thumbnail of In Our Image: The United States and the Philippines; Interview with George Schultz
Transcript
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
Yeah, that's all right. I probably can't help but glance at it once a while because it's there. I'm going to give you a six-year short. Yeah, that's right. Okay. All right, so let's start off with... And again, the questions are not going to be in this. So, if you could take this to the answer. So, what do you begin to feel that this is... of this crisis of the Marcus Regime is developing? And how did you begin to sense it? Of course, in my family, like many other American families, we have thought about the Philippines over the years. And my wife was a nurse in the army, and she was one of those who landed more or less with the General MacArthur landing party on the Philippines, and she was stationed there for a while. And so, we had that kind of attachment. And when we went back to the Philippines, there was a certain emotional experience and attachment
that we, she, in this case, in the Philippines, Americans and Philippines had fought together to gain the independence of this country. So, that gives you a sense of identification. And when we went to Corregidor, about five years ago, we were interested in seeing everything rather depressed by the state of disrepair that the memorials had fallen into. And so, we have even taken quite an interest in trying to get them to look better. And be better. And it's working. They are being improved a lot. So, it's kind of on our minds, but I forget when it was, I went as Secretary of State. It must have been in 1983 or so long in there.
The things that happened to me were odd. We went to a big luncheon and what did they do? The Mrs. Marcus put on a fashion show for us. It's the only fashion show I've ever seen in my life. And while it's always interesting to see pretty girls and the Philippine girls are very pretty, it was not my idea of how to spend my time. But it didn't feel very good. But, of course, we could see, as you look at the, just look at the information that comes that it wasn't going well. And even the gross statistics showed that the gross national product was declining. And you know about the problems of corruption. You know that here is a government that is not responsive to people in a sense of being elected
and having that kind of responsibility. And then, of course, there is the shock of the Akino assassination. Did you start that over here? Just pick it up there. So, there is the shock of the Akino assassination. And something is really radically wrong here. And then, of course, there was a long process in which we were concerned about the investigation and was it going to be a good investigation. And we worked on that a lot. And we became very concerned that the Philippine was deteriorating rapidly from all standpoints. And that's what led us. We talked about it in terms of what needed to be done. We had an unusual grouping of people in the top echelons of the United States government
who knew a lot about the Philippines. At one point, Bill Crow, who had been the commander-in-chief of the Pacific, became the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. And he was out there. He knew a lot about the Philippines. Mike Armacost had been an ambassador. And he was the undersecretary of state for political affairs, the senior career person. So, he knew a lot about the Philippines. And so, as it turned out, we had people who knew a lot. And we were deeply concerned. We had a good idea of what we thought needed to be done. And the president was concerned about it. He knew Marcus, had known Marcus a long time. And we wanted to see Marcus be a hero. The only way you could be a hero is to do a good job.
And get things straightened around. And that's where the president decided that it was not suggested that we should send somebody to see Marcus. What our message we had told him and told him and told him it didn't seem to get through. And so, we said, we better find somebody who Marcus knows is very close to the president of Pau, a real friend, and send that person out. And that's where Paul Axel came in. And he went out and he did deliver our message, the president's message very effectively. What was the message? Well, the message was that it's possible that the situation is deteriorating all around you. And that the help is possible. But you've got to do things very differently.
And if you can do them, you can get support. And the situation can write itself. But these practices you've fallen into are just not anything that can work. Now, at the end of 1985, then, you thought that there was. I mean, it becomes a problem in foreign policy. How do you deal with a leader in another country that you think is doing the wrong thing or slipping the wrong way? Did you still think that Marcus was reformable if I could use that term? Well, he was there. And so, we could see that what was happening was no good. It's a place that, as I said earlier, we cared about a lot. And, of course, it's a strategically important place. And so, we wanted to see it get back on its feet. And we didn't seem to be able to make any headway.
The insurgency was growing. Everything was going wrong. What stage did you feel that there wasn't any, there was no alternative, but for Marcus to leave? Well, I think that there were some very traumatic events that led to that decision in a very crisp sense of the word. But we did pay a lot of attention to the investigation of the Akino assassination and made a number of strong representations in that regard. And then, Marcus decided to call this snap election. And so, we said, well, if there's going to be an election, it ought to be an honest-to-god election, and be done properly. And that was a view all through our country and in the Congress, both sides of the aisle.
And so, in the end, that election was heavily observed by us. And Senator Lugar, Jack Murther, I remember, and many others went out there. And they did a good job. They really did their homework. They got around. They observed what was going on. And of course, as practicing politicians, they know about how you get votes and count them and so on. That's their lifeblood. And what they saw, they didn't like. And they were very forceful and direct about it. When they came back and went after the election took place, and it was clear that the fraud was on the side of the macros regime. I'm trying to sort of get the drift of your changing attitudes. They're a stage where you think that he's still... He's the problem, but he's also the answer. You remember that one. But at the stage where he was not alone in the answer,
he was just the problem. Would you say it was during just after the election as the fraud became more apparent? Or was it after the meeting took place when Phil came back that day at Sunday to have you think... Well, this was an ongoing process. And the idea that this election could be declared as a victory for Marcus under all the circumstances and what we know was just not in the picture. We had asked Phil. It was kind of for Chodas. We had asked Phil to come back. There was a lot going on in foreign policy at that stage, just as there isn't today here in the latter part of 1988. So I have known Phil a long time. I said, well, let's get Phil here. And I want to just chew the fat with him about all these things. And then the Philippine business came, and we just threw him into the breach. And he went out there as a fact finder,
but Phil is never just a fact finder. He's a guy with ideas. And he makes an impact. And then his trip's back and forth. He did. I think he made a real contribution. I wonder if you could describe to me a bit that meeting that took place at your house on the morning of Sunday, the 23rd, something for the investigator. On the morning of 23rd of February, Phil had come back the night before. You assemble a lot of people at your house, Secretary of Defense, someone from CIA. Yes, we had all of the people that were going to have to... You just started describing what was happening and why it was happening. Why did you assemble everybody? Well, I felt that we were at a critical moment. And we were going to need to make a recommendation to the president, and he would want to be very well informed. And everyone should be well informed.
And if possible, we wanted to have a coherent and unified picture. So I thought when Phil would give us his report, and I had a pretty good idea of what his report was from the cables and all, that I would like everybody else to hear it, too. And rather than have a meeting in the situation room or something, we just invited everybody over to my house, and my wife made some muffins as I remember. And coffee and whatnot, and we sat around, and all the key people were there. They were Secretary of Defense. I think the director of intelligence was there. They were the deputy, the chairman of the chiefs. And my karma cost was there and so on. And so we heard Phil's report, and we talked about it.
But what I was saying earlier was that we had been working together well on this problem for quite a long while. And we had made recommendations to the president that everyone agreed with and everyone supported. And therefore our analysis had a lot of common ground to it, and our ability then to take in new information and come to conclusions about it was very good. And so at this meeting we had a lot of discussion, and Phil presented his material, and I tried to manage the discussion, and in mind that we wanted to have a meeting, we felt we had to have a meeting with the president. It was a Sunday later that day, as I remember. And so I wanted to have everybody's views, and I wanted to be able to make a recommendation to the president.
What was your recommendation? Well, I think we saw that Marcus could no longer govern in the Philippines. And so we had to make that clear and get him out of there. We were persuading that he should get out of there. And also there had been earlier questions, for example, about the use of troops, and we were very concerned about that. And the president authorized that we say to him, if you do anything like that, we're going to be an absolute immediate cutoff of all U.S. assistance. We are not going to provide assistance for a use of troops like that. And so there were some very strong signals in the picture. Now, I want to go, this is going to be on the air. I presume we are going to be Secretary of State to have to turn him off, so I can try this question.
I mean, we all know that the president had certain personal affection for the Marcos citizens. How did you swing it in a way? I mean, it was a question of turning the president around on this, wasn't it? And others as well. We had talked to the president about this periodically over quite a period of time. He saw this ongoing stream of things. He listened to Dick Lugar come in and the others from the Congress and give him a very straight from the shoulder report about the election. And what went on in chapter and verse from guys who know and understand, as I said, elections. So all of this was part of the process. And it's not only the president who's reluctant to come to conclusions like we all are. And after all, it's not our country. It's somebody else's country.
We have a stake in it, but it's for them to do things. And this change in the Philippines, I might say, we're talking about what we thought and what we decided and so on. But this was not a U.S. revolution. It was a Philippine revolution. And I think it's basically very healthy and good, but I give them the credit. And we tried to be helpful, but it's a Philippine thing. So the president knew that however he might feel and whatever earlier experiences he had, things had gone very, very badly. And I think what was presented to him was a unified view. Everybody had the same opinion, all of his advisors. There wasn't any difference of opinion by the time we got to that afternoon meeting. And that is important.
I want to take you up to the banquet at the State Department, the dinner upstairs, the following September, which you gave for Cory and keynote. That was fun. I wanted to tell you that you were very... I wanted to talk a little bit about how you felt that evening. You said something in your opening toast. You said, this is a family occasion, which it's definitely linked back to what you were saying at the very beginning of our talk here. A special feeling one has about the Philippines, like it's kind of a family relationship. Is that what you meant? Well, partly that and partly also. How did you feel about it? Well, I felt very happy and excited about it, because some good things had happened. And Cory was here. She had some qualms about coming.
I had persuaded her. I think I had a big hand in persuading her. Yes, she ought to come. The arrangements were all made for her. I don't think she had had her joined appearance. Had she, by that evening, that was the next day. Of course, that was a terrific experience to that joint session. But I had been in the Philippines earlier, and she had given not just on my behalf, but along with others, the ASEAN ministers, a dinner. And it was the first sort of state dinner. You might say formal dinner she gave as president of the Philippines. And the entertainment at the dinner was her daughter. And her daughter recruited a couple of her pals. And she came on and she said, well, I'm here. And the reason I'm here is we don't have a very big budget, do we, mom? So I'm the entertainment. And she and her two.
So we had all had fun that evening in the Philippines. And it was a family affair in the sense that Corey had enlisted her kids in this so-called formal occasion. But, you know, the Philippine people are like that. They like to have fun, and they like everybody to be involved. Take part. Do a little entertaining yourself. You must be able to sing something or do a dance or do something, but be part of the party. That's their way, and it's fun. It's delightful. So I thought, well, this will have to be something different and make it something that's fun. So I got a little different kind of entertainment. I suppose nothing like that has ever played in the state department before and never since. But I got some of my friends from the Bohemian Club group that call themselves the Good Time Washboard 3. And they are the most unusual set of musicians you ever saw in the feature.
He's a guy who has a washboard, a literal washboard. He hangs it around his neck, and his fingers are all covered with metal. And he plays on the washboard, and they sing, and they have a guitar, and they have a good time. And it gives that kind of a feeling of these are not professional musicians. These are just friends who are having a good time and enjoying themselves. And Cory enjoyed that a lot. She's mentioned it to me since. Let me just go on to one more. I don't want to get into the bass issue, as I said, in terms of the negotiation itself. But could you talk about what the basses really mean? I mean, it's our relationship with this. Some people say, I don't know what you're talking about. Some of the basses, and they made it more to it than just the basses. But how do you see the basses?
Are they absolutely indispensable or on the alternative? The basses for the United States are not indispensable. They are good basses. And we're better off with them when they went in without them. But the Civic Bay basses basically a place where there is a good skill labor force that knows how to repair ships. And so it can be done well and not too costly. And it's out in that part of the region, so it's a good place for ship repair and good place for the ships to come in and cruise to have liberty and so on. So it's good, but it isn't essential. And of course, in this day and age, airplanes, you'd like to have your places for them out around. But if there's one thing that's mobile, it's an airplane, particularly with all the refueling that there is. So these basses are good basses, and we like to have them. But they aren't absolutely essential to us.
We have alternative ways of doing things that we do at those basses. So nevertheless, we want to have them there. Now, as far as basses in a country of some other country, U.S. basses in the Philippines or anywhere else, I think that only makes sense and can really work if both countries feel that they operate in the interests of each country. And we have to feel that way. We're going to spend a lot of money on it. And they have to feel that way. If they feel that it's not in their interest to have the basses there, then it's not going to be a healthy relationship. So you have to start with that. Now, I believe that the basses are very much in the interests of the Philippines. And if they were to disappear or become substantially less active, it would undermine. It would be bad for the stability of the Philippines, at least in any immediate period.
So I think the basses do pass that fundamental test. Are they in our interest? Are they in the Philippine interest? And so it's on that basis that we continue to support having them there. But what about the basis as a political, political importance of the basses? The fact that they represent our presence of the Pacific. And it's assimilized part of our presence as a Pacific power, which other countries need to re-want. The Chinese want us there, the Japanese want us there. We're there. We have places elsewhere, after all, in the United States. Guam is a part of the United States, and it's out there. And we have important basses in Japan, very important basses in Japan. In Okinawa, we have very good arrangements with Australia. And so we have a big Pacific operation.
Let me just have that. I touched on one more subject or put it for a question. Let's put it covering this whole episode of our relation involved in the Philippine. It seems that, in our sense, we still feel a greater responsibility for the Philippines, and perhaps they feel that we should have this responsibility, than we would for another country of this sense of structural relationship. Hasn't it sometimes watered on the range of either fearing or either beating in their affairs? I mean, in the Marcos episode. I mean, can you imagine us doing the same thing with some other country? Well, I think we say our piece around the world about what we think. And we try to be helpful to those who are our friends. In the case of Marcos, he was not displaced by us.
He was displaced by virtue of his own behavior, and the reaction of the people of the Philippines to that behavior. And as that evolved, we played a part in it, and at a critical moment persuaded him to do what he had to do, and to do it without a lot of bloodshed, got him out of there. But this was a Philippine thing. This was not a U.S. operation. Well, just suggesting that, can you think of another case for a senator? In the case of Laxville calls out the president of another country, and says, put cut and cut clean, and the guy actually leaves. I mean, in the case of him, we call him up, but they don't leave. Well, he didn't leave because Paul called him in that moment. That probably helped to make it clear to Marcos that it really was what the president thought. But the situation was such that that was going to happen.
I think Paul Laxville did a good service and had built something of a relationship there. But it was the situation that was controlling, and he could see it. After all, when his secretary of defense and chief of staff basically declared him out, and they take the armed forces with him, and people are in the streets, and he must know that the election came out the other way, and people knew it. So I know people have a tremendous capacity to kid themselves, but he had to know those things because they were so obvious. Okay.
Series
In Our Image: The United States and the Philippines
Raw Footage
Interview with George Schultz
Producing Organization
Pearson-Glaser Productions
Contributing Organization
Pearson-Glaser Productions (Kittery Point, Maine)
AAPB ID
cpb-aacip-f4451bdb378
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip-f4451bdb378).
Description
Raw Footage Description
George Schultz served as US Secretary of State from 1982-1989 during the Reagan administration. In this interview he discusses the Marcos administration, Benigno Aquino's assassination, and the decision to recommend the removal of Marcos from power. Schultz states that the Marcos administration had questionable practices, and that Marcos' snap election and the assassination of Benigno Aquino were key events which led to the conclusion that Marcos was no longer a capable leader. Given that the Philippines was a strategically important place, and that its bases were useful to the United States government, Schultz was involved in drafting a recommendation statement for Reagan which advised that Marcos was no longer fit to govern the Philippines, and that he should be removed from power with minimal violence.
Created Date
1988-09-14
Asset type
Raw Footage
Genres
Documentary
Interview
Topics
History
Subjects
Ronald Reagan; Ferdinand Marcos; Paul Laxalt
Media type
Moving Image
Duration
00:27:03:01
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Credits
Interviewee: Schultz, George
Interviewer: Karnow, Stanley
Producing Organization: Pearson-Glaser Productions
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Pearson-Glaser Productions
Identifier: cpb-aacip-80a4ffb1f59 (Filename)
Format: Betamax
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Citations
Chicago: “In Our Image: The United States and the Philippines; Interview with George Schultz,” 1988-09-14, Pearson-Glaser Productions, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 19, 2024, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-f4451bdb378.
MLA: “In Our Image: The United States and the Philippines; Interview with George Schultz.” 1988-09-14. Pearson-Glaser Productions, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 19, 2024. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-f4451bdb378>.
APA: In Our Image: The United States and the Philippines; Interview with George Schultz. Boston, MA: Pearson-Glaser 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-f4451bdb378