Robert Carl Cohen Interviews Ambassador James R. Lilley
|Additional DVD options||Edition||Discs||
|New from||Used from|
(May 12, 2009)
|Watch Instantly with||Rent||Buy|
Robert Carl Cohen, NBC-TV Special Correspondent who filmed throughout China in 1957, interviews Ambassador James R. Lilley, former CIA Station Chief in Beijing and Ambassador to both South Korea and China, about US-Chinese relations from the end of World War Two in 1945, through the Communist assumption of power in 1949, to the present day, and his hopes for the future.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
MIchael A. Ceurvorst
Foreign Service Officer, Retired
Talking with Jim Lilley on U.S. policy and practices in Asia was always bracing because his experience was broad and deep, his thinking organized and assertive. He neither minced words nor closed his mind. He seemed ever intent on framing developments in terms of where U.S. longer term interests lay.
Lilley served in U.S. agencies that viewed China from different perspectives and so was propelled into strategic and savvy views that coalesced during his work with the National Security Council and State.
When I was reassigned to Beijing in 1986 to head our Embassy’s politico-military unit, Jim, then State’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asia and the Pacific, crisply briefed me on the state of military-to-military as well as U.S.-PRC relations. Masterfully!
When he arrived as his friend President GHW Bush’s ambassador in Beijing in 1989, straight from an ambassadorship in Seoul, his secure staff meetings summoned stimulating and solid exchanges among various agency representatives.
I recall with pride Lilley’s unequivocal public denunciations of the Tian-an-men massacre after that brutal crackdown. I was therefore flummoxed by the secret mission he then too promptly arranged with two top level messengers from President GWH Bush to assure Deng Xiaoping that the U.S. wanted to continue its relationship with the People’s Republic. Only Lilley’s sense of strategic and historic interests could reconcile those two stances.
Bob Cohen’s 56-minute long interview with retired Ambassador Lilley at the beginning of the Obama Administration and shortly before Lilley’s death from prostate cancer on 12 November 2009 captures welcome glimpses of the arc of Jim’s life and insights.
He recounts how the Chinese miscalculated badly when Kim Il Sung asked for China to delay its attack on the KMT, which had fled to Taiwan, to allow Kim three weeks in 1950 to over-run the government in Seoul and thus to unite by force the entire Korean peninsula.
Fatefully, Kim and Mao had misunderstood Truman and Acheson, who juxtaposed the 7th fleet between Taiwan and the Mainland and who then prosecuted the Korean War, halted to this day only via an Armistice, not a peace treaty.
Cohen’s questions to Lilley elicit comments about men with big egos – MacArthur and Mao - and then the succession of fighters like Peng DeHuai and Matt Ridgeway as the Korean conflict proved punishing to both sides.
Americans were waging wars they couldn’t win, Lilley opined candidly, and couldn’t face losing – think LBJ and Vietnam. However, the U.S. did seek to inspire the rise of democracy with notable longterm success in Taiwan, Korea, and Japan.
Lilley talks, having had personal perches in CIA field work, about unsuccessful paramilitary efforts the U.S. undertook, from training Tibetan fighters in Colorado to missions in Laos and Vietnam. He touches as well on Communist China’s destabilizing efforts in Indonesia, in Malaysia, Vietnam, Laos.
What about going forward? Cohen invites Lilley to look forward. What would Lilley advise the Obama Administration.?
Lilley concludes that the U.S. and China have to get along for the world’s sake. He labels as progress China’s change in tone and terms. The PRC newly sees international institutions such as the IMF and World Bank as “ours” to deal with, not primarily as America’s to blame.
Lilley sees two pressing areas where the U.S. has something to offer China and which both countries must urgently address: awful carbon pollution and Medicare/social security.
That’s an agenda of mutual interest and opportunity for both countries. That’s what Jim Lilley was all about.