West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt - forever in that precarious place.
West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt – forever in that precarious place.

Click on the link here for Audio Player – CBS Radio – Face The Nation – Helmut Schmidt – May 28, 1978 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection


Former West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt made news again recently, discussing the crisis in the Ukraine and its implications for Europe and the West in general. In 1978, Schmidt was, as customary for the Cold War years, at the potential flashpoint in East-West relations. Everything that was going on was viewed as a comparison to how it influenced the endless tug-of-war between Washington and Moscow.

In 1978, Helmut Schmidt visited the U.S., and when this interview took place, the U.S. was reluctant, based on the after-effects of the Vietnam War, to get involved in any further excursions on foreign soil. But the U.S. was still a dominant leader, and many in the European community were looking to the U.S. for answers. There was the question of NATO deployment of Cruise Missiles and the Neutron Warhead. There was the question of U.S. aid to Africa and the tense situations in Zaire and Angola. ┬áThere were questions on stabilizing the balance of power, militarily, economically and politically. One of the crucial needs, Schmidt felt, was to enter into negotiations with the Soviets as a means of stabilizing those elements; to maintain a balance. From recent reports, the Soviets began talking in terms of parity, and that was seen as an indication Moscow was willing to come to an agreement on disarmament. As far as Schmidt was concerned, the U.S. needed to seize the initiative and take advantage of the softening of position on the parts of the Soviets. Russia, it was pointed out by Schmidt, had always maintained a high military presence in Eastern Europe, probably much higher than was needed. But ,as he went on to say, that was something Moscow had done since the end of World War 2. For that reason, it was argued NATO was interested in deploying the Neutron bomb as a way of balancing the threat. Schmidt didn’t agree and felt it was only necessary to deploy if the current state of weapons development continued. But some solution needed to be arrived at.

So the need for in-depth talks over Arms Limitation and disarmament in general were desperately needed and Helmut Schmidt came to Washington to try and get things moving.

Those, and several other crucial matters were discussed during this interview via CBS Radio‘s Face the Nation, first broadcast on May 28, 1978.

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