Discussion of the Collapse of the Soviet Union

DR. SUSSER: I should note just in passing that I was flipping the channels last night, and just before midnight I turned to C-SPAN and they were broadcasting a February 1992 interview with President Nixon in which his comment was, "Communism committed suicide in the Soviet Union." So I guess he did not foresee it either, in your view?

DR. KISSINGER: No. We thought--what Nixon and I thought was that what was described as the satellite orbit would disintegrate, but not as fast as it did. But we thought that the Soviet Union would not be able to maintain it indefinitely, but we had a question mark in our mind how the Soviet Union would react when its East German satellite would collapse or was in danger of collapsing. And that's, in our mind, if we had been asked to predict the future, would have said (inaudible) it's an element that could lead to a serious crisis. But none of us, neither Nixon nor I nor any of the Soviet advisors we consulted, ever spoke of the disintegration of the Soviet Union. And in fact, if you remember, Bush 41 when he took a trip to Ukraine in '91 after the Soviet Union was already in the process of disintegration made comments that indicated that he was dubious about detaching Ukraine from the Soviet Union.

DR. SCHLESINGER: It was from that experience, by the way, that the Chinese learned, watching Gorbachev start with perestroika and opening up the society to all of the criticisms, and then subsequently start--subsequently beginning restructuring of the Soviet economy, that that was the wrong way to proceed. The Chinese learned, may have over-learned, that you start with restructuring the economy and you are very, very slow in proceeding with perestroika.