was interest. there were 30 nations represented. they all have some general form of a program like we do.
but nothing, nothing remotely resembling the scale or the power with which we address this mandate. the other historical programs around the government mostly they donortive history. a lot of policy support. military history programs tend to be the largest -- but we're the only ones mandated, particularly, to do the documentary history program. i regretted there's no counter part in the civilian world to look at domestic policy. that would be even more complicated, i think, than what we do. i'll leave that to others. >> host: when you have gone through the past volumes. anything surprise you? >> guest, you know. it's a surprise in every document to tell you the truth. privately, a scholar of the nixon administration and the vietnam war. my dissertation covered nap i published that derived from it. and that's kind of when i read volume for fun. i tend to work through the
vietnam material. if you can calm that fun. on every page there's something of interest. and there's a part of reason why i like coming to work here. not only am i serving the exact purpose in providing this transparency to the american people. every document tells a story. i was going through a compilation of one of my new historians put together on relations between the soviet union and the u.s. during the reagan years. it will come out in a few years. just to see how the transition from the carter administration to the reagan years happen. how they proceed from a general attitude toward this relationship to trying to define specific policy and work it through the government. it's just rivetting material. and to see the interplay of permits. -- personality. so every volume has a form of that. it's a matter of time until we get the stuff out. >> host: if people watching the interview want to access the
material? >> guest: history.state.gov. that's what we created inside my office. you'll find 11 different data sets on the different sexual somatic material. you have the history of the department, biography of the secretaries of state, you've got what e with the milestone in american foreign policy. the different individual decisions and themes that evolved over time. and then in addition to all of that, you'll find the digitized foreign relations volumes. and not only are we publishing now a little bit of an addition to an earlier question. publishing everything now in digital form and collectively in hard copy to save on the publication costs. we are also digitizing back toward the origination of the series in collaboration with the university of wisconsin. t a wonderful collaboration. they provide sort of the raw material, which we then digitize and provide a more kind of
user-friendly search engine and format and everything. and provide it back to them. so everybody gets a benefit out of this thing. we've gotten this work back to the start of the eisenhower administration, and we actually get to target that a little bit. we've asked them for the term associated with world war i. in part because there's so much interest in that particularly in europe. our office is doing at lough preparatory work for our embassies over there on the outbreak of the war and american's role in the diplomacy and relationship with the governments at that time. >> host: why the university of wisconsin? how do say that get involved? >> guest: well, they are the people with the online -- full onlynn -- line set of the foreign relations series. it's the darnest thing ever. i don't know how or why. it's a wonderful relationship now. we're making each other better. >> host:
>> host: joining us on booktv is kathleen razz mous m. 19 77 to 1980 valium iii. kathleen, what was your job? >> guest: my job was to put this volume together in short. my job was to go to the archives, to comb through thousands of pages of documents. in are civile collections raging from the department of state to the national security counsel, more general white house office files, as well as the papers of the u.s. representative for
trade negotiations. and also the department of tissue i are, of -- treasury. i spent about a year going through the archive collections looking at thousands documents. copying them, scanning them, and bringing them back to the office then i spent a good amount of time going through them. trying to pick out the 350 or so most important, most representative documents that told the story of the carter administration's approach to foreign economic policy. >> host: foreign economic policy. >> guest: foreign economic policy. >> host: you concentrated on the economics. >> guest: indeed. in particular i look at the administration monetary policy, the trade policy, as well as the approach to the cubs. >> host: what did you learn? >> guest: gosh! what did i learn? i learned it was a very interesting volume for me to do. i had done the foreign economic
policy volume dealing with the nixon-/ford administration. clearly it was my specialty. and i was very interested to see how a lot of the stories were finished. stories i had seen that started during the early 18970 and see them playout. it was interesting to see similarity of approach. differences in approach between the republican administration as well as a democratic administration. and i learned, i guess i take away sort of some of the sort of big themes and big lessons -- big themes i discovered during the time. i took away one of the big themes they took away was how the carter administration dealt with the variety of the major challenges that it faced in the global economy. and the global economy in the '70s was in a state of flux. the united states, which for the
generation after world war ii, had been the world's most robust economy was increasingly challenged by revitallyization of germany and japan. less developed countries were -- text tiles and shoes. the 1973/'74 oil shock and oil price hike lead to a shifting of financial power. and the united states -- and that same oil price hike, of course, that helped with the recession in the middle years of the decade. that carter had to grapple with as well. it was just very interesting to see where -- how he was able to succeed. how he was ability to approach these challenges. to american prosperity. >> host: so kathleen, as the years went by,' 77, '78. did you see the focus of the economic's policy change? >> guest: it certainly did change.
for example, one of the big issue that the administration faced was trade deficit. when we think about trade deficit today we think it's what we have. these are the -- annual phenomena. for the united states. in fact when carter came top office in '77 it was very new. the united states had only experienced the first trade deficit in 1971. it first since '80 and '90s. it was a new phenomena. and the previous nixon/ford administration. the u.s. sort of to -- carter come in to office they start on a more permanent character. initially, initially, the administration isn't quite sure what to do about the deficit. they think it's a more situational more temporary phenomena. they think it's a result of excessive -- not excessive but high price we're paying for imported oil. they also think it's a result of the fact that the united states is recovered relatively better
from this recession in the mid '70s and the trading partners. meaning we were -- what should we do about it? initially the lessons were we shouldn't really do anything. we don't want to make it seem like it's a problem. it will work i.t. out as congress passes the energy package. as economies abroad start buying more of our stuff. and this is a problem that will vently sort i.t. out. but of course, it was not a problem that sort itself out. and as 1977, 1978, the administration begins to see that persistence of the trade deficit is having important
implications abroad in particular. it's convincing traders in international financial markets that perhaps -- perhaps the carter administration is not serious about dealing with the challenge. and what you see you start seeing trader of financial markets start dumping dollars. the dollars start to decline quite rapidly in the last half of '77 and '78. suddenly there's a flurry of activity. the conversations and meetings and meetings within the u.s. governments as well as foreign relations about what do we do about the declining dollar. they try a host of efforts to promote exports. to get to increase domestic production of energy, to eventually control inflation. do anything they can to restore the confidence of the money markets. and the carter administration's ability to handle this crisis of the trade deficit. and what i found most interesting about it was that so
often happens in foreign economic policy volumes, of course, the economics is paramount. because also the politics. what was really interesting was that carter administration officials concluded that if we don't deal with the trade deficit and deal with the declining dollar. we are going zap the confidence of americans at home. we're also -- there's going a nichement of confidence abroad, and increasingly, our trading partner may well question our ability to lead. not only in the economic realm but even within sort of the broader western alliance. so it becomes a crisis of leadership. long before -- long before jimmy carter makes the famous speech crisis of confidence. american officials are acutely aware there's this concern that the administration is not acting with enough determination and enough will to tackle these
challenges. finally, in late 19678, they're able to enact a series of measures domestically to control inflation as well as to stimulate domestic production and conservation of energy as well as working with some of our partners such as west germ -- germany to control the $4 million, finally, finally, finally variable to sort of stop the memos and meetings and negotiations. because finally the dollar stabilizes. so there is is very much shift particularly in the first two years. that's where a lot of action in my volume lies in particular in those first two years. once question get to 1979 particularly toward the end of 1979. other matters start to preoccupy the number of the current administration. and innovation of afghanistan. what's cool, you can see it in the volume of paper. like, it's a physical change
almost. and so if you have, say, this many documents to look at 1977, this many for 1989. '80. their attention is focused elsewhere. >> host: do you find that contemporaneous books about the carter administration were accurate, inaccurate? >> guest: there was a sense of carter, i think, at the time as well as sense had certainly had a reputation for micromanagement. i think some scholars would suggest indeed his intelligence combined with his attention to detail meant that sometimes he was a bit of a micromanager. and indeed you do see that, actually, in the documents. the attention that carter gives to the various memoranda and the papers midded --
submitted for approval is truly impressive. to the point where, you know, he's reading 20-page memoranda on various issues, which you didn't see his predecessors do. on the one hand it's -- if he's reading 20-page memoranda about every single topic that come before him. it sometimes can be a bit of a problem. the idea of carter as micromanager definitely is in the volume. another contemporary judgment about the carter administration, i believe there was a theory among some that the administration engaged in something called benign neglect of the u.s. dollar. that suggests that particularly in the treasury department, the secretary of treasury, michael bloomen that saw the dollar declining and didn't really do touch stop it. of course, a declining dollar means nobody