Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Historic Day

On this day in 1991, Secretary of State James Baker (US) became the first Western diplomat to address the Mongolian parliament. (source via Google News)

Perhaps more interestingly, James Baker had previously visited Mongolia briefly on August 2, 1990, which happens to be the day on which Sadam Hussein invaded Kuwait. At the time, he was at a USA-USSR summit. Gwendolyn Stewart, in her yet to be published Russia Redux, picks up the fascinating story, in which Mongolia plays, admittedly, only a cameo.
The atmosphere of the entire ministerial "summit" was good-natured and rather casual. For Baker and Shevardnadze, it was their sixteenth meeting in eighteen months.

Arms control was the official focus of their working sessions in the nearby half-million strong city of Irkutsk, with Afghanistan and Cambodia also prominent on the agenda. There was bargaining over the Soviet desire for another Bush-Gorbachev summit that year. The get-together broke up on its second day, August 2, 1990, with a morning press conference featuring the two foreign ministers standing above us on a veranda in Irkutsk, and with the sudden, startling news just afterwards that Saddam Hussein had invaded Kuwait. The Iraqi ruler's move put paid to all the questions the reporters had been so focused on a moment before. Now it was: How would Moscow respond to U.S. military action against its Iraqi ally? Baker dutifully made his scheduled way a few hundred miles to the capital city of Ulan Bator on an abbreviated mission to Mongolia, yet another "emerging democracy," then flew back to Moscow to nail down a joint statement with Shevardnadze. They met at the Moscow airport August 3 to visually and viscerally fix into people's minds the jointness of their actions.

James Baker has gone so far as to pronounce August 2, 1990, "The Day the Cold War Ended," and to assert that "the world as I had known it for my entire adult life would no longer exist." Since he was one of the principals, he may be forgiven for thinking that the real end of the Cold War came on his watch. Even Bush's National Security Adviser, Brent Scowcroft, who was not there, and not un-competitive, also acknowledges its significance. The Baker-Shevardnadze joint declaration condemning the invasion, he writes, "dramatically put the two superpowers on the same side of a major crisis for the first time since the Cold War began." The prospective payoff was the possibility of UN resolutions against Iraq, free of the risk of Soviet vetoes.
Interesting what one happens across on the Internet, no?


Blogger samraat said...


4/04/2010 10:00 PM  

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