The reservation of Vatican’s and the US prominent policy-makers towards the Perestroika
No serious student of the Cold War history can deny that Western accomplished Sovietologists had suspicions regarding the Perestroika. It turns out that among skeptics were also prominent the American and Vatican policy makers. They were afraid that the Perestroika may be a restart of the Soviet Union as famous KGB defector Anatoly Golitsyn suggested in his books “New Lies for Old” and “Perestroika Deception“. Reagan’s ambassador to the Soviet Union Hon. Jack F Matlock talks about the increase of the President’s enthusiasm from 1985 towards the Soviet First Secretary. (From other sources it is also known that President Reagan was advised by his prominent partners and friends to take cautious stance in future talks to Gorbachev). Ambassador Hon. Matlock reports on all of signs of the President’s enthusiasm towards the Perestroika. However at some point in his article he talks about this enthusiasm also as “Embassy Moscow’s position” that would mean of the Ambassador. (His views). Hon. Ambassador Jack F Matlock do not report on President Reagan’s objections.
One has to remember that prominent anticommunists such as Judge William Clark, George Lenczowski and others, who actually were the architects of the effective strategy aimed to destroy Soviet military and economic potential and to open the door of the imprisoned nations inside the Eastern Europe, had left White House. From that time the most prominent journal of the American Conservatives became very critical towards the Reagan’s approach regarding foreign policy . When President pursued his negotiations with the Communist Secretary Gorbachev only the State Department trained diplomats were available to advise him. However most of them were hopeless facing evil Soviets. They would would most often smile and nod their heads to the Communist tyrants in the spirit of pacifism.
In his article Ambassador Hon. Jack F. Matlock reveals that some American analysts were concerned about the Perestroika:
Not all American officials shared Embassy Moscow’s position. A National Intelligence Estimate issued in April 1989 described disagreements among analysts in Washington as follows:
Some analysts see current [Soviet] policy changes as largely tactical, driven by the need for breathing space from the competition. They believe the ideological imperatives of Marxism-Leninism and its hostility toward capitalist countries are enduring. They point to previous failures of reform and the transient nature of past “détentes.” They judge that there is a serious risk of Moscow returning to traditionally combative behavior when the hoped for gains in economic performance are achieved.
This view shared prominent Vatican and some of the United States diplomats, who were also concerned that Gorbachev’s reforms are another form of the Kremlin’s deception.
Nevertheless President Reagan advised by the State Department diplomats such as Ambassador Hon. Jack F. Matlock proceeded with Soviet-American negations. After a relatively brief period of romance with Kremlin American diplomats fell in blind love with the Gorbachev’s Soviet Union. President Reagan had little choice but to negotiate.
Perhaps the prominent thinker and philosopher, former Commentary Magazine editor, Norman Podhoretz’s description of the problem of the President Reagan’s softened approach towards the Moscow explanation is the most accurate:
when the president is operating within a political culture that has been formed by a good many assumptions and institutional interest for quite a long time, he either has to challenge it very firmly or else it will engulf him and his policies. And I think the “permanent government”, as they call it, the media, and the regnant assumptions that have become almost axiomatic in the thinking of a lot of people in this country and in Europe over the last 10 or 15 years simply came pouring in to what was essentially a vacuum of policy after Reagan’s first few months in office.
The Reagan’s diplomats, in the spirit of the Yalta’s conference tradition, reconnected with Kremlin ignoring the most important moral issues such as the investigation of the assassination attempt on John Paul II. On May 13th, 1981 Washington was shocked. Fear of the Soviet Union led some diplomats to the pacifist illusions – noticed Norman Podhoretz.
The best recent illustration of how fear begets pacifist illusions which then beget appeasement is a column entitled “Sarajevo and St. Peter’s” by Flora Lewis of the New York Times. Miss Lewis here begins by quoting a British historian who had warned against pursuing the facts of the assassination attempt on the Pope because “the echo of a bullet at Sarajevo set off World War I.” Miss Lewis disagrees. The facts, she says, “should not, and probably cannot, be stifled. History and Western dignity demand the truth.” What then is the “warning” sounded by the horrible realization that “the line of responsibility leads directly to Moscow’s KGB and to the man who was then its chief and is now the Soviet leader, Yuri Andropov”? Does this mean that agreements with such a man and such a nation are worthless? Not in the least, Miss Lewis tells us: “It means getting on with arms negotiations, engaging determinedly in a search for peace with an adversary too dangerous to defy or discount. The issue isn’t mutual trust, it is everybody’s survival in a world where dirty tricks are all too possible, and so is total disaster. The appropriate lesson of Sarajevo now is to face facts, and therefore plan for peace.”
Reagan’s diplomats involved in talks with Moscow used the same filter of pacifist illusions for their analysis. The outcome was not brilliant for captivated nations. It is hard to guess today “what would happen if”. However after two decades more information and documents are available that suggest that negotiated freedom may have prevented real freedom: total defeat of the Communist regime, reckoning and building of brand new states. Had not Reagan’s diplomats would engage in discussions with Communist tyrants Poles, Czechs or Hungarians would have probably win bigger margin of freedom.
This is why some of the Vatican and the United States policy makers were concerned about the diplomatic talks with the Kremlin in late 1980’s.
In my book I discuss the sources of their reservation towards the Perestroika process. However this interview informs about some of the objections of the then Sovietologists regarding the Western approach to the Soviet Union during late 1980’s. One will find that weight of the evidence is against defendant.