The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour
ROBERT MacNEIL: Good evening. These are the day's top headlines. President Reagan broadened the Geneva summit agenda to Soviet regional policy. The Soviet foreign minister offered more verification for nuclear arms. South Africa partially lifted its state of emergency. The Senate voted to shelve a plan to sell $2 billion in arms to Jordan. Details of these and other stories coming up. Jim?
JIM LEHRER: After our version of the news of the day, we will return to the Reagan-Shevardnadze U.N. speeches for analysis of two Soviet experts and two U.S. senators. That is followed by a 40th-anniversary look at the United Nations, and a report from San Francisco on Asian-Americans and the movies. News Analysis
LEHRER: President Reagan today revised the agenda for next month's summit meeting by adding Soviet expansionism. He told the United Nations General Assembly in New York Afghanistan and other regional conflicts involving the Soviet Union should be discussed in Geneva, along with arms control. He said itwas time to start from scratch in changing the U.S.-Soviet relationship.
Pres. RONALD REAGAN: I come before you this morning preoccupied with peace, with ensuring that the differences between some of us not be permitted to degenerate into open conflict, and I come offering from my own country a new commitment, a fresh start. When Mr. Gorbachev and I meet in Geneva next month I look to a fresh start in the relationship of our two nations. We can and should meet in the spirit that we can deal with our differences peacefully, and that is what we expect.
LEHRER: Later from the same podium, Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze put the emphasis right back on arms control. He said verifying weapons treaties should not be a sticking point in the future.
EDUARD SHEVARDNADZE, Foreign Minister, USSR [through interpreter]: There are those who would like to make world public opinion believe that the Soviet Union is against verification. This is being said by those who, while contemplating new technologically sophisticated types of weapons, are deliberately concealing the truth that the more weapons exist in the world, the more difficult it is to carry out verification. We ask them in return: are you ready, as we are, to scrap hundreds of missiles and aircraft, thousands of nuclear charges? Say yes and we shall certainly be able to agree on verification.
LEHRER: Later, Mssrs. Reagan and Shevardnadze met in private to discuss details of the November summit meeting, now less than a month away. Robin?
MacNEIL: Besides his major speech at the U.N., President Reagan had a lot more on his schedule today in New York. Charlayne Hunter-Gault gives us an overview.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT [voice-over]: President Reagan had a packed schedule in New York today. Shortly after his big speech he traveled a short distance across the street to the United States Mission. There he met with Italian Prime Minister Bettino Craxi for the first time since tensions developed between them over the handling of the Achille Lauro hijacking incident. An administration official said that friendship was the theme of the 20-minute meeting and that the name of Mohammed Abbas, the PLO leader accused of masterminding the hijacking, never came up. Later, this is how Craxi summed up current U.S.-Italian relations.
BETTINO CRAXI, Italian Prime Minister [through interpreter]: There is a title of an Italian poem, and this title is "Quiet State After the Storm."
HUNTER-GAULT [voice-over]: Following that apparent reconciliation, President Reagan and the Italian leader journeyed a few more blocks to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel for a meeting with the heads of four other allied nations: Britain's Margaret Thatcher, Japan's Yasuhiro Nakasone, Germany's Helmut Kohl and Canada's Brian Mulroney. Despite reports of divisions among them over the agenda of the upcoming Geneva summit, Secretary of State Shultz sounded upbeat and optimistic.
GEORGE SHULTZ, Secretary of State: I think that it has gone extremely well, and the bilateral discussions that the President has had -- and he'll have some more tomorrow, and he'll have another one with Shevardnadze in a few moments -- all of that has been most worthwhile. But the President's not here to propagandize; he's here to put forward real proposals that are worthwhile and practical, and to listen to other people, give him their views of how to approach this important upcoming meeting, and it's going to -- it's been a very useful occasion.
HUNTER-GAULT [voice-over]: Next on President Reagan's agenda was a30-minute session with Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze, a meeting Secretary of State Shultz later described as a base-touching session. Shultz said the President opened with a list of issues to be discussed at Geneva, but that no detail on any issue was discussed. Optimism continued as today's major theme.
Sec. SHULTZ: And I know the President felt very good about it, and I believe the others felt good about it too. And I don't know that formal communiques necessarily carry that much weight. You go and talk to the other heads of state and ask them. It was an outstanding expression of general support.
MacNEIL: Before leaving New York tomorrow, President Reagan meets Chancellor Kohl of West Germany and Prime Minister Nakasone of Japan separately.
LEHRER: The U.S. Senate put arms sales to Jordan way, way back on the back burner today. It voted 97-1 to shelve the $2 billion sale until March 1st unless Jordan and Israel begin peace talks before then. Republican Senate leaders said President Reagan reluctantly agreed to the delay because the option was outright defeat. In Amman, Jordan's King Hussein did not take it well. He told reporters, "One wouldn't like to use the word blackmail, but it's totally unacceptable." He said it was not the way to deal with problems among friends. Hussein also met today with Egyptian President Mubarak to discuss Israel's new peace offer.
MacNEIL: In the South Pacific, French commandos boarded and seized the Greenpeace antinuclear protest ship shortly before a planned French nuclear test. Eight commandos boarded the yacht Vega at dawn and then towed it outside the 12-mile prohibited zone France has declared around its test site at Mururoa Atoll. Three months ago French agents bombed and sank another Greenpeace vessel, the Rainbow Warrior, in Auckland harbor, New Zealand.
In El Salvador, left-wing guerrillas today released the daughter of President Jose Napoleon Duarte and a companion whom they kidnaped 44 days ago. Their release, witnessed by Red Cross and church leaders, was part of a deal involving an exchange of guerrilla and government prisoners.
LEHRER: In South Africa today, President P.W. Botha lifted the state of emergency in six districts. He left it in effect in 30 others. The special measure was imposed in the 36 black areas July 20th following the breakout of violence. Botha said in a statement, stability had returned to the six where he was removing the edict. All are located in rural areas of Eastern Cape Province and Transvaal Province.
MacNEIL: Canadian officials said today that the St. Lawrence Seaway, blocked for 10 days by a collapsed lock wall, could reopen in two weeks. Up to 100 ships have been stranded by the seaway closure, and shippers were anxious that it would not be reopened before ice closed it for the entire winter. The Canadian seaway authorities said today that repairs should be completed by November 6th.
LEHRER: And that ends our summary of the news of this day. We go now to two Soviet experts and two U.S. senators for analysis of what President Reagan and Soviet Foreign Minister Shevardnadze said at the U.N. today. Then we hear differing views about the value of the United Nations after 40 years. And finally, we get a look at how Asian-Americans get viewed and view themselves in the movies.
MacNEIL: First, the new addition to the NewsHour: the nightly editorial cartoon drawn exclusively for us by internationally syndicated cartoonist Ranon Lurie. Tonight he's thinking about the 40th anniversary of the United Nations.
[Lurie cartoon -- Soviet and American blow out candles on flames from candles blown into each other & face] Summit Maneuvering
MacNEIL: Our major focus tonight is the new U.S. and Soviet challenges for the November summit. Today at the U.N., President Reagan called for a fresh start in U.S.-Soviet relations. While mentioning arms control, the President emphasized the need to deal with regional conflicts. Conflicts, he said, would be on the agenda when he meets Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in Geneva next month.
Pres. RONALD REAGAN: Real peace is what we seek, and that is why today the United States is presenting an initiative that addresses what will be a central issue in Geneva: the issue of regional conflicts in Africa, Asia and Central America. We have noted with great interest similar expressions of peaceful intent by leaders of the Soviet Union. I am not here to challenge the good faith of what they say; but isn't it important for us to weigh the record as well? In Afghanistan, there are 118,000 Soviet troops prosecuting war against the Afghan people. In Cambodia, 140,000 Soviet-backed Vietnamese soldiers wage a war of occupation. In Ethiopia, 1,700 Soviet advisors are involved in military planning and support operations, along with 2,500 Cuban combat troops. In Angola, 1,200 Soviet military advisors involved in planning and supervising combat operations along with 35,000 Cuban troops. In Nicaragua, some 8,000 Soviet-bloc and Cuban personnel including about 3,500 military and secret police personnel.
All of these conflicts, some of them under way for a decade, originate in local disputes, but they share a common characteristic: they are the consequence of an ideology imposed from without, dividing nations and creating regimes that are, almost from the day they take power, at war with their own people. And in each case, Marxism-Leninism's war with the people becomes war with their neighbors.
We believe the starting point must be a process of negotiation among the warring parties in each country I've mentioned, which in the case of Afghanistan includes the Soviet Union. But in every case the primary task is to promote this goal: verified elimination of the foreign military presence and restraint on the flow of outside arms. Of course, until such time as these negotiations result in definitive progress, America's support for struggling democratic resistance forces must not and shall not cease.
MacNEIL: We get four views now on the President's decision to push regional issues at the summit. Richard Pipes was director of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union in the National Security Council in '81-'82. He's now professor of history at Harvard University, and he joins us from the studios of WGBH in Boston. William Hyland is editor of Foreign Affairs magazine. He served as deputy national security advisor during the Ford administration. From Capitol Hill we're joined by two senators: Alan Cranston is the Democratic whip and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Wyoming Republican Malcolm Wallop is a member of the Senate Arms Control Observers Group.
Richard Pipes, in Boston, what do you make of pushing the regional-conflicts issue so hard now?
RICHARD PIPES: Well, this is not entirely new. In the past several years, at least since President Reagan came in, we have always tried to get the Russian side involved in discussing regional issues, and they have consistently refused to do so. They have tried to confine our relations to bilateral issues, which are primarily arms control and secondarily trade, perhaps, and cultural relations. And the President now has put our agenda on the table, and I think this is of course very, very important, that we play not only by their rules but by joint rules.
MacNEIL: Bill Hyland, what do you make of it? Is it likely to jeopardize success of the summit, or make it more successful? What do you --
WILLIAM HYLAND: I think it gives the President a little more bargaining room. He gets off of the defensive. I think that Gorbachev managed to put us on the defensive with this 50 reduction. The President comes back, hitting back at the vulnerabilities on the Soviet side. So the agenda is broader. I think we're in better shape as far as the summit itself. I still think the summit is going to focus on arms control, but the President has bought himself a little room to do some bargaining and to put Gorbachev on the defensive.
MacNEIL: Senator Wallop, what do you make of this emphasis?
Sen. MALCOLM WALLOP: I think it is long overdue. Clearly there is more to the relationship between the Soviet Union and the United States than just arms control, and indeed were it not for the tensions created around and about the world by these bilateral issues -- or, I mean, by these regional issues, regional conflicts, much of what we worry about in arms control would be more easily solved. It is the threat that is produced by Soviet imposition of tyrannical loyal Marxist regimes that makes it so important that we do raise this issue and say that there is an issue that the West has that is fundamental to this summit.
MacNEIL: Senator Cranston, your view?
Sen. ALAN CRANSTON: First let me say that I think the President spoke eloquently about peace today. He spoke realistically and wisely about the United Nations. I'm concerned about all the military interventions by the communists in Afghanistan, Cambodia and elsewhere that the President expressed concerns about. However, I hope that the President's expansion of the agenda is not because he's concerned that we will not be able to accomplish anything on arms control and therefore he wants to switch the subject. The all-important matter before us and the Soviets is the danger of nuclear war, and we should focus on trying to reduce that danger. We should also focus upon trying to eliminate the human rights violations in the Soviet Union, or at least reduce them, and on the need to permit people who wish to leave that country to leave. But when we get to these other matters that involve many other countries, it's much tougher to expect any progress. Other nations are involved, others forces would have to be consulted and dealt with. So let's focus hopefully on what could be attainable in the bilateral relationship. And we certainly do need a fresh beginning, in the President's words, but let's focus on the danger of nuclear war and on human rights.
MacNEIL: We'll come back to arms control in a moment. Richard Pipes, what do you make of the language that the President used on this occasion today about these Soviet regional critical areas?
Mr. PIPES: Well, which language are you referring to specifically?
MacNEIL: I'm referring to the language he used in describing what he regarded as the Soviet expansion or intervention in these various areas.
Mr. PIPES: Well, this is a constant theme with President Reagan, that a country that imposes his will on his people, that is basically unfree, is not a good neighbor, is essentially an expansionist country. He made this a theme of his speech in London in 1982 and so on. I share this view. I share the view that the weapons are not a threat; it is the men behindthe weapons. The British and the French have very sizeable nuclear arsenals, and we don't fear them; they don't worry us because we're dealing with democratic countries that are friendly. What worries us is not the existence of the Soviet arsenal, but of the people who own this arsenal and who engage in the relentless pressures around the world. I think he's entirely right.
MacNEIL: Bill Hyland, how do you think the Soviets are likely to react to this big emphasis on Afghanistan and Nicaragua, places like that?
Mr. HYLAND: Well, I think the traditional Soviet reaction, which is to, in effect, say, "You're one too. We have our Soviet agenda -- South Africa, El Salvador, Nicaragua, the Middle East, Lebanon." I don't think at this point it matters a great deal what they say, because both sides are positioning themselves for the meeting in Geneva. They will have an agenda; we'll have an agenda. It sounded as if today that the President and Shevardnadze actually may have agreed on the conduct of the meeting, and that's what counts, not so much, I think, what they're saying beforehand, though it's not clear to me what the President has in mind. He listed five areas, very difficult areas, and then he said the warring parties ought to begin talking. It doesn't sound to me like that's much of an approach, unless the United States intends to take a hand with the Soviet Union and take up some of these issues directly.
MacNEIL: Senator Wallop, do you think it's realistic that any progress would actually be made on these issues?
Sen. WALLOP: I don't think that it's realistic that any progress be actually made at this summit on any of the issues. And I think one of the questions that bothers me that you asked, I believe, Bill Hyland, is do you think this will spoil the success of the summit? I don't know how that is defined, but it clearly isn't defined by an arms control agreement or an agreement over these, because if it is, everybody is doomed to disappointment.
MacNEIL: How is it defined by you?
Sen. WALLOP: Well, I think success is defined by the mere fact of having it, and the fact that there are combinations of issues which are brought up between the two leaders. It is not realistic in my opinion to suppose that they are going to solve those issues at that moment. It is really symbolic, I think, more than anything else, symbolic to the world that the leaders of the powers of tension that exist in the world are talking with one another. There is some certain sense of comfort that they're talking, not warring, and I think that's the success and the symbol of it that is inherent. And anything else I think is doomed to disappointment in the world's mind.
MacNEIL: Senator Cranston, do you get a sense that Mr. Reagan is saying that unless there's progress on these regional conflicts, that U.S.-Soviet relations cannot improve generally?
Sen. CRANSTON: That may be what he is saying, but I would agree with Malcolm Wallop. We can't expect miracles, we can't expect great breakthroughs; but if we create a mutual understanding between the leaders of these two superpowers, they begin to talk about the issues, they assign to top subordinates the task of following through and looking for some common ground, and then searching for breakthroughs on the nuclear arms race. There can be minor steps taken, like creating crisis centers where we trade notes more effectively than we do now when we're in the danger of a misunderstanding in a moment of crisis. That would be positive. If the Soviets recognize how deeply we are concerned about human rights, andthat there must be some progress on that front if there's to be progress elsewhere, and if we're willing to trade notes on our common complaints about interventions in foreign countries -- they have their complaints about us backing dictators, we have our complaints about them engaging militarily in Afghanistan -- the more we understand that we can't really resolve the dangers of nuclear war, and probably can't straighten out our economies because of the expense of the arms race until we make progress on those fronts -- if that understanding is achieved, that will be progress.
MacNEIL: So none of the four of you thinks it was a bad thing today to raise this in this -- Senator Cranston, you don't think it was a bad thing to raise it?
Sen. CRANSTON: No, I don't think it was a bad thing to raise it, but I hope we will not be diverted from the more significant needs to cope with the arms dangers of a nuclear nature and human rights by getting off into discussing affairs that involve so many other countries that we cannot expect swift progress on that front.
MacNEIL: Senator Wallop, you think it's a good thing?
Sen. WALLOP: Well, I think it's a good thing, because I do not believe in this concept of moral equivalance between ourselves and the Soviet Union. And I think by raising a Western agenda -- but clearly that's not just a U.S.-Soviet Union; that's an agenda which all the West subscribes to --
MacNEIL: Bill Hyland, do you think it was bad that he raised it?
Mr. HYLAND: It wasn't bad, but it has to be followed up. If it was just one speech for the record, then it will be a bad thing because we will look hollow and superficial. If he intends to follow it up with vigorous diplomacy to press Gorbachev at the summit and beyond, then I think it's a very good thing.
MacNEIL: And Richard Pipes, you would agree with that, I take it.
Mr. PIPES: Yes, I would emphatically agree. I was very worried that we will fall into a trap, that we'll follow the Soviet agenda and discuss only arms control and not the violations of the rules of international conduct.
MacNEIL: Okay, we'll move on. Jim?
LEHRER: Yes. On to arms control. As we heard, Mr. Shevardnadze, the Soviet foreign minister, did not come to the United Nations today to talk of regional conflicts. His agenda was still all about arms control and Mr. Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative, also known as Star Wars.
EDUARD SHEVARDNADZE, Foreign Minister, USSR [through interpreter]: Today our planet is beset with troubles and anxieties. But the heaviest burden on mankind's shoulders is the arms race, which is inexorably bringing us closer to the edge of an abyss. It is our duty to stop and then to reverse it, to prevent it from spreading to space. The Soviet Union has countered the concept of Star Wars with the concept of Star Peace and everlasting peace on earth. Recently, Mikhail Gorbachev has laid out the Soviet program of resolute steps aimed at curbing the arms race and improving the overall international situation. The Soviet Union is proposing a world without weapons in space. The Soviet Union is proposing a world where nuclear arms would be radically reduced and then eliminated altogether. The Soviet Union is proposing a world where the Soviet Union and the United States will set an example for other nuclear powers by stopping any nuclear explosions. The Soviet Union is proposing a world where the Soviet Union and the United States would renounce the development of new nuclear weapons, would freeze their arsenals and ban and destroy antisatellite systems. We say that radical steps in the field of nuclear disarmament should be combined with a wide-ranging set of concrete measures aimed at easing military tensions and building confidence.
Pres. REAGAN: The ballistic missile is the most awesome, threatening and destructive weapon in the history of man. Thus I welcome the interest of the new Soviet leadership in the reduction of offensive strategic forces. Ultimately we must remove this menace once and for all from the face of the earth. Until that day, the United States seeks to escape the prison of mutual terror by research and testing that could in time enable us to neutralize the threat of these ballistic missiles and ultimately render them obsolete. If we're destined by history to compete militarily to keep the peace, then let us compete in systems that defend our societies rather than weapons which can destroy us both and much of God's creation along with us.
LEHRER: Again now to Soviet experts Bill Hyland, who is in New York; Richard Pipes, who's in Boston; and to Senators Cranston and Wallop, who are on Capitol Hill.
Senator Wallop, did you hear anything in what Mr. Shevardnadze said that impressed you or that you felt was new?
Sen. WALLOP: No, nothing. I was struck by the predictability of the Shevardnadze speech, and the marvelous willingness of the Soviet Union to stand on the podium of the United Nations and lie about what the reality of the world that they have created is.
LEHRER: Where did he lie?
Sen. WALLOP: Well, for example, they have a fully tested ABM system and command-and-control system; they're in violations of treaties, and when he says the Soviet Union wants to keep space free from weaponry, that is the track by which all the Soviet and American ballistic missiles travel. It is already full of weaponry, and it is the pathway of destruction.
LEHRER: Senator Cranston, did you hear it the same way?
Sen. CRANSTON: Well, let me say this about the Strategic Defense Initiative. I support research to see how far that can carry us. If we could develop a few that would work to some effective degree, that would be great. Most experts are dubious, and you will note that the President spoke only about stopping ballistic missiles; he said nothing about cruise missiles, he said nothing about bombers carrying nuclear weapons, he said nothing about ships that come into harbors. That is another way that weapons can be delivered that was not discussed and --
LEHRER: But what about what Mr. Shevardnadze said in his speech today?
Sen. CRANSTON: He didn't say anything new or particularly hopeful. It was the normal Russian propaganda line.
LEHRER: Yeah. Mr. Pipes, you agree?
Mr. PIPES: Totally. I'm afraid I must totally agree. You know, this is such an old broken record. It reminds me of a speech which I think Maxim Litinov, the Soviet foreign minister, gave in the League of Nations in 1927, where he proposed total disarmament just at a time when the Soviet Union was launching a very major program of rearmament. It's an appeal to public opinion; it's not a serious proposal, because serious proposals would be tabled in Geneva and not on the airways. And it is -- the Soviet Union has a tremendous advantage over us in reducing the discussions to arms control, because they can appeal to our public opinion, to our Congress, to our allies to apply pressure on our presidency to limit or abort certain programs; we cannot do the same thing to them. And this is why they want to concentrate the discussion on arms control and not talk at all about regional issues, and I'm glad that we are not falling into that trap.
LEHRER: Well, do you think, though, Mr. Pipes, that what Mr. Shevardnadze said today furthers their goal in keeping arms control number one on that agenda in Geneva?
Mr. PIPES: Oh, absolutely. Judging by the excerpts I have heard, he only talked about arms control and would not talk about Afghanistan or Nicaragua and El Salvador and so on.
LEHRER: Yeah. Mr. Hyland, what did you hear in what Mr. Shevardnadze said?
Mr. HYLAND: Well, in the text of the speech there was a line I thought that was quite impressive. He said that at Geneva, when the President meets with Gorbachev, the Soviet Union would be seeking an agreement "in principle" to stop the arms race or something like that. I thought that was quite a softening of the harsh attack on Star Wars that we've witnessed over the last year, and I thought the President as well put the Star Wars proposal, his own Star Wars proposal, in a slightly more -- a softer context.
LEHRER: Explain that, in both cases. First of all, Shevardnadze. Why is that such a softening in your view?
Mr. HYLAND: Well, he has said, and Gorbachev has said and Soviet propaganda has said at great length that they must stop work on all aspects of space weapons, etcetera. They have various terminology, but they say cease testing, development, the deployment, etcetera. Now he is saying that, but he is saying at Geneva, when Gorbachev sees Reagan, they'll be seeking an agreement in principle. That is really a tremendous waffle that allows Gorbachev to say a great deal but not come away from Geneva with much more than a commitment to continue talking, and in that case I think that's a substantial retreat.
LEHRER: All right. Now --
Mr. PIPES: If I may take issue with Bill Hyland?
LEHRER: Yes, yes.
Mr. PIPES: I thought that the two most important points the President made today in his speech was, one, raising the regional issues, which we have already discussed, and secondly, I heard him say very clearly that strategic defenses are not negotiable, that this is not a bargaining chip. This was a very, very powerful statement.
LEHRER: But what about, first of all, then, Mr. Pipes, what did you think of Bill Hyland's interpretation of what Shevardnadze said about Star Wars?
Mr. PIPES: I think he may be reading something into it. To say "to agree in principle" really says nothing at all. I think they are absolutely adamant on stopping this project. They might agree perhaps on research, but they certainly will not agree to testing and certainly not deployment.
LEHRER: All right. Now, Bill Hyland, what is your feeling about -- what do you say to Dick Pipes on what he says about what the President said? You also said you heard something there; he didn't hear it.
Mr. HYLAND: I heard the President say in the actual text of the address that what he was seeking was a linking of the offense and defense. He also said he was seeking a possibility of going ahead with Star Wars to make ballistic missiles obsolete. I thought the phraseology was chosen with care, to say, "I am not going to Geneva for a shootout on the question of Star Wars." There's a lot more to the summit than that, which he said. We are not in a position to say under no circumstances will we stop work, etcetera, so I think the President is getting himself in a better bargaining position. I don't expect that he expects an agreement, nor does Gorbachev, on the basis of what Shevardnadze said.
LEHRER: Senator Wallop, the question of verification. We ran an excerpt at the top of the program about what Shevardnadze said about verification, and whathe essentially said was that the Soviet Union was willing to go along with any kind of verification. You didn't find that a hopeful sign or a change?
Sen. WALLOP: Well, I view that in its historical context, and the only kind of verification that would mean anything to us is on-site inspection, and clearly they're not going to do that. Every instance in which it has been raised, it has been rejected out of hand. We have marvelous technical capabilities, but we can only see the outside of things and not the inside.
LEHRER: You don't think they would ever agree to on-site verification? You didn't hear that?
Sen. WALLOP: I didn't hear that at all. As a matter of fact, I'm not exactly sure of the phraseology of that. I think what he said was, "If we can work out the numbers, we can work out the verification." But I think that's a rather typical Soviet ordering of things, that they get things to their liking and then they say, well -- and the world's liking, and then they say, well, verification is obvious by national technical means, which it cannot be succeeded at.
LEHRER: What did you make of that, Senator Cranston?
Sen. CRANSTON: Well, I don't know what the Soviet foreign minister meant by saying "all means of verification could be discussed." We need on-site inspection for some purposes; we do not need it for other purposes. If we could reach an agreement that we will not test certain weapons and not deploy them, that keeps us and keeps them, and you can verify that very easily without on-site inspection. And if we reach that kind of an agreement, then you know that certain weapons are not going to be used against you. No nation can rely on weapons that have not been tested. Verification is plainly a part of whatever can be accomplished, if anything can be accomplished, to end this arms race.
LEHRER: Finally, gentlemen, beginning with you, Richard Pipes, in Boston, the presummit game continues, and this was a major event in it. We heard Shevardnadze, we heard President Reagan, we talked about the specifics. What about tone? Did you hear -- what do you think as far as whether the two sides are now going to go to Geneva with something -- with both sides wanting to get up from that table with some kind of an agreement. What's your feeling about it?
Mr. PIPES: My feeling is, to begin with, that both sides realize that not much concretely can be accomplished in these two days of meetings, and in particular because the experts have not really worked out any agreements in detail. Therefore it is going to be to a very large extent a matter of public relations and perceptions, and both the President and the Soviet foreign minister have made very strong speeches indicating that they are not going to be pushed about and they're going to insist very much on their positions, which doesn't augur well for the summit at all.
LEHRER: Senator Wallop, how do you read the tone of the day?
Sen. WALLOP: I read the tone in an interesting way. I think the President spoke with a rather new confidence because he had at last articulated the Western agenda, which was necessary to avoid having the world think the Soviets (a) controlled the agenda, and (b) it was only matters of bilateral defense issues and arms control. So I was very pleased; Shevardnadze I did not particularly view as having made anything very soft or very strong. The speech was really extraordinarily boring and devoid of content.
LEHRER: Bill Hyland?
Mr. HYLAND: I think that Gorbachev peaked too early. I think the 50 proposal should have come about now and that would have put the Soviets in a rather good propaganda position. Now Shevardnadze's backing and filling, talking about verification and not the main issues. This round, at least, of the presummit maneuvering I think the President clearly won.
LEHRER: Yeah. Senator Cranston?
Sen. CRANSTON: Well, I think the tone reflected some pretty strong rhetoric by each side against the other. It's realistic on both sides in not seeming to indicate any vast hope of great significant breakthroughs. But we are going to meet. There was some restraint in what each said, and that is hopeful. Let me say one thing. I do not think that we should get away from the concept -- it is not just a Soviet concept -- that the all-important matter is to seek to get this arms race in hand before it destroys us all. Many other matters are important, but if we blow ourselves up, other matters will not matter. We have to also focus of course on human rights, and if we can make a breakthrough in interventions in other countries, that is all to the good. But focusing on the arms race is the all-important matter before the human race.
LEHRER: All right. You don't see it quite that way, Senator Wallop, correct?
Sen. WALLOP: No, I don't. And if -- we can solve it according to Senator Cranston's precepts by simply dismantling everything we have now and allowing the Soviet Union to dismantle the freedom of the world. And I don't think that's right.
Sen. CRANSTON: Now, you know that's not my precept. I've never advocated any such thing.
LEHRER: All right. Senators Cranston and Wallop, on the Hill, thank you very much; Mr. Pipes, in Boston; Bill Hyland, in New York, thank you all. Robin? United Nations: Mid-Life Crisis?
MacNEIL: Although they've been celebrating it all week, today is the official 40th anniversary of the United Nations. Forty years ago today the U.N. Charter went into effect. As President Reagan said yesterday, the United States, now often outvoted, can find the U.N. a frustrating and irritating place. But what value do other countries see in the U.N. on its 40th birthday? Here's a sprinkle of ambassadors' opinions.
Amb. GEORGE MACIEL, Brazil: There is a lot of criticism mostly because of ignorance of about what the United Nations is supposed to do and to be. In developing countries, in many developing countries, the United Nations is known mostly because of the specialized agencies. You take UNICEF, the children's organization, or UNDP, of technical assistance, or the health organization, or the telecommunications union. All these are extremely useful. And in the United States the public does not know very much about these organizations.
Amb. STEPHEN LEWIS, Canada: We love it for a whole range of other reasons. The work that it does through its agencies; the way in which it responds to a problem, a horrendous problem like the African famine; the fashion at which it keeps the lid on local trouble spots and prevents them from becoming major conflagrations; the pressure it keeps on the superpowers, forcing them constantly to deal with questions of arms control and disarmament, perhaps one day to achieve sanity.
Amb. CLAUDE de KEMOULARIA, France: And I will tell you something, frankly and directly. If we had not had the United Nations today, we should invent it.
Amb. LLOYD BARNETT, Jamaica: We regard the charter as a revolutionary document. Why revolutionary? Because it sought to correct what had been perceived to be ills in international society for a long time.
Amb. ANDERS FERM, Sweden: Well, maybe one can compare it with a marriage that has been going on for many years. You have a lot more experience; you are disillusioned, perhaps, on some points, but you are more convinced than ever of the soundness of the basic concept. We are more convinced than ever of the need for the United Nations. But of course, we are also aware of the problems and of the shortcomings of the organization.
Amb. ISMAT KITTANI, Iraq: I think the heart and soul of the U.N. is collective security, and the role of the Security Council is crucial. And the fact that certain countries have with impunity defied the resolutions of the Security Council, even the authority of the Security Council -- that is where the U.N. suffers most.
Amb. de KEMOULARIA: In my opinion, the Americans, having the feeling that they are a powerful country, the most powerful country in the world, don't like the idea of being in a minority position in the United Nations. They have been in the majority position for many years, for the first 20-25 years, and now they have shifted to a minority position. I'm not going to tell you why, but I will suggest you something. Do study why the U.S. is now in a minority position, and if I want to help you a little, I will just mention two things: the Middle East and South Africa.
Amb. BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, Israel: The United Nations has allowed itself to be overtaken by the extremists, most extremist despotisms in the Arab world and elsewhere. If it wants to redeem itself, members must have the courage to stand up and challenge these kinds of outrages. And until they do so, I'm afraid the decline, the slow and steady and progressive decline of the United Nations, will continue, possibly, if unchecked, into irrelevance.
Amb. NATARAJAN KRISHNAN, India: India, as well as other nonaligned countries, has always attached the greatest of importance to the United Nations. We have always believed and we continue to believe that this is a unique forum, a central forum where we have the opportunity of discussing world issues, addressing world problems.
Amb. KITTANI: There's nothing wrong about debate. Letting off steam doesn't hurt anyone, does it? Except if you take it amiss. It's better than shooting each other, don't you think?
MIZUO KURODA, Japan: The Japanese people feel that the United Nations is essential for the maintenance of international peace and security. We had a terrible experience at the end of the Second World War, and there is strong feeling among the Japanese people: no more war.
Amb. FERM: The U.N. makes the big somewhat smaller and the small somewhat bigger in the world. It is a universal body now, reflecting the whole world, which it didn't do in the years after the Second World War. You can just remember one thing. In 1945, there were two African states that were founding members. That was Liberia and South Africa. The rest of the African continent was colonies. Now there are 51 African states in the United Nations, which of course has strengthened the United Nations and enhanced its relevance.
Amb. LEWIS: It's a first-rate place, and although it has some problems, they're not overwhelming, they're not unusual, they can be managed. What we need is adherence to the charter and a continued determination to make it work. It'll be around 40 years from now, 80 years from now, 200 years from now, and it will one day be celebrated. The Asian Image
LEHRER: And in our category called " nally" tonight, a report from San Francisco on the movies -- movies about Asian-Americans. It's about a movie Asian Americans hate and about Wayne Wang, the maker of one they love. The reporter is Steve Talbot of public station KQED-San Francisco.
[clip from the film "Year of the Dragon"]
STEPHEN TALBOT, KQED [voice-over]: Michael Cimino's movie Year of the Dragon has generated more controversy than box office. After the colossal financial and critical failure Cimino suffered with his last film, Heaven's Gate, Year of the Dragon marks something of a comeback. But the movie has not caught fire at the box office and is already beginning to disappear from first-run theaters. But the controversy sparked by Year of the Dragon continues to burn. Asian-American civil rights groups have picketed the movie, charging that it's one of the most racist and sexist films to come out of Hollywood in years.
1st ASIAN-AMERICAN: We think that it's going to lead to a rise in anti-Asian sentiment and anti-Asian violence.
2nd ASIAN-AMERICAN: I don't know, I guess I liked it. I mean, it was violent, but I liked it, yeah.
WHITE AMERICAN: I liked the movie, and I think the Chinese have taken over the city.
TALBOT [voice-over]: Year of the Dragon tells the story of an angry Vietnam vet who has become the most decorated policeman in New York City. Played by actor Mickey Rourke, the cop has decided to bust the heroin smuggling ring in New York's Chinatown. Unlike Vietnam, he says, this is a war he intends to win. There are so many references to Vietnam and so much wholesale killing in Year of the Dragon that protesters refer to it as "Rambo Goes to Chinatown." Two coalitions of Chinese-American benevolent associations have filed a $100 million libel suit against MGM-UA Entertainment Company and director Michael Cimino. They charge that the movie portrays Chinese businessmen as drug dealers and gangsters.
[clip from "Year of the Dragon"]
TALBOT [voice-over]: MGM has made no comment on the libel suit, but has agreed in negotiations with Asian-American protest groups to add a disclaimer to the film. The disclaimer says that any similarities between the movie and the realities of Chinatown is "accidental." Cimino has refused to speak about the film since its release last month.
[interviewing] Are you satisfied with MGM agreeing to put the disclaimer on the film?
JIM YEE, Asian-American Telecommunications Association: I am happy that it has occurred, but please note that every film has a disclaimer; this film happens to be a little more specified as to the client -- or as to the subject matter that it is addressing. I don't believe this is the only step that's going to be taken. I think there are some serious discussions, not with just MGM but with any producer or any studio, be it Hollywood or commercial television, to avoid this kind of travesty in the future.
TALBOT [voice-over]: Robin Wu works with Chinese for Affirmative Action, another San Francisco group angered by the Cimino film.
ROBIN WU, Chinese for Affirmative Action: What's particularly offensive to me as an Asian woman is the portrayal of the Asian news reporter in this film, because in essence she's supposed to be an intelligent career-oriented professional, but ultimately she's again a sex object who submits to the white cop and takes his abuse, and at the end falls in love with him.
TALBOT [voice-over]: Ariane, the fashion model hired to play the news reporter, had no previous acting experience and has been ridiculed in reviews for her stilted performance. But other actors in the movie, including John Lone, who plays the aggressive young drug lord, have been praised for their performances. Robin Wu recognizes that urging Asian-American actors to boycott movies like Year of the Dragon could be self-defeating.
Ms. WU: I think it's a real dilemma, because we're asking actors to make the decision if they don't want to be in films such as Year of the Dragon, then they're forsaking their career as an actor or actress. I think it's a difficult decision to make, because they make get blacklisted if they decide not to take roles.
TALBOT [voice-over]: One of the actors caught in the middle of the Year of the Dragon controversy is Victor Wong, who plays a restaurant owner and Chinese godfather.
[interviewing] Can you make a living as an Asian-American actor in the United States today?
VICTOR WONG, actor: I personally have to have a vow of poverty. I mean, I don't have a car. I ride around in my bicycle.
TALBOT [voice-over]: Wong is disappointed with Year of the Dragon, but he argues that the protesters are taking it too seriously.
Mr. WONG: Especially the Chinese-Americans going to see it, think that this is a documentary -- it's just a movie. You know, the Year of the Dragon. So the disclaimer is really talking to themselves, saying, "When I go there, I better remind myself this is not a documentary, this is just a movie."
TALBOT [voice-over]: On the other hand, Wong is concerned about racial stereotyping in Hollywood movies and clearly prefers his leading role in another new film, Dim Sum, directed by a Chinese-American filmmaker, Wayne Wang.
Mr. WONG: When you go to a movie, you see yourself, and every group, every portion of this society needs to look at themselves so they could see where they've been and where they are and where they're going, and that kind of thing. It's very important, the kind of work that Wayne is trying to do.
TALBOT [voice-over]: Dim Sum is a warm, delicate film about a Chinese-American family living in San Francisco. It feels like a home movie, and it's laced with wry humor.
[clip from "Dim Sum"]
TALBOT [voice-over]: Wayne Wang, a celebrity in San Francisco, is enjoying the initial success of his low-budget movie.
WAYNE WANG, director [on the telephone]: Well, yeah, we sold out every single show except the 10 o'clock show, actually, on Monday night. So -- I know, yeah. We'll get 'em.
TALBOT [voice-over]: Wang burst on to the San Francisco filmmaking scene three years ago with his even lower-budget black and white film Chan Is Missing. The quirky, ironic insider's look at Chinatown USA was something completely new.
[clip from "Chan Is Missing"]
TALBOT [voice-over]: New York Times critic Vincent Canby rescued Chan Is Missing from underground status, calling it "diamond-in-the-rough moviemaking." With reviews like that, the film, made for only $23,000, ended up grossing nearly $1.5 half million and launching Wayne Wang's career.
Mr. WANG: With Chan I was trying, since there hasn't been any Chinese-American films, really, that had been out at that time, what I was trying to do is to try to establish the fact that the community itself is actually very complex, that within the community itself there's a lot of different elements and a lot of different kinds of people.
TALBOT [voice-over]: In Dim Sum, Wang focuses on the relationship between a traditional Chinese mother and her Americanized but loyal daughter.
[clip from "Dim Sum"]
TALBOT [voice-over]: A Chinese-American woman reviewing the film in The Village Voice said it provided her with a shock of recognition: the first time she had seen her life accurately portrayed in an American film. Wang has joined the protest against Year of the Dragon, which he considers offensive and dangerous. But Wang has not given up on Hollywood. In fact, if he can find a script he believes in, he'd like to work there.
Mr. WANG: I make these movies like Dim Sum and Chan Is Missing, but it's very hard for those movies to sort of offset the kinds of damage that movies like Year of the Dragon or whatever might do, because they open in 1,000 theaters and millions of dollars are advertised, and lots more people go see those movies. So in some sense I need to work in the mainstream -- even if it's just with one good, complex, Chinese-American character, I think that would be doing a lot, too.
MacNEIL: Once again, a last look at today's top stories. President Reagan broadened the agenda for next month's U.S.-Soviet summit. In a speech before the United Nations, Mr. Reagan said Soviet expansionism should be discussed in Geneva. And in an address to the same body, Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze offered a new willingness by Moscow for closer verification of nuclear arms. South Africa partially lifted the state of emergency it declared in July. And the Senate voted to shelve a plan to sell $2 billion in arms to Jordan.
Finally, another look at today's Lurie cartoon.
MacNEIL: Good night, Jim.
LEHRER: Good night, Robin. We'll see you tomorrow night. I'm Jim Lehrer. Thank you and good night.
- The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour
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- NewsHour Productions
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- NewsHour Productions (Washington, District of Columbia)
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- Episode Description
- This episode of The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour covers the following headlines: analysis of speeches by Ronald Reagan and Eduard Shevardnadze at the United Nations, a look at where the United Nations stands 40 years later, and a report from San Francisco on how Asian-Americans are depicted in movies.
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- This item is part of the Chinese Americans section of the AAPI special collection.
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- To view the segment about Asian American media representations, visit https://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-507-f18sb3xj41?start=2693.61&end=3309.57 or jump to 00:44:52.
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- Moving Image
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Identifier: 30753 (Reel/Tape Number)
Format: 1 inch videotape
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- Chicago: “The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour,” 1985-10-24, NewsHour Productions, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed November 30, 2023, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-507-f18sb3xj41.
- MLA: “The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour.” 1985-10-24. NewsHour Productions, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. November 30, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-507-f18sb3xj41>.
- APA: The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. Boston, MA: NewsHour Productions, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-507-f18sb3xj41