The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour
MR. MacNeil: Good evening. Leading the news this Monday, the United Nations expects to set an Iran/Iraq cease-fire date in 10 days, President Reagan says he's ready to talk about American hostages if Iran is, a forest fire in Yellowstone Park has spread to within 9 miles of Old Faithful. We'll have details in our News Summary in a moment. Jim.
MR. LEHRER: After the News Summary, we explore the rush toward peace and the Persian Gulf War with UN Secretary General Perez De Cuellar and the UN Ambassadors from Iran, Iraq and the United States. Then John Merrow presents the fourth and last of his series of two first year schoolteachers, and we close with an Elizabeth Bracket report on the coming of lights to Wrigley Field in Chicago.NEWS SUMMARY
MR. MacNeil: Efforts towards peace in the Persian Gulf accelerated today. At the United Nations, Secretary General Javier Perez De Cuellar was reported to be confident he could announce a cease-fire date within 10 days. The starting date will depend on information gathered by UN teams on the ground and talks with the foreign ministers of the two countries beginning on Wednesday. Iraq said today it was pulling back troops from a major new thrust into Iran, however, Iran displayed pictures of destroyed Iraqi tanks on state television and claimed that its forces had driven back the Iraqis. It also showed pictures of alleged victims of Iraqi chemical warfare and broadcast pictures of rallies at which Iranian civilians were urged to volunteer for military duty. At the White House this afternoon, reporters asked President Reagan if he was ready to talk to Iran about American hostages held in Iran by pro-Iranian forces. Here is that exchange.
REPORTER: Are you ready to talk to Iran about the hostages? Is it time?
PRESIDENT REAGAN: If they're willing and ready to talk, it's time.
MR. MacNeil: The White House said Iran has not sent an authorized reply to Administration messages about talks on normalizing relations suspended for eight years. The latest message was sent last week after Iran suddenly accepted a UN cease-fire resolution. Jim.
MR. LEHRER: Yes. President Reagan still intends to veto the plant closings law probably. That was the word today from White House Spokesman Marlin Fitzwater. He said the bill arrived at the White House today following passage by veto proof margins in both the House and Senate. It requires businesses with 100 or more employees to give 60 days' notice of plant closings and layoffs. Mr. Reagan vetoed it earlier when it was part of the trade bill. He was expected to do so again as a separate bill, but there have been reports the campaign of Vice President Bush was arguing against such a veto. Fitzwater said he did not know anything about such reports. He said the President will probably veto it, but "It's always open until it's done."
MR. MacNeil: A forest fire is burning in Yellowstone National Park. Some 2500 acres of the Wyoming landmark are on fire. It has doubled in size in the last 24 hours and late today was within nine miles of the famous Old Faithful Geyser. Planes are being used to drop chemical retardants on the blaze. Fire officials say they fear a sudden wind shift could drive the flames into dense areas of timberland.
MR. LEHRER; Outgoing Attorney General Meese continued his attacks today on Independent Counsel James McKay. Meese told a Washington audience that he had been completely cleared of any wrongdoing.
EDWIN MEESE, Attorney General: After finding no basis for criminal action in relation to the Wedtech matter, the Independent Counsel then embarked on a fishing expedition, utilizing a bizarre notion that was unsupported by any evidence. They commenced an international investigation of a pipeline that had never been built and again came up with an empty net. Therefore, I stand before you today and state emphatically that I have been vindicated and on a full and fair accounting of the facts fully exonerated.
MR. LEHRER: McKay's office had no comment on Meese's remarks today. Last week on the Newshour, McKay said he had conducted a full and fair investigation. Meese will leave August the 1st of August. President Reagan's nominee to replace him called on Republican Sen. Strom Thurmond today, Former Pennsylvania Gov. Richard Thornburgh was asked if he had read the McKay report on Meese.
RICHARD THORNBURGH, Attorney General Nominee: I haven't read the report yet.
REPORTER: Do you intend to?
MR. THORNBURGH: Yes.
REPORTER: Would you pursue nomination from there if you found something that you as Attorney General would want to pursue?
MR. THORNBURGH: I can't tell without reading the report what might be appropriate, but if anything is appropriate, I won't hesitate to follow through on it.
MR. LEHRER: The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to begin confirmation hearings on Thornburgh early next month.
MR. MacNeil: There was more violence in Israel's occupied areas today. Three Arabs and five Israeli soldiers were hurt on the seaside Gaza Strip. The unrest came as authorities released about 150 Palestinian prisoners as a good will gesture for a Moslem festival. The prisoners all from the Gaza Strip were convicted or suspected of security offenses. Some had been held without trial for six months. In the past 10 days, 13 Palestinians have died in clashes with Israeli security forces in a new flare-up of disturbances.
MR. LEHRER: Vietnam held its first Cambodian peace talks today in Indonesia. Representatives of the government met with guerilla leaders and others who opposed Vietnam's 10 year old occupation of Cambodia. The meeting occurred in the former summer palace of the late Indonesian President Sukarno. Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas moderated the talks which were labeled informal or cocktail party talks.
MR. MacNeil: A British scientist said today he had identified the gene causing schizophrenia, a mental illness affecting millions of people around the world. Dr. Hugh Girling of Middlesex Hospital, London, confirmed that the disease marked by disconnection between thoughts, feelings and actions is at least partly hereditary. His discovery means that family tests could be developed to predict whether individuals may be at risk. One person in a hundred is affected by schizophrenia, which gets its name from the Greek word "for split mind".
MR. LEHRER: And that's it for the News Summary. Now it's on to peace in the Persian Gulf, a John Merrow report on two first year schoolteachers, and the coming of lights to Chicago's Wrigley Field. FOCUS - ROAD TO PEACE
MR. LEHRER: Peace in the Persian Gulf is our lead story tonight. It is a news story having come suddenly just last week out of the eight years of death and destruction between the forces of Iran and Iraq. We'll hear from the UN General Secretary and the Iran, Iraqi, and American Ambassadors to the United Nations. We begin it with some background by Charles Krause.
CHARLES KRAUSE: The Iran/Iraq War began eight years ago when Iraq invaded Iran in September 1980. Since then, there have been an estimated 1 million casualties, and what began as a relatively minor border dispute between the two countries has escalated into one of the longest and bloodiest conflicts of the century. Throughout the war, most of the fighting has occurred on the ground along a 700 mile front straddling the Iran/Iraq border. But beginning in 1984, both sides also began to disrupt oil shipments through the Persian Gulf, sinking tankers and eventually forcing the United States to dramatically increase its Naval presence in the region. Last year, fearing possible Soviet intervention, the Reagan Administration agreed to provide U.S. Naval escorts for 11 Kuwaiti oil tankers. At the time, President Reagan explained what was and remains a controversial decision to greatly expand the U.S. commitment in the Gulf.
PRESIDENT REAGAN: Mark this point well. The use of the vital sea lanes of the Persian Gulf will not be dictated by the Iranians. These lanes will not be allowed to come under the control of the Soviet Union. The Persian Gulf will remain open to navigation by the nations of the world. I will not permit the Middle East to become a choke point for freedom or a tinder box of international conflict.
MR. KRAUSE: Since the Navy began escorting Kuwaiti tankers last July, U.S. warships have fired on a number of Iranian gunboats and accidentally shot down an Iranian airliner earlier this month. But the United States has not taken sides in the Iran/Iraq War. Officially, the Reagan Administration has remained neutral, watching as the battlefield advantage has shifted back and forth. Despite eight years of combat, neither Iran nor Iraq has been able to defeat the other. Instead, the fighting has been characterized by bloody but inconclusive trench warfare, massive land battles and the first reported use of chemical weapons since World War I. Both sides have also used air power to attack economic and civilian targets, bombing oil facilities as well as Baghdad, Iraq's capital, and Tehran. A year ago, it was Iraq's Government headed by President Sadam Hussein which agreed to a UN resolution calling for a cease-fire.
MR. MacNeil: The peace hopes are focused on the United Nations where Secretary General Javier Perez De Cuellar expects to begin talks with the Iranian and Iraqi Foreign Ministers on Wednesday and to set a cease-fire date within 10 days. But some stumbling blocks remain. Charlayne-Hunter Gault talked with the Secretary General this afternoon.
MS. HUNTER-GAULT: Mr. Secretary General, the President of the Security Council said today that you expect to start a cease-fire within the next 10 days. Can you confirm that?
JAVIER PEREZ DE CUELLAR, UN Secretary-General: Yes. As you know, my team, my technical team who I sent to the area, is arriving today in Iran. He will start discussing with the Iranian authorities on the cease-fire and all the moralities of the cease- fire, which actually takes time, and then after three days in Iran, they are going to Iraq. They will listen to the Iraqi authorities on the moralities of the cease-fire. And then the leader of the team, he's a Norwegian General, will come back to New York. He will report to me. I will be in touch with the members of the council and of the parties, of course, if necessary. Then I will decide on a D day, you know, to stop, you know, the whole resolution moving ahead.
MS. HUNTER-GAULT: But you expect that to be within 10 days?
MR. DE CUELLAR: You know, we have some difficulties, say logistical difficulties, because you understand very well that it is not very easy to get into those two countries for obvious reasons and therefore, I have some difficulties in having my men in the area on time when I wanted them to be there. They have to use commercial planes, you know.
MS. HUNTER-GAULT: So it's still an open question are you saying?
MR. DE CUELLAR: No. I think it is 10 days or 11 or 12 days, but I think it has to -- my idea is to have a cease-fire declared as soon as possible.
MS. HUNTER-GAULT: Within the next couple of days the foreign ministers from both Iran and Iraq will be here at the UN at your invitation. What do you expect to achieve in those talks?
MR. DE CUELLAR: Well, listen. I am going to discuss with them all aspects of the resolution. As you know, for the United Nations and for the Security Council and for myself and the parties, the resolution is an integrated hold. The cease-fire, and that is very important to understand, is not an end in itself. It is just a first very important step towards the full implementation of the resolution. I don't want to give the impression that a cease-fire is what I have in mind and what the United Nations has in mind. We want a total solution of the problem.
MS. HUNTER-GAULT: What would constitute a success to these talks between the Foreign Ministers or you and the Foreign Ministers?
MR. DE CUELLAR: If I can obtain at the end of my discussion with the two Ministers which I hope will last one week perhaps, is to agree on a timetable for the implementation of all eight operative points of the resolution, that is, the cease-fire, the withdrawal of forces, the exchange of prisoners, the setting up of an impartial body dealing with the responsibilities of the negotiation of the conflict, the initiation of discussions for a just and lasting solution to the problem. Then we have the question of the reconstruction of the two countries after the war, and then we have another problem which is very important, which has to be discussed, is the security of the Gulf area.
MS. HUNTER-GAULT: In the interim, since Iran has announced it will go on for the call for a cease-fire, you have encouraged both sides to be restrained in their actions and yet, the fighting has intensified. What do you make of that/
MR. DE CUELLAR: Well, as you know, the President of the Security Council and on behalf of the members of the Council and I myself, we have asked all parties, the two parties concerned, to exert restraint. But, you know, that is an appeal, but as long as there is no cease-fire, actually we are not entitled to force the parties to stop the hostilities because there is not yet a cease- fire.
MS. HUNTER-GAULT: But how do you explain the intensification? Some have explained it as Iraq, which now has the military advantage, trying to secure a bargaining position.
MR. DE CUELLAR: Well, you know, my dear friend, that it is for me very difficult to pass any judgment on the position of the parties because from Wednesday on I have to be very much in touch with them, and for me also which is very important is to preserve my usefulness. You know, the only way for me to preserve my usefulness is to show total impartiality.
MS. HUNTER-GAULT: Your commission, the one you spoke about a minute ago, is to, as I understand, to determine in the course of this investigation the who started the war. What impact do you think that determination is going to have on your negotiations?
MR. DE CUELLAR: Well, as you know, Charlayne, it is a very important subject which, of course, has some very serious implications. But everything depends on the outcome of the investigation. I intend in consultation with the parties to set up a team, a body which will be totally impartial, and I am persuaded that this group of personalities will produce an extremely just balanced report.
MS. HUNTER-GAULT: Is that finding going to make your job easier or more difficult?
MR. DE CUELLAR: Well, once the parties accept the timetable or the full implementation of the resolution, actually they are committed to respect such a timetable.
MS. HUNTER-GAULT: Are you confident, are you optimistic that both sides, despite the intensification of the war and a lot of verbal sparring as well that's going on now about who's acting in good faith or not, because both sides are accusing the other of acting in bad faith, are you confident that they are serious about ending this war now?
MR. DE CUELLAR: Well, all indications are that they are this time really serious, but apart from that, the fifteen members of the Security Council, including of course the five permanent members of the Security Council, are very much, very strongly behind their own resolution.
MS. HUNTER-GAULT: What do you see as the biggest obstacle to concluding a comprehensive end to the war?
MR. DE CUELLAR:Well, I think the only obstacle, Charlayne, is political. If there is real political will, there are no enormous difficulties.
MS. HUNTER-GAULT: Political will on --
MR. DE CUELLAR: On the two sides. The two sides really won't have politically taken the decision with the necessary statesmanship to put an end to this war, which is ending on both sides. I think all difficulties can be ironed out. And I am there in order to help them find the compromise solutions.
MS. HUNTER-GAULT: Finally, will the discussions that you hold with the Foreign Ministers include anything about the safety of the Western hostages or the release of the hostages?
MR. DE CUELLAR: Well, I think that is in a way a parallel issue, because, as you know, one of the parties may exert some positive influence on those who have the hostages and their control.
MS. HUNTER-GAULT: Iran.
MR. DE CUELLAR: Iran. And then I will again use this opportunity of seeing the Foreign Minister in order to ask him for his -- and I have especially in mind the Col. Higgins and Mr. Collett, both are in the United Nations personnel who are unfortunately still hostages. And then I hope that I will be successful.
MS. HUNTER-GAULT: All right, Mr. Secretary General, thank you.
MR. MacNeil: Now we have the views of the belligerence of Iran and Iraq. Their two United Nations Ambassadors are with us. Mohammad Ja-Afar Mahallati of Iran at the United Nations Headquarter, Ismat Kittani of Iraq in our studio.
MR. MacNeil: Ambassador Kittani, are you as hopeful as the Secretary General that a cease-fire date can be set in 10 days or so?
ISMAT KITTANI, Iraqi Ambassador To The UN: I always share the Secretary General's optimism, however, I think several things have to be said. May I just make two quick points, Robin, before we move on why I am optimistic. First of all, on what Charlayne was just talking about, about the intensification, well, I'm glad to announce I didn't even have a chance to reach the Secretary General before I came, that by midnight tonight Eastern Standard Time all Iraqi forces will have completed the withdrawal to our side of the internationally recognized border. If anyone can give a better example of de-escalation, I would like to hear it. The second point is about the will, what the Secretary General just said.
MR. MacNeil: Political will.
AMB. KITTANI: About the political peace. I hope the whole world has learned by now that for eight long miserable years for everyone about this matter, Iraq's will to have a complete comprehensive lasting and I underline honorable peace with Iran is in doubt. It was only until last Monday when their leader, the Aman, as he put it, these are not my words, finally, he said he was taking the poison of accepting --
MR. MacNeil: The Ayatollah --
AMB. KITTANI: The ideal peace with Iraq.
MR. MacNeil: Ambassador Mahallati, does 10 days seem a reasonable time for you to arrange a date for a cease-fire?
MOHAMMAD JA AFAR MAHALLATI, Iranian Ambassador To The UN: Well, in the name of God, the compassionate and merciful, I should say that when we announced the acceptance of Resolution 598, we insisted that the Islamic Republic of Iran is ready to immediately observe cease-fire at that juncture. I don't know how in a better manner could have we responded. And unfortunately, against that very good gesture and since gesture that we made, we noticed and we witnessed intensification of attacks not only against our territories, but through the use of chemical weapons vastly against our civilians about which we have informed the Secretary General of the United Nations in which 80 at least people, women and children, have been martyred, and 1600 injured. I don't understand definitely that move within the context of appeals which was made by the Secretary General of the United Nations and the President of the Security Council. Both of them made a very strong appeal on both parties to refrain from any attack and we immediately and positively responded to all of this.
MR. MacNeil: Let me ask Ambassador Kittani, your forces have launched a big new attack from which you now say you will complete the withdrawal by midnight and officials of your government have more or less aid directly that the intention was to regain your bargaining position by regaining territory that Iran had captured and by capturing more prisoners to have more to exchange. Is that the truth of that operation?
AMB. KITTANI: Well, that certainly is the extent of our intentions.
MR. MacNeil: To resume your bargaining position?
AMB. KITTANI: No. Unlike Iran we said from the beginning, that we have no intention of occupying and holding Iranian territory for bargaining and that is exactly compare that with Iran's position, they sat on our territory for years trying to bargain, and we have said that and we have now proven that without even the existence of a cease-fire, the Secretary General has said there is no cease-fire and yet we have withdrawn. But the second point I was going to make, I didn't make, Robin, and mainly that nobody should blame us after they have seen how these people behave that we want to see genuine signs that Iran is really coming back to the ranks of civilized countries and abiding by the rules of international behavior.
MR. MacNeil: For the time between now and when a cease-fire beginning date is set, will you cease fighting? Are you going to stop fighting?
AMB. KITTANI: I just told you. We have de-escalated, we have gone behind our borders. I am a diplomat not a military man. I can only tell you that we are going to help everything we can -- the Secretary General who is embarking on this very difficult task in two days' time, no one is more ready and has a higher stake than completely and quickly agreeing to the Secretary General's timetable completely and putting it in motion than Iraq.
MR. MacNeil: Amb. Mahallati, Iraq has said a number of times that they suspect that what Iran wants is just a cease-fire and not all the other elements of a comprehensive settlement. Has Iran made -- to use the Secretary General's expression -- has Iran made the political decision? Has it the political will to go for the full comprehensive settlement now?
AMB. MAHALLATI: I think the Secretary General personally has on many occasions informed the Security Council of the United Nations that, indeed, it has been Iraq which has not accepted the outlined plan for implementation of Resolution 598 prepared by the Secretary General of the United Nations, and not only that, that Iraq has proved how civilized it is through vast use of chemical weapons against its own nationals. You very well remember the example of Halapchez. Not only that, but the Security Council well remembers that Iran has persistently asked the Secretary General to announce the D Day for immediate cease-fire which has not been accepted by Iraq. So it is our question to put before Iraq that why Iraq has not cooperated with the Secretary General and not only lack of cooperation, but, on the other hand, they have used all inhumane means in order to perpetuate their aggression against the Islamic Republic of Iran.
MR. MacNeil: May I ask you another question, Amb. Mahallati. Why is Iran refusing so far to hold direct talks with Iraq; when your Foreign Minister comes for the talks under the Secretary General's supervision, why will you not talk directly with Iraq, if you are interested in arranging a comprehensive settlement?
AMB. MAHALLATI: Well, I think that Resolution 598 provides for a just, honorable, and comprehensive solution. And, therefore, we should not go beyond that resolution, the provisions, the terms, and the spirit of that resolution. I think we have always maintained and we clearly said that anything -- we can go along with any requirements of implementation of Resolution of 598 if the Secretary General deems it necessary. But at the same time, we cannot accept any pre-condition on implementation of Resolution 598 for a very clear reason, because Resolution 598 is a binding resolution and we should not put any pre-condition and any excuse in order to delay and postpone the implementation of that resolution.
MR. MacNeil: Including face to face talks between your countries?
AMB. MAHALLATI: Whatsoever -- we have not specified anything -- but whatsoever which is beyond this period of -- and the letter of the resolution, I think will complicate the whole course of the implementation of that resolution.
MR. MacNeil: Amb. Mahallati has repeated Iran's charge that you have not only in the past but again in this most recent assault used chemical weapons. The President of the Security Council said the Security Council is going to look into that charge. What is your response to this new charge?
AMB. KITTANI: My response, Robin, is people should really have learned by now not to take allegations by Iran at their face value. I'm glad that Mr. Mahallati referred to that, because he knows that it was Iran at the very early stages of the war that used chemical weapons.
MR. MacNeil: Are you saying no, you have not in this latest assault?
AMB. KITTANI: We have said and I can't go beyond that that we will use every means available at our disposal to repel this aggression, this persistent aggression by the Iranians against our country.
MR. MacNeil: Does that mean, yes, you have used chemical weapons in this recent assault?
AMB. KITTANI: I can only repeat as many times as you ask me I am not authorized to go beyond that but let me just say one thing which is optimistic. I am glad, I am glad that Ambassador Mahallati has just discovered that Resolution 598 is mandatory, and I am also glad for him to say that he doesn't object to direct talks with Iran. We'll leave that to the wisdom of the Secretary General.
MR. MacNeil: We have to leave you both, gentlemen. Ambassador Kittani, Ambassador Mahallati, thank you each for joining us. Jim.
MR. LEHRER: Finally, an American view of it all. It comes from Vernon Walters, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.
MR. LEHRER: Mr. Ambassador, do you see this as a serious exercise towards peace?
AMB. WALTERS: Yes, I do.
MR. LEHRER: Why?
VERNON WALTERS, U.S. Ambassador To The UN: Because I think it's so clearly in the interest of both nations to achieve peace that people generally do what they believe to be in their national interest.
MR. LEHRER: Then how should we read the rhetoric we just heard between the two Ambassadors and others on both sides?
AMB. WALTERS: Skeptically.
MR. LEHRER: Skeptically? Meaning they're saying things that they feel like they have to say?
AMB. WALTERS: I think they both made a decision to go for peace. It is not easy when you've been at war for eight or nine years to suddenly get into sort of charming interchanges. That's just not going to happen that quickly, but I think both nations have made the decision to go for peace. And the alternative is unacceptable.
MR. LEHRER: But it's been acceptable for eight years. What's changed?
AMB. WALTERS: Well, eight years is a long time. You get weary. I've been to a war that lasted four years and it was pretty tiring by the end of it. I've also been to a number of others since, but not cumulatively eight years. It's unbelievable eight years how they could stand it.
MR. LEHRER: Okay. First step is the cease-fire. Do you think it can be achieved within 10 days?
AMB. WALTERS: Ten days I think is somewhat short. I would hope so and certainly the United States has been urging that the cease- fire be proclaimed as early as practical, as early as the Secretary General finds he can implement it. You know, the cease- fire has got to be on land, on sea and in air. I'm not sure, but I think the boundary between Iraq and Iran is about 900 kilometers or about six or seven hundred miles, maybe more than 900 kilometers, six or seven hundred miles long. Now somewhere along that border you've got to have people to say that the cease-fire is being observed, and you can't put those in place overnight. Some of this terrain in the Northern and Central part of the front is extremely rugged, with high mountain peaks and so forth, and it takes time to put people in place.
MR. LEHRER: Well, how do you interpret what the Iraqi Ambassador just said, that all Iraqi forces by midnight tonight Eastern Time will be back over the border?
AMB. WALTERS: I interpret that as a positive sign. I'm glad they are. As long as they're on Iranian soil, we've got an awkward situation.
MR. LEHRER: But I mean you think that could help the whole movement toward a cease-fire, is that right?
AMB. WALTERS: Well, if I understand what he's saying is they're not going to attack Iran from behind their border. Their purpose is to liberate their own soil, some of which had been occupied by the Iranians, and that's it, and I don't think the Iranians have any interest in firing at the Iraqis inside Iraq at this point. When you've made a political decision, you've got to live with it.
MR. LEHRER: Has the United States made a political decision to make this work?
AMB. WALTERS: The United States has made a political decision when it voted for 598 one year ago to make this work.
MR. LEHRER: All right. Now what are we doing? At this stage, as we sit here now, what is the United States doing to try to facilitate first the cease-fire and the overall peace?
AMB. WALTERS: We are totally supporting the Secretary General's efforts to carry out his plan of his implementation which involves as the resolution required cease-fire, return to the internationally recognized boundaries, exchange of prisoners of war, setting up of an impartial body, setting up of a body to consider the question of reconstruction, and finally, something that will move towards regional peace throughout the whole area and ensure that this will not be merely a truce but a real peace.
MR. LEHRER: The United States is apparently according to Secretary Whitehead is now ready to talk directly to Iran about all of this. Are you doing anything there at the UN to facilitate this?
AMB. WALTERS: Well, the Iranians have never spoken to me in the 3 1/2 years that I've been there so it's rather difficult for me to talk to them if they won't talk to me.
MR. LEHRER: But is there something new going on? Have you been instructedto pick up the phone and call the Ambassador, the man we just listened to a few moments ago, and say okay, I'm ready to talk?
AMB. WALTERS: No, I have not.
MR. LEHRER: No?
AMB. WALTERS: As much as they haven't been talking to me, I think really the initiative should be with them.
MR. LEHRER: So we haven't taken any steps along that way?
AMB. WALTERS: Secretary Shultz said the other day that we had tried to talk to them through third parties, through intermediaries, and had not had a response. The United States has stated its willingness to talk to them at any time.
MR. LEHRER: But nothing is going on that you know of?
AMB. WALTERS: No.
MR. LEHRER: That includes also talking about the hostage situation?
AMB. WALTERS: They know our opinion on the hostage situation.
MR. LEHRER: Which is -- restate it for us, please, sir.
AMB. WALTERS: The hostage situation is, the taking of hostages is basically in our opinion a cowardly and immoral act. What you're basically doing is you're imprisoning people who may have had nothing whatever to do with the decision or the policies that whoever takes them doesn't like. And we will not, we will not pay ransom, we will not pay blackmail for hostages. We certainly will talk. We will do everything that's reasonable. I, myself, have been five times to Damascus in an effort to get some of these hostages out, and some of them have gotten out over a period of years. And we want to continue our efforts. The case of Col. Higgins, who was working for the United Nations at the time, he was kidnapped or was taken hostage. It's particularly outrageous, but so are all the others.
MR. LEHRER: The Iranians who have said -- the Ambassador did not repeat it tonight because it wasn't right on the subject -- but in the past, he and others from the Iranian Government have said they want the United States to get the ships out of the Gulf, and that should be part of any kind of resolution of this situation. Is the United States willing to negotiate that?
AMB. WALTERS: Well, the Vice President came up here. We wanted to show how important we regarded this whole matter. The Vice President came up here and said speaking before the Security Council that as we build up our presence in the Persian Gulf or in the Arabic Gulf, in the light of the situation that developed there and the threat to the freedom of navigation, that if real peace comes, we will build it down to our traditional size. And I think it's interesting that three days after he came up the Iranians accepted 598 after holding out for more than a year against it.
MR. LEHRER: So there's a connection?
AMB. WALTERS: I don't know. I believe there may have been.
MR. LEHRER: And the United States --
AMB. WALTERS: We were really serious about this. If the Vice President of the United States came into the Security Council, this was a matter to which we attached the utmost importance.
MR. LEHRER: But as negotiations proceed from this point on, if that becomes a sticking point, is the United States willing to deal in order to facilitate peace in the area?
AMB. WALTERS: We're not willing to negotiate. We're there at the request of the literal states and to ensure an age old American principle of American foreign policy, which is freedom of navigation, the right of passage for innocent, non-belligerents. And we're not prepared to negotiate that. If the hostilities which produce that presence come to an end, then as Secretary Carlucci said the other day, we are prepared to review the whole question.
MR. LEHRER: So the Iranians should be encouraged along that line?
AMB. WALTERS: The Iranians know full well that we have no desire to keep Naval forces there once peace is returned, and I think so do the Iraqis and so do the literal states.
MR. LEHRER: Are you optimistic this thing is going to work, Mr. Ambassador?
AMB. WALTERS: I'm prudently optimistic, yes.
MR. LEHRER: Are you optimistic by nature, or are you optimistic by the facts in this situation?
AMB. WALTERS: I'm optimistic by nature and I'm optimistic by the facts in this particular situation. I just look at it, I'm an old soldier, I know what war involves. I have seen the bodies being put in the body bags, and that's when you really know what war is about. And there have been almost a million bodies put into body bags, and that has an impact on nations. It's the flower of their youth. It's their coming generation that they're going to be losing, and that's why I think that they have both come to the conclusion that this is the time to stop that kind of activity.
MR. LEHRER: Mr. Ambassador, thank you very much.
MR. MacNeil: Still to come on the Newshour, John Merrow on new teachers and Elizabeth Brackett on the new age dawning for Chicago Cubs fans. SERIES - FIRST LESSON
MR. MacNeil: For the past year Education Correspondent John Merrow has been following the careers of Lynn Robbins and Susan Holst during their first year as schoolteachers. With the school year over, we take our final look at the ups and downs of being a new teacher.
LYNN ROBBINS [Speaking To Class at Johnnycake Middle school, Woodlawn, Maryland]: -- I have one announcement for you and that is because we haven't finished yet and we need to do that on Monday and Tuesday because the last chapter is very long, you will not have a final exam.
JOHN MERROW: This is the end of your first year of teaching. What do you feel like?
LYNN ROBBINS: I'm relieved, I'm happy. I'm counting down the days and with that behind me, I think I'm going to have a good start on next year and I'll feel more confident. I'll know what I'm going in to teach. I know my subject matter now, but I didn't last September -- I had really no idea of the subject matter that I was going to be dealing with. [Woodlawn High School, Woodlawn, Maryland] [Susan Holst taking class pictures]
SUSAN HOLST: I just spent my last actual class period with my first period class and I had a lot more emotion about it than I thought. I'm really sad that I'm not going to see them grow up some more, that I'm not going to see them finish, unless I just make it a point to come back. So I took a lot of pictures of them today and I'm going to bring them in for the final and they want to sign them for me, and you know, they're my very first class I ever had and that's very special to me.
MR. MERROW: Susan Holst's ninth graders will be back at Woodlawn High School for three more years. But Susan won't. In the jargon of school bureaucracy, she's been excessed. Woodlawn had too many science teachers. She's a rookie, therefore the first to go. Lynn Robbins, on the other hand, is looking forward to her second year.
MR. MERROW: Let's talk about how you changed over the year. Susan, you may remember back on the first day talking about how you didn't sleep at all the night before your first class, couldn't eat in the morning. How have you changed?
SUSAN HOLST: I can eat just fine and so I'm very calm now. I got over that in about two months probably. The only time I lie awake isn't about what I teaching. If I think about it at other times, I'm thinking specifically about someone orsomething, an incident. Sure, I still think about it a lot, but before I was worried about me, whether I could do it. And now I worry about them and other things.
MR. MERROW: Lynn, you're nodding your head.
LYNN ROBBINS: Yeah. I mean, when I say I stay up thinking about it, it's usually not about lessons, just like Susan said. It's about kids and it's about specific kids and specific problems, and you really do take it personally when kids aren't doing well or if there is a personality conflict, so that's something that bothers you on a personal level and it does keep me up sometimes.
MR. MERROW: Both rookies endured some tough times. Lynn's supervisors criticized her for talking too much, for not allowing her students to participate. Susan had discipline problems through much of the year and at one point considered quitting, but there triumphs as well.
SUSAN HOLST: I think probably the best for me was one particular class where everything clicked, even things that I had not even intended to bring out, instead of me leading the lesson, it was led by the students. They were so involved, so excited, they were reading things into it that I had never even though to bring up. They were directing me in a way because they kept coming up with new ideas and new thoughts and you know, we lost complete track of time, we were completely off task, but in a wonderful way.
MR. MERROW: Lynn, same question. What was the best moment of the year?
LYNN ROBBINS: That was an English moment. And it was a very small one and it wasn't a whole class kind of a thing and I had days where classes clicked and I felt real good about them, but I think the most important one and the one I remember most was a time when we were reading a play and I was helping the students to locate some symbols. They had read it and they understood it literally and we started talking about symbols and I showed them different things and how they related, and I could start to see some things click. And it was making sense to them and then one student raised their hand -- and I guess the reason it was so important to me is because I remember that moment for me when I was on that side of the desk -- and he said, did the guy that wrote this do this on purpose, and I said, yeah, and he said, wow, you know -- and I remember that moment for me. And it was Shakespeare for me. It was Tennessee Williams for him, but that really meant a lot to me.
MR. MERROW: Let me ask this question and sort of dig back around in your memories and see if you can come up with absolutely the best class you had here with Miss Robbins.
STUDENT: I think one of our best classes was when like Miss Robbins let us do our like scripts and plays, and over there are some of the posters that we did for our plays and stuff.
STUDENT: One day instead of giving us work, she let us play games like in the work -- anyway suppose you had stereotypes, we played a game matching stereotypes and like you got points for it or points for something.
MR. MERROW: Lynn understood that lessons stick when the learning is enjoyable. To make the story of Tom Sawyer clearer, she played the part of Becky.
STUDENT: She says somethin' like, "Oh, Tom, oh, Tom, come back, come back," that's when she was acting.
LYNN ROBBINS: You go in on days when you have other things on your mind and you have to go in there and forget all of those things and perform for those kids and especially at the middle school level, the best lessons that I have had have been real performances, because if you don't entertain them often enough, you lose them.
MR. MERROW: A flare for the dramatic, an outgoing personality, and a knack for turning learning into fun made Lynn Robbins a popular teacher. She had something else going for her, the right environment. Middle schools generally use a team approach. All seventh grade teachers at Johnnycake met regularly to share problems, a great comfort to a first year teacher.
LYNN ROBBINS [Talking To Other Teachers - Discussing Problem Student]: I've had now two episodes where he has literally exploded in my room.
MR. MERROW: Lynn had other advantages. Johnnycake is small enough for all teachers to get to know each other and principal Steve Jones believes that new teachers should be fully involved in the life of the school. Lynn was asked to be adviser to the yearbook. Lynn was also given a stimulating mix of classes, including one honors class. That's rare for a first year teacher.
MR. MERROW: Susan Holst did not have those advantages. Woodlawn High is big, 1600 students, and impersonal. Rookies have to make it largely on their own. Susan had no teacher team to help her with her problems, no outside activities to add variety to her day. At Woodlawn, veteran teachers get first choice of courses. Rookies get what's left. Susan had to teach the same course, ninth grade physical science, five times a day, even though her training is in biology. Only rarely did she get to use that training. And not surprisingly, those were the lessons her students liked the most.
MR. MERROW: What was the best lesson, the best class you ever had?
STUDENT: Dissecting the--that was the best.
MR. MERROW: Why?
STUDENT: I mean, it was a lot of things put into one. It was like us working with students, us working with Miss Holst -- it was like a time to learn and have fun and at one time -- you just walk around holding the eye --
MR. MERROW: Even Susan admits that moments like that were rare, reserved, shy by nature, she often had trouble controlling boisterous high school students, many of whom were bigger than she is. What's more, Susan had very little support from parents. Back in October on Parents Night, only 11 mothers and fathers came to meet her. The experience took a toll on Susan's up beat, idealistic attitude toward teaching.
SUSAN HOLST: I hesitate to say but I'm kind of tired, not tired, but I'm concerned about the fact that as a teacher I am required to play such a parental role. I feel like with a lot of these kids I am the only structure, the only disciplinarian that they have, and yet, I'm the one that's being told that I'm the problem with education, that I'm the reason Johnny can't when you know, where does the parent become responsible for their child?
MR. MERROW: You two are two of a hundred thousand new teachers this year. 20 percent of new teachers quit within two years. Can you imagine yourself quitting after one more year or within your first two years of teaching? Lynn.
LYNN ROBBINS: No way. No. I'm just going to get rolling after two years. I mean my feeling was, and I think I told myself this in the very beginning, that I would give it at least two, if not three years before I would ever decide that it wasn't for me. I don't think you can give any career a fair shake until you've done it once around and go around the second time -- I can't see -- and I like it too much.
MR. MERROW: Susan, 20 percent of the new teachers quit within two years. Could you be in that 20 percent?
SUSAN HOLST: Not in two years. I've had a good year. I expect to have another good year next year. It's just what I'm going to do. There are things I have to admit that I'm tired of already.
MR. MERROW: Like --
SUSAN HOLST: I'm tired of lies from students. I'm tired of people trying to manipulate me, of students trying to manipulate me. I just am really tired of the excuses and the whining and lying that make kids kids I guess. You know I don't know what I expect from them. Somewhere on the line it's been decided that the first way is to lie and if you get caught then tell the truth, but I'm tired of that. And I am a little bit tired of lack of respect.
MR. MERROW: Ten months ago, Susan Holst was full of energy and enthusiasm. Now after a difficult year she seems disillusioned. Left on her own to sink or swim the rookie came perilously close to drowning. She'll have a chance for a new beginning next year in another school in the same system. Lynn Robbins' teaching career is well underway. She'll be back at Johnnycake in September, a veteran, part of the Johnnycake family. FINALLY - LET THERE BE LIGHT
MR. LEHRER: Finally tonight a story about lights. Tonight in Chicago they will be turned on at Wrigley Field where the Chicago Cubs play baseball. The event is a special preview of the historic event which occurs August 8th, the date of the Cubs' first night game ever. Not everybody in Chicago thinks this is such a hot idea tonight, August 8th or any other night. Elizabeth Brackett reports.
ELIZABETH BRACKETT: There they sit, mocking tradition say some, preserving a larger tradition say others, the lights at Wrigley Field. On August 8th, they will shine down on the first night baseball game in the vintage ballpark's 72 year history. For fans like Harry Seigle the change is too much. Let them play at night says Seigle he won't be there.
HARRY SEIGLE: It's contrary to spirit in the very stadium we're in today. This stadium was built and is the only stadium in a major league today that represents day baseball. And if you look out at Wrigley Field, it's the embodiment of what baseball is all about. Night baseball represents the commercialization of baseball and an end of an era and that's why this is our last bash and our last stronghold.
MS. BRACKETT: For the traditionalist, day baseball at Wrigley Field means the green grass, spines on the walls and most of all sunshine. Author Bill Brashler's next novel will take place in Wrigley Field. For Brashler it's the lost of tradition that hurts.
BILL BRASHLER: It's been shattered, tampered with, that's the worst. They've tainted the tradition. They've taken a shrine. They've taken a treasured routine. And they're tampering with it and who knows when it will stop.
MS. BRACKETT: And for what reason?
MR. BRASHLER: Money, purely and simply. They have a cash cow here that is not giving as much milk as it possibly can so they're milking it for all they can get.
MS. BRACKETT: But Cubs management and their parent company, the Tribune Company say they are not shattering tradition at Wrigley Field. Instead they insist they are saving a ballpark.
DON GRENESKO, Chicago Cubs: We felt that unless we installed lights at Wrigley Field that we were going to be, eventually be forced to leave this ballpark. And we felt that Wrigley Park is really critical to this franchise. So that the overwhelming desire that we had here and the driving force behind us was to save Wrigley Field for the longer-term.
MS. BRACKETT: Without light, says Grenesko, the Cubs would be forced by the TV networks to move any playoff games to another stadium. And say the Cubs, with night games during the early spring and late fall, attendance would pick up. Old time fans don't come much older than Harry Grossman. The 91 year old watched the double plays that went from Tinker to Everest to Chance, stars of the last Cub Team to win a World Series the year 1908. Grossman says if the 1988 Cubs want to play under lights, it's all right with him.
HARRY GROSSMAN: I'll be here. Don't worry. I'll be here. I'll be here when I'm 100, I hope so.
MS. BRACKETT: You had tickets to the first game?
MR. GROSSMAN: Oh, yes, sure, I have season tickets. I've had them for over 25 years, season tickets.
MS. BRACKETT: And you're still going to stick with them even though they are going to play at night?
MR. GROSSMAN: Oh, yes, regardless, win or lose I'm a Cub fan, period.
MS. BRACKETT: As for the players they say they're looking forward to that first game under the light, even slugger Andre Dawson who statistics show that he plays better in the sunshine.
ANDRE DAWSON: You know, that's going to be an historic moment and in the sense that everyone's looking forward to it. Tickets first of all are very scarce, so that means its going to be a sell out and I think all the hoopla that's surrounding us is behind us now, but it's going to be again like probably the seventh game of the World Series, and I think you get the adrenaline flowing and all and once you step between the two white lines and start the game you settle down a little bit.
MS. BRACKETT: Fans do want to be a part of that first night game. When phone lines were open for tickets Illinois Bell took in the largest number of calls in the phone company's history. Phone calls all over Chicago jammed as 1.5 million calls came in. So fearful of losing the team altogether, many Cubs fans even the die hards, now grudgingly accept the idea of lights, but many who live near Wrigley Field are still outraged by the prospect of night baseball.
JANET AGRINOFF: In the six years that we've been living here that subject has probably come up at every single community meeting and then there's a whole organization, Citizens United for Baseball in the Sunshine, that has even hired attorneys to try to block games and obviously we've gotten nowhere.
MS. BRACKETT: Wrigley Field does sit right in the middle of a Chicago neighborhood. It is part of its charm unless you are a neighbor trying to find a parking place during a game or a neighbor sitting on the front porch during a game.
JANET AGRINOFF: I came out on a weekend day and there were two women squatted between a parked car in front of our house urinating which was pretty low class but we think it will be even worse at night because people are less inhibited because they feel that they're less visible.
MS. BRACKETT: But the neighbors lost and for months they have listened to the whirr of helicopters overhead installing the lights they have fought so hard against. It was a sight that infuriated Todd Ochs.
TODD OCHS: I was indignant. I felt as though the mayor, everybody on down the line had betrayed me and you know, these stinking lights were going.
MS. BRACKETT: Renters in the neighborhood do not seem as upset as homeowners. Dan Tucce as a prime spot for every Cubs game, the roof of his apartment building just across the street from Wrigley.
DAN TUCCE: It's going to be better for the Cubs. I'm a big baseball fan. They'll do better as a team. I think this neighborhood will be not that badly affect as everybody seems to think.
MS. BRACKETT: But night baseball at Wrigley does mean change and that's what hurts the traditionalist.
BILL BRASHLER: This is a shrine, you have to remember. You go to the Holy Land, you go to the Liberty Bell, and you come to Wrigley Field. Once you've done that you have no more reason to live.
MS. BRACKETT: If you come at night, does that count?
MR. BRASHLER: Sort of, but I don't think the ivy is as green and certainly the flags don't fly as nicely in the sky at night.
MS. BRACKETT: But the flags will still be there and so will the grass and the ivy and most important the team will still be there. All that will be gone is the sunshine and say the die hards, 72 years of tradition. RECAP
MR. MacNeil: Once again the main stories in today's news, UN Secretary Perez De Cuellar told the Newshour he's confident a cease-fire between Iran and Iraq can be set in about 10 days. Also on the Newshour tonight, Iraq's Ambassador to the UN said his country will complete its troop withdrawal from Iran by midnight tonight, President Reagan said he's willing to talk about American hostages if Iran is. Good night, Jim.
MR. 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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- This episode's headline: Road to Peace; First Lesson; Let There Be Light; Road to Peace. The guests include JAVIER PEREZ DE CUELLAR, UN Secretary General; ISMAT KITTANI, Iraqi Ambassador to UN; MOHAMMAD JA AFAR MAHALLATI, Iranian Ambassador to UN; CORRESPONDENTS: CHARLES KRAUSE; CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT; JOHN MERROW; ELIZABETH BRACKETT. Byline: In New York: ROBERT MacNeil; In Washington: JAMES LEHRER
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- Chicago: “The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour,” 1988-07-25, NewsHour Productions, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed December 4, 2023, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-507-bg2h708m57.
- MLA: “The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour.” 1988-07-25. NewsHour Productions, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. December 4, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-507-bg2h708m57>.
- 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-bg2h708m57