INTERVIEWER: How emotional then was the day when the wall came down and all those people came pouring over, was that emotional for you too?
GEORGE BUSH: It was and yet, I was accused by one journalist in the United States of not being emotional when the wall came down. It was emotional for me, but I must confess that I had in mind not over-reacting. That I was absolutely certain that it would have been stupid to do something in the sense of showing the joy and emotion I felt more important the joy and emotion all the American people felt if that demonstration could unleash forces inside the Soviet Union that would set back the change. We forget now, because things went so well on German unification after the fall of the wall the Soviets had a lotta troops in there and they had them in Poland and I think they still had them in Hungary although they may have gone out. But who knows what military commander would have said "Enough. We're not gonna take this anymore. Our whole thing is falling apart and by god we'll show them we're no paper tiger." and so we tried in spite of the emotion I felt to act with a certain restraint.
INTERVIEWER: Right now coming onto Malta, the Malta summit. What do you think was achieved at Malta?:
GEORGE BUSH: Well at Malta, we laid to rest for once and for all the argument that we didn't know what we were doing regarding the Soviets. I had perceived the Malta meeting to be a not a get aquatinted meeting because I knew Gorbachev but I remember clearly sitting on outdoors at our embassy in Paris, we were over there for another meeting and Brent Scowcroft was there and Jimmy Baker was there and I said, I wanna meet Gorbachev and I wanna do it soon. I think some of our European friends had suggested this was important and I felt it was important, but we had different feelings inside our administration. Still some wariness about the reality of the change and what Gorbachev's heartbeat really was, what is his pulse really was, and so, so I said no, I wanna do it, but I , I wrote him a letter, wrote it myself and said I wanna have a meeting and I want it to be a non-Agenda meeting. Not like one of these things when you send a bunch of Sherpas over there to write out the damn, what's gonna happen in the meeting before the meeting takes place. I don't wanna do that. So then we kinda went back and forth as to where we might have such a meeting, I made a couple of proposals that couldn't work out from Gorbachev's schedule and we finally hit upon Malta because it was a nice peaceful harbor a place that they never had bad weather and nobody would get seasick, well like the meteorologists on every television station in Britain and the US they screwed it up, and we got seasick over there. Not me, but Gorbachev and he couldn't even come out to the Slava his cruiser to have this marvelous exchange with us. that was just the venue. But at the meeting we surprised people by coming forward with an Agenda I forget how many points on it, but there were maybe 14 or something Agenda points. Here's what we're gonna do with you. And before we even got through the first pleasantries, we unleashed this on him and I read them off. And he was amazed and I think pleased, because I think he'd bought into the fact that we were dragging our feet, we didn't wanna go forward and there was a wide array of proposals and initiatives and agenda items that hit common support. And so, Malta from ours administrations standpoint was kind of a breakthrough because we didn't hear any more our of our wonderful press corps knocking my socks off that we didn't know what we were doing, and they recognized that there had been a reason for taking some time. And then Gorbachev understood there was reason for taking some time and that got us off to a pretty damn good understanding for the years that followed.
INTERVIEWER: Right and would you, do you think it ended the Cold War, Malta or did it open up a new chapter in East West relations?
GEORGE BUSH: Well we had some differences at Malta with Gorbachev that I, would keep me from saying it ended the Cold War, he handed me, he showed me a map, I can show you a picture if you like to see it, I got it hanging in here, and this is a very well done map, and the purpose of the map was to show me that we were trying to encircle the Soviet Union and thus he was gonna insist we have naval arms control. Well I didn't wanna go into naval arms control, no one on the US side felt we had to go into naval arms control, but I cite the fact that Gorbachev raised this, so that, to give your viewers the feel that, that this wasn't that all problems weren't behind us, and surely they weren't all behind us in terms of arms control and exactly how we negotiated cuts in conventional forces, nuclear wet forces. But having said all that I think it was a breakthrough, but I you know, every, every European leader. I guess different leaders in the US have a different date in mind for when he or she felt the Cold War actually ended. Clearly the coming down of the Berlin wall was an important one, clearly Gorbachevs agreeing finally to let a unified Germany to remain in NATO does that end the Cold War, clearly Gorbachev going along in the UN in 1990 because of dessert storm that was a major breakthrough in terms of the end of the Cold War, going along with the US side, the allied side, the coalition side. So there are a lot of points where observers might say, well this ended the Cold War, I , I must confess I'm a little confused in my own mind, but Malta was important.
INTERVIEWER: Right. And what were the part, talking also about the end of the cold war, how would you summarize the policies that brought about the end of the cold war?
GEORGE BUSH: I'm not sure I understand your question.
INTERVIEWER: Well in terms of the one of the things that changed in 1989 and you mentioned it in a speech indeed was that it went from beyond containment to partnership.
GEORGE BUSH: Well I would give credit to my predecessor Ronald Reagan in terms of changing things. Ronald Reagan was criticized roundly in the United States and maybe in England too I don't remember for calling the Soviet Union an "Evil Empire" at the same time with that innate charm and goodwill he reached out his hand to Gorbachev and they became friends but he made very clear that this battle of the expenditures was not gonna be won by the Soviet Union and that we were gonna do, what we needed to do to modernize our forces. He had inherited Reagan when he came in had inherited a hollow force. He was gonna strengthen the defense, he was gonna continue to work for space defense and he was gonna confront them at every turn in terms of being stronger then them. So somewhere along the line and I'll have to ask Gorbachev this, they got the feeling they couldn't win that battle, and so things began to change and Gorbachev began to recognize that negotiation, not from weakness, but just negotiation was in order, and I don' know exactly where it was when I came in, we saw a real opportunity because of this recognition on the part of the soviet Union that they weren't gonna win an arms race, they weren't gonna "bury you" we were the beneficiaries of this, and we inherited dealing with the Soviet leadership that really wanted change and wanted to try to accommodate the West and so I in a sense I was very lucky in that regard and so when Gorbachev said to me at Malta we must have a naval arms control he wasn't speaking from great strength and I knew that we could keep things on track without acquiescing in his desire to have us reduce our naval forces. I just use that by way of example.
INTERVIEWER: So Gorbachev obviously was a key to the ending of the cold war, could it have ended without him do you think, how crucial was he?
GEORGE BUSH: Well Gorbachev was a key to the ending of the cold war, and I would say a critical key to the ending of the cold war, and I don't know, who knows if something had happened to Gorbachev 4 weeks before our Malta summit or something who would have replaced him, what would have taken place because a lot of forces were put in motion before again referring to our Malta summit forces on our side saying we could no cooperate because of this new openness and this reform. Forces on their side saying hey we're not gonna win any arms race anymore lets get on with this. So I don't know what could have happened. But I do know this, Gorbachev not popular in Russia today will be accorded a wonderful place in history and he deserves such a place in history but I can't say without him we would not have seen some accommodation.
INTERVIEWER: But his particular way of brand of new thinking was something which must have, which made it possible for the relationship between the Soviet Union and America to alter wasn't it, would you say.
GEORGE BUSH: Gorbachev's new way of thinking and his commitment to Perestroika and Glasnost was a fantastic contributor to better relations between the US and the Soviet Union, there was no question that Gorbachev deserves great credit for this and we forget that at the same time he was doing this, there were pressures inside Russia, the military particularly, I will never forget a passionate conversation I had with Akra Meyoff followed by a much more detailed one that Akra Meyoff had with Brent Scowcroft. Here was Akrameiov a Marshall respected Soviet military leader just in dismay at what was happening at these changes. His children telling him, you know Akrameiov telling his children I have given my life to this service and now look at how its falling apart. So we forget that there were pressures on Mr. Gorbachev from his right if you wanna call it that, from his military god knows from who else, who didn't wanna see these the rapidity of this change. And who were probably as suspicious of us as we were of them though I kept telling them, they kept saying to me "You don't understand you didn't lose 10 million or 12 million 20 millions lives in a world war, you never had that" and I kept saying to them "Well we never sought any territory and we're not seeking hegemony now, and we're not your enemy." So it was an interesting dialogue in that sense, but Gorbachev will get a lot of credit for all this.