Jack F. Matlock, Jr. - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jack Foust Matlock, Jr. (born October 1, 1929) is a former American ambassador, career Foreign Service Officer, a teacher, a historian, and a linguist. He was a specialist in Soviet affairs during some of the most tumultuous years of the Cold War, and served as U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1987 to 1991.

By his own account, Matlock became captivated by Russia having read Dostoyevsky as an undergraduate at Duke University. He went on to study Russian language and area studies at the Russian Institute at Columbia University, and became convinced that the principal challenge of American diplomacy in the post World War II period would be dealing with the Soviet Union.

George F. Kennan, who was later to become a good friend of Matlock’s.

The containment policy was tested during the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Matlock, along with Richard Davies and Herbert Okun, translated communications between President John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev.

In 1971 Matlock became Director of Soviet Affairs in the State Department. During Richard Nixon's presidency, a period known as détente, there was a reduction of Cold War tension. Matlock participated in the negotiation of arms control treaties and other bilateral agreements. In fact, he attended every one of the U.S.-Soviet summits for the 20 year period 1972-1991, with the exception of the 1979 Carter - Brezhnev summit.

Matlock returned to the United States and taught for a year at Vanderbilt University under the 'Diplomats in Residence' program. The following year, he came to Washington DC to take the number two position at the Foreign Service Institute, the State Department’s language training school.

In January 1980, in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, President Carter postponed consideration of the SALT-2 Treaty and imposed a trade embargo.

Matlock returned to Moscow in 1981 as acting Ambassador, or Chargé d’Affaires. By April 24, President Reagan had cancelled the export embargo, and trade resumed. Matlock signalled the American desire for constructive engagement with the Soviets:

We are seeking an active dialogue on all levels. But a dialogue is useful only if it is candid, and we must learn not to take offense at candor but to use it to help us understand each other. - Jack F. Matlock, Jr. (New York Times Quote of the Day for July 5, 1981)

On August 6, 1981 President Reagan ordered the development of a neutron bomb. While contentious, this had the desired effect of bringing the Soviets to the bargaining table, and negotiations on limiting nuclear weapons in Europe started on November 30.

On March 23, 1983, President Reagan announced the Strategic Defense Initiative, a ground and space-based weapons system designed to protect from nuclear attack.[15] Matlock continued to advise the President on policy toward the Soviet Union and on September 1, 1983, when the Soviets shot down commercial flight KAL 007, Matlock returned to Washington to work with White House officials.

Reagan appointed Matlock to the position of Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director of European and Soviet Affairs in the National Security Council (NSC) in order to develop a negotiating strategy to end the arms race.

Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in the Soviet Union on March 11, 1985 and the next day negotiations on nuclear and space-based weapons began in Geneva. A few weeks later, he proposed a moratorium on the development of nuclear and space weapons during the period of negotiations, and in July, he proposed to ban nuclear testing. Reagan rejected the proposals.[15]

Gorbachev began a period of internal economic restructuring, known as perestroika, and agreed to a series of summits with the American President. Matlock was instrumental in preparing Reagan for his first summit with Gorbachev, arranging for specialists within the government to write a “Soviet Union 101” course of 21 papers on Russia for Reagan to study. Matlock also participated in a mock summit, playing the role of Gorbachev, allowing Reagan to practice the encounter in advance.

In April 1987 Reagan appointed Matlock as Ambassador to the Soviet Union.

After retirement from the Foreign Service, Matlock began work on his magnum opus, Autopsy on an Empire: The American Ambassador's Account of the Collapse of the Soviet Union. This 836 page book details the final years of the Soviet Union, and is considered by many to be the definitive insider's guide to the subject.

Matlock has taught diplomacy at Princeton University, Columbia University and Hamilton College. In a 1997 interview, Matlock offers some advice to prospective diplomats: have an optimistic nature, get a liberal education, do not expect to change the world, know the country, know your own country, faithfully represent your government, find the mutual interests, and remember that timing is everything.

Matlock also gives his views on one of the basic distinctions in politics:

I don't see much difference between a communist regime and a fascist regime. In fact, I think one of the greatest intellectual confusions that many have had over these decades is the whole right and left thing -- fascists are on the right, communists are on the left. Nonsense! They come together and overlap, and we're seeing this in Russia today where the allies are the nationalistic chauvinists and the communists. They are natural allies because they are authoritarians by nature. And more than authoritarians, they tend to be totalitarians, which means that they tend to destroy all of the elements of the civil society. To me that's much more important than whether you're philosophically right or left. You know, are you willing to create and live in a civil society, in an open society, or not? That to me is the basic issue.

After leaving government service, Matlock has occasionally joined with other experts to criticize U.S. government policy. On June 26, 1997 he signed an Open Letter to Bill Clinton criticizing plans for NATO expansion. His reason for opposition, as given in his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is the belief that NATO expansion will preclude significant nuclear arms reduction with Russia, and consequently increase the risk of a terrorist nuclear attack.

Matlock drew the ire of many Republicans during the 2004 Presidential election when he signed the Diplomats and Military Commanders for Change Official Statement of June 16, 2004, criticizing the policies of George W. Bush and endorsing John Kerry for President.

On Jan 4, 2007, Matlock joined with George Shultz, William Perry, Henry Kissinger and Sam Nunn to advocate a goal of a world free of nuclear weapons. On 23 September 2008 after a two-day conference at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, he joined several other former ambassadors to issue a joint statement on how Russia and the United States might move forward in their relations. He has endorsed the Global Zero Initiative, a plan to eliminate all nuclear weapons by 2030. Matlock has also signed an open letter of May 13, 2011 asking the implementors of the New START treaty between the U.S. Russia to make public the locations and aggregate numbers of nuclear weapons, in order to promote transparency and reduce mistrust.

On Jan 18, 2011 he co-signed an open letter to President Obama urging a United Nations Resolution condemning Israeli Settlements in Occupied Territory.

Autopsy on an Empire: The American Ambassador's Account of the Collapse of the Soviet Union

Autopsy on an Empire: The American Ambassador's Account of the Collapse of the Soviet Union

Reagan and Gorbachev: How the Cold War Ended

Reagan and Gorbachev: How the Cold War Ended

My Six Years With Gorbachev

My Six Years With Gorbachev

  • 作者: Anatoly C. Chernyaev,Robert English,Elizabeth Tucker
  • 出版社/メーカー: Penn State University Press
  • 発売日: 2012/03/30
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Superpower Illusions

Superpower Illusions

NATO expansion to Ukraine will be grievous mistake for US - last US ambassador to USSR ― RT SophieCo are becoming petty