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<email@example.com> We would like to thank Philip Zelikow very much for writing his June 14 critique of our Web posting on the Washington Summit of May-June 1990. We always learn from his trenchant analysis, and he was also an eyewitness in this case, so we privilege his conclusions even more. We do apologize for any offense given by our posting. We had certainly no intention of denigrating Professor Zelikow’s scholarship, and did not think we were doing so. The superb book he wrote with Condi Rice served as the foundation for our series of targeted Freedom of Information and declassification review requests in the 1990s, trying to open up the secret files of the end of the Cold War. We still remember the hours he spent with us helping us design our requests and prioritizing documents to be requested, and all of us at the Archive are grateful for his unwavering commitment to primary research that benefits all scholars, not just those with monopolies on information. It is not due to any lack of effort on his part or our part that so much of the U.S. record of the George H.W. Bush presidency remains absurdly classified. On the specific subject at hand, what most struck us about the published accounts of the summit was the combination of Dr. Zelikow’s (and Dr. Rice’s) phrase”a turning point” (on the issue of German unification in NATO) with Robert Hutchings phrase ”the most important U.S.-Soviet meeting ever held.”Having posted primary sources from both Soviet and U.S. files on each of the Gorbachev meetings with Reagan and Bush, we don’t agree with the Hutchings phrase, and on Zelikow and Rice’s ”turning point”conclusion, the Soviet documents suggest a much longer process stretching from the Malta summit through the culminating Gorbachev-Kohl meeting in July 1990, rather than a turning point at the Washington summit. That’s where we have a difference of opinion with Dr. Zelikow, and why we wrote the phrase in the posting introduction and press release about the “contrast” with subsequent published accounts. Some explanation is in order. Professor Zelikow comes to the subject having lived it 24/7 on the NSC staff at the time, having read through all the classified record, much of which he wrote, and having been immersed in the U.S. materials -- most of which the rest of us still have not seen. We base our side of the argument primarily on the copious Soviet records, open to all courtesy of the Archive’s documentary diplomacy in Moscow (led by Dr. Savranskaya), and thanks to the generosity of Anatoly Sergeyevich Chernyaev. Actually, the strongest part of Zelikow’s argument is Chernyaev’s conclusion in the interviews with Adomeit and with Zelikow and with Dr. Rice (we are sorry that we cited only Adomeit, but the Chernyaev remarks in quotations in the Zelikow and Rice book are cited by their footnote only to Adomeit, although the previous footnote references their own interview) that the summit was a turning point. Anatoly Sergeyevich is the straightest shooter of all the high officials at the end of the Cold War. He cares about history and he is willing to let the chips fall where they may. So it is at our peril that we take issue with the turning point idea in relation to the Washington summit. Looking at the Soviet side and as many of the interactive U.S.-Soviet-German sources as are available, we argue that the summit is not a turning point, but an encounter session in a much longer process of Gorbachev making his peace with unified Germany in NATO. Professor Zelikow has written in detail about this process so none of this is news to him, of course. But we are struck by the dog that didn’t bark, that Gorbachev never put up a real fight against a unified NATO Germany, whether in his September 1989 conversations with Margaret Thatcher, or his December 1989 Malta summit (where he acknowledged to Bush that the U.S. presence and troops in Europe were a stabilizing force and a positive for Soviet security), or in the remarkable January and February 1990 discussions with his own aides, with Baker, and with Kohl. We believe that the problem for Gorbachev all along in the process, as was so insightfully detailed by former Gorbachev aide Andrei Grachev in his book, _Gorbachev’s Gamble_, was how to take enough time to prepare his domestic constituencies for the inevitable. Or put another way, how to avoid the scenario requested by Margaret Thatcher in September 1989, that Moscow prevent German unification ”with our hands”(Chernyaevs phrase), showing no fingerprints from Downing Street or elsewhere. (She tells Gorbachev that Bush doesn’t want unification either, and to disregard the language in a NATO communiqué on the subject -- such an interesting message in the context of”Europe whole and free”rhetoric). During the January 1990 discussions in Moscow, Gorbachev keeps hoping that the remnant Communist party in East Germany will hold on long enough to provide the basis for a slow federated-state unification process (such as Kohl had called for in his ‘10 Points’), but his aides are well aware that the GDR is simply disintegrating. At the end of those staff discussions, Gorbachev actually commissions Akhromeyev to draw up plans for total withdrawal of Soviet troops from the GDR. During the February meetings with Baker and then with Kohl, the Soviet Leader’s response to explicit discussion of unified Germany in NATO was to use phrases like ”this presents a problem for us”-- but Gorbachev never goes to the mat over the issue. Perhaps Dr. Zelikow read the memcons differently than we do, when he asserts ”That is not correct”in response to our point about Gorbachev essentially having conceded German membership in NATO in February 1990. But Jim Baker came to the same conclusion that we argue, when he sent his February 10, 1990 memo to Kohl preparing the latter for his own talks with Gorbachev. Baker details his question to Gorbachev: Would you prefer to see a unified Germany outside of NATO, independent and with no US forces or would you prefer a unified Germany to be tied to NATO, with assurances that NATO’s jurisdiction would not shift one inch eastward from its present position?Gorbachev’s answer, according to Baker: ”He answered that the Soviet leadership was giving real thought to all such options, and would be discussing them soon” in a kind of seminar. He then added: “Certainly any extension of the zone of NATO would be unacceptable.”(By implication, NATO in its current zone might be acceptable.) Baker concludes that Gorbachevmay well be willing to go along with a sensible approach that gives him some cover or explanation for his actions. And indeed, there was a real sense in Washington that Gorbachev was acceding to a unified NATO Germany, to the point that Robert Blackwill in February 1990 proposed ”Christmas in June” to reward Gorbachev at the Washington summit. The summit was supposed to include an address to a joint session of Congress and signed agreements on START, CFE, CSCE, chemical weapons, and commercial trade (quoted by Michael Beschloss and Strobe Talbott, _At the Highest Levels_, pp. 188-189). For a variety of reasons, not least the crisis in Lithuania, only one of these Christmas presents -- the trade deal --would actually come through, albeit at the last minute and with some caveats tied to Lithuania. Finally, of course, the July 1990 meeting of Gorbachev and Kohl(the”breakthrough” as Zelikow so emphatically describes) was the most important moment for the ultimate result of German unification in NATO, not least because Kohl actually delivered on his presents in the form of significant financial aid and credits for the USSR. Yes, there are tantrums along the way, and not only in the Washington summit interventions by Soviet officials Falin and Akhromeyev. For example, one Moscow discussion in early May 1990 features Gorbachev himself blustering about cutting off all arms control talks to prevent German unification, and Chernyaev has to write his boss to remind him of his own goals, which are: not to make an enemy of Germany (key to any Soviet economic future), encourage European integration, and stop worrying about Cold War notions of security. Chernyaev brilliantly writes to Gorbachev that even if Poland was in NATO (this is May 1990!), it would not really threaten Soviet security. Yet we conclude in our revised introduction (we would ask that H-Diplo readers please do review the actual full posting for nuance that does not exist in the opening two paragraphs of a press release), that Gorbachev wound up with a strange dichotomy, supporting the U.S. presence and troops in Europe and willing to have Germany unify in NATO, but also seeing that the rapidity of the unification process was dooming his vision of a common European home. So he tried to slow it down, to no avail. The reasons he could not slow it down were primarily German, specifically the situation in East Germany, with public opinion crescendo-ing towards unification, the lure of the deutschmark, the total collapse of the East German Communist Party (SED), the March 1990 election results, and the adroit maneuvering of Helmut Kohl to get himself to the front of the parade and stay there. This goes to a larger point about which we should start arguing now. In our new book, _Masterpieces of History: The Peaceful End of the Cold War in Europe, 1989_ (Budapest/New York: Central European University Press, 2010), we argue that U.S. policy was not all that important to the revolutions of 1989, in fact, that U.S. policy attempted to prevent or at least slow down those revolutions, and that President Bush’s own characteristic caution and prudence put him alongside the reform Communists in 1989, not the dissidents or even Solidarity. Yet, precisely this early caution and later refusal to’dance on the Wall’-- the lack of engagement between the superpowers during 1989 according to the Soviet record goes all the way through July (!) and effectively until the Malta summit in December -- helped leave open space for the East Europeans to rush in and make their revolutions. We understand from some of Professor Zelikow’s recent conference presentations and commentaries that he subscribes to the grand strategy theory of 1989. He has argued that ”Europe whole and free” amounted to such a strategy, while we conclude -- primarily from the admissions in the Bush-Scowcroft memoir, _A World Transformed_ -- that this strategy was, as they say in Texas, all hat and no cattle. Despite Drs. Zelikow and Rice’s best efforts, and Dr. Hutchingsas well -- all of which are truly superb contributions to the historical debate -- the documents of U.S. interaction with Moscow and with Eastern Europe suggest why it is that a number of scholars today look back at U.S. policy in 1989 and conclude that neither of the superpowers were supportive of the revolutions, velvet or otherwise, but placed their bets on the reform Communists instead. For example, Laszlo Borhi has made this argument based on access to the internal Hungarian records (including Bush’s visit to Hungary in July 1989), and Gregory Domber’s prize-winning dissertation makes this argument about the Polish case as well. Both studies give credit to the U.S. ambassadors (Davis in Poland and Palmer in Hungary) for their more activist roles, and thereby show some significant differences between Washington and the diplomats on the ground. These studies conclude, and we agree, that Gorbachev’s non-violence was fundamentally enabling, and Bush’s reticence was very helpful -- perhaps as Timothy Garton Ash argues, inadvertently -- but 1989’s true protagonists did not live in Moscow or Washington. We are entirely willing to concede to the spectacular evidence and arguments presented in Dr. Zelikow and Dr. Rice’s book that U.S. policy had a leading role in the unification of Germany in 1990, much more so than it did on the revolutions of 1989. But we should warn in advance -- and apologize for any offense given -- that in the essay on U.S. policy included in _Masterpieces_ we quote the only critical review we ever read of the Zelikow and Rice book, by Noel Cary in _The Journal of Modern History_ (2001), that ”there is something troubling about the seeming ease with which they can tell their story with such little reference to the streets of Berlin and Leipzig.” What we are trying to say here, however awkwardly, is that our mutual (Professor Zelikow’s and ours) focus on the diplomacy, on the high politics, actually in part obscures and even denies the real agents of change in 1989 and 1990. We know this is a terrible charge to level, on a list called H-Diplo, but that’s where the documents take us. And the political results of this high-politics focus include both unwarranted triumphalism in the U.S. and unfounded conspiracy theories in Russia (Gorbachev’s alleged sell-out) and Eastern Europe (U.S. enabling from Yalta to Malta allowed the Communists to create a post-1989 kleptocracy). So this is worth arguing about, and we look forward to Professor Zelikow’s no-doubt devastating reply. (A final admiring note: we believe Zelikow’s posting is the first time on H-Diplo that the word "gosh" has been given its own sentence. We’ve been trying to convert our kids to"gosh"or "goodness gracious" rather than OMG and similar formulations, so this will help a great deal. Thank you again.) All best wishes, Tom Blanton & Svetlana Savranskaya National Security Archive