Ambassador Jack Matlock: How Myths and Ideologies Led America Astray—and How to Return to Reality

THU, NOV 4, 2010 (55:26)

Ambassador Jack Matlock discusses his highly acclaimed latest book, Superpower Illusions: How Myths and Ideologies Led America Astray—and How to Return to Reality, published in 2010 by Yale University Press.

This book corrects some pervasive myths about the Cold War, and re-examines Soviet-American diplomacy of the 1980s. In reassing the key decisions made by Reagan and Gorbachev that led to a thawing of relations between the two countries, Matlock critiques the analyses of other authors like Francis Fukuyama, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and Samuel P. Huntington.

Surveying American foreign policy in the years since the fall of the Soviet Union, Matlock argues that the September 11 attacks could have been prevented if a competent, alert administration had been in office.

+ BIO: Jack Matlock Jr.

Jack Matlock is a former U.S. diplomat who held several high ranking positions during his 35 year career with the Foreign Service, including U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1987 until 1991, Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and Senior Director for European and Soviet Affairs on the National Security Council Staff from 1983 until 1986, and Ambassador to Czechoslovakia from 1981 to 1983.

Before his appointment to Moscow as Ambassador, Mr. Matlock served three tours at the American Embassy in the Soviet Union, as Vice Consul and Third Secretary (1961-63), Minister Counselor and Deputy Chief of Mission (1974-1978), and Chargé d'Affaires ad interim in 1981. His other Foreign Service assignments were in Vienna, Munich, Accra, Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam, in addition to tours in Washington as Director of Soviet Affairs in the State Department (1971-74) and as Deputy Director of the Foreign Service Institute (1979-80). Before entering the Foreign Service Mr. Matlock was Instructor in Russian Language and Literature at Dartmouth College (1953-56).

He is the author of Reagan and Gorbachev: How the Cold War Ended (Random House, 2004, paperback edition 2005); Autopsy on an Empire: The American Ambassador's Account of the Collapse of the Soviet Union (Random House, 1995); and a handbook to the thirteen-volume Russian edition of Stalin's Collected Works (Washington, D.C. 1955, 2nd edition, New York, 1971).

Mr. Matlock was born in Greensboro, North Carolina, on October 1, 1929, and was educated at Duke University (AB, summa cum laude, 1950) and at Columbia University (MA and Certificate of the Russian Institute, 1952).

+ BIO: Kempton Jenkins

Kempton Jenkins is a retired U.S. State department official who was a major figure in Ukrainian, Eastern European, and Russian trade and political affairs. As Deputy Assistant Secretary for East-West Trade, he coordinated U.S.-Soviet trade policy and the delegation that resulted in the first U.S. China trade agreement. As Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations, he worked with the U.S. Congress on important trade bills and on ratification of the Panama Canal Treaties.

Earlier in his career, Mr. Jenkins served as Assistant Director of the U.S. Information Agency for Soviet and Eastern European Affairs; Political Counselor in the U.S. Embassy in Caracas; and political officer at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, where he assisted Ambassador Lewellyn Thompson in Berlin negotiations with the Soviets.

From 1980-1990, Mr. Jenkins took his extensive government experience to the private sector, where he became the Corporate Vice President for international government affairs of the integrated steel manufacturing company Armco. From 1990-2002, he was senior consultant to APCO Worldwide. Mr. Jenkins also served as an adjunct professor on East-West Trade at Georgetown University.

He received his undergraduate degree in history from Bowling Green University, a Master’s in International Law from George Washington University, and a Master of Public Administration from Harvard University, and was awarded an honorary Ph.D. in Public Affairs by Bowling Green University. Mr. Jenkins speaks German, Russian, and Spanish.

American Foreign Service Association
Talks for Book Lovers
Recommended Lectures