American Elephants

History, Told by a Participant. An Explanation of the Cold War. by The Elephant's Child

Here is a fascinating take on Grenada, Poland and the Pope — and the history of the Cold War. This is from a lecture Herbert Meyer recently gave to the Young Americans Foundation on the occasion of the 100th birthday of William Casey, Ronald Reagan’s extraordinary CIA director. I was so interested in this (he’s a good storyteller) that I wish I had been there to hear the whole speech. And the next segment is equally good.  So who is Herb Meyer?

Herbert E. Meyer served during the Reagan Administration as Special Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence and Vice Chairman of the CIA’s National Intelligence Council. In these positions, he managed production of the U.S. National Intelligence Estimates and other top-secret projections for the President and his national security advisers. Mr. Meyer is widely credited with being the first U.S. Government official to forecast the Soviet Union’s collapse — a forecast for which he later was awarded the U.S. National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, which is the Intelligence Community’s highest honor.

Steven Hayward has posted these three videos over at Powerline, and his comments are certainly worth reading in their entirety. We are so apt to have little knowledge or understanding of fairly recent history, because we have always to a certain extent been low-information voters. I don’t use the term in a pejorative way. We are all busy our lives and work and activities and keeping up with news, politics and world affairs is why we elect representatives to do it for us, as they make the laws that will govern our lives. (Our hope is that they will do a better job of it than we do. Uh huh). But how many, even of those who lived through it, have any real understanding of the Cold War?  Steven Hayward said:


Bill Casey

American Cold War policy might be said to have begun with the famous “Long Telegram” from George (“Mr. X”) Kennan, and then NSC 68, the equally important strategy document written largely by Paul Nitze.  Both of these documents routinely find their way into nearly every history of the Cold War that has ever been published.

But a third document deserves to take its place next to Kennan’s “Sources of Soviet Conduct” and Nitze’s NSC 68: Herbert Meyer’s November 1983 memo to Casey (and Reagan) on “Why the World Is So Dangerous.” ¹ It was in this remarkable document that Meyer predicted that the United States under Reagan was on its way to winning the Cold War, and why.  His analysis of what was going to happen in the USSR (before Gorbachev, remember) was dead on.  The memo was later leaked in an attempt to embarrass Casey and Meyer (and Reagan, of course), but we can see who ended up embarrassed.  The CIA bureaucracy sniped at Meyer, but Casey told Meyer: “Not to worry.  You have two important fans and allies.  Me, and the president.”

Meyer’s description of Casey explaining why being a member of the Soviet Politburo in the 1980s was “not a lot of fun.”

¹ Herb Meyer’s memo is hard to read. It says “OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible.” Which is an understatement. But it’s kind of interesting to take run-together words apart and translate where they are missing.  Worthwhile anyway.

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[…] there was the Cold War, and the unlikely triumvirate of the Polish Pope, Britain’s Iron Lady, and the American actor turned President, Ronald […]


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