A Journey through the Cold War

A Journey through the Cold War: A Memoir of Containment and Coexistence

Raymond L. Garthoff
Copyright Date: 2001
Pages: 432
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  • Book Info
    A Journey through the Cold War
    Book Description:

    In this memoir, Ambassador Ray Garthoff paints a dynamic diplomatic history of the cold war, tracing the life of the conflict from the vantage points of an observant insider. His intellectually formative years coincided with the earliest days of the cold war, and during his forty-year career, Garthoff participated in some of the most important policymaking of the twentieth century: • In the late 1950s he carried out pioneering research on Soviet military affairs at the Rand Corporation. • During his four-year tenure at the CIA (1957-61), in addition to drafting national intellingence estimates, Garthoff made trips to the Soviet Union with Vice President Richard Nixon and as an interpreter for a delegation from the Atomic Energy Commission. • As a special assistant in the State Department, Garthoff worked with Secretary Dean Rusk., and he was directly involved in the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. Later he served as executive officer and senior State Department adviser for the strategic arms limitation talks (SALT) delegation. • In the 1970s he served as a senior Foreign Service inspector, leading missions to a number of countries around the globe. • As U.S. Ambassador to Bulgaria (1977-79), Garthoff gained first-hand knowledge of the workings of a communist state and of the Soviet bloc. • In the 1980s, Garthoff wrote two major studies of American-Soviet relations. He traveled to the Soviet Union nearly a dozen times in the final decade of the cold war, and in the early 1990s he had access to the former Soviet Communist Party archives in Moscow. Garthoff¡'s journey through the Cold War informs the views, positions, and actions of the past. His anecdotes and observations will be of great value to those anticipating the challenges of reevaluating American post-cold war security policy.

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-9852-1
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface: Why This Memoir?
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  5. 1 The Cold War Begins: The Formative Years, 1945–50
    (pp. 1-8)

    There is no commonly accepted precise date for the beginning of the Cold War; it emerged during the years 1945 through 1947. Perhaps as good a date as any was the occasion of former British prime minister Sir Winston Churchill’s speech in Fulton, Missouri, on March 5, 1946, when he declared that an “Iron Curtain” had descended across the continent of Europe. Less than a month earlier Marshal Josef Stalin, the Soviet leader, had blamed capitalism and the West for both world wars and implied a protracted conflict between the Soviet Union and the West. And two weeks after that...

  6. 2 The View from a Think Tank: Soviet Affairs Expert at RAND
    (pp. 9-23)

    The RAND Corporation was established in 1948, although it had originated as a U.S. Army Air Force program, called Project RAND, in 1946. It was envisioned by General “Hap” Arnold, his science adviser Theodore von Karman, and a few other far-seeing Air Force generals as a locus for new broad thinking about military technology and strategy in the budding atomic and air age. RAND’s research staff was drawn from many disciplines—physics, mathematics, aeronautics, engineering, economics, and to a lesser degree political and social science and even philosophy. The headquarters, and almost all of the staff, were located in Santa...

  7. 3 The Thaw: Observing the Soviet Union after Stalin
    (pp. 24-38)

    Only gradually—for many only very slowly if at all—did it become clear to those of us in Washington watching Soviet affairs that the Soviet Union after Stalin’s death was not the same. Not everything had changed, to be sure, nor were the changes all favorable to the Western world, inasmuch as Nikita Khrushchev and his successors engaged more effectively in a global rivalry. Still, the great internal and external tensions that had been created by Stalin’s paranoid totalitarian rule were reduced substantially.

    One important difference was the opportunity for much greater, if still constrained, contact between the Soviet...

  8. 4 CIA and Intelligence Analysis and Estimates
    (pp. 39-60)

    On December 27, 1957, I reported for duty at the Office of National Estimates in the complex housing the headquarters first of the wartime Office of Strategic Services, and since 1947 the Central Intelligence Agency, on the hill at 2430 E Street, NW, Washington, D.C. Below this vantage point to the south were the World War I temporary buildings that still flanked the Reflecting Pool, Lincoln Memorial, and surrounding area and housed most of the agency offices. While I was there, the old brick Christian Heurich brewery nearby was demolished, and several of us whose windows looked out on its...

  9. 5 “Foreign Affairs Adviser” at the Pentagon
    (pp. 61-71)

    When I entered on duty at CIA, I did so under a “light cover,” meaning that for public purposes (that is, social, banking credit, and non-CIA professional relationships) I was identified as working elsewhere. This was not then the usual arrangement for people working under the deputy director for intelligence (DDI), but Bill Bundy suggested that it might provide greater flexibility for future assignments, and I agreed. The agency made the necessary arrangements. Many CIA staff members, mainly in the clandestine services, were at that time identified as civilian employees of the Department of Defense. I was titled “Foreign affairs...

  10. 6 Intelligence Excursions in the Soviet Union
    (pp. 72-99)

    Sometime in May or June 1959 Sherman Kent asked me, “Ray, could you interpret for the vice president in Russia?” It had been announced somewhat earlier that Vice President Richard Nixon would visit the Soviet Union, but the question was quite unexpected. Yes, I replied, I could handle it, but I was not a professional interpreter and hence not the best he could have. It turned out that Marine Brigadier General Robert E. Cushman Jr., the vice president’s assistant for national security affairs, was canvassing for an interpreter. Kent wanted to volunteer me for the job. In due course, I...

  11. 7 The Espionage Game
    (pp. 100-119)

    Most people, when they think of intelligence, immediately think of spying. In fact, espionage is but one means to acquire information, and the acquisition of information requires analysis to produce intelligence. Moreover, many experienced senior intelligence officers have observed that up to 95 percent of intelligence is obtained by various means other than espionage. Nonetheless, that five percent may be vital and unobtainable any other way. Espionage also has an aura of intrigue and overtones of danger that attracts attention. Never was this more true than in the time Allen Dulles was director of central intelligence.

    Espionage is a very...

  12. 8 Department of State: The Kennedy Years (I)
    (pp. 120-142)

    I reported for duty at the Department of State on September 17, 1961—just three days before my old ONE office and most of CIA headquarters moved to Langley, Virginia. At first, some of my friends both at State and at CIA thought that I was changing cover. But the transfer was real. I did become a formal consultant to CIA with the approval of my new boss at State, Ambassador U. Alexis Johnson. In 1962 I helped draft the first National Intelligence Estimate on the Warsaw Pact military forces, and I occasionally met informally with the Board of National...

  13. 9 Department of State: The Kennedy Years (II)
    (pp. 143-167)

    In its first year, the Kennedy administration had seen urgent requirements to deal with two challenges: Khrushchev’s persistent pressure on West Berlin and growing Soviet-backed communist insurgencies in the Third World. The Berlin crisis spurred alliance contingency military plans, and the danger of localized conflicts led to strenuous efforts to build counterinsurgency capabilities and activities, and to the disastrous adventure of the émigré landing at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba. In terms of its own agenda, the new administration established arms control as a new instrument of policy and joined in launching new multilateral disarmament negotiations in Geneva. I...

  14. 10 The Cuban Missile Crisis: Turning Point of the Cold War
    (pp. 168-187)

    On the morning of October 16, 1962, President John F. Kennedy learned from National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy that Soviet medium-range missiles had just been discovered in Cuba. This was quite unexpected (except to the new director of central intelligence, John McCone, and a few others). A recent Special National Intelligence Estimate (SNIE 85-3-62) issued on September 19 (at a time when McCone was out of the country) had considered the possibility but concluded that the Soviet leadership would probably not deploy nuclear offensive missiles in Cuba. Nonetheless, the possibility had been recognized, and indeed that is why the U-2...

  15. 11 Department of State: The Johnson Years
    (pp. 188-219)

    President Lyndon B. Johnson, entering office through the tragic death by senseless assassination of a dynamic young president suddenly cut down in his prime and at the height of his popularity, sought at once to emphasize continuity of the administration and its policies at home and abroad. He could not fit the mythical image of Camelot that then prevailed, but he could continue at least initially with essentially the same leadership team and policies. After election as president in his own right a year later, Johnson did set his own distinctive imprint on Washington and on American domestic policy working...

  16. 12 The Diplomacy of East-West Relations
    (pp. 220-242)

    The Cold War always involved measures by the United States and its allies directed against the Soviet Union and its bloc—military measures to deter, and if necessary to defend, against hostile pressures, incursions or attack; political and economic measures to strengthen the West and indeed other countries of the non-communist “free” world to prevent Soviet bloc and other communist encroachment; and political, psychological, economic, and sometimes covert measures to weaken the enemy. Sometimes these were unilateral U.S. actions, sometimes collective Western (mainly NATO) moves, and they varied greatly in their nature, but they shared the characteristic of being measures...

  17. 13 Negotiating on Strategic Arms: SALT and the ABM Treaty
    (pp. 243-276)

    The single most ambitious undertaking of the détente experiment was the attempt by the two superpowers in the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) to control their strategic military competition. For adversaries even to attempt to deal together with the most sensitive and critical issues of their national security marked a significant step forward.

    President Nixon had called in his inaugural address to move from an era of confrontation to one of negotiation, and SALT was in time to become the “icebreaker” negotiation. Nixon did not, however, want to forgo what he (and his National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger) believed to...

  18. 14 Developing Détente in U.S.-Soviet Relations
    (pp. 277-291)

    As we have seen, the course of the Cold War oscillated between periods of greater and lesser tension, between confrontation and détente. The first significant lessening of tension had come after the death of Stalin, in the period from 1953 to 1956. The Soviet suppression of the Hungarian uprising and renewed pressures on Berlin worsened relations, and the Berlin crisis of 1961 and the Cuban missile crisis of 1962 ensued. A new détente had emerged in 1963–64, but the war in Vietnam and Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia in 1968 again brought tension.

    President Richard Nixon, with a reputation as...

  19. 15 Inspecting the American Conduct of Foreign Relations
    (pp. 292-301)

    During the mid-1970s I had an unusual opportunity to examine the role and operations of the Foreign Service in these Cold War years. It came about as an outcome of the Foreign Service assignment process. Inasmuch as assignments are usually decided well in advance and among competing aspirants for positions, the “search” for an appropriate onward assignment was under way throughout the year I was at the Senior Seminar. Kissinger had become secretary of state, and the under secretary who had assured me that I “would not be forgotten” was gone. But he was right about one thing, I was...

  20. 16 Ambassador to Bulgaria
    (pp. 302-324)

    I had just recently returned from my inspection of our embassy in Canada when, in mid-April 1977, I received a call advising me that the secretary of state had recommended me to become our ambassador to Bulgaria. I knew this meant that not only the secretary had approved, but also the White House, although there would still be a process of confirmation lasting several months.

    I was delighted, and so was Vera. On my brief visit to Sofia in 1963 I had been charmed by the country, especially the unspoiled turn-of-the-century architecture of Sofia. I was interested in the history...

  21. 17 The Decline and Collapse of the Détente of the 1970s
    (pp. 325-336)

    The U.S.-Soviet détente of the 1970s, as shown in an earlier chapter, did not emerge early in the Nixon administration, notwithstanding Nixon’s inaugural call for a turn to an “era of negotiations,” or as a well-developed conception. Détente was, however, launched with considerable fanfare by the time of the May 1972 Moscow summit meeting and the June 1973 Washington summit. Despite the convergence of a number of reasons for a détente policy on the part of both the American and Soviet governments, and widespread public support, the policy soon began to face difficulties. For one thing, although congruent, the reasons...

  22. 18 Witness to the Cold War Endgame: 1980-90
    (pp. 337-373)

    My retirement from government service at the end of 1979 did not mean retiring from the arena of the Cold War. Although my direct participation in governmental policymaking and policy implementation in general came to an end, I remained very active in the broader activities of the academic and political establishment concerned with East-West relations and the Cold War. Formally I served as a consultant to the Department of State for two years, 1980 and 1981, although not actively, but I did continue thereafter to serve informally and on an ad hoc basis as a consultant to the State Department...

  23. 19 Reflections on the Cold War
    (pp. 374-395)

    Ultimately, there is but one Truth, one objective History. But if there is no subjective truth, there surely are subjective as well as objective approaches to comprehension and appreciation of the truth, including history—experiencing and feeling a historical phenomenon, as well as analyzing it.

    The Cold War is now the subject of historical analysis, and that means analysis of what happened and why, what decisions were made, by whom, for what ends, and with what consequences, and what factors influenced or even determined the course of events. Subjective considerations—including the aims, perceptions, and values of key participants in...

  24. Epilogue: A Personal Reminiscence
    (pp. 396-400)

    With the exception of the first chapter, on my formative years, coinciding with the formative years of the Cold War, I have omitted personal, autobiographical discussion not directly relating to my passage through the years of the Cold War. References even to my wife, Vera, my constant companion through the journey, and my son, Alex, have entered only rarely, inasmuch as I have focused on my professional activities and observations. I will not, in this brief epilogue, seek to fill in my personal history and that of my family, but I think it is not inappropriate at least to mention...

  25. Index
    (pp. 401-416)