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tv   Ronald Reagans Tear Down This Wall Speech  CSPAN  November 23, 2021 9:24pm-10:33pm EST

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>> today, a conversation host
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with the ronald reagan institute. in a moment, jamie fly, william charles inboden and h.r. mcmaster will join me in discussing president reagan's 1987 tear down this wall speech. but since i was the speech writer wrote the speech, i've been asked to actually -- h.r. mcmaster has ordered me to tell the story of the speech. might be we -- you can see my name as the speech writer in the upper left hand corner. first, some historical background. after the second world war, west were lynn, which is the portion of berlin itself, remain under american, british and french control even as east berlin and all of surrounded
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east germany came under the control of a communist regime. this is very important to grasp. that west berlin was completely surrounded by the communists. on the screen now, you can see west berlin is this little john dot inside east germany. again, after the war, thousands of east german's league the communist regime in east germany to the democratic west. how did they do this? very often they do it just by stepping across the street into west berlin. and what they were in west berlin, they could get on a tree which had the right to cross the east german territory to the west. so, leaving listen poll. and by 1960, one 5th of the entire population of east germany had done just that. they fled. to stop this enormous exodus, the east german's proposed a
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physical barrier and moscow agreed. and in middle of the night, august 13th, 1961, the east german's strung barbed wire all the way around west berlin, cutting it off. there is a slide that shows this barbed wire. the east german's would later replace the barbed wire with cinder blocks. and later, they would replace the cinder blocks with slabs of concrete, 13 feet high. more than a quarter of a century later, the berlin wall remained in place, again, in circling west berlin. here's a slight that shows where the wall cut off the brandenburg gate and since president reagan mentioned the gate in the speech, you know that the brandenburg gate was an 18th century monument that had once served as the ceremonial entrance to berlin. again, the berlin wall cut that off. and that brings me to the
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speeches. it's the spring of 1987, i'm a young speech writer in the reagan right white house. until that that president will speak in front of the berlin wall. that he'll have an audience of between 10 and 40,000 people. about 40,000 people. that he'll speak for about half an hour. and then given the settings the subject will be foreign policy and that was all the guidance i got. i moved to west i flew berlin with the her to american west berlin prevents party. that is the with the security security people who would work out security with the people have west german, unchecked at the camera angles and so forth and to gather material for stopping in berlin. first the site where the president would speak it's very difficult to convey how momentous the place felt. just a few feet away was the reichstag which still bore damage from the second world
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war. i climbed an observation platform over the wall to look into east berlin behind me west berlin, modern city, on the other side of the wall, colorless nurse, more soldiers than pedestrians. on one side life, on the other side of kind of no life. next, i went to the office of the ranking american diplomat and he was full of ideas about what president reagan should not say. east west relationship to very nuanced. no anti communist ragged rhetoric, don't mention the wall, no call me bashing. then i was given a ride in the u.s. army helicopter over the wall. and in the air look even worse, because in the air you could see will lay on the other side of the wall. kind of a killing zone, in no man's land.
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guard odds wires. when i broke away from the american party in the evening to, go to a dinner party was put on for me by data and single burke else. dieter had worked at the pearl bank in washington and we had friends in common in washington. we talked about this and that. they told me they had all gotten used to the berlin wall. that turned out to be incorrect. they may have stopped talking about it after all these years but, if you asked, it became very clear they still hated that wall every day. our host nate the calmest that if gorbachev was serious with his paris striking glass noticed he could come to berlin and prove it by getting rid of the wall. i put that in my notebook immediately because i knew that if ronald reagan had been there in my place, he would've responded to the simplicity of the decency of the remark.
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back in washington, drafted the speech, it went to the president one weekend he was at camp david. there's a story there because almost always the reagan white house speech would go to staffing before it went to the president. this weekend we are able to persuade the staff secretary to get it to the president before went to staff. the following monday, this would be may 18th, 1987 to, speech writers met in the oval office with the president and the president singled the passage about tearing at the wall has something he particularly wanted to say. that wall needs to come down and that's what i want to say. then the speech went out to staffing, and for the three weeks until the president delivered, with the state department in the national security council opposed it and tried to stop it, in part by submitting one alternative
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draft after another, each which omitted the phrase turn on the wall. is a common where it's exit out the call to tear down the wall. there's a memorandum to colin powell, was number two in the security council at the time, and as you'll see a memorandum calls a speech mediocre and a missed opportunity. in italy, the president in attending an economic summit before going to west berlin, in italy as they got on air force one to fly to west berlin, the state department cable over yet another alternative draft and in west berlin, i heard this from can do bernstein, the deputy chief of staff who is traveling with the president, ronald reagan explained that he was going to deliver the speech as written, and then the boys it state are gonna kill me for this, but it's a great thing to do. that is the story of the speech
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the ronald reagan delivered on june 12th, 1987. >> there is one sign that the soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. general secretary gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the soviet union and eastern europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. mr. gorbachev, open escape. we'll [applause] ian open this gate. [applause] >> mr. gorbachev, --
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mr. gorbachev, tear down this wall! >> [applause] >> jamie fly is the president and ceo of radio free europe and radio liberty. he served during the bush administration and the national security council in the office of's national defense. heels decrease from national university and georgetown. he served as the chair for the clements for national security at the university of texas in austin, during the bush administration he served in the state department at the national security council. he holds his degrees from stanford and his undergraduate degree from stanford and his doctorate from yale. jake mcmaster served as -- an in the united states army in which he wrote to lieutenant general. he's the author of the classic
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work enough chemist dereliction of duty, and last year he published -- a fellow at the hoover institution, general like matt not mcmaster hold an undergraduate degree from the united states military degree and a doctorate from the university of north carolina chapel hill. jimmy will hr thanks for joining us. jamie fly, but set the scene. on his first trip to germany in 1978, i'm quoting usa for the regan institute, on his first trip to germany, 1978, reagan visited the site for 16 years earlier 18 year old peter factor who is an east german who tried to escape the wall, was shot and blood to death in no man's land. the former california governor and his delegation also ventured into east berlin and were disturbed by what they saw of life under east german communism. to meet, between 1970 and
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ronald reagan first visited the wall a 1987 when he spoke in front of the wall, whatever has changed? to use the soviet term, who had the correlation of forces shifted? >> thanks for having me to the reagan institute, peter great to be with you, because i was struck when will and general mcmaster names were addition to mine. i think we've all said who you've done an amazing job for the foray of the development of speech alive. thank you for that because future generations will be able to understand the context of history better. when i was writing the essay and looking at that period, what struck me was how much the german public had suffered during that period. as decades passed and germans, especially west berlin or's
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moved well beyond the initial establishment of the wall which happened almost overnight in some neighborhoods. and speaking berlin -- it happened very suddenly. families, friends weren't prepared for it, some were thrust into a situation where became difficult for them to interact for a quickly, for others it took longer. people as you noted, some people took their lives into their own hands, took the risk of trying to leave into the west. for my understanding of german history, as time went on, people came more and more depressed. so by 1987, you had also had success of german governments, which some of their policies had given an indication that perhaps they valued the change would be simple and quick and how they pursued various types of engagement with both east germany and the soviet union
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often to the consternation of u.s. administration, and so i think reagan's arrival came at a key moment when germans, especially west germans needed a shot in the arm. they needed that encouragement that change was possible, that hope should be maintained for some sort of different future for germany. so the stars aligned in that respect and that reagan visit. >> jimmy quote the state department official whom i saw in berlin. this is an article he wrote much. later by 1987, quote, folks in germany and much of europe or not with ron reagan but with mikael gorbachev close quote. by 1987 it's clear that the soviet union is stagnating, and 1987, the united states is resurgent. and everyone else in the world can see that including the germans. yet germans your missy
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gorbachev is a more hopeful figure. we go to hr mcmaster, how can that have been hr? >> i think it has everything to do with confidence. confidence in our democratic form of government. confidence in how we are as a people. confidence in the transatlantic relationship, and the free states of europe at the time. what i hope to do with my essays make and-ology analogy and to that point you're making implicitly. that we can regain our confidence in who we are as a people, in our democratic form of government. i think we can do with effective leadership and with some clarity, clarity that that speech provided and the leadership that ronald reagan provided. we'll, i'm quoting you, coming out of the fight. quote the comments from the state department and the staff give a flavor of their
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thinking. i put up a couple of fights earlier, will you provide a much more extensive overview of their comments on speech drafts. you're quoting the state department this won't fly with the germans. not sentimental people seem silly, this must come out. west germans do not want to see east germans insulted. week, needs concrete ideas, not sentimental fluff. too much emphasis on good guys versus bad guys. okay. the state department and the amnesty did not like that speech on. i quoted little bits and pieces but these were highly intelligent, very experienced people, not that stock went through my mind. where they thinking? >> well i think they were reflecting a lot on conventional wisdom and have the day and i don't think that
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-- i think this is where really brings a strategic genius that he was -- all summarize it this way. most of the conventional foreign policy of the day including any previous american president during the cold war had seen the cold war as primarily a great power contest between the powerful soviet union and the powerful united states. they saw their job is largely managing that. don't let the soviets expand anymore but at the same time we need to assume slovenian and the warsaw pact will be there in perpetuity. permanent fixture in alaska. reagan as you know very well, he reversed that he saw the cold war as mainly a battle of ideas, and that happens to have two powerful companies countries. freedom against tyranny, capitalism against communism, democracy against dictatorship
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on. he also thought of the cold war in terms of how does it hurt individual people, and he was aware of the sentiments many of the people living behind the iron curtain. the east germans trapped behind the wall there, a lot of sentiments you picked up at that dinner party. so reagan was willing to go against a lot of the expert opinion and the state department and the establishment they wanted to see the cold war put in a box, and say no we can push this harder. we can stand up for our ideas, and speak to the people behind the iron curtain. it was an entirely strategic vision about what the cold war was all about, so he was not willing saying this is not sentimental fluff, we should be speaking to the heart of the german people, and speaking to
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the heart of the soviet people. >> does anybody feel any urge. hr, you ran a national security council. let me put it this way. there was an event a few years ago to mark the 30 years ago of the fall of the berlin wall. and as cheney noted, i don't need too much prompting to tell the story of the speech, very sophisticated scholar of diplomacy who said wait a minute, that speech worked out up. it does not prove that it was the right decision to give it. george schultz among others thought the speech might put gorbachev in a tight spot. he tried to work with the americans and the president comes along and challenges you says we're trying to do camera? -- 's jamie, you're right in the
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middle of berlin, germans a forgotten speech or, don't care to be remembered. we are giving you guys a chance. >> the process is important because you want to give the president a broad range of views. the national security adviser john, your job you are the only person in the united states government in the foreign policy and national security arena who has the president as his or her only client. their job is to give the president a say. so it's really important they spend time with the president on as you did peter and i had a great relationship with your old friend in the white house and we work together very early and then i would ensure that those speeches got to the president early so he could put his imprint on it.
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i think if you look at president trump's warsaw speech for example, there are echoes of the brilliant speech in that speech. it's a messy, important aspect of the job i think to help the president craft speeches that allow him to first of all, decide on one's foreign policy agenda is, but importantly in our democracy to make a public. it is important that the american people support these initiatives but i think a lot of times presidents don't realize enough, especially if there's more domestic focus like president trump was for example, i think president sometimes underestimate the degree to which those overseas hang on every single word of a presidential speech. yes i think this is what you got so right. that speech spoke to an
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international audience and a powerful >> and profound way. , well, mightily let's be clear of one thing. i wrote it, there's this strange thing, i wrote it as far as it goes. but it was 100 percent ronald reagan. i would not have written that for every anybody else, and i can tell you that because i have worked for george h. w. bush. reagan alone and regan alone would have insisted on delivering the speech when he had seen it, with our other objections. george bush, vice president bush in every foreign policy speech, the first question he would always ask me when i drafted a foreign policy speech, has state approved of this? that was his first question. so, jamie, listen to this story, all 3 of you -- but jamie next. well stay with ronald reagan here for a moment. this is a story, a famous story, told to me by dick gallon, who is your predecessor.
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ronald reagan's first national security adviser. the years 1977, record is now a former governor. he has just lost the republican presidential nomination to gerald ford. so far, there is no indication he's going to run for president. still, he's paying close attention to quote world affairs. dick gallon stopped by his house and brief him on world affairs. and then reagan said well, would you like to hear my theory of the cold war? dick allen said of course governor. ronald reagan, i'm quoting now from decode put this down in writing. this is reagan speaking, some people think i'm simplistic, but there's a difference between the simple and being simplistic. my theory about a cold war is, that we win and they lose. well, how do you operationalize that?
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here's the whole -- richard nixon, détente, henry kissinger, jimmy carter. i think is genie the senior jimmy carson gave his speech. -- it feels risky, now that i'm older, it feels a little risky to me. jamie? >> i'm a big fan of the approach. obviously, especially given where i stand today on radio liberty. i think the moral clarity of region is incredibly essential here. authoritarian's ultimately are incredibly fearful. they're fearful of their own citizens. and when they realize that democracies are resilient and united and up to the task, that strikes fear into the heart of every authoritarian leader. i think that's ultimately what regan understood and why this
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speech was so powerful. now, in terms of what a president says in a setting like this that in terms of presenting the moral clarity, the vision. then you could be the tactics and that diplomacy and the negotiation. which obviously regan engaged in extensively. one brief comments on the inter agency process. a conversation that was happening earlier. i only had a bit rule in the forthcoming bush administration. but i work for senator marco rubio for 4 years. what i found in all of the policy jobs i held in washington, because that far too many people in the governments and the national security apparatus lose sight of ultimately who they work for and why -- whether it's the president or a center, they are in that position. it is ultimately their voice. most of those people were elected for the right reasons.
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the public put their confidence in them for a certain resume. and a lot of the process is necessary, ultimately many staffers i think, strive to boxing their principles. to move their principles through something like a speech writing process. and they forget fundamentally were their bosses vision is. their bosses instinct. and i had many personal experiences even in my short time working in the senate, where we would debate for hours over email or disease, about a speech. then you would put it in front of your boss and they would quickly resolve all of the issues, because it wasn't even a question for them. and i think from what i've read of your comes, peter it sounds like the speech was one of those. e read of your>> all i can see e heck are you guys when i needed you 34 years ago? okay, a little more scene setting. autumn of 1989. we're a little bit more than 2 years after reagan delivers the
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speech. and the eastern eastern city of leipzig churches began holding weekly prayer services followed by demonstrations which were peaceful. these weekly demonstrations grow. they spread the across the country of east germany. by early november, a demonstration of more than 100,000 has marched into east berlin itself. this brings us to the 9 night of november 9th, 1989, with the east german politburo's meeting and they decided to change the rules concerning border crossings. and one member of the politburo goes out to brief the press and gets it wrong. some small technical change their considering that will take place sometime. but he gets it wrong and the reporter says wait a minute, do you mean that all border controls have ended? immediately? and the politburo member things
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for a moment and says, yes. this is on radio and television within minutes, literally just a few minutes. east german getting streaming to the forecheck points of the berlin wall. the sherman guards have no idea what's going on. they have not received new orders. and there's a tense moment as the crowd grows. they begin shouting. car horns honking and the guards realize they have 2 choices. use force or open the gates. and they open the gates. and the berlin wall has ceased to function. again, reagan speech on 1987 at the wall falls, ceases to function, effectively falls on november 9th, 1989. where those 2 events connected in any way, will? >> absolutely, peter. i think we can tracey direct effect. i don't want to take this too far.
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of the, sleeve the people of germany sir deserved tremendous credit for their own agency in rising up and taking down the wall. there's of course this really fascinating historical accidents of miscommunication and its level communist bureaucrats and a couple of -- but how did those circumstances even come about? to make the german people feel like they could rise up for freedom when if you look at the history of the cold war, 1968, budapest. previous times when east german citizens would try to claim their freedoms and the soviet tanks would roll in. i think the commonality i would draw is that president reagan gave voice to the hopes and circumstances, and change the correlation of courses, so that the german people could take advantage of that opportunity when history presented itself. i want to add one other thing on that.
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this does get to the role of gorbachev in expertise. because one reason why the wall was able to come down peacefully in november of 1989, was because -- gorbachev didn't send the tanks rolling in. i want to go to go back to one of the most important parts of tear down this wall, it's what reagan says right before. mr. gorbachev, tear down this wall. why does he direct that to gorbachev rather than just an abstract, throwing words into the air hoping the wall will come down? because for all of our discussion earlier, that when that speech is being written, which member of the united states government knew gorbachev best? which member of the united states governor had spent more time with gorbachev than any other american? ronald reagan. that's why regan knew that from his countless hours with gorbachev at the geneva summit, the reykjavik summit, letters,
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phone calls, he had a sense of this guy gorbachev. that i can push him further. i can put that demand into tear down that wall. and it wasn't going to cause a complete rupture in the entire relationship. it was going to cause the cold war to turn violent. so he had a sense from spending so much time gorbachev, more than all of the people at the state department rcep, of that balance of pushing this guy but also stretching a hand out. so, i think when you look at gorbachev's role in the peaceful ending of the cold war, a lot of it was facilitated by regan knowing him while. and that helped create the circumstances of november of 1989 for the german people to raise. up >> will, i don't know how to do this in a zoom call, but i'd like to lean forward and kiss right on the forehead. i'm worried about this for 34 years. >> i'll give you a hug back. >> of course, you're right. reagan knew that gorbachev could take it.
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all right, so let me tell you about meeting mikhail gorbachev. this is a long time ago. this might be 15 years ago now. but one of the things he did the former leader of the great communist power, was become a socialist, a big parted, capitalist. he came to the united states and give talks. and mike reagan, the president son, interviewed him. mike and i are friends and make a range for me to meet gorbachev. and i can see's translator talking and telling him that i had written that speech. and gorbachev laughed and said -- then he explained through his translator this was just a piece of theater. he knew ronald reagan and ronald reagan couldn't resist a good line, but it made no difference to them in moscow at all. jamie, h.r., stick up for gorbachev will you please? the speech didn't make a darn
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bit of difference. >> it doesn't matter maybe if it made a difference to him or anybody in moscow. it made a heck of a lot of difference to germans and instruments in particular. the captain of the 2nd united states cavalry on the border of east germany and west germany in november of 1989. on that day, near the town were martin luther translated the bible and the birthplace of -- is where our soldiers went from one moment staring down east german border guards to the next moment seeing the gates throw open. and then tends, then thousands, then tens of thousands, of east germans pouring across that border carrying cases of flowers and bottles of winds. there were hugs and tears of joy's. i'll tell you i saw direct correlation. not only back to this speech,
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but to resolve that president reagan demonstrated by affecting a renaissance in our military in the 1980s. and demonstrating our resolve to, as you said in his words, when you cited that early interview, that hey, we win, they lose. so, i felt a direct correlation, peter me. and i got to witness it firsthand in the west germany. >> jamie, to try to find one more time to find somebody -- you know correctly well, you see the speech at the time the speech was largely ignored. it did get covered. but it was just treated as the way the press would treat emmys statement by the president. not anything special. and the wall fell and the speech all of a sudden sounded
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-- it's a strange way of putting it -- sounded retrospectively prophetic. but at the time it was just a speech. jimmy? >> yeah, some of gorbachev's fuse may have been shaped and i think i mentioned this in my essay. whether it was something you had written. but i think the u.s. government actually briefed the soviets in advance to warn them about the line. so that could've been some of the bureaucratic way that the reagan administration gave a heads up especially. ultimately i agree with general mcmaster. indicate much more difficult for gorbachev if he had wanted to intervene. whether it was in germany in berlin in november 1989.
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or a prevalent or in czechoslovakia. that was the fundamental tipping point when it became clear that the citizens of those countries had had enough and we're going to rise up and going to be too much for the communist governments to prevent from toppling them. and they all needed ultimately, soviet intervention. that is what the playbook has been for decades previously. whether it was 1956. >> it was always the red army. and if gorbachev kept the red army in the barracks, they were done? is that right? >> yes, that is ultimately, even the strengthening of the public perceptions in germany, in berlin, in the east. as we know, it was look to in the east as well. that is what made it difficult
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for gorbachev. i think it-limited his options. he really didn't even have a much of an option at that point. you can also then look awfully the other way to see this is the administration engaged with gorbachev. their efforts actually reach out to him later through the george h. w. bush administration. to find ways to support. him which probably played a role. but ultimately i think gorbachev had the insight when the key moment key. okay >>, lessons for today. china in a moment. the biden administration in a moment. right now, i'll stay with jamie, because he seen and berlin as we speak. this is been something of a disappointment really. i'm quoting you, jamie. a united germany is now the largest economy in europe and the continents lateral leader. yet, despite significant progress and its willingness to plea leading role, many german
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policy makers continue to resist the responsibility that comes with such power, closed quote. so, we have that celebration of reunification in 1994. is that the formal reunification? and there's that moment of playing the final chorus from beethoven's 9th symphony in front of the brandenburg gate, as fireworks explode. and a thrilling moment, europe's democratic and free and it's going to be prosperous and help. and now we come to a continent that seems, well, jamie, you tell us. you tell us what's happened here? >> the german part of the story is complex. some of it relics to germany being tortured by its pre cold war history. uncertain of its footing. an willing to be provocative in its policy making.
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there's also, if we're going to be honest, if you look back at the speech, about the divisions that still exists in german society. i'm talking to you from east berlin where i've been living in recent months. but i was in west berlin a few weeks ago at dinner. met some new people from us berlin. and talking to them about were even we live. it was another world to them. it was a part of berlin they do even venture into. refer to as the soviet zone. >> still? >> that lives on in people's minds. >> even now? >> even now. and these were people who would have been around the time of 1989, children. so not, even people who spent a significant part of their lives living during that divided half. german politics remain divided in the way that east german's vote and the success of some of the far-right parties, for
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instance. so, a lot of that divided legacy lives on and i think the fundamental question when it comes to german leadership in the world, german foreign policy, is whether the next sherine generation and we can see this after the september elections this year, is more willing to step up, move the at the world war ii legacy? the holocaust legacy? move beyond some of the divisions of the cold war era? and assume that leadership mantle, which, to be honest, given that i also spend a lot of time in prague another parts of europe -- the rest of europe is looking to them to play. to take that leadership role, not just economically which they have now for decades. but to take a stance for values and pursue a foreign policy -- whether it's vis-à-vis russia or china -- that matches the significance history of their recent decades and the benefits that they have achieved from reunification. so, that's a big open question
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that still exist. in>> h.r., all come to you in china just a moment. that will, how do we evaluate the american effort in europe during the cold war? 4 and a half decades. it begins with truman. runs right through george h. w. bush. and of course, their cold war is global with vietnam, korea. but europe is always what really matters. europe is at the center of it. and we have this long, expensive, bipartisan effort -- long twilight struggles as john f. kennedy calls it. and we win. and now 34 years later europe and the united states are drifting apart. we have a president over there now, talking about coming together on climate change.
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forgive me, i don't want to become partisan. so, the soviet union would have fallen. we wasted a lot of time and money, the europeans are european, they don't like this artificial. they just clung to us for those decades because we were protecting them against the soviets. and it was all just disappointing. well -- >> i share a lot of the concerns and of course jamie is at the front lines of standing up for transatlantic values and maintaining the atlantic alliance. about the cure values in commitments of european and american people. one great resource for that is that history of working together versus the nazi tyranny and then soviet tyranny. but each generation in some ways needs to re-learn those lessons. because you talk about american
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policy in europe throughout the cold war, 2 of the things i want to hire like -- first, how important the american military buildup in expansion. was after the united states rapidly -- to bring defense spending we down. once we see the emerging threat of soviet communism, having to re-mobilize. so really upping that military which prevents further soviet aggression. and also reagan strengthened his diplomacy. building the world's most powerful, most potent, most fearsome military. so that you don't have to -- you can use that to point your adversaries to diplomatic solutions. the other key one, and this is the point about shared values. was united states leading the way in creating the atlantic
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lights. for the first hundred and 50 years of our existence as a country, going back to washington's farewell of the address. -- for truman and eisenhower to then reverse that and say no, we do need to enter into this mid-atlantic treaty alliance, they knew that was going to be an asymmetric strike for the united states against our soviet adversary. and something that certainly the european governments wanted as well. that's why we have referred to nato as a successful treaty lights in history. because it enabled reagan's vision we win -- the threats are somewhat different now. it's not the soviet union any more. it certainly china, which is not just the asia pacific
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threat, of becoming more of the european threat as well. but drawing on that sheared history, sheared, value will remind your americans and europeans that we do a lot better when we work together than. >> h.r.? >> this is a competition of will. between a free and open society or closed, authoritarian systems. we're talking about a speech that led to commit tremendous clarity on that tradition. i'm encouraged by the fact that the biden administration has acknowledged that this is at its base a ideological tradition. we have to back that up. the fact that our defense budget, for example of for our policy has become to militarize. what we need is more diplomacy. we need is what will said. the integration of all instrument of national power and efforts of like-minded partners to prevail in this type of competition.
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of course we do need more diplomacy. but more diplomacy has to be more that better atmospheres and cocktail parties. in berlin or paris. our allies have to step up and germany has been a weak link in connecting to the negotiation of the comprehensive agreement on investment which is thankfully dying in the european parliament. but also in connection with the competition of putin's kremlin. and the kremlin's sustain campaign us a political subversion aimed at your. i would say that campaign is effective in germany and i'd like jamie to comment about russia is contributing to a weakening a result. but example, the u.s. not being maybe as tough on our allies as much as we love. them backing off on the nordstrom to pipeline which is going to give russia courses power over germany's economy. >> h.r., china.
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the year in the white house. you're national security adviser. you have the top job in the institution that brings together military and diplomatic initiatives and presents them to the chief executive of the united states. at the moment, when the whole country, partly because of donald trump president xi jinping. the whole country is realizing that china is not going to be our friend. we're in for something new here. yay h.r. mcmaster quote, the berlin wall is an exact analogy for the great fire wall of china. the combination of law and technologies denying designed to isolate the realm of the chinese communist party. close quote. all kinds of things are different. china is bigger than the russians and the soviet union ever was. it has cash. all we ever -- all the russians ever bought
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for us was wheat. the chinese, as you well know, my colleagues here -- are invested in silicon valley up and down the peninsula. so, a lot of things are different. let your arguing there something central to the relationship with china that's not that different with the relationship to the struggle with cool soviet union. is that correct? >> absolutely. and you can see this in's message. this is an ideological competition. it's also competition that requires a high degree of clarity. the freeze that comes to mind if i could paraphrase from rugged speech is, german she, tear down that far wall. we should do our best to get around it. and this is what jaime death threats every day is try to reach oppressed peoples. people who are not permitted to access a wide range of sources
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of information. so that they have an opportunity to think differently. authoritarian's are kind of touchy, they're kind of sensitive. and you see this with the chinese communist party. i think there's a tremendous opportunity tea for us to use the clarity to compete much more effectively with a chinese companies party. the mess means of doing so is to bypass the great firewall. >> let me quote you one more time, jamie. i'm holding back slightly on quoting will, because he was so -- about the speech. i think i can handle that part myself. jamie regan sent our differences are not about weapons but about liberty. this was an important reminder about what differentiates the soviet union from the west. these are all principles.
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that have been neglected by recent u.s. administrations, u.s. negotiators have been quick to conclude -- the with russia, iran or the obama administration -- are attempts to do so under the trump administration with north korea, close quote. your overall point, if i can take this correctly is that recent administrations have placed too much emphasis undiplomatic corporation and too little on clarity and forthrightness of principle. have i got that right? >> yes, i think clearly, especially when you have nuclear weapons involved there is a need to negotiate even with authoritarian's. we can't hope and aspire to quick regime change and all of the countries that fairness. but there is something obviously in the way that the day. even as the sitting down and
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speaking to other soviet leaders. he had no problems publicly talking about what was that steak and the cruelty and the hollowness of what that regime represented. that i think, has been missing in many recent u.s. administrations. it's a huge challenge in europe, going back to what general mcmaster was saying. this is fundamentally part of the problem that europe and germany try to deal with in a russian that is heading in an incredibly dangerous direction. cracking down on dissent at home. even the kremlin has done to navalny's organization in the past 2 days. trying to push my own organization out. ever since been invited by president yeltsin. then russia that is heading in that direction is highly likely to lash out, like a neighbor building up forces on the
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border. and china is a similar story. there is very little interest in most parts of europe in speaking openly and frankly about what is at stake with either of those 2 powers, from a moral perspective. and you still hear, especially in germany, but also in brussels and other european capitals, a lot of well, we know that they have a lot of problems. but on the other hand, we have to do business with them. we need their investment. certain segments of our economy are incredibly reliant on engagement with them. a lot of the european mindset has not moved beyond that. and they were similar dynamics that we talked about earlier in germany, circa 1987. from the west german government at a time. but is a significant problem now. the fundamental problem from the u.s. side is how does the
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u.s., i take over both trump and biden administrations when it comes to china, has framed the conflict correctly. has highlighted the situation correctly. both from a moral perspective an economic perspective. how do you bring allies alone who feel that they have the luxury perhaps, of remaining neutral in this competition? that is the fundamental challenge. and we steve see starkly different approaches from the trump administration compared to the biden administration. >> will? >> the 3 of you have convinced me that it works pretty well under reagan. moral clarity shrink, simplicity, so forth. if it works so well under regan, why have -- i'm going to grant jamie's argument that we haven't seen quite the moral clarity. all ask will the question.
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donald trump, god bless him, give half a dozen, in my opinion really wonderful set key speeches including in warsaw. which h.r. mention. and then walked away and never mentioned the and they didn't seem to be integrated. why does it seem to be reagan's example still lives. the 3 of you prove that. why is it so hard to follow? we'll? >> old habits die hard. 2nd point is, you need to be careful as we look back at reagan and the reagan administration successes from hindsight bias of being like warsaw worked out. of course is so simple. as you know, peter. we wasn't sure it was going to work out. reagan had a lot of criticism since he was trained some very
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risky things. he was challenging a lot of conventional wisdom. and the soviet threat this awful as it was, with so much different than the russian threat than we face today. harder in some ways, especially on the nuclear side. but a little easier on the economic side. but when you take away -- we see china especially from reagan's -- remember that our adversary is not the country or people of china it's a cheney's communist party. and the people of china are potential allies. be like -- they don't like living in a surveillance state. they don't like not being able to choose their own leaders. the soviet people didn't like that either. and reagan spoke to that. part of the strategy was to
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drive drive a wedge between the kremlin and soviet. people and say hey, america is on your. site were allies. we need to recapture that with china in a lot more direct ways to the chinese people. the 2nd part i do want to come back to is reagan and gorbachev talks. -- at the same moment he was saying mr. gorbachev take down this wall, they were working behind the scenes to do the nuclear treaty. it's still historically unprecedented treaty that bans an entire class of nuclear weapons. so sometimes foreign policy experts to make things harder than they need to be. you can either do diplomacy or's you speak in simple
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jingoistic terms. you can do both of those things together. and they're both effective when they do them together. they wanted to win not the hot war that destroyed the soviet union. he knew he could do that with diplomacy as long as it's backed up by military strength, economic strength, and moral clarity. >> h.r., last question about what it means for today before i move to a summary here. h.r. mcmaster quote, reagan speech provides a reminder that self respect is foundational to the competition with the chinese communist party. close quote. my first comment on that is your big shot sophisticated
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thinker, and yet you're like reagan in that you keep coming back to the simple points. all right. but how do we achieve self respect as a nation at a time when we're so polarized? when half the country thinks your former boss should be in jail and the other half of the country thinks joe biden stole the election and we've got one part of the country watching msnbc, keeping it on all day. the other part putting fox news on all day. things were rough earlier, politically, during the reagan years than remembered. but it was not like this. so, self respect, h.r.? >> i think all of us were working --
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we have to make a concerted effort to rebuild our confidence. confidence in who we are as a people and confidence in our democratic institutions and principles and processes. i think we can do that, right? i think what we have to do is hear more from political leaders who are too often compromising question principal swift score partisan, political points. we can't wait for them either. we have to do our part to recognize the great promise of america. to celebrate the fact that we have ac in however govern. as will said. i don't think the chinese people already people are predisposed to not wanting ac in how their govern. we ought to celebrate that we have freedom of speech and expression. we need to encourage institutions to reform themselves. i would say -- is one of those that has some work to do. ultimately i think the number one priority for us to be
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education. education is particularly about our history. that's why i'm so excited to participate in this discussion with you, jamie and will, because i think when you learn the history of the reagan years, you see the contrast between the carter melee speech, and a real crisis of confidence in the 1970s. remember stagflation? remember loss were and vietnam? the oil embargoed? our confidence like it she can today. but it doesn't have to remain permit. just like the wall. just like that border was not a permanent condition. i think what we have to do is educate ourselves, we educate ourselves, about the great promise of our republic. and recognized as the founders did that this public required constant nurturing. so, let's start nurturing our republican regaining confidence. >> all right, 2 final questions
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for each of you. we're coming up at an hour, so i'm going to have to give a break. give me one 2nd answer if you possibly can. here's the first question. i'll give you 2 quotations. james harden at the washington post writing soon after reagan delivered the berlin address quote, history is likely to report the challenge to tear down the wall as a meaningless taunt close quote. that's number one. here's quotation ember to. this comes from -- who at the time was a lutheran pastor and democracy advocate inside east germany, who later went on to become president of unified, reunified germany. quote this is him speaking a couple years ago. reagan spoke the right words at the right time and in the right place, close quote. we'll, who's right? >> certainly the pastor.
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>> i put that question together i thought it would be closer call. >> reagan at this particular imagination 4 of the issue with of the world without the berlin wall, without the arid kyrsten, even about the soviet union. >> jamie? >> certainly the president. >> h.r. you make it unanimous or give me trouble? >> words and deeds. we've talked about the military strength and the broad range of diplomatic efforts. we've talked about the tear down the wall speech as well as sustained efforts to eliminate a class of nuclear weapons. so, i think it's the integration of policy and a broad range of efforts with those powerful words. >> you see what i have to deal with at the hoover institution with hr as my colleague? he says yes, yes, words matter but every so often you need to call in the tanks.
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last question. all 3 of you are or have been teachers. h.r. is teaching this term. or i guess the term extended. we'll is smack dab in the middle of one of the nation's great universities. jamie is in a certain sense, educating tens of millions of people with radio free europe and radio liberty. but you also have been a teacher. imagine a high school or college kid today and that is to see, imagine someone who was born a dozen years or more after ronald reagan deliver the speech. give me the sentence, 2 sentences, that explains such to such young americans why we're still talking about that speech 34 years later. and what one thing, if you can remember one thing about it,
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they need to remember? tojamie, let's go with you fir? >> it's a tall order but i'll just say, the message i would have is change the lives of millions because i do think it was that powerful. and the basic, simple, moral clarity played a key role in helping to end the cold war. but it's incredibly difficult to explain that to people who did not live through that period. i was a kid when the wall fell, so i watched it on tv and had a powerful role in chipping mike reform afar. i would just suggest that we need to bring people to berlin. i think you can learn, even despite the challenges i described that exist here today. people need to see and walk through the brandenburg gate, walk password the speech was given. talk to the berlin or's who are still life who live through that period and see it firsthand. i think that's the most powerful way about how
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important it was. >> h.r.? >> 2 things i think that young people should learn from the speech and from the cold war is that the art of history does not guarantee the our free and open society. we have to compete effectively. the arc of history does it always ben towards justice. we have to grab it and bend it ourselves. a first to compete effectively requires confidence. and i think that our history should teach us that america is a force for good in the world. we're not flawless, but i think we need to reject the orthodoxy of the new left. as well as the orthodox if the so-called realist school. which is an ideological this movement towards new isolationism. so, i think that's what's students not to take away from this. we have to compete and we ought
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to be confident in america's role in the world. >> we'll, last word? >> 2 things briefly. first, we need to teach our students that truly, awful barbers things that humans are capable of doing to each other. -- we should not forget that. 2nd, i just want to quote one my favorite lines from the speech reagan's words, as long as this guy is closed. as long as this scarves was permitted to stand, is not the german questioned alone remains open, but the question of freedom for all mankind. when you look at the chinese communist tyranny or putin's tierney, reminded that the question of freedom for all mankind is not a historical question alone. it's a president a challenge for our young people today. >> jamie fly of radio free
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europe and radio liberty, thank you. general h.r. mcmaster, my pal here at the hoover institution and the author most recently a battleground. thank you. and william charles inboden of the university of texas and the author of the forthcoming book the title of which is about to name. >> the peacemaker, ronald reagan's white house in the. >> wow, i like that. >> and the -- >> sometime in december january. >> all right, jamie fly, william charles inboden and h.r. mcmaster, thank you. for uncommon knowledge the hoover institution and the ronald reagan presidential foundation, i'm peter robinson. wednesday on american history tv, that they are on the life of civil war general and u.s. president ulysses s grant. he talks about grand support of the 14th and 15th amendments, and his efforts to return to
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lincoln's vision of peace after the civil war. watch wednesday eat him eastern on c-span 3. >> download c-span's new mobile app, and stay up today -- from live streams of the house and senate floor, and key congressional hearings. the white house events and, supreme court or will i have arguments. our weekly series, the presidency, highlights the politics, policy isn't, legacies of u.s. presidents and first ladies. we continue our look back at the reagan administration, with a conversation about president ronald reagan's tax cuts and economic plans from 40 years ago. featured speakers


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