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News from Hanoi Archives: Summer 1998
By David Wolff
In the hopes that the recent opening of Archives No. 3 will inspire scholars to try to make use of this new resource for contemporary history, I will conclude this brief note with a rough translation of the general, handwritten finding aid as provided in the archive's reading room. Please forward updates on holdings that you may receive to CWIHP. In 1999-2000, CWIHP will be preparing a special Bulletin issue on the Cold War in Southeast Asia and the Indochina and Vietnam Wars. All those with new documents or other suggested contributions are invited to contact CWIHP.
National Archives Center No. 3 - Finding Aid
'n July 1998 I visited Hanoi to attend the first
behalf of the Cold War International History Project (CWIHP). The conference, sponsored by two of Vietnam's most prestigious academic units, the National Centre for Social and Human Sciences and Vietnam National University, was a big success. A projected attendance of 300 mushroomed to 700, drawing attention from governmental top brass. Not only were the proceedings opened by the Prime Minister and a meeting arranged with the Party General Secretary (as described in Vietnam News coverage), but when the conference outgrew the International Convention Center Facilities, it was moved to the National Assembly building, an appropriate setting for what was probably Vietnam's largest and most open exchange of views to date between foreign and Vietnamese academics and specialists in a wide range of fields.
The conference's multiple sections met simultaneously, so I alternated between "Contemporary History” and “Archives.” In the former session, papers by Stein Tønnesson, Amer Ramses, and Pierre Asselin highlighted such key Cold War Vietnam subjects as the 1946 Constitution, the expulsion of the Chinese minority, and the life of Le Duan, respectively. David Elliott noted the as yet insufficient answers to the most basic questions about the Southern revolutionary movement, the 1959 decision for armed struggle, and the roots of the Tet offensive. Unfortunately, none of the Vietnamese participants seemed to be in a position to shed new light on any of these issues.
The Archives session, chaired by the general director of the archival administration, Dr. Duong Van Kham, covered matters from antiquity to the present. Of greatest interest was the paper by the director of National Archives Center No. 3, Nguyen Thi Man, describing the holdings of her repository. These materials cover the governmental files of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (later, Socialist Republic of Vietnam) from 1945 until 10 October 1995, the founding date of Archives No. 3. Nguyen expressed the wish that "cooperative relation[s] between Archives of the [foreign) countries would be broadened," while assuring that Archives No. 3 was "ready to serve all kinds of readers who come to us to do research about Vietnam."
Although it should be mentioned that Archives 3 does not contain documents from the Communist Party (Lao Dong; Vietnamese Workers' Party), the Army or the Foreign Ministry, materials from the National Assembly, Government Council and Premier's Office may add to our knowledge of Cold War topics related to Southeast Asia.
1. Industry Ministry 2. Finance Ministry 3. Heavy Industry 4. Light Industry [...] 6. Ministry of Food and Food Processing 7. Labor 8. Communications 9. Water Resources 10. Public Works 11. Water Resources 12. Water Resources and Construction 13. Veterans Affairs 14. Economics 15. Commerce 16, 18, 27, 31. Communications [...] 19. Statistics 20. Food 20b. Prime Minister 21. Land/Water Transport 22. Commerce Commission 23. State Planning 24. American Imperialist Crimes in Vietnam 25. Denunciations of American and Puppet Crimes 26. Committee to Protect Mothers and Children 28. NW Autonomous Region Communications Office 29. Railroad Bureau 30. Nha Cong chinh 32. Water Resources 33. Central Statistical Office 34. Minerals 35.-41. Resistance and Administration in Nambo (1945-54)
42.-47. Interzone 3 (Various Admin) 48.-52. Interzone 4 53.-56. Interzone 3 57.474. Viet Bac Region 75.-80., 88.-90. Tay Bac Region 81.-84. Ta Ngan 85.-86. Salt Office 87. School for Agriculture and Industry 91. Central Area
It should also be mentioned that the Ministry of Culture collection also includes more than 30 personal archives for important Vietnamese cultural figures. Furthermore, a brief perusal of the catalog for f. 113 revealed files on the Soviet contribution to the construction of the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum and on the withdrawal of the Chinese experts in 1978 as well as the daily business of hosting socialist-camp specialists in North Vietnam.
For further information, contact:
Nguyen Thi Man
97.-99. Thai-Hmong Autonomous Region 100. Office of Cultural Exchange with Foreign Countries 101. Local Industry 102. Construction 103. Water Transport 104. Land Transport 105. Construction 106. Machine Production 107. Food Resources 108. Tools and Implements 109. General Statistical Institute 110. Development Bank 111. Chuong Duong Bridge 112. Ben Thuy Bridge 113. Specialist Office 114. Ministry of Industry and Commerce 115. Sports Office 116. Culture and Arts 117. Interior Ministry 118. Government Commerce Commission 119. Prime Minister's Office 120. Films 121. Files transmitted by Ngo Dau on 26 March 1980 122. Documents with (Chairman) Ho's signature [...] 124. Interzone 5 Resistance and Administration Committee
Dr. David Wolff is a former CWIHP director and currently
A 1998 addendum to this list includes:
CWIHP's New ADDRESS
1. Viet Bac Autonomous Region Administration Comm. (1950-75) 2. Viet Bac Autonomous Region Party Comm. (195075) 3.-4. Finance Ministry 5. Health Ministry 6. Meterology Office 7. Water Measurement 8. Communications 9. Viet Bac Interzone Land Reform 10. Commodity organizations 11. Equipment office 12. Tay Bac Autonomous Region 13. The Long Bridge
THE WOODROW WILSON INTERNATIONAL
CENTER FOR SCHOLARS
TEL: (202) 691-4110
Conference on Understanding the End of the Cold War
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Editor's note: The following is the first report on the conference, “Understanding the End of the Cold War,” held at Brown University, Providence, RI, 7-10 May 1998. Co-organized with the Mershon Center at Ohio State University, the conference was the first in a series of four oral history conferences that will reexamine key turning points leading to the end of the Cold War. The collaborating institutions include the National Security Archive, the Cold War International History Project, and the University of Munich. The conference was made possible by the financial support of the Carnegie Corporation. The efforts of Vladislav Zubok (National Security Archive), particularly in assembling Russian participants and documents, made a major contribution to its success. Subsequent conferences of the project will be held in Columbus (OH), Bavaria, and Moscow. For further information on the conference, contact Nina Tannenwald, Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University (tel: 401-863-7428; fax: 401-863-1270; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
By Nina Tannenwald
n 7-10 May 1998, a dozen former Soviet and
Reagan administration high-ranking officials Iconvened at Brown University in Providence, RI,
for a three-and-a-half-day conference reexamining key issues and events leading to the end of the Cold War, focusing on the years 1980-87. The conference, the first in a series of four conferences that will probe key causes of the end of the Cold War, was sponsored by the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University, and the Mershon Center at Ohio State University. Participants included both former policymakers of the Reagan administration and the Gorbachev government, as well as academic experts in Soviet and post-Soviet studies and international relations. A briefing book of newly declassified documents from Russian and U.S. archives, assembled by the National Security Archive and the Cold War International History Project, provided the documentary basis for the discussions. Especially noteworthy were extensive excerpts of the diary notes of Anatoly Chernyaev, senior foreign policy adviser to Mikhail Gorbachev, on Politburo sessions. A number of newly declassified U.S. documents, including the background materials for the 1986 Reykjavik summit, were also made available.
The U.S. side was represented by Michael Guhin, counselor in the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Douglas MacEachin, Soviet analyst at the CIA during the early 1980s; Jack Matlock, Jr., the Soviet specialist on President Reagan's National Security Council and then U.S. Ambassador to Moscow from 1987-1991; Robert McFarlane, National Security Adviser 1983-86; General Edward Rowny, chief U.S. negotiator on the START talks; and John Whitehead, deputy to Secretary of State George Shultz.
The former Soviet participants included the senior foreign policy advisers to General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, Anatoly Chernyaev and Georgy Shakhnazarov; Sergei Tarasenko, chief foreign policy adviser to Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze; Oleg Grinevsky, ambassador and head of the Soviet delegation to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) arms control negotiations in Stockholm from 1983-86; General Nikolai Detinov, arms control expert in
the Soviet Ministry of Defense; and Gen. Vladimir Slipchenko, a military scientist who served on the general staff. Yegor Ligachev, secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Central Committee (CPSU CC) and the “number two” man in the Soviet government, was expected but had to cancel at the last minute for health reasons.
Absent from the conference were the hardliners within the Soviet leadership, those who had disagreed with Gorbachev's reformist course. Four conservatives who declined to attend (Oleg Baklanov, CPSU CC secretary of defense and a key figure resisting Gorbachev's reforms; Army Gen. Valentin Varennikov; and top KGB officials Vladimir Kryuchkov and Nicolai Leonov) stated in a joint letter to the organizers that they were very interested in the project in principle and pleased to be invited, but had two objections: they were offended by being asked to sit at the same table as close associates of Gorbachev (who they feel "lost" the Soviet Union), and they felt that the Cold War was not over yet. In their view, what needed to be explored were links between the end of the Cold War and current US-Russian relations - an issue which came up near the end of the conference.
The conference began by examining the initial mindsets on both sides at the beginning of the 1980s and the rise of Gorbachev. A fair amount is already known about this early period, and the session covered a certain amount of familiar terrain, as participants easily fell into their old roles and found themselves arguing old debates about who was ahead or behind in the arms race in the early 1980s and about measures of the strategic balance.
The most revealing new information emerged on the Soviet side. The conference filled in gaps in several areas, particularly on the national security decisions were made in the Soviet Union. We learned some interesting details about the role of Marshal Akhromeev, Chief of the General Staff, and the origins of Soviet arms control policies. For example, Sergei Tarasenko recounted for the first time the origins of Gorbachev's proposal to abolish all nuclear weapons. He and a colleague originally came up with the idea in April 1985, but it later surfaced as an official proposal from Akhromeev in December 1985. It was thus “planted" in the military, contradicting Ahkromeev's account in his memoirs, that this was the
military's idea. Oleg Grinevsky expressed his surprise at hearing this story for the first time, commenting, "We had a suspicion that Marshal Akhromeev did not personally pen the program of the general non-nuclear world." According to Grinevsky, during a meeting of the “small five” on 6 January 1986, Akhromeev had burst in the door to announce that the proposal to abolish nuclear weapons would replace the less radical arms control proposal the group had been working on. Few in the meeting believed Akhromeev's explanation that the general staff had been working secretly on this. Participants suggested that Georgy Kornienko, First Deputy Head of Foreign Affairs, had likely played a key role in persuading Akhromeev to accept the more radical proposal.
Ironically, in contrast to what many outside observers perceived at the time—that the Reagan administration thought this proposal to abolish nuclear weapons was
just another piece of Soviet propaganda—top U.S. officials, including Reagan himself, seem to have taken it seriously. Thus what started as propaganda, or at least appeared that way to those Soviet officials assigned to develop it, ended up being taken seriously by top leaders on both sides.
Grinevsky also recounted how inspections were finally accepted on the Soviet side in 1986 as part of the treaty on conventional forces in Europe. The military strongly opposed inspections, viewing them as spying. The Politburo decided to accept inspections but had Ahkromeev present the decision at the Geneva talks as if it came from the military, even though Ahkromeev had bitterly opposed it in a key Politburo meeting. In describing how this came about, Grinvesky offered a very interesting account of real disagreements within a Politburo meeting.
Cold War Culture: Film, Fact, and Fiction
An Interdisciplinary Conference
At Indiana University
18-21 February 1999
Plenary Speakers include:
David Halberstam, Pulitzer Prize Winner and author of The Fifties and The Best and Brightest, “Europe and America in the Fifties”
Michael Shelden, biographer of George Orwell and Graham Greene, “Graham Greene, Kim Philby and The Third Man”
Tony Judt, author of Past Imperfect and A Grand Illusion?: An Essay on Europe, “The Politics of Moral
John Cawelti, author of Six Gun Mystique and The Spy Novel, “The Hot Underside: The Myth of Espionage in Cold War Fiction and Films:
For additional information, contact:
For the latest conference information on the Web, see http://www.indiana.edu/-weur/
A more puzzling and unresolved discussion concerned | centerpiece of U.S. policy toward the Soviet Union. the Soviet decision to finally delink INF from SDI,
Afghanistan remained an area of clear disagreement. eliminating a major obstacle to concluding an INF
Soviet participants clearly believed that the U.S. was agreement. According to Chernyaev's notes, the proposal trying to tie down the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, while to de-link INF seems to have come from—of all people, U.S. participants said there was nothing they would have Andrei Gromyko, with support from Ligachev and
wanted more than an early Soviet withdrawal. They saw Defense Minister Sergei Sokolov, all known for their little evidence that the Soviets were preparing to leave. conservative viewpoints in a Politburo meeting in
Those looking to support or disconfirm arguments February 1987. Gorbachev, on the other hand, seemed to about whether “power” or “ideas” mattered more in hesitate. Chernyaev explained that Gromyko, who by that explaining the end of the Cold War will, alas, find no final point was no longer foreign minister and had been
answers here. The conference provided evidence for both. “promoted” to a position of little influence, was no longer Discussions illuminated the perception of domestic decline taken seriously. He could thus argue in favor of positions as the main driving factor for reform on the Soviet side. he had earlier strongly opposed (including withdrawal They also provided insight on the reaction of various from Aghanistan). It remained unclear, however, why Soviet bureaucracies to Reagan's 1983 Strategic Defense Ligachev was persistently urging the de-linking while Initiative (SDI), suggesting that SDI did indeed affect Gorbachev seemingly played devil's advocate, or why Soviet thinking on the need for reform, especially Shevardnadze was apparently not part of the discussion. Gorbachev's. At the same time, it was clear from the While less new information came out on the
exchanges that ongoing U.S. and Western diplomatic American side—not surprising since the major
pressure in favor of human rights and freedoms, exerted transformations of the end of the Cold War occurred on both publicly and privately, played a key role in shaping the Soviet side, and also because we know more about the the direction and content of change. Tarasenko American decision-making process, thanks in part to many emphasized that Shevardnadze's conversations with Shultz high-quality memoirs—we did learn more about the nature on topics other than arms control had an important of threat perceptions on both sides in the 1980s,
influence on changing his views. Constant Western particularly the period 1983-86. McFarlane challenged pressure on behalf of Sakharov and other dissidents, while arguments from the Russians that they had been thinking irritating initially to the Soviets, eventually fostered a about reform for a long time, provoking Chernyaev to ask, genuine change in thinking. Chernyaev described how “Did you really think we were going to attack you?” There Gorbachev and his advisers complied initially with was often as much disagreement within the sides as Western requests to improve human rights for purely for between them, especially on the American side, providing instrumental reasons (to promote the arms control a useful reminder of the complex array of domestic actors process), but then began to think of them as something involved on each side. An interesting exchange came near fundamentally important for the reform of Soviet society. the end when CIA Soviet specialist Doug MacEachin Chernyaev said at the conference, “these kinds of raised the issue of the Able Archer of NATO military reminders (on human rights that we got, they really exercises November 1983, and scholar Raymond Garthoff worked, they affected us." pointed to the highly provocative movements of U.S. fleets in Soviet waters, explicitly challenging Jack Matlock's depiction of U.S. policy as relatively benign and defensive.
Dr. Nina Tannenwald is a Joukowsky Family Assistant In addition to providing new empirical information Professor (Research) at the Watson Institute for about specific decisions and events, the discussions International Studies, Brown University. provided more general contextual insights that will be valuable in interpreting the large numbers of documents now coming out of the archives. Other issues the sessions illuminated were the importance of personal relationships in building trust between the two sides, and the degree of misperception and miscommunication on each side. A recurring theme was the failure of the other side to perceive what each regarded as major shifts in its own position. During a discussion of the causes of the U.S. adoption of the “four-point agenda” in January 1984, which marked a shift by the Reagan administration to a much more accommodating stance toward the Soviet Union, Chernyaev confessed that he had been completely unaware of this agenda. A stunned Matlock expressed amazement that this could be the case, since it formed the