George Rathjens, Secretary-General, Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs
Luigi Einaudi, former US Ambassador to the Organization of American States
This text has been professionally transcribed. However, for timely distribution, it has not been edited or proofread against the tape.
JEFF MARTIN: This is Common Ground, a program on world affairs and the people who
shape events. In this edition of Common Ground, a look at the United States relations with
its neighbors in Latin America.
LUIGI EINAUDI: It’s a little bit as though we still have not recovered from winning the
Cold War and from the psychology of believing that everything should be all right and we shouldn’t
have to worry about foreign affairs anymore, and we should sort of retreat into our own continental
MARTIN: And then later in the program, an update on the work of a former Nobel Peace
GEORGE RATHJENS: There was a great suspicion and a belief that those of us who were involved
actively in it, in the West, from the West, were being used by the Russians, that we were dupes and
that everybody on the Soviet side was just mouthing a party line.
MARTIN: Common Ground is produced and funded by the Stanley Foundation. I’m Jeff
Martin. This spring, President Clinton travels to Santiago, Chile for the next Summit of the
Americas. In this portion of Common Ground, Mary Gray Davidson talks with Luigi Einaudi,
former U.S. Ambassador to the Organization of American States, about the relationship between the
United States and Latin America.
MARY GRAY DAVIDSON: During his last State of the Union address, President Clinton emphasized
the importance of the hemisphere to U.S. national interests. I’d like you to outline the primary
interests the U.S. has with our Latin American neighbors.
EINAUDI: Neighborhood. Basically we are talking about a hemisphere that has the same origin—
European conquest, colonization, settlement, ultimately the birth of a new world dream of freedom—which
historically has generally been contradicted in practice. And which only really in the last
generation with the end of European colonialism in the Caribbean and the gradual dismantling of
dictatorships in Latin America, has begun to live up, at least to the name, and the promise, of the
New World and of a freer and better order. And as this has happened, really quite an extraordinary
thing has developed: a convergence of values, really, between the United States and Latin America
and the Caribbean. And it creates lots of opportunities.
DAVIDSON: Now, during his first term the President never traveled south of the border. What
is the reason for what seems to be a new found engagement with Latin America?
EINAUDI: Well, I think the first thing that one has to realize is that with the end of the
Cold War the United States really has looked inward. And it has looked outward mainly at the
residual areas where there could really still be major conflicts left over from the past, like
Russia or the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, so forth, the Middle East, and now there’s a
certain amount of concern over China. Under those circumstances, you don’t really have much time
left over to worry about areas where there aren’t big problems. And as I just said, Latin America,
not only are there not big problems, there are growing opportunities. And I think that what
President Clinton has decided to try to do is consolidate some of those opportunities, get things
on the right road. He held, invited all of the democratic heads of state, which means 34, everybody
really except the Cuban regime, to Miami in 1994. Now he is leading up to going to a second hemispheric
summit in Chile next April.
DAVIDSON: As you mentioned, there are new opportunities and in fact I think the President
alluded to the fact that his trip was rather a celebration of the positive changes that have been
sweeping the continent. And if you would, would you give an overview of what has taken place in
EINAUDI: Well I think that first of all the smoke of war has cleared away. Central America,
which had so focused our attention and caused so much suffering and despair over the ’70s and ’80s,
we have now seen really the affirmation of cooperative, more democrat models and an end of certainly
the externally sponsored international conflict, whether on the left or the right. In South America,
you’ve seen even before then the departure from power of military regimes and the affirmation of
democratic elections and so forth. More than that, the hemisphere seems to be stabilizing around
that. It’s true, there are, have been some extraordinary exceptions. The Mexican peso crises of
1995, the conflict that broke out almost at the same time between Ecuador and Peru over an old problem
of boundaries. But these really are the glaring exceptions. What you’re seeing is consistent elections,
fairly consistent, open systems, the defeat of major guerilla insurgencies and so forth. So that
generally, the hemisphere looks like better neighbors, a better neighborhood, better markets. There
are of course problems that President Clinton did not focus on directly. The whole drug problem; the
erosion in the stability of Columbia, which he did not visit, caused by the continuation of guerilla
fighting. It’s the one country where that is really the case. So that it’s not, it’s an uneven picture
and there’s still a lot of social injustice in the hemisphere. On the other hand, there’s also, particularly
from an American perspective, a surprising amount of development and progress.
DAVIDSON: You mentioned the summit next April. What are the goals of the U.S. in this summit
process and is there a consensus among the 30-plus nations who will be there about what the goals should be?
EINAUDI: Hmmph. Well, those are very good questions. You know, to consolidate the economic opportunities,
one of the administration’s objectives has been the negotiation of a free trade area of the Americas. And in fact
that was one of the common agreed outcomes of the Miami summit process. Now that is somewhat up in
the air right now as we await the outcome of President Clinton’s request to Congress for fast track
authority, to be able to negotiate trade agreements and not just in this hemisphere but also with
the Europeans and the World Trade Organization and the like. This is an issue that has become, I
would say, unfortunately, controversial in the United States. Unfortunately controversial in the
sense that I think that free trade has taken a lot of unnecessary hits, partly by its backers who
overpromised, and partly by its critics who aren’t taking a very long view. But in any case it’s
become something of a litmus test of American world leadership and in particular in this hemisphere, of American ability to take advantage of the opportunities and so forth.
With that somewhat up in the air there is generally an interest in attempting to consolidate cooperation
in a variety of areas. For example in education. There is the sense that in order to compete
effectively in the world one needs better cooperation in the field of education. And I think that
that is one of the things that the presidents are looking at.
DAVIDSON: You brought up the President’s plan for Free Trade of the Americas zone, and as
you mentioned, the term “free trade” strikes fear in a lot of Americans. What in your
opinion does the average American worker have to gain from free trade?
EINAUDI: A continued membership in a growing economy and in a country that sets the standards
in many ways for competitiveness. I mean, it is an amazing thing to me that there should be as much
concern about free trade in the United States at a time when unemployment is at a very low rate and
we have begun to reassert ourselves. It’s a little bit as though we still have not recovered from
winning the Cold War and from the psychology of believing that everything should be all right and
we shouldn’t have to worry about foreign affairs anymore, and we should sort of retreat into our
own continental greatness and worry about ourselves. And certainly there’s an enormous amount about
ourselves that we do need to improve. You never can stop working. On the other hand, the world that
we’re moving into with globalization, this extraordinary computer revolution and all the rest, is a world
in which if you don’t stand still, if you try to build walls around yourself, pretty soon you’re going to
start going backwards. And I think that somehow we have become a little bit too uncertain, a little bit
too fragmented, to really see that as clearly as I at least believe we should.
DAVIDSON: I’m wondering if in your opinion the reductions in U.S. foreign aid in recent
years has affected the ability of the U.S. to promote positive change in the hemisphere?
EINAUDI: I don’t think it’s so much reductions in aid as it is an ability to do our part.
We are overwhelmingly the richest country in the hemisphere. We have really, in spite of all of
our problems, some of the most effective government organizations, statistical bases, not to mention
powerful cultures. CNN; Ted Turner; the computer; these are fundamental speak-American things. And
under those circumstances, when we start entering into a partnership or a deal with others, they expect
us to pull our weight. Increasingly, we haven’t been and that’s partially because I think that our
system is sort of tired of having been asked over the years to contribute all kinds of things in the
name of anti-communism, in the name of U.S. responsibility, at a time and with many occasions, when
people in, oh, I don’t know, upstate New York, weren’t getting much protection for their fruit crops
or people in the Mississippi weren’t getting protection for their levies from floods. And really we
had in the United States something of a reaction against foreign aid even though foreign aid really
is a tiny, tiny, tiny, fraction of what most of the polls suggest the people think it is. And even
though the absence of the ability to have resources and to pull our share—you know, I don’t think any
of us wants to pull more than our share. In fact, one of our jobs in government is to see if we can
get away with pulling less: we’d love to. The difficulty is that our neighbors are developing, their
leaders are not dumb, and if we don’t pull our share we’re going to find it very hard to cooperate.
We’re going to find it hard to open American markets, to sell American good; to make things work for
the United States. And then there’s one other image I’m going to raise for you, which again maybe
people are tired of this, but I deeply believe that the United States, which is a free country, which
is an immigrant country, and which is a country that has an economic dynamism second to none, is a country
that has within it all kinds of hope and power. Not just for itself but also for other countries. We have
to learn how to share, how to pull our weight as I said before; we can’t advance our own interests
unless we do cooperate with others. The United States has to do these things for itself, but also
when it helps others and engages actively in the outside world, it is actually acting as an important part
of our civilization. And it’s a civilization that has helped save people whether it was during World War II
from some of the horrors of the Holocaust or today from some of the horrors of underdevelopment and difficult
MARTIN: That was Luigi Einaudi, former U.S. Ambassador to the OAS, speaking with Common Ground‘s Mary Gray Davidson.
We’ll pause here for a break. And when we return, Common Ground catches up with the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Pugwash Conference.
RATHJENS: At various times the whole effort has been viewed with great skepticism by many people and by some
governments, including to some extent by the government of the United States.
MARTIN: Printed transcripts of Common Ground and audio cassettes of this program are available.
Listen at the end of the broadcast for details on ordering. Common Ground is a service of the Stanley Foundation,
a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that conducts varied programs and activities meant to provoke thought and
encourage dialogue on world affairs.
MARTIN: The Cold War gave birth to a number of organizations dedicated to pulling mankind back
from the brink of nuclear destruction. With the Cold War long gone, Common Ground producer
Keith Porter looks at how one of those organizations is fighting to survive.
KEITH PORTER: Pugwash. It’s an unusual name for an unusual organization. Officially known
as the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, the group has, for forty years, provided a
space for scientists and politicians from the United States and the former Soviet Bloc, to discuss
their differences. This work earned Pugwash the Nobel Peace Prize in 1995. Today we here from the
new installed Secretary General of Pugwash, George Rathjens, a Professor of Political Science at
the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
RATHJENS: Pugwash is an organization that has been going now for forty years. It started
out because of concern about the issue of nuclear weapons and the feeling that, in the scientific
community, rather narrowly defined, that we really ought to do something to deal with this problem
of nuclear weapons between Russians and the West on a common basis. That is we ought to explore
what could be done and to try to reduce the risks that these weapons would continue to be developed
and possibly be used. It has been through a metamorphosis since then. It’s greatly enlarged,
it’s taken on a number of other subjects and involves people from outside the physical scientists.
We use the term now very loosely; it includes lawyers and ex-generals and all sorts of people.
All dealing, though, fundamentally with the same issues of war and peace, but expanding that to
include other threats which we feel mankind faces in common. Such as the environment and problems
in development; a wide variety of issues now.
PORTER: And the name Pugwash, where did it come from?
RATHJENS: The organization came about largely on the initiative of about 20 people in the
physical sciences who were assembled in Pugwash, Nova Scotia by a Canadian-American financier, Cyrus
Eaton, who had been the Chairman of the Board of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad. And he had been,
he was a native of Pugwash, Nova Scotia and he had arranged and funded the first meeting, which was
held in that small town in Nova Scotia, and somehow the whole movement has been referred to as the
Pugwash Movement ever since. We occasionally meet up there for special reasons. We did this last
summer on the 40th anniversary.
PORTER: I think there was that one morning in 1995 when we all woke up to hear that Pugwash
and Joseph Rotblatt had won the Nobel Peace Prize. Why did the Nobel committee chose Pugwash that
RATHJENS: Well, I’m not sure. Of course, I wasn’t privy to the discussion. But I did think
it was much deserved. Now people ask, “Well, what has Pugwash done that might merit that?”
and different people within the movement would make different claims. My own view is that the most
important thing was to establish communication channels between people in the East and the West,
who were prepared to give the other fellow’s point of view some consideration and who were potentially
influential. It opened up a channel dealing with these issues at a time when Soviet-American relations, and more generally, East-West relations, were so poor that there was no other really very satisfactory
channel for free and frank discussions. And Pugwash did serve that purpose. Now you ask, “Well what
particular, what in particular did it accomplish?” I think it was instrumental on two issues,
particularly on achieving the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty that was concluded in the Kennedy
Administration and in resolving some of the conflicts incident to limiting strategic weapons, in
particular ballistic missile defenses and ballistic missiles. It has also been important on issues
of chemical and biological warfare. I think less so on some of the other issues that it’s taken on.
PORTER: I like what you said about giving the other fellow’s point of view a fair hearing
at least. Even I remember a time though when that was suspect. Giving the other guy a fair hearing.
RATHJENS: Oh it was very hard at times. One time I was, my immediate superior was General Maxwell
Taylor and I happened to be in Europe at the time and I was going to go a Pugwash meeting in Sweden
and I got a call from home. I was in a place difficult to reach. I finally managed to make the
telephone connection and I asked what was wrong. And I was asked, “Is your conscience clear
about going to that meeting?” I said, “Yes it is” and I went. Now at various times
the whole effort has been viewed with great skepticism by many people and by some governments,
including to some extent by the government of the United States. But others in the U.S. government,
including some presidents, have been strongly supportive. But it has been a difficult time. There
was a great suspicion and a belief that those of us who were involved actively in it, in the West,
from the West, were being used by the Russians, that we were dupes and that everybody on the Soviet
side was just mouthing a Party line. That was certainly not true. We heard some of that and certainly
there were KGB people who were involved and we knew that. And they suspected that some of our
people probably were working for the CIA or other intelligence agencies. But nevertheless, there
was a core, there developed a core of people who really I think did exchange views with openness
and with some sense of rapport.
PORTER: Have you regularly had members of administrations or members of parliaments attend
RATHJENS: Not really. I guess there have been exceptions. It was very hard in all candor,
to say, when we were talking about eastern Europe and Russia back in the Cold War days, whether
these people were speaking as individuals or whether they were speaking strictly as government representatives.
But we have had people that moved in and out of governments. And particularly in the meetings we
had with Russians in private, and there were many of those, that is private, just Russians and
Americans, whenever that happened we understood that whatever we had to say was going to reach the
Russian government. And we always did report back to the American authorities—Secretary of State
or the Secretary of Defense or whoever, National Security Advisor, on what we had learned. But we
never, at least I feel strongly about this—it was true in my own case—we never took instruction
about what to talk about or what positions to take. So we were not in the government but we were
an extra-government channel that was available and that I think was used with great effect.
Particularly during the days before the big change occurred. Two big changes have occurred over
time. One was essentially when Henry Kissinger went into the government in the case of the United
States. He had been a member of the American group, participated some.
PORTER: Participated in the Pugwash talks?
RATHJENS: Yes. That, I sensed that at that time, it wasn’t necessarily just because of
Kissinger, not that at all, but the government-to-government communication channels then improved a
great deal. He could talk with Dobrynin in a way that I don’t think was common among his predecessors.
And to some degree that made some of our efforts less important. The other big change of course has
occurred with the demise of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. And with that the focus
of the effort has changed. For example, to include a lot more concern about ethnic conflict and
peacekeeping, the kinds of issues that have arisen in Yugoslavia and particularly in Africa.
PORTER: That was going to be my next question. What now for Pugwash?
RATHJENS: Well, that’s a question I have. In taking over as Secretary General I feel my
greatest challenge is to try to see that we focus our efforts on areas where we can be most useful,
where we have comparative advantage and also in doing so to recognize that we probably don’t want
to take on everything. Now I think the area where we have great comparative advantage, partly because
of the antecedents, the way the organization was founded, has to deal with the whole nuclear weapons
game. Now with the Cold War, that’s changed, but nuclear weapons are still with us. We face the problem
of proliferation to additional countries and we face what I think is a very serious problem in dealing
with the residue of the build-up that has occurred, particularly in the United States and Russia.
The weapons that we have that are surplus to any reasonable needs and the fissionable materials that
are extracted when these weapons are dismantled. So there are serious problems relating to nuclear weapons
and we do have a comparative advantage there. We’ve had an advantage I think simply because of the
people that we’ve had in dealing with issues of chemical and biological warfare. The environmental
problem is increasingly recognized as a ubiquitous one. It’s a problem that cannot, at least many
aspects of it, cannot be solved by countries acting individually. They have to act in concert.
So we have a group going now dealing with the issue of climate change and global warming. The issues
of peacekeeping, the role of the United Nations, problems of intervention in ethnic conflict, in
the kinds of wars that have gone on and are going on, and which I think we must expect to continue,
particularly in Africa probably, I think these are areas we have to take on in a rather big way.
And if we can help move things in a constructive way, in respect to those problems, I think if we
did that alone I would consider it to be a great success and a great personal success if I could
bring myself to believe that I’d had anything to do with it.
PORTER: That is George Rathjens of MIT, the new Secretary General of the Pugwash Conferences
on Science and World Affairs. For Common Ground, I’m Keith Porter.
Our theme music was created by B.J. Leiderman. Common Ground was produced and funded by the Stanley Foundation.
Copyright © Stanley Center for Peace and Security