tv Ronald Reagan and Cold War Global Politics CSPAN March 13, 2017 12:00am-2:01am EDT
c-span.org/history. history unfolds daily. in 1979, c-span was created as a public service by america's cable television companies and is brought to you today by your cable or satellite providers. next, panel of historians argues that the reagan administration transformed local politics. about global financial markets, oil markets, human rights, and cyber security against the backdrop of the cold or. they also explore how ronald reagan responded to international events throughout his presidency. this was part of a three day hosted by the clements center for national security in austin, texas. this is almost two hours.
>> i was telling my kids about this conference yesterday and they were reminding me of the movie back to the future and that wonderful moment where marty mcfly is talking to the scientist professor and he asked him something about the future. and he said in the future, ronald reagan will be president. he said, the movie actor? that is crazy. our politics have changed. we have a wonderful panel here, for superb, exciting papers that do fit together, it will be my job to talk about that in the discussion. what we will do it is each speaker will present for 13-15 minutes, 15 minutes maximum, i will cut them off at that point.
i will then give comments for 5-6 minutes and we will open it up for discussion from the entire audience. i'd know we have a lot of experts in the audience who will have a lot to offer. i will introduce the four panelists right now and we will go in order. seated immediately to my right we have fritz bartel, finishing as we speak his dissertation at cornell university. his dissertation is on the privatization of the cold war. the row of the foreign aid, financial investment, and various other elements in the cold war. he is presenting what i think is a piece of that project for us today. after fritz, we will go to david painter, my friend and fellow -- we spent a wonderful summer in oslo together. my kids and david as uncle david, the oil guy. uncle david the oil guy will talk about oil at the end of the cold war.
in wonderful predictable paper by david, exciting and new. he is a professor at georgetown university, trainer of many distinguished graduate students, author of many books, one of his most distinguished students is sarah schneider. sarah is now a professor at american university, the author of one of the most important books on the helsinki process into human rights, a frequent presenter at the clements center events. we also have the joy of reading her work and learning from it. our final speaker will be christopher fuller, a lecturer which in our terms would be a professor, university of southampton. he has written about the origins of the cia drone program and a variety of other issues, fascinating paper. we will go in the order of the program, 15 minutes per person. then i will comment and we will
have our discussion. fritz, please kick us off. >> i really hope that is worth it, to start off with some silence there. thank you very much jeremy, and thanks to the organizers of this panel, this conference center is a sight to behold. cornell has a lot of pride, but we do not have something quite like this. we have a hotel school to go with it. [laughter] we have some things to learn. i assume, and certainly from our first presentation, we will talk a lot about the individuals of the reagan administration. we certainly should.
my paper is going to try and draw our attention to some of the structural forces, in particular the structures of the global financial system in the 1980's that were working kind of in conjunction with the individuals of the reagan administration. we are -- they were extremely favorable to the united states during this period. as historians, any kind of a full evaluation of the reagan administration, the reagan period, any period for that matter, needs the balance of structures and agents involved. i will try to let out. this graph presents one of those structural trends.
in just a few minutes of economic language, this is the current account balance of the percentage of u.s. gdp. what it tracks is anything below the dark horizontal line, is a significant import of foreign capital from abroad into the united states. i hope what you can see from the graph is that, 1980, 19 81, 1982 marks a significant turning point. after 1980, the united states became significantly and increasingly dependent on the import of foreign capital. this is one of the most unexpected developments of the 1980's. ronald reagan who had risen to the presidency decrying deficit spending and promising to balance the budget by 1984,
instead oversaw an explosion of the federal budget deficit during his eight years in office. the u.s. current account balance measured here went from a slight surplus of $8.5 billion in jimmy carter/year in office, to an annual deficit -- annual deficits of over $100 billion under ronald reagan. the citizens of the united states with the allies in europe and japan coverage these massive differences between national income and expenditure during these years. attracted to the u.s. by hide real interest rates plummeted by paul volker, more capital poured into the united states during the 1880's at rates previously unimaginable. like a massive vacuum cleaner on the world stage, the united states wallowed up the world's capital to serve the nation's domestic and international purposes.
today i would like to argue that an immense rate in financial buildup under rep of american press dirty at home and the projection of american power abroad or in the 1980's. unlike its more famous counterpart, the reagan military buildup, the financial buildup was not an intentional strategy of reagan or his administration. at the turn of the 1980's, nobody thought it buildup was possible. in defiance of expectations, it happened anyway, and the ramifications for the u.s. and the world were profound. within the united states, the financial buildup erased the traditional choice between guns and butter. reagan was able to pursue the largest tax cuts and he's time military buildup in the nation's history, only through the financial support of foreigners. abroad, the financial buildup not only enhanced the projection of american power by funding the military buildup, more than that it altered the geopolitics of the decade by preventing the flow of capital to other countries. capital scarcity significantly contributed to many of the
political revolutions in the global south and eastern block during the 1980's. in this way, the reagan financial buildup proved to be one of the most powerful yet also unintended tools of american foreign-policy under ronald reagan. that financial buildup signaled a new era of american leadership. the traditional direction of foreign aid was inverted, and the united states became what i will to call, a foreign aided empire. one no longer based on the provision of resources to other countries, but rather, on foreigners provision of resources back to the united states. nouriel roubini has previously said quote, what you run a current account deficit you depend on the kindness of strangers. since the 1980's, america has relied on the kindness of foreigners, and imperial structure that initiated with
the reagan financial buildup. the origins of the build apply in the cornerstones of reagan's to messick and international agenda, tax cuts and defense buildup that defined his 1980 campaign. it was always a puzzle during the 1980 campaign how reagan was going to cut taxes, increased defense spending, and balance the budget all at the same time. his opponents railed against this as, voodoo economics, but reagan and his budget director david stockman found ways to balance the nation's books in their projections by relying on the power of inflation. in 1980, inflation was running at a rate of 12%, pushing americans into higher tax brackets, which in turn was leading to dramatically higher projections of federal tax revenue. in august 1981, congress passed and reagan signed the economic recovery tax act, the er ta, which included a 25% reduction
in personal income taxes for three years, a significant cuts in capital gains tax, and a reduction in corporate taxes through changes in depreciation rules trade in retrospect, the reagan economic team would estimates that the erta reduced the effective tax rate on capital by 50%, and the office of management and budget calculated the cumulative federal loss over the course of the 1980's had $1.5 trillion. this decline in tax revenue only became apparent as inflation swiftly receded, and the economy fell into recession in 1981. throughout much of the year, volcker kept interest rates high to choke off the nation's money supply. while the reagan team was working to pass the tax cuts and defense increases in that summer, the inflation rate was falling faster than anyone thought possible, from a high of 12.4% in 1980, 2, 3.9% in 1982. as the economy ground to a
health in the fall of 1981, projections and the deficit exploded. administration officials discovered that the fiscal policy they had just enacted would produce, and stockman's memorable formulation, deficits as far as the eye can see. the newer -- the new projects were horrifying he recalled. they quote, showed cumulative red ink over five years of more than $700 billion. that was nearly as much national debt as it had taken america 200
years to accumulate. it took your breath away. no government official had ever seen such a thing. in his diary, reagan called the projections, a bomb. in december 1981 he wrote quote, we who were going to balance the budget face the biggest budget deficits ever. the question at the end of 1981 was how to fund these deficits. in a closed economy, economic theory positive that governments budget deficits would harm the economy by crowding out by the investment, driving up interest rates, and killing off economic growth. most people thought that difficult political decisions would have to be made to raise taxes, cut defense spending, or got entitlement programs. virtually no one however, thought that inflows of foreign capital would save the united states for making these choices. william the skin, a member of the reagan economic staff, speculated to an audience at the american enterprise institute in
december 1981, that's the opportunity to import foreign capital might save the economy from the harm of the deficits. he later recalled quote, the audience rejected the possibility of the net capital inflows in any substantial magnitude. events confounded everyone's expectations. america's allies, most prominently west germany and japan, generated enormous financial surpluses in the 1980's. these were invested in the united states at rates previously unheard-of. volkers interest rates held the key to unlocking access to his surplus foreign savings. throughout much of the 80's, u.s. was taller interest rates were 2-3% higher than interest rates in europe and japan, and foreign investors responded accordingly. $85 billion in foreign capital entered the united states in 1983, followed by 100 and 3 billion and 1984, 100 and 5 billion in 1985, $221 billion in 1986. the federal budget deficit and ease -- these years range in
ranged from 280 billion, to higher. by the end of this. in 1986, foreign capital inflows were directly or indirectly covering all of the federal government's borrowing. in 1985, the magazine businessweek summed up the transformation and economic practice that had occurred since reagan took office. quote, the nation's financial foundation was supposed to shape when a growing economy collided with a huge budget deficit. credit demand would soar, driving interest rates into the stratosphere. instead the experience of the last two years has shown that the u.s. does not have a closed system. inflows of foreign capital can
sustain private and public borrowers alike. in other words, foreign capital is now sustaining the united states foreign and to mystic priorities, and the foreign aided empire had been born. just because the u.s. economy was not suffering from crowding out effect not mean that crowding out the hot happening. it meant it was not happening in the u.s. as a reagan administration economist wrote in 1988 quote, there's evidence that government deficits have crowding out effect somewhere in the world. that summer was the global south and communist block. as the u.s. trained the world of much of its excess capital, there was little of dover for the nations in these two areas of the world. many of these nations were already saddled with a nervous steps from their borrowing in the night -- debts from their borrowing in the 1970's, so the united states burrowing in the 1980's forced them to pay back their debts primarily through difficult domestic policy changes. it is true in theory and roughly true in practice that international current accounts must balance out at a global level. international finance in the 1980's was newtonian. every action produced an equal and opposite reaction.
this reaction to the reagan financial buildup was bill lost decade of development in the global south. one perhaps surprising place where the effects of the u.s. budget and current account deficit was felt was east germany. during the 1970's, east germany borrowed heavily on international capital markets to fund the domestic consumption and investment. the reagan financial buildup fundamentally altered the willingness of global capital holders to funnel capital to the gdr. in january 1984 memo, the president of the east foreign trade bank, figure paulson, laid out the new international environment for his party's leadership. over the previous two years he wrote, capitalist banks showed no readiness to increase their credit fully and to the gdr. he played u.s. borrowing for the banks intransigence. the government deficit in the united states to $207 billion.
it is estimated to be about $200 billion for the next two years. funding the u.s. deficit he reported, would require the united states to bar about $660 billion in the years 1984-1980 six. the reagan financial buildup was in short, crowding east germany out of global capital markets. in such an environment, leadership had one option, quote, the long-term high interest rate policy of the u.s. makes it necessary to reduce the total borrowing of the gdr through the creation of export surpluses. trying to achieve and export surplus may sound like an innocuous policy goal, but for the debtor nations of the 1980's, it was fraught with political and social implications. export surpluses most often had to be achieved through drastic reductions in imports and the imposition of domestic
austerity. on the orders of the international monetary such austerity programs occurred throughout the global south, most prominently in latin america during the 1980's. political revolution usually in the form of democratization followed in austerity's wake. in his book, latin america's cold war help friends concludes that democratization and latin america in the 1980's was quote, a product of debt", and the austerity programs that are rife with the debt crisis. in my dissertation which i'm currently completing, i argue a similar process unfolded in the eastern bloc and resulted in the revolution of 1989. deprived of global capital and facing its own international debt crises by the late 1980's, poland and hungary and lamented
imf austerity programs and try to legitimize them through roundtable democratization. during the consequences of an imf austerity program, the gdr seek to escape its own debt crisis by reckoning the opening of the berlin wall for millions of deutsche marks from west germany. democratization in eastern europe was also a product of debt. but that is only a tool of power in a country when they have of no other powers to service them. in crowding the global south from the commonest block, american borrowing subjected companies in these regions for their creditors. in this way, -- as did not achieve a balanced budget. it contributed to the revolutions abroad during the 1980's. many of these revolutions were extremely important to national
interests, thus the reagan buildup proved to be a powerful and unintended source of american influence during the 1980's. thank you very much. [applause] >> his paper reminds us of the importance of debt and empire. you cannot understand the british empire if you do not understand capital markets, and you cannot understand empires if you do not understand energy resources. so, uncle david. [laughter]
>> ok, here we go. can we get that bigger? while you get started, i will let you start. first i would like to thank the conference organizers for the opportunity. second, i began to work on this topic when i was a research fellow at the norwegian nobel institute along with jeremy and others, i want to thank the institute again. third, this is a revision of the presentation i made at the university of zurich at 2015. i would like to thank their help. it is considerably revised, zurich eight. [laughter] germany does a great first strap, i am up to eight on this. the end of the cold war was one
of the most important events of the 20th century. understanding why it ended and how it ended is deeply intertwined with understanding the nature and dynamics of the conflict itself, and especially of the wisdom and effectiveness of u.s. policies toward the soviet union. most studies focus on the arms race, competition in the third world, and ideological and economic rivalry between the two systems. you examine the role of oil and energy in general. this is surprising because energy resources were potentially an important element in the power position of the soviet union. in the 1980's, soviets were the leading oil producer in the world and natural gas producer. i the 1980's, oil and gas exports accounted for 80% of the soviet union's hard currency earnings. finally, the drop in oil prices -- by two thirds in real terms between 1980 and 1996, and a decline in soviet production later in the decade of played an important role on the collapse of the soviet economic system. one of the few writers to deal
with this, peter slicer, claims that, the reagan administration orchestrated this price collapse and u.s. waged economic warfare against the soviet union, things such as trying to limit the access to western credits. this cost the soviets billions of dollars. fletcher's work is mainly based on interviews with former reagan administration officials and selected quotations from documents unavailable to other scholars. my paper in contrast, draws on declassified documents from the reagan library, the central intelligence agency documents
published in the foreign relations -- the wonderful volume that james wilson recently edited. that examines reagan administration efforts to use u.s. dominance to dominate oil and technology, and oil markets as a way to weaken the soviet union and undermine communism. my paper argues that the reagan administration's efforts to prevent western companies from supplying equipment and technology for the construction of a natural gas pipeline from western siberia to western europe failed. these efforts failed because the soviets were able to acquire the equipment, technology, and credits a needed from western countries. i also argue the decisions by saudi arabia to increase oil production's in the fall of 1985 led to the oil price collapse, it was not to to u.s. persuasion, but because previous policy that saudi's have been following and cutting production to maintain prices was not working. it cost them billions of dollars in revenue. the resulting collapse in oil price had a devastating impact on the soviet economy and contributed significantly to the demise of the soviet system. but, this outcome stems from
changes in global oil markets, and the soviet union's ongoing internal crisis, not from u.s. economic warfare. for a brief. in the 70's and early 80's, it looked like a rich oil and gas resources of the soviet union might enable them to modernize their economy. higher prices in the 70's allowed soviets to import large amounts of western grain and machinery. these windfall revenues gave the illusion of fidelity to a system in serious trouble, diverting tensions from the need to reform. ironically, when the soviet union finally had a government interested in reform, oil prices collapsed and revenue from oil and gas exports declined, to president gorbachev of the resources that might have made, might have made, a gradual reform of the soviet system possible. the question is, what role if any does u.s. policy play in this? despite claims by reagan victory
schools, people who advocate claims that reagan policies won the cold war, the u.s. efforts to block this pipeline did not have a significant impact. u.s. policies caused minor delays and post some costs, but natural gas sales became a major source of foreign exchange earnings for the soviet union. factory school advocates overstates the caused by comparing actual volume and revenues to the earlier exaggerated projections about the pipeline. they also attribute the outcome to u.s. policies in ignore changes in the economic conditions and independent decisions by european governments. the collapse of oil prices in 1980 did have a devastating impact on the soviet economy, but it was the result of long-term changes in the world oil economy, most of which began before reagan took office. another slide up here.
during the 70's oil prices skyrocketed. this higher prices over time lead to increases in supply, decreases in demand, reagan would call that the magic of the marketplace. after the first oil shock in 1973-1870 four, the oecd nations launched a coordinated campaign to protect themselves from further destruction. they focused on reducing oil
consumption, greater efficiency and conservation, replacing oil with other energy sources, particularly in electricity generation, and reducing oil imports from the members of the organization of petroleum exporting companies -- countries, by increasing production elsewhere. this worked. between 1974-1978, though prices declined. with the second shock and 79-80, consumption and the non-communist world fell about 5 billion barrels a day, and exports went up, so opec plus demand for over 10 billion -- million barrels a day. this put enormous pressure on oil producers. prices peaked at $38 and $.60 a barrel in 1980, and fell to around $27 a barrel in 1984, 1985. oil prices -- wills, sorry about that. oil prices... this is from bp, they call it money today, it is
phenomenal and real. saudi arabia was particularly hard hit, the trick to keep prices around $29 a barrel by cutting productions, other people to go along. their production fell from 10 million barrels a day in 1980, 2 2.2 million barrels a day in 1985 revenues fell from 118 billion in 1980, 2 60 million in 1985. they had to cut programs, third on their foreign exchange when they cannot run their petrochemical industry trade they thought they were not getting enough natural gas production. in september 85, the soviets decided to regain their position as a leading producer of a two and the drop in oil revenue, and ensure a long-term market -- this is what they did in 2014,
you might remember back to the future. yes. rather than sell oil at a fixed price that would be paid based on marketplace might profit -- this new system puts a premium on volume rather than price and led to the collapse of world oil prices, which fell to around $17 a barrel in the first quarter of 1986 to $11 a barrel in the second quarter. harddecimated soviet currency earnings. remember, i said the soviets were getting 80% of their hard currency earnings from oil and gas revenues coming gas prices were tied to oil prices. this is from a cia report in 1990. you can see their revenues, what happens to the revenues, the hard currency expert earnings for oil dropped dramatically, and so to gas, even though you
have expert -- expert fallings go up. this put pressure on gorbachev. he had planned when he came to power to hold energy investments study and use oil and gas earnings to finance the modernization of soviet industry and improve living standards. instead he had to increase energy advancement, import more western oil and equipment. to do this he had to cut imports of machinery for other industries, imports of grain and steel. and he had to develop additional domestic resources to oil rather than reform efforts. there was no easy way out. his modernization and consumer welfare goals would be out of reach. but if he liked energy shortages occur this would hurt. if you cut back to mystic production to increase exports, he risks starting to mustard -- domestic economies and energy. if he goes back to exports in eastern europe, he risks political unrest. he did not have an easy way out. the reagan victory school advocates claimed, the saudi decision to increase production,
toronto prices, the result in the legislation. this claim cannot be verified on the basis of currently available documentary records. almost all the information we have, recounts alleged conversations by saudi officials, during which reagan, secretary of defense weinberger, and others urged the saudi's to set oil prices. most records of these meetings are still classified, the few that are available do not mention oil prices. slicer said, casey who meant often with saudi leaders did most of the lobbying. in contrast, the head of the cia's nares and south asian division and the director of operations from 1974-1879-1984, that he had accompanied casey in all these visits to saudi arabia
and never heard him mention oil prices. state apart -- department officials do not -- have not heard of this. other counts of u.s. saudi relations make no mention of discussions about oil prices. it is true the reagan administration officials made extensive efforts to assure saudi arabia's u.s. friendship through arms sales and personal and public decorations and support for the saudi regime. the state of the shaw -- the shaw -- casey, weinberg, reagan, made it clear from the start that they would not permit the saudi monarchy to be overthrown. posted at columnist, to mostly in safire calls, the reagan corollary to the carter doctrine. there is no evidence linking
these expressions of support for oil prices as opposed to maintaining western access to saudi oil and u.s. policy priorities since world war ii. weinberger claimed that one of the reasons we were selling the saudi's always arms was because of prices that the -- but the u.s. already had a price of arms sales to saudi arabia. basically, saudi decisions on prices and production levels which they did not make until 85, were calculated to maximize and protect income over the long run. a preferred prices that would discourage alternative sources of oil and alternatives to oil, prices that would harm western economies, western economies popped their oil and were they also had investments. these interests are aligned them more with oil importing companies and the other major oil exporting company -- countries. they decided to increase production and 85 because they were tired of cutting back production in that effort to maintain prices, while other producers were increasing
production. income was going down. even if u.s. officials encouraged saudi's to lower prices, they have found no evidence that they did, the saudi's have good reasons apart from u.s. persuasion to take the steps they did. sweitzer also claims that economic pressures caused -- were a key factor for trying -- behind gorbachev's efforts to improve relations with the west. this argument efforts reagan's own views. reagan actually believed that the changes in soviet policy under gorbachev were a result of his earlier hard-line policy. economic constraints were a factor in gorbachev's populations, but there was little evidence that there were a result of the test was policy. the cia argued that gorbachev's goals for improving relations with the u.s. was to gain breathing space and access to western technologies syndicate modernize their economy and rebuild military power. some scholars still believe this, but the dominant consensus argues that khrushchev and the new generation of the soviet leaders had already concluded that the policies of their predecessors were counterproductive, and continued
conflict threatened their goals of overcoming the disastrous legacies -- especially revitalize their society. ending the cold war was central to gorbachev's plan, confronting a confrontational relationship with the u.s.. gorbachev's allies focused on drastic reduction in military spending, allowing the soviet union to devote greater attention to internal reform and renewal. gorbachev succeeded in ending the cold war, but he was unable to transform communism into social democracy or to preserve soviet union. in the end, the soviet union was unable to escape the legacy of economic backwardness it inherited from its predecessors. the unforgiving realities of geography and geology, which the soviets put it, or injustices, located its oil and gas reserves far from the main center of main
population and the inherent contradictions of the soviet system. soviet systems -- soviet union's energy resources could not overcome these problems. they were often reflective and exacerbated. soviet union finally collapsed after reforms that gorbachev implemented which led to chaos and the defection of the large portion of the soviet elite. democratization and self-determination proved incompatible with empire. not only did soviet sphere in eastern europe, but also to one of the last great multinational empires. to recap, right button, umm, six points. the drastic decline in oil and natural gas prices in the mid-1980's played a major role in the economic collapse of the soviet union. two, most studies at the end of
the cold war neglect this factor, though it was clearly important. three, u.s. efforts to hinder construction of a soviet national -- natural gas pipeline to western europe fails due to a lack of cooperation with u.s. allies. four, there is no evidence that he was policies played a role in the drastic decline of oil and natural gas part -- prices. the price collapse was a result of long-term changes in the world oil economy, most of which began before reagan took office. five, the reagan victory school takes credit for processes, events, that resulted from other causes, not from u.s. policies and actions. and six, correlation is not causation; there's the fable about the rooster who believed that the sun came up every morning because it crowed. if you look at this, you understand that the wrist or micro every morning, but that is not why the sun rises. thank you. [applause]
>> david reminds us how complex oil markets are. i did not begin to understand it, and i still do not understand it. [laughter] sarah? >> thank you. i want to thank the organizers for putting together such a great slate of panels and papers for this weekend, and for including me in those. i'm going to talk about the content of ronald reagan's human rights policy and the reason for its enduring controversy. to those who are committed to human rights, ronald reagan's election on november 4, 1980, caused considerable concern. their basic or he was reagan would abandon jimmy carter's human rights policies. in some areas of the world, most notably latin america, such concerns were borne out by the reagan administration's justification of devastating human rights violations in the name of preventing the spread of
communism. in other spheres, particularly soviet -- soviet union and poland, reagan spoke for a slightly and repeatedly in defense of human rights activists and against repression in the soviet bloc. i think there is a third of cases, places like south africa, the philippines, and chile, where the reagan administration stance involved. this means that reagan's referent is difficult to -- record is difficult to characterize neatly, why his policy remain so contested today. leading up to the inauguration, reagan and many in his administration had criticized elements of carter's human rights policy, charging that it had not improved human rights meaningfully and that he and the course of pursuing human rights, had neglected u.s. national interest. there were a number of early signals to suggest that the new administration would implement
changes in line with those criticisms. number one, reagan appointed jeane kirkpatrick, who had reproached carter for prioritizing human rights and neglecting the cold war to serve as u.s. ambassador to the united nations. second, the administration announced it would shift its focus to combating international terrorism and wait for human rights. third, reagan invited military dictators from south korea and argentina to visit the white house shortly after he took office. finally and perhaps most spectacularly, reagan nominated a vocal critic of carter's human rights policy to head the state department's bureau of human rights and unitarian affairs -- humanitarian affairs. this provoked significant controversy and ended with the senate foreign relations committee voting 13-4 against him. this was the first time since 1959 that a president's nominee
had been rejected by senate committee. the administration received this signal that that vote -- and withdrawal was intended to convey. after some time it passed, they developed a new approach to human rights in my view. the secretary of state alexander hake give a speech saying, human rights was going to be a leader focus of reagan's foreign policy. also, the administration leaked part of a state department memorandum that stated quote, human rights is at the core of our foreign policy because it is essential to what america is in stance for some human rights is not something we tack onto our foreign policy but is it's very purpose. the administration further proclaimed what it argued was, is -- consistent approach to human rights abusers, writing in the 1981 report on human rights
practices, u.s. human rights policy, to pursue a policy of selective indignation. most significantly, the white house announced its nomination of elliott abrams to head the state department's human rights bureau in october of 1981. republicans and democrats alike expressed pleasure at the nomination and he was unanimously confirmed in the senate. after his confirmation, take distributed a memorandum directing all regional bureaus to work with the human rights bureau to ensure that quote, the promotion of political freedom not be considered only as an afterthought. furthermore, abrams articulated intention to pursue an active approach. these steps suggested that the administration hoped it would signal a shift in its approach to human rights trade within the literature on reagan and human rights, some observers including tamara jacobi have pointed to a turnaround in the reagan administration's approach to human rights. despite any turnaround, i would argue that his approach to human rights remains highly
compartmentalized. i think it is this region that's the root of criticisms of reagan's record on human rights. our u.s. policy toward central america which are by cold war concerns that communists were gaining influence in this strategic region and needed to be thwarted at all cost. in that problem, the reagan administration was funneling money and other forms of support to the countries, who, in their fight against the left-leaning nicaraguan government, engaged in kidnapping, torture, and the murder of unarmed civilians. despite widespread government murders, the reagan administration manipulated what mullah's human rights record to ensure that military assistance could continue to flow to that government. in el salvador, to keep it flowing, the reagan administration certified every six months best the government there was making progress on human rights, despite the tens of thousands of el salvador and
that's at the hands of the military and its right-wing allies. in the case of el salvador, recognizing that such abuses were threatening u.s. backing, reagan administration officials undertook efforts to convince el salvador to curb its repression. to give you one example, george schultz admonished the government there quote, death squads and terror have no place in a democracy. overall, the administration overlooked the massive loss of life in central america for the goal of eradicating communism there. shifting our focus to the east, i think would fear we can see the greatest administration activism on human rights is berlin east-west relations. i would argue george schultz spurred much of this by making human rights one of the four
points on the agenda he formulated for all discussions of the soviets. in many respects, i think reagan's agreement to an emphasis should not have been surprising. after all, there is a very strong connection between reagan's anti-communism and his support for human rights. rated supervised -- reagan supervised with victims of the communist oppression in the soviet bloc. there were a number of individual people with which the present became personally involved, the most prominent -- prominent of which repent -- pentecostal families living in the u.s. embassy basement in moscow. in his public rhetoric regarding soviet union human rights abuses, he supported efforts to support activists in the soviet union, including speaking out about the ukrainian helsinki monitoring group. he also talked about individual soviet dissidents, such as congress opera and anna called sharansky, specifically and repeated the -- with peta the. after gorbachev became general secretary in march of 1985, reagan sought to convince him of
the u.s. commitment to human rights. which of later wrote that, the americans had almost missionary passion for preaching about human rights and liberties. but the first soviet american summit in six years, reagan told gorbachev about his concerns, as well as the concern of americans for families divided by the iron curtain. he suggested if gorbachev could move on human rights, it would facilitate other types of cooperation such as trade. after geneva, reagan continued to stress human rights in his personal correspondence is with gorbachev, including by sending him a letter that enumerated 17 divided spouses, 23 cases involving dual citizenship, and 129 family reunification cases that he hoped could be resolved. at the october reykjavik summit -- summit, which you heard about earlier today, and told gorbachev that he wished the soviets could build further on human rights to facilitate even more cooperation. he gets gorbachev a list of 1200 soviet jews who were waiting to emigrate. reagan continued this pattern during the december 1987 washington summit. then he pressed human rights concerns in a number of ways in connection with the moscow summit in may of 1988, including
visiting a monastery to underline his commitment to religious freedom. his repetition of these issues began to gain traction in moscow, and in their one-on-one meeting, gorbachev said, soviet readers ready to work with the reagan administration and the u.s. congress to resolve outstanding human rights issues. reagan's personal involvement of the moscow summit culminated in his remarks to more than 100 dissidents the u.s. ambassador's residence there. the reagan administration was also attentive to human rights violations elsewhere in the soviet bloc. they focused since -- considerable attention on the 1981 polish -- two import shallot. notably, in his correspondence with the polish leader, rated france's opposition to martial law and human rights terms. i want to turn westley to those places where i think the reagan administration paid attention to human rights very late or under external pressure. i will begin with south africa. that is one of the few -- to impose martial law.
notably, in his correspondence with the polish leader, rated france's opposition to martial law and human rights terms. i want to turn lastly to those places where i think the reagan administration paid attention to human rights very late or under external pressure. i will begin with south africa. that is one of the few non-communist countries toward which the reagan administration policies and slowly evolved. this administration became more engaged with human rights concerns there over the eight years. i would argue the administration largely sussed it -- shifted course to two congressional and nongovernmental pressure, raising questions about much reagan's stance truly developed over his presidency. though reagan was on the record is condemning apartheid repeatedly, his policy towards south africa was formulated with in a cold war context, which led officials to overemphasize the threats -- threat of communist to the country and region.
in his attempt to avoid a showdown with an increasingly anti-apartheid, -- congress in 1986, reagan issued an executive order that was intended to signal american displeasure with apartheid without including some of the more far-reaching edgers that congress hoped to pass. reagan targeted loans toward the south african government, the export of technology to south africa, purchases of south african made military, as well as work for the treasury and state departments to try to plan future steps against south african governments. his executive order was not effective, and congress passed far-reaching legislation with a conference of anti-apartheid act of 1986. the president veto the act, arguing it would seriously impeding the prospects for a peaceful -- and the establishment of a free and open society for all in south africa. congress overrode his veto.
regarding the philippines, u.s. officials eventually supported the master of a repressive dictator there, but only late in the game. to use a second cliche, only at the point where the writing was on the wall for the philippine dictator ferdinand marcos. rather than express his concern about the aggregation of democracy or abuse of its human rights under martial law, which marcos had imposed, reagan focused on the stability provided economically. the assassination of an opposition leader in 1983 precipitated a new crisis. reagan still responded by articulating his continued support for marcos, saying the united states was quote, not cut away from a person, though he may be perfect on human rights, has worked with us.
others in the administration began to force reagan to reconsider his position. in particular, this impotence was spurred by the violence and fraud that complicated marcos-s election against the -- and force reagan to bend. finally under intense pressure from some of his aides, he called upon marcos to allow a peaceful transition to a new government. finally in the case of chile, reagan resisted efforts to distance the united states from their dictatorship for years. state department officials including george schultz expressed increasing frustration with the chilean dictator's efforts. in order to express their frustration more clearly, the united states abstained on voting for world bank loan from chile -- four chile. there has been an argument by maurice murray and chris mcgill and that, this american position that abstention on the vote signaled to pinochet that is broader economic interests might
finally be a state with this -- steak with its human rights violations. is broader economic interest included potential loans from the imf as well as the bank advisory group. shortly thereafter, he responded. pinochet reduced number of political prisoners and people suffering from internal exile. he also looked up a state of siege -- siege in place and brought and freedom of the press. even though he made his efforts, the state department became increasingly concerned that this was not the beginning of a movement toward him to step down. they thought he might try to outlast reagan's presidency and eliminate a moderate effort to succeed him.
reagan and schultz engaged in a debate about how to influence pinochet. to the great shock of george schultz, reagan suggested they should invite pinochet for a state visit. this is, i think, one of the many moments we can see schultz speaking very clearly. his response to reagan was, no way, this man has blood all over his hands, he is the mantra smut -- monstrous things. rather than sending confused signals, the united states signals its handling support to pinochet for resolution at the u.s. general assembly, and at the world bank. beyond that, the united states devoted several million dollars to the national endowment for democracy, and u.s. agencies for international development to support the democratic process for chile. this is to try this quote, "operation with opposition politicians. after the success of the and against pinochet in 1988, the united states remained engaged and facilitating the country's transition to democracy. with the cases of south africa, the philippines and chile, reagan only personally moved to shift u.s. policy in the face of considerable pressure from members of congress and his own
state department and white house aides. significantly, this pressure only succeeded because communism was fainter in these three countries than in central america. we also have to look at the fact that in the final years of reagan's presidency, he was meeting annually with gorbachev, i think is the tensions of the cold war diminished, supporting repressive dictators in the many corners of the world seemed less necessary. to conclude, by the end of reagan's presidency, human rights watch executive director argues, reagan's administration had quote, accepted that promoting human rights was a major goal, that the united states and -- had to be evenhanded in condemning abuses. state department official george
lester, who -- his personal papers are here at the university of texas if anyone is interested in learning about him more, argued that over the course of the eye -- reagan administration quotes, human rights policy had become institutionalized. neither trupin exposed its contrast from the early days of outsider hayes with the early days of george h.w. bush's presidency writing quote, it is unthinkable that secretary of state james baker would propose replacing a concern for human rights with a concern for any other cause. i argue that progress on human rights was made in the reagan years. i think the extent to which a positive evaluation can be formulated however, people should look very closely at the influence of george schultz. reagan's administration -- because chelsea's entry into the administration i think, argues a turning point.
toward greater attention for human rights, and that he pressed these issues in the years that followed throughout his secretary ship. the other thing i want to say is that although i think we can see that real progress was achieved, the positive elements of reagan's record work determined by geopolitics and not but human rights at stake. setting aside the soviet bloc, the reagan administrations attention to human rights was episodic. in central america, u.s. attention was immoral. it's active involvement made the administration complicit in my sieve filing of human rights -- massive violations of human rights, which overshadows progress made elsewhere. thank you. [applause] >> we are to cyber security from human rights --go into cyber security from human rights.
>> what i want to suggest with this paper is following the recent russian hacks of the 2016 election, can trace the roots of the insecurity that led to the hacks back to the reagan administration. john mccain's suggestion that attacks on the united states might be a threat to its national security, this is a debate that had already played