Kenneth Adelman
Kenneth Adelman
The Great Universal Embrace, Arms Summitry -- A Skeptics Account
ISBN: 0671672061
The Great Universal Embrace, Arms Summitry -- A Skeptics Account
Kenneth Adelman, former director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency during the Reagan administration, chronicles his experience in “The Great Universal Embrace: Arms Summitry - A Skeptic's Account.” Adelman advised the president on arms control issues and he specifically talks of his involvement in three U.S.-Soviet summits. "Summits are like Cleopatra," says Adelman. "They can be fun, but they are treacherous." Adelman discusses the personal quality of the Reagan-Gorbachev summit meetings. He recounts the "pantry meeting," when Mr. Gorbachev invited Mr. Reagan into a pantry for a seventh personal meeting during the Reykjavik summit. Confused, Mr. Reagan agreed. Later, the U.S. delegation realized Gorbachev's motive: he could boast of his seven different meetings with Reagan, an important measure of success in Soviet politics.
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TRANSCRIPT
The Great Universal Embrace, Arms Summitry -- A Skeptics Account
Program Air Date: October 22, 1989

BRIAN LAMB, HOST: Ken Adelman author of The Great Universal Embrace. Also former Arms Control Agency director in the Reagan administration. What are you doing teaching Shakespeare at Georgetown University?
KENNETH ADELMAN (Author, "The Great Universal Embrace"): Well I have found through life that if you want to understand life there's no better way than reading Shakespeare and then discussing it with a lot of people because you have a situation as I explained to my class last week where you have a magnifying glass put on situations so that we can see them in their clarity and see them in their full dimension in Shakespeare which we normally in life could skip over.
LAMB: Have you done this..have you studied Shakespeare for a long time?
ADELMAN: I never studied Shakespeare besides reading a lot about it and reading the plays. I never took a course in English Literature in my life. But I've loved Shakespeare for a long time. I taught before I became Arms Control Director. I taught at Georgetown and I taught courses in Hamlet and then Hamlet and Raskolnikov which is a comparison of the heroes of Hamlet and Crime and Punishment by Doestoyevski. And then when I left the government I decided to go back to it. And so I did it last year. Teach Shakespeare at Georgetown and then I teach Securities Studies at Johns Hopkins.
LAMB: Let me ask you in a moment about this book. Before we do that though I want you to tell us what is the United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency?
ADELMAN: That is the agency that by law is supposed to be the principle advisor to the President on arms control matters.
LAMB: How big is it?
ADELMAN: It's about 250 people.
LAMB: What do those people do?
ADELMAN: They negotiate with the Russians. They do the forward planning for our arms control positions for our verification. They look at the inter-relationship between various negotiations. We lobby the Hill when necessary to get a treaty passed. We explain all this to the public. And we advise the President during his National Security Council meetings.
LAMB: You were there for how many years?
ADELMAN: Almost five.
LAMB: What training did you have before you got there that was the best help to you?
ADELMAN: The best help? I guess that I had been in government seven or eight years before then. So I knew how government worked. I had been up with Jeanne Kirkpatrick as her number two at the United Nations for two years. So I understood quite well the international politics quite aside from the substance. I had been in the Pentagon with Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld as his assistant in the mid '70's. And I had written a lot. So had the practical experience, I had the Pentagon experience, I had the academic experience for writing about it. But it's like so many things in life. Till you do it you don't really understand how to do it.
LAMB: What do most of those 200 plus people do for the agency everyday?
ADELMAN: Most of them plan out where we're going to go in arms control. What the various options should be. How we could verify it. How would the Russians would react to it. And really service the arms control talks that are going on. Don't forget we have many talks going on with the Soviets at any one time. We have talks on strategic weapons. We have talks during my day on intermediate nuclear forces which is the treaty that Reagan and Gorbachev signed in fact the week that I quit the job. Feeling that I had accomplished what I had come to do. We had talks among 23 countries on conventional arms. That's normal army navy stuff. We had talks among 40 nations on banning chemical weapons. And so we had a lot of going on and it always seemed like a three ring circus.
LAMB: What was your biggest surprise after you took that job?
ADELMAN: How much time and attention Ronald Reagan and Secretary of State George Schultz would give to arms control.
LAMB: Time that we never saw?
ADELMAN: We never saw. It seemed amazing to me. I joined the agency in 1983 and as I recall in the book at some point I'll bet you that year alone I had some ten, fifteen meetings with the President. Probably another twenty in the White House with the top echelon without the President. That's a lot. That's just a big chunk of his time. A big chunk of the top level time and attention. And so you know you're dealing with something awfully important.
LAMB: Has the President former President gotten a bum rap from both his critics and those in the media for being..not giving attention to detail?
ADELMAN: It's a complicated thing. I had a hard time with Ronald Reagan in the book. I tremendously admire him. I think that the way he left U.S. foreign policy and America in general was far better than the way he came. I think that a lot of it is due to his doing. And if he had left it worse he would have gotten the blame so why don't we give him the credit when he left it better. However as the same time there were some appalling gaps in his knowledge. He was one of the most uncurious men I have ever met. He was..used his personality to its fullest extent and the relationship with Gorbachev was one which I watched up close and personal and had a lot to do with the change of the relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union. I don't know and don't understand very well having worked with him for five years Ronald Reagan and I was talking to a very close friend of his yesterday who said that's okay. He had been a closed friend of his for some forty years and he didn't know and he didn't understand Ronald Reagan. There's a mystery about Reagan that very much lingers in my mind. And it's one of the perplexing things having worked for him and it's one of the unsettled things about the book.
LAMB: Because you spent so much time around him what is it that you saw about him that we never see?
ADELMAN: That at times when he had to be good he was very very good. There were gaps in his knowledge there was a passivity that was legendary but by God that Sunday afternoon in Reykjavik with the wind howling outside the hofty house and the hofty house supposedly being spooked or haunted as the legend has it in Iceland and Mikel Gor..and seven thousand reporters outside saying in essence that Ronald Reagan could get the Nobel Prize. He could be a hero if only he would gut SDI the Strategic Defense Initiative his own program to protect America. And Mikel Gorbachev banging away at him like crazy. Ronald Reagan just said no. He wasn't about to pander to those guys outside the seven thousand press guys or to Mikel Gorbachev's blandishments and he just wanted a good arms control agreement but was not willing to settle for any. And I saw him up there sit in the corner of the room and say at one point jeeze this isn't preparing for a summit this is a real summit. And getting aggravated about it in a certain since because Gorbachev was demanding that we stop all kinds of research to protect the country. The kind of research that the Soviets had been doing for years. So it was a kind of a magical moment. It was an impressive moment. I don't know many people in my life who would have preformed so well at that moment. Nor do I know many people who would sit in a to me seeming important meetings at other times with such passivity with such indifference. He's a very mysterious man. As is Gorbachev. And that's one of the things I hoped to do in the book is to paint portraits of these two men who are obviously the dominant men of the 1980's.
LAMB: Did you take notes while you were around these men?
ADELMAN: Very sketchy. Very little. I found some notes that were kind of interesting after the book was in galleys in fact where George Schultz describes to me his first impressions of Gorbachev first time he met him which was at the previous Soviet President's funeral.
LAMB: But that's in the book.
ADELMAN: Yeah. And so I took those notes which were amazingly accurate I mean good credit to George Schultz. At other times I did but most of it I remember. You remember things that you think are very important. You remember magical moments in life. You know when you are sitting there at Reykjavik with the President in a little bubble, when you're having lunch with the President the morning after he spent his first morning relatively alone with Mikel Gorbachev you're waiting with Reagan for Gorbachev to appear at the Washington Summit you don't forget those things. You remember everything about it.
LAMB: I remember in your book mentioning you mentioning that Mr. Gorbachev told Mr. Reagan that he watched his movies.
ADELMAN: Um hum.
LAMB: How much of that is true and how many movies has he watched?
ADELMAN: Who knows how much of it is true. What is true is that Mikel Gorbachev was unlike any other Soviet leader. He knew his guy. He knew Ronald Reagan. He knew the way to get to Ronald Reagan. And he cared about getting to him on a personal level whereas the other Soviet leaders Brezhnev, Chernako, Andropov all these stodgy old you know dying men would not have cared. They would have read their papers to Gorbachev..to Reagan and left it at that. But Gorbachev has a tremendous charm about him. And when he starts out their first meeting and saying to Reagan at the Geneva Summit 1985 you know I've watched this movie I don't know if it was Knute Rockney Story compared it to Bedtime for Bonzo or whatever it was and you could just feel Ronald Reagan light up. He talked about what he really loved which is Hollywood. How he made the movies. Who helped him. Who co-starred all the mishaps of the movies etc. etc. So God knows if Gorbachev ever saw any of these but I do know that Gorbachev is smart enough to click Ronald Reagan on about how he'd seen the movies.
LAMB: A lot of what you write is about the chemistry between human beings.
ADELMAN: Um hum. It's awfully important.
LAMB: What's going to be the chemistry between George Bush and Mr. Gorbachev?
ADELMAN: I think it will be a steadier more boring more professional.
LAMB: Are you concerned about what will come out of the Bush Gorbachev Summit?
ADELMAN: No. I was more concerned at first about what would come out of a Reagan Gorbachev Summit. Because I remember having lunch with the President after his first meeting with Gorbachev and having him say oh the guy is very charming. This guy is very good. This guy is very nice. And I got a little worried and I said Mr. President you know that could be for the first morning but after while he might get very ornery and might storm out he might up his demands. He might be extremely tough this is no Girl Scout leader. And he turned to me and Ken I know exactly what I'll do if he does that. I said what would you do? And he pulled back his chair shrugged his shoulder moved his head and said I'll look at him and say Michael what about all those nice things you said to me this morning. Just playing the role of a kind of dashed lover.
LAMB: Did Mikel Gorbachev understand or speak any English?
ADELMAN: Not that I ever was aware of.
LAMB: What are we seeing when we see the two men standing alone during a couple of minutes for photo opportunity and they're talking to one another and they're nodding up and down. I mean what's going there?
ADELMAN: They have a translator there.
LAMB: But I don't see a translator in the picture.
ADELMAN: No you'll usually see back of him on the side or whatever there's somebody there to help them.
LAMB: But once in a while though they'll go out on the steps of you know..
ADELMAN: Well then they're just mouthing things because I don't think Gorbachev speaks a word and I know that Ronald Reagan only has one phrase which is trust but verify which he says quite often.
LAMB: Why did you choose to come out of your job in the government and be a writer? What I mean by that is you write a column..
ADELMAN: Um hum.
LAMB: ..and you are an editor at Washingtonian Magazine.
ADELMAN: I guess I've always loved writing. And in the government I did a lot of writing a lot of speaking. And I had such magical moments in the government especially in the arms control era that I did want to write about it in a book. Plus I wanted to explain for history not the gobbly gook that is arms control because it's filled with these acronyms and numbers and you know all the stuff but what I wanted to have a first cut of history on the changed U.S. Soviet relationship between 19..in the Reagan era. And it's an amazing turnabout. We're going to be living with this for a very long time. What is happening now in the Soviet Union glasnost perastroyka with everybody talking about the end of the cold war will be traced back to the Reagan Administration particularly between 1983 and 1986. And when you're in the front seat of history with a real turn of events it's important to take a first cut at that history.
LAMB: You have a column that is published in some 40 newspapers or has that grown?
ADELMAN: No I wish it would grow. After this program it'll grown.
LAMB: What impact has the column had? Are you being read?
ADELMAN: Who knows.
LAMB: I mean do you get feedback? People asking you..
ADELMAN: Oh you get feedback. But you don't know what kind of impact. I guess I think of myself as a writer as a kind of Johnny Appleseed. You shove a lot of seeds over your shoulder and some of them sprout.
LAMB: How much of your life now is writing?
ADELMAN: I do the column. I did the book. I do a monthly piece for Washingtonian Magazine called "What I've Learned." I do other outside articles. So a good bit. I enjoy the teaching. I enjoy the Shakespeare and the security studies. So it's pretty full.
LAMB: You're also Vice President of the Institute for Contemporary Studies. What's that and what do you do?
ADELMAN: It's a conservative think tank that was started in the '70's out in California and basically we publish books. We help people with books. We do books on education. We do books on farm problems. We do books on foreign policy. And so we have programs that really do help people understand public policies.
LAMB: It's going to take a couple of seconds here but I want to read the description of why you named this book "The Great Universal Embrace." If you'll give me that moment. This is at the beginning of the book. You say "In 1932 the Spanish Ambassador to the Geneva Disarmament Conference told this fable in response to the new Soviet Foreign Minister Maxime Litbenof.."
ADELMAN: Um hum.
LAMB: "..grandly proposing "total and general disarmament".." First of all where did you find this?
ADELMAN: I found this in an old copy of Time magazine from the '50's.
LAMB: And did you find this in conjunction with writing your book or were there..
ADELMAN: No I found it just normally doing research in this area. And I thought jeeze there's and interesting fable. And I checked it and it was true.
LAMB: Okay. You don't happen to remember the Spanish Ambassador's name it's not in here. I don't know that it matters.
ADELMAN: Manuela or something like that.
LAMB: "When the animal had gathered the lion looked at the eagle and said gravely we must abolish talons.."
ADELMAN: Um hum.
LAMB: What's a talon?
ADELMAN: I think it's part of the claws.
LAMB: "..the elephant looked at the tiger and said we must abolish claws and jaws. Thus each animal in turn proposed the abolition of the weapons he did not have until at last the bear rose up and said in tones of sweet reasonableness "Comrades let us abolish everything. Everything but the great universal embrace." Why'd you use that?
ADELMAN: Well because I thought it was really perfect. First of all it has a double play double meaning with the great universal embrace being associated with bears Soviet Union associated with bears. Secondly there was a great universal embrace between Reagan and Gorbachev. When Reagan hugged him in Red Square. It's an amazing moment. Here is a man who made his whole career on anti-communism and bashing the Soviets and saying we'll really be tough with them. And then he takes the number one Soviet the main communist in the world and gives him a nice little hug in Red Square right under the Kremlin walls. That's an amazing moment. Plus I thought that it was awfully revealing because the arms control effort is always to control someone else's arms. It's never an effort to control your own arms. We try to control the Soviet arms. They do a better job historically of controlling our arms. The other countries in the world tried to control either the Soviet or American arms or both. Everybody wants to help everybody else and not control themselves.
LAMB: Now that you're out of it looking back how important do you consider the agency that you ran the United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency in the grand scheme of things?
ADELMAN: I think it was important. I'll tell you why. It was the depository and repository of expertise on arms control in the government. Yes there were some experts in State Department and the Pentagon and they helped enormously but what helped in this historic period was to have a group of people in this agency who did nothing else but arms control all day long. And that means that they had a depth of understanding and experience that others in other departments just lacked. In other words in the State Department you have to worry about Central America you have to worry about the Middle East you have to worry about southern Africa you have to worry about global warming. You have to worry about God knows what. But in the Arms Control Agency you only had to worry about arms control.
LAMB: At the beginning of your book in the introduction you talk about the impact of a speaking trip in 1984 to something that we have covered a lot here World Affairs Council. What is the World Affairs Council?
ADELMAN: It's a group of concerned citizens out there in the world.
LAMB: Is there a political bent to it?
ADELMAN: No. It's pretty fair.
LAMB: But when you described it you had three different speeches one in Northern California, one in Orange County California, and one in Marina Del Rey I believe in Los Angeles. Three different World Affairs Council Meetings and you spoke to them. Why did that have such an important impact on your life and the need to write this book?
ADELMAN: Because it showed the variety of views you get in this field. In one in northern California I just got absolutely reamed out because of the inattentivity or the uncare that the Reagan administration had shown towards arms control.
LAMB: First of all that was '84 what was the atmosphere then?
ADELMAN: The atmosphere was there were no talks going on. Soviets had walked out at the end of 1983 and we were being blamed because the Soviets walked out.
LAMB: You flew west to give three speeches?
ADELMAN: In the period of a day and a half.
LAMB: And you stopped first in northern California?
ADELMAN: Stopped first in northern California and just got reamed because of the antagonism toward the Reagan administration at that time. Then I went to Orange County and got criticized because of the Reagan administration ever wanting to talk to the Soviets because they cheat on arms control. They lie about this and everything like that. It was a very conservative hard knock group that thought that I and the Reagan administration were soft. Then I went to Marina Del Rey where the people were very nice but very concerned about the boats and about tennis and everything else. In fact at a dinner right there I was sitting with the Chairman at the head table and after talking about tennis camps, boats and everything he turned to me and with a kind of pained look on his face said well let's get on with the subject at hand. Professor Adelman everybody knows that cruise missiles are very hard to verify. This group not that many people cared about cruise missiles but any cruise missiles are very hard to verify and we know that slickum sea launch cruise missiles especially. When he says this he's looking out over the bay outside with all the thousands of yachts at Marina Del Rey. So I talked you can see the people have this pained look on their face that I'm going to go on about these initials acronyms numbers that is the mind bending stuff of arms control and so I started out and I said you know you have sea launch cruise missiles which are pilotless airplanes. They are small they can fit in people garage. So small they can fit in the garage. This nice lady across the table said not in my garage. You should see my garage. It's so filled with things I have accumulated over the years that I could not possibly get another thing in my garage. Another woman at the table says try a garage sale. I can tell you exactly how to do it. Someone else said don't try a garage sale try a garage sale and a bake sale combined you'll get more people. So we were off in the never never land of Marina Del Rey where they were not seized of these issues. A lot of us in Washington always felt that everybody in the country if not around the world was talking about the subjects we were working on every day. That's not the case.
LAMB: In the acknowledgements that you give out to friends and colleagues I want to go through these people and I want to ask you about them and why they had such an impact in your life. You start out by saying to Joyce and Don Rumsfeld go special thanks for helping shape my intellectual framework.
ADELMAN: We started working with Don Rumsfeld in the early 1970's after he'd left the Congress and became head of the Office of Economic Opportunity. I had the honor of working with him three times since then. One is as Secretary of Defense and one other time. He's a very gifted man. He's conservative. He' smart. He's determined and he's very very kind.
LAMB: This intellectual framework though that had..it's a strong word.
ADELMAN: Yes and what he really did was to give..we had lived in Africa before that time. Actually we lived in Africa between the times..
LAMB: You and your wife?
ADELMAN: Yeah. Between the times that I had worked for Rumsfeld. In fact I was a dependent husband in Africa. I went there because of my wife. I had quit the government and was getting a PhD at the time and went there as a dependent husband. The Ambassador's wife didn't know what to do with me. I was a first dependent husband I think in Africa. She invited me to her teas and to her bouquet clubs and to wives association and everything else. But anyway when we got back Rumsfeld had a view of the world that was conservative. He had good reasons for it good understanding of it and I learned a lot from him.
LAMB: Before I leave Don Rumsfeld why didn't he continue to run for President last time?
ADELMAN: He couldn't see the money in it. Not for himself but he figured he would have to raise about $10 to $12 million dollars which is what you need to run for President these days. And he could only see his way to get two. And he did not want to go out on a limb trying to milk people for the other ten in such a way that he found very embarrassing. It's a shame because our system is such that it drives out very good people.
LAMB: Next on your list Ellen and Don Murdock, Lynn and Dick Cheney, Shana and Don Lowitz, Don Lowitz later when he became one of America's arms negotiators a role to which he gave his last full measure of devotion. We know who Lynn and Dick Cheney are. How much of an impact did they have on you and when did you first meet them?
ADELMAN: I first met them in 1970 in O.E.O. the Office of Economic Opportunity working with Rumsfeld and with all those people you mentioned. Carlucci was there at the time. Murdock was there at the time. Lowitz was there at the time. We had a very special group that was around Rumsfeld that formed..worked together for about 18 months and have really remained very good friends ever since. We see the Cheney's all the time. We work with Dick and Lynn various times in our lives. We share an anniversary with them in August. We you know get together for birthdays and holidays and things like that very very special people.
LAMB: Marie and Frank Carlucci I did not mention. Are..basically are all the people on this list of similar political philosophy?
ADELMAN: Yeah. They're conservative. They're..have a very good sense of humor. They're nice people. They're unpretentious. They're good common folks. A lot of them from the middle west or the west. Not snobs in any sense.
LAMB: Where were you born?
ADELMAN: Chicago. I was born in Chicago. My wife was born in Chicago. Cheney's come from Wyoming. The Rumsfeld's come from Chicago. Murdock come from either Chicago or Wisconsin.
LAMB: Where'd you go to school? What did you study?
ADELMAN: I went to school at Grenell, Iowa which is a little college 1,100 kids in the middle of the cornfields in Iowa. I studied religion and philosophy.
LAMB: And your PhD is in?
ADELMAN: Then I came to Georgetown. I got a Masters in Foreign Service Studies studying economics and diplomatic history. Then I got a PhD in Political Theory. And I did my dissertation in Africa in Zaire.
LAMB: Did you find yourself at any time during your career at the arms agency getting off track with all of your friends here? Did they ever call you up and say where are you going with this?
ADELMAN: Well yeah some of them were awfully mad. I got in..I became in 1983 as I say in the book I became very good friends with Dan Quayle and we shared a lot of times and shared a lot of experiences in this. And at one time on the I.N.F. treaty the Intermediate Nuclear Force Treaty Quayle who used to call me every day about something or other said he was taking a position on some issue conventional cruise missiles it doesn't matter and I said I understand your position but that's just dead wrong. He said no you're wrong. So we went at it. He kept taking to me about it. He kept getting Carlutche involved. He kept getting Cap Weinberger who was then Secretary of Defense he got Schultz involved with it. He really went on and on and on. And he and I squared off on this issue. And it went to the President..Reagan and I don't want to say that he decided in my favor but I was very pleased with the outcome. And to this day when I see Quayle which is quite frequently he'll..the only thing that really burns him is that he lost that fight.
LAMB: You do mention him in the acknowledgements and I want to talk a little bit about what you say not only about him but Warren Redman, Malcolm Wallace Wallup, Pete Wilson and yourself. You talk about a fivesome getting together talking about arms control a lot.
ADELMAN: And foreign affairs. We would have lunch every month or so on Capitol Hill with an outsider. We would invite Henry Kessinger, Jean Kirkpatrick, or others, Bill Crow Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and Brzezinksi, Schlesinger whoever. Experts in the field and they would..we would talk about the issues. And it was a wonderful group. These were Senators who were serious. They were not calibrating their knowledge to the vote that they had to do this afternoon or that afternoon. It was not geared to a press release. It was seriously learning about these issues. And after a few years of that it was very valuable.
LAMB: One of the statements you make here jumped out of the page. I want to get you to explain more of it. "Unlike many [or most] in a similar position I genuinely liked my colleagues and I continue to learn from them as we stay in steady touch." Who were the colleagues you were talking about?
ADELMAN: There was a whole group that I dealt with in the government. I would say that most people when they leave the government have had such fights with people that they leave on very bad terms or they don't get together or whatever. I never found that. I found that I liked the people that I dealt with. I get together with them. I talk to them. Whether Max Kampleman, whether Richard Bert whether Richard Pearl whether the people in the arms control agency I dealt with people at the national security council security I dealt with the whole you know maybe 15 or 20 people that I dealt quite regularly with most of which at one point or another in the five years I fought with over an issue but tried always to keep it from being personal thing. We disagree with this issue but I don't disagree with you. I just disagree with the position.
LAMB: But you do write about two men who had as you say on going constant disagreement and it was a very difficult thing for you to deal with and that's Cap Weinberger and George Schultz. How bad was that situation?
ADELMAN: At times it got bad. I thought both of them brought strengths and had obvious weaknesses to the job. I think that they grated on each other in a way that was not becoming to either of them.
LAMB: Weren't they both originally with the same company?
ADELMAN: Oh yeah. They had worked together for years. They had been in O.M.B. during the Nixon administration together. That Weinberger worked for Schultz there. Schultz worked for Weinberger or something. Then after leaving they never got along there. They had another job together Weinberger was Secretary of..
LAMB: H.E.W.
ADELMAN: H.E.W. or..
LAMB: F.T.C. Federal Trading Commission?
ADELMAN: No it was called H.E.W. then which is Health and Education Welfare. And Schultz was Secretary of the Treasury or Director of the O.M.B. Then when they left the Ford administration or the Nixon administration they went..and both of them when to Bectel.
LAMB: California based company.
ADELMAN: Construction company. World wide construction company. Schultz was President and Cap Weinberger was General Counsel. So I mean it was like these two guys who never get along all that well never respected each other all that much kind of gone along as a package. Strange.
LAMB: Which one did you like the most from a policy position standpoint?
ADELMAN: Probably from policy I was closer to Cap Weinberger than to George Schultz.
LAMB: How about personally who did you get along with the most?
ADELMAN: I got along with both of them personally pretty well.
LAMB: Who did you have to..did you have to answer to either one of them?
ADELMAN: Yeah. I was more responsible to Schultz than I was to Weinberger. I was you know in and out part of the State Department and not part of the State Department. Tried to work close with that. I found with George Schultz that even though at times he was very good especially dealing with Russians I found him very good his knowledge of the subject was not all that it should have been.
LAMB: Alright. Go back to those and you write about some of this but go back to those moments when you saw Cap Weinberger and George Schultz in a meeting. The President was there and there was one time I remember where George Schultz wouldn't take a position or wouldn't tell the President what his position was. How often did the country suffer because these two people were always fighting?
ADELMAN: Oh I don't think that the country suffered much. I think it was painful to watch. It was unpleasant for Ronald Reagan although he did nothing to stop it. And certainly it must have been embarrassing to both Schultz and Weinberger. It was unbecoming. They were individuals had served their country well. Overall I think did a fine job. Descent people but somehow grated each other so they weren't very good together.
LAMB: How would you see it?
ADELMAN: You mentioned Shakespeare before. There is a wonderful passage in Anthony and Cleopatra where someone says to Anthony every time you get around Caesar you act poorly. He brings out the worst in you. You foul up every single time. And I think you know that is just a beautiful thought and phrase. That there are people with whom we shine. We feel better, we act better. We seem better to ourselves and other. And there are people around who we just don't do very well. Like Anthony didn't do well any time he was near Caesar. I think that was the situation with Schultz and Weinberger. They didn't do well when they were around each other.
LAMB: How often can you remember seeing them not doing well together? Many many times?
ADELMAN: Oh there was a period there of I would say two years where their relationship was so rocky and so unpleasant and they didn't do well with each other it made it hard. It made it embarrassing. It's like you going out and with another couple one night and all of a sudden they start fighting at the restaurant table. I mean you know after a while you get embarrassed and you think gee God I shouldn't be here. It's unpleasant to watch.
LAMB: When they disagreed strongly and you said the President didn't do anything about it how were the disputes solved?
ADELMAN: Oh they would go on or you know the meeting would end or whatever.
LAMB: But I mean was there a difference of substance where the President had to make a decision on one side or the other?
ADELMAN: Difference of substance is fine. It's totally legitimate in government and there's an obligation to play straight with the President. In fact one of the things I I hope to make in the book was that people are too afraid to either correct the President or to be totally honest with what they think. And that's a very big obligation that you have. You have..very few people have the kind of substantive access that top people in the government have and they have a solemn obligation to go and tell the President straight what they think what they know and if the President gets something wrong to correct him. But that was done very very little.
LAMB: Our guest is Kenneth Adelman and this is the book. It's all about Summitry and there were five Summits with the Soviets during Ronald Reagan's Presidency and you were present at three of them?
ADELMAN: The first three yeah. Um hum. I covered the Moscow Summit for CBS News I was a consultant for them and wrote about it. So I was kind of involved in that one too.
LAMB: I want to ask you about the dedication of your book and our audience will see it in just a second. This book is dedicated to "In loving memory to Donald R. Murdock." Who was he?
ADELMAN: He was a fellow who worked for Rumsfeld when I met him in the early 1970's. He was about our age and he fought cancer almost the whole time that we knew him. He had hepatitis. He had Hodgkin's Disease. He had you name it he had it. And he had such grit about him and such determination that it was not going to get him down. In fact he had a group at the University of Chicago where he entered Chemotherapy one time and he had by far the worst condition and he was the longest living member of that class in the University of Chicago. He just outlived them all. And it finally got to him where grit added ten years to his life so we lost him last year. And I put a dedication to him that he couldn't have done it if he had any quit in him at all. And that came from he and I were and our wives who are close friends were out in New Mexico and we were with some ranchers. We said how can you do this kind of ranching it's a hard life. And the rancher turned to us and he says can't do it at all if you have any quit in you. And so I decided that was the perfect kind of summary of Don Murdock's life.
LAMB: When did you start writing your book?
ADELMAN: I started writing about six months after I left the government.
LAMB: Which was?
ADELMAN: I left the government December of 1987.
LAMB: Where did you write it?
ADELMAN: At home and at the office.
LAMB: When? What time during the day do you write best?
ADELMAN: Well it would be..what you do when you write a book like this I found is that you have just jot things down constantly. You keep a piece of paper in your pocket at all times. And when you get ideas you just put them down because otherwise you're going to forget them. And then there are stories..listen I have had ten stories pop in my mind since the book was published that I should have put in the book.
LAMB: How difficult was this?
ADELMAN: It's difficult to try to take a subject like arms control. It's generally a turn off to people. Not get bogged down in these mindbending acronyms numbers categories no one really cares about. Try to explain basics of U.S. Soviet relations. Some about arms control in a correct way but not in a boring way and try to concentrate on people. The main reaction I have gotten from friends who have read the book is that it's funny that it's human, it's moving. I had lunch with someone yesterday who knew first hand about all these experiences he said at times it's hilarious. He was sitting there his wife was there would call out what are you laughing about he'd sit there in his chair and just laugh and laugh.
LAMB: Speaking of what I assume you consider to be a hilarious moment tell us the story please about the Gorbachev Reagan meeting in the pantry.
ADELMAN: This was a strange episode. We had..they had had a joint press conference in Geneva. They had two days together for the first Summit and we were upstairs to say goodbye to each other and everything like that. You know the waiters were passing out champagne there was little chit chat there was supposed to be a 15 minute goodbye. All of a sudden Gorbachev says as we're standing in a little circle Gorbachev says to Reagan let me talk to you for one minute alone. Reagan says okay. The two of them go off into the pantry upstairs in this international hall leaving I'm sure the waiters and cooks amazed that the two most important people in the world are suddenly in their domain of the kitchen. And we're there Schultz, myself and the whole U.S. delegation ten of us or so. Within a minute the two Reagan and Gorbachev come back. Gorbachev says to Reagan that was our seventh time together. Reagan says oh no this is our first Summit. Reagan says oh no this is our seventh time together. Reagan has this strange look on his face. No this was the eleventh U.S. Soviet Summit since 1946 or something and Gorbachev says no it's our seventh time. And Reagan turns to all of standing there and he says what do you think he means? And never shy myself I said I don't Mr. President buy maybe he means this was the seventh time the two of you had time alone. Reagan has a pained look on his face and he says is that what you mean. And Gorbachev lights up and he says yeah that's exactly what I mean. It's our seventh time alone. Reagan says thinking of you know they were alone for 30 seconds didn't do anything Reagan says well it doesn't matter how many times it is it matters what you get done. And with that they toast and it's goodbye. It took me a few months to figure out what the hell was going on there. And then I pieced it together. Here was Gorbachev being a classic western style politician. You could have a Governor or a Senator or a Congressman go and tell his people that he had seven meetings with the President of the United States which is much better than six or five. So what we would consider abnormal behavior for most mortals normal for our politicians is extremely abnormal for the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. But that is exactly what Gorbachev wanted to do. He wanted to click up the number of meeting alone with the President of the United States so he could tell his friend and tell his buddies and tell the people back home. It's a revealing moment because Gorbachev is such an unusual Soviet leader.
LAMB: There's another moment that's way off this subject when in Reykjavik Ronald Reagan's son was present looking different and acting different than the rest..
ADELMAN: That's at Geneva.
LAMB: I'm sorry at Geneva. And by the way you write about three Summits in here that you were at attendance and you write about the Moscow Summit and what's the fifth?
ADELMAN: The fifth was that U.N. meeting that meeting in December.
LAMB: In New York?
ADELMAN: In New York yeah.
LAMB: Okay. What was that little incident?
ADELMAN: Well it was strange. This was the first Summit. First U.S. Soviet Summit in seven and a half years. First time Gorbachev and Reagan had ever either of them been in a Summit. First time they would have met. Spent the morning together. We were supposed to have lunch with the President at 12:00 noon after the first morning. We were at the chateau in Geneva waiting and there walking in about eleven thirty quarter to twelve is Ron Reagan Jr. in some kind of balloon pants and some kind of real chic shirt and looking real mod and cool. And he had been..and worn a credential as a journalist from Playboy magazine. So Reagan come out of the..about twelve fifteen he's about fifteen minutes late President comes out of his motorcade and his limousine and walks in the house first person he meets is his son the correspondent from Playboy magazine. If anybody would have told me that the first person to meet the President of the United States after his first meeting with Gorbachev and the Soviet leaders is a correspondent for Playboy magazine I would have doubted it. Anyway there he was and Ron Jr. says Dad were you. You're late. And Reagan looks at him you know it's not a usual thing normal thing to tell the President you know you kept us waiting. You just wait for a President. So Reagan says to him well you know what happened we have these translations and it takes so much time he'll say something I'll say something in English it'll be translated translated translated. He said it's just like the movies where you see people talk talk talk talk in the foreign films and on the bottom of the screen it's flashed that's fine.
LAMB: Guest is Ken Adelman. This is the book "The Great Universal Embrace" talking about Summitry and the subtitle there "Armed Summitry a Skeptic's Account." When you see a headline in the paper that says U.S. to go to a Summit with the Soviet Union what do you think today?
ADELMAN: I think that a Summit is like Cleopatra. It's awfully fun to be involved with but it's quite treacherous.
LAMB: Why?
ADELMAN: A lot can happen wrong in Summits. We've seen that obviously in the Munich Summit in 1938. You saw that in the Vienna Summit of 1961 where John F. Kennedy and Nikita Krushev just didn't get along which is fine but Krushev walked out thinking that Kennedy was a wimp and even worse yet Kennedy walked out thinking Krushev thought he was a wimp and within a few months of that very hasty Summit ill prepared Summit silly Summit really within a very few months of that you had within two months you had the building of the Berlin Wall that's still with us. You had the call up of Reserves for Berlin and Vietnam. You had a buildup in Vietnam. And within a year had the Cuban Missile Crisis. Now what relationship those have to Krushev's impression of Kennedy we'll never know. But you have to think to yourself that they had a relationship because Krushev sized him up as just a wimp just a nothing. A rich kid who just got to be President and didn't have any backbone to him.
LAMB: Tell us..
ADELMAN: And that kind of stuff is very dangerous. When Chamberlain leaves a Munich Summit with Hitler goes back and tells his people here's a man that you can believe. You get Hitler's word you've got something. That is such a bad misperception such a bad evaluation that it is extremely costly. It's been one of the worst size ups in human history.
LAMB: You told us earlier that Ronald Reagan spent a lot of time talking about arms control.
ADELMAN: Um hum.
LAMB: You had a lot of meetings with him on it. Did he look forward to Summits?
ADELMAN: He loved them. Absolutely loved them.
LAMB: Why?
ADELMAN: He understood better than any of us that first of all people count personalities count. You know these academics like myself and others tend to think historical forces, the times, conditions, the system makes things happen. Where really people count. Ronald Reagan knew that instinctively. That if you had a guy like Gorbachev who was different and it was going to be different and he was going to do different things than a guy like Brezhnev or guy like Chernako or any of the other guys. He also loved them because understood that Summits are more like show business than they are like board room meetings. So much is the posture is the glitz is the anticipation and the result as you frame it. It counted so much more that Ronald Reagan in Geneva for the first time they met came out of the building early without a top coat on met Gorbachev coming up the stairs in a big Russian Hat and a top coat and then helped him inside. That visual meant so very much and was so very important. Why is that? Because it seemed like Ronald Reagan who is what 20 years older than Gorbachev was far younger, far more vigorous and he was greeting Gorbachev to come into what was going to what was going to be a totally neutral Summit. It was an amazing episode of show biz that carried an important to everybody in the world that Ronald Reagan was really on top of things and Reagan understood that. Reagan was a genius at these kind of things.
LAMB: One of the things that I want you to tell us about because you read about this during these Summits but you never get somebody who was there to talk about how..the impact. You write I don't remember which Summit it was about being up in the middle of the night having your pen in hand being responsible for the President's remarks and Bud McFarland who was the National Security Advisor at the time comes by totally exhausted and..tell more about that instance.
ADELMAN: That was in Geneva. It was a situation that we had been working very very hard for these various days. And we had a little office and White House office in one of these places. I was there drafting the President's remarks for the next day of the joint appearance with Mikel Gorbachev and I look up and there like some ghosty Shakespearean figure is Bud McFarland who wasn't even staying where that place was. He was staying in a chateau next to the President's chateau. And he comes in like Hamlet's father or something like that a spirit from the vistaed heat and asked me what I'm doing and I tell him I'm doing this and he says that's great. And I said do you have any ideas how should I do this? And he said no use your own judgement on something like that. And I said is there anything else I can do to help you. He says yeah there really is. I would love it if you would go back on the plane with all the journalists and brief them after the Summit. God knows I didn't know what I was getting into with that. But anyway I was there got the remarks done for the President next day. Shipped them in the morning they were there for Reagan to see when he got up and for Bud McFarland for George Schultz to see when they got up. Everybody just thought they were fine and there two hours later with Mikel Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan on the stage at the international meeting place in Geneva the President get up and I just hear him read my own words that are now six hours old. Usually the way government works you would have such a process of grinding and bumping and such a group grope on that kind of endeavor of Presidential remarks but here in Summits for better or for worse you have a clear shot at the man.
LAMB: You list the four key questions that you put in this speech but then the sentence below that jumps out "Certainly the President never expressed the least interest in these questions either then or subsequently." So he got up and read a speech included your four questions in it. Didn't care about them but we sitting out here watching it should have taken it all seriously or should..
ADELMAN: Well that's one of the mysteries of Ronald Reagan. He could at times be so seized with an issue like S.D.I. handle it beautifully really do the right thing at other times on various issues like criteria on Soviet behavior couldn't care less.
LAMB: I guess I want to ask you whether all that language around Summits, and speeches and things like that based on this story mean anything?
ADELMAN: Most of it doesn't. One of the mysteries of this business that we spend enormous time drafting these communiques for Summits. Days. Previous administrations spent months doing it. They have a half life of a few hours I would say. Press we spend enormous time drafting them. Press grabs thousands of copies hurriedly to file for them then a few days later no one remembered the first thing about them including those in the government who drafted it. It all vanishes..it goes to the ash heap of history.
LAMB: Do you ever worry as you saw this process that all this fatigue and late nights and all that would lead to mistakes?
ADELMAN: Yes. And that's why I say Summits are like Cleopatra. They're fun to be involved with but they can be treacherous. Because there is no guarantee that a President's not going to make a big mistake on this. I think it's wrong to have a Summit where you put the President up front to be the main arms control negotiator. I think it's crazy. I think we should have learned in the Versailles situation with Woodrow Wilson you don't have a President in the United States your main negotiator. Even before arms control which is far more complicated far more technical why is that because every negotiator if he is going to do a good job must have the ability to sound out feel out check back home and there is no checking back home when the President of the United States is there. He is home. He is the headquarters.
LAMB: This is what the book looks like. It' called "The Great Universal Embrace: Arms Summitry a Skeptics Account" by Kenneth Adelman former director of the United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency and current Professor of Shakespeare at Georgetown University, columnist, author, and editor an editor of national editor of Washingtonian Magazine. Thanks for spending this time with us.
ADELMAN: Thank you Brian.


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