WALLACE: Finally, I want to take you back to the Reagan years where you served in a very distinguished
fashion as the national security advisor. Mikhail Gorbachev gave an interview this week in which he said that his growing
prestige did more to promote arms agreements than anything that Ronald Reagan did.
And I see you chuckle there a little bit. And I want to put up something that he said during this interview.
Here's how he put it: "All that talk that somehow Reagan's arms race forced Gorbachev to look for some arms reductions, et
cetera, that's not serious. The Soviet Union could have withstood any arms race."
Mr. Secretary, is that how you remember it?
POWELL: No. The Soviet Union could not have withstood any arms race. The Soviet Union had bankrupted itself
by the creation of a huge military force that had no utility with respect to the welfare and well-being of the Soviet people.
The United States was also strong, particularly after Ronald Reagan came into office and built up the armed
forces again to where it should have been. And we also could afford to take care of our people; the Russians couldn't.
POWELL: Now, both of these individuals, Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan, I knew very well. I worked
very closely with them for the last two years of the Reagan administration. Both of them are historic figures. Both of them
worked together to help bring the Cold War to an end.
Ronald Reagan was there to help Mikhail Gorbachev do what Mikhail Gorbachev knew he had to do, reform and
open glasnost, perestroika, you remember those two words, Chris, in the old days reform and open the Soviet Union to new ideas,
But what Gorbachev was trying to do and he doesn't take note of it in his statement was reform communism
to make it work. Couldn't happen. Wouldn't happen. Instead, the Soviet Union collapsed, and he was pushed out of power. And
the Soviet Union broke into its many, many parts.
Russia remains a vital part of the Eurasian community. It is now in partnership with the United States.
But it is no longer a communist nation. Communism couldn't succeed. Gorbachev thought it could.
WALLACE: Finally and we have about two minutes left here and I'm sure you've thought a lot about Ronald
Reagan and your experiences over this last memorable week. What did you learn from Ronald Reagan as a politician, as a statesman,
a world leader, and as a man?
POWELL: Have a vision; but it's not enough to have a vision, you have to communicate that vision to others.
You have to communicate it to people who work with you and for you. You have to communicate it to the world leaders with whom
you come in touch.
And he did that so effectively. People can argue that, oh, Margaret Thatcher was sharper than Reagan, and
Gorbachev had more command of details, but both of them fed off the vision that Ronald Reagan had.
So having a vision, having a sense of optimism he never saw the darkness in anything. He always saw the
opportunity in everything. And I've learned a great deal from that: Always be looking for the opportunities, and always be
optimistic about what you can do with that opportunity.
Have a sense of humor to break the tension in times of great toil. And he was a master of that.
And above all, believe in yourself. He had such a level of self- confidence. He believed in himself because
he believed in America. And America flowed through him to the rest of the world, the values that we believed in. The things
that have made it such a success came through in everything that Ronald Reagan did.
When we talked about Gorbachev coming to the United States, what do we show him? What do we show him? And
Reagan always had a simple answer to that: "Let's show him our subdivisions, let's show him our shopping centers, let's show
him our car plants. I want to take him to my ranch. I want to show him America. No missile fields, no submarines. I want to
show him the American people and the American system and to show him what he's missing." It was as simple as that, but it
It was direct, it was a vision. He believed it. It reflected the American people, reflected American values.
And if we had another hour, I could tell you how it manifested itself in my relations with the Soviet military. They kept
saying, "My God, look at this. Look at what the Americans can do and we can't do." They knew they'd lost. They knew it was
WALLACE: We'll have you back for another hour to talk about all that.
Mr. Secretary, thank you so much.
POWELL: Thank you.
WALLACE: Appreciate your reflections and coming in today.
POWELL: Thank you.