The Ronald Reagan Foreign Policy, Diplomatic, Defense, and National Security Establishment, From the Guest Book of America’s London Ambassador

With crucial moments in the Israeli peace process represented

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From Clandestine Meetings, to START Negotiations to Middle East Peace to Presidential Visits


A powerful and perhaps unique primary resource documenting the events at America’s most influential embassy, including Middle East peace negotiations between the Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other Arab states and Israel, as well as meetings relating to...

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The Ronald Reagan Foreign Policy, Diplomatic, Defense, and National Security Establishment, From the Guest Book of America’s London Ambassador

With crucial moments in the Israeli peace process represented

From Clandestine Meetings, to START Negotiations to Middle East Peace to Presidential Visits


A powerful and perhaps unique primary resource documenting the events at America’s most influential embassy, including Middle East peace negotiations between the Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other Arab states and Israel, as well as meetings relating to Northern Ireland and Iraq
Its 1,500+ Signatories include George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush, George Schultz and Alexander Haig, Casper Weinberger, William Casey, Paul H. Nitze, Philip Habib, Jeanne Kirkpatrick, Claire George; also King Hussein, Jimmy Carter and Rosalyn Carter, Henry Kissinger, Walter Annenberg, and so many hundred of others

The presidency of Ronald Reagan was a landmark in foreign and defense policies, and set the course for the next half century. His administration accelerated the massive buildup of the military, and undertook the invasion of Grenada, the first major overseas action by U.S. troops since the end of the Vietnam War. The “Reagan Doctrine” granted aid to paramilitary forces seeking to overthrow communist or leftist governments, particularly in war-torn Nicaragua and Afghanistan, a policy that would have major repercussions. Reagan also promoted his Strategic Defense Initiative, which involved new technologies such as missile defense systems, in order to confront the Soviets and their allies. In diplomacy, Reagan forged a strong alliance with Great Britain and adopted a policy aimed at the collapse of the Soviet Union. Once Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev came to power, he successfully worked with him to end the Cold War. The Reagan administration’s biggest scandal was the Iran/Contra affair that engulfed several Reagan aides during his second term.

The men and women who developed these policies and initiatives, and who carried them out, were the backbone of the Reagan team. Many of them went on to exercise important influence in the administrations of George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, playing major roles in the Gulf War of 1990 and the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan that commenced in 2001. In the Executive Office there was Vice President George H.W. Bush. In the Defense Department, Caspar Weinberger managed the military buildup and promulgated the Weinberger Doctrine, that detailed when American troops could be committed to action. In the State Department, George Schultz promoted arms control, and with his predecessor Alexander Haig managed the huge and burgeoning foreign policy apparatus. Attorney General Edward Meese was a close adviser to the President, and became involved in matters outside of his department. He supported Reagan’s labeling of the Soviet Union as the “evil Empire.” At the CIA, William Casey played a large part in the shaping of Reagan’s foreign policy, particularly the approach to Soviet international activity. Behind these men was a large diplomatic and military corps, including such people as: Special Advisors to the President Paul H. Nitze and Philip Habib; Ambassador to the European Union James Dobbins; Ambassador to China Arthur Hummel, advocate of the “one China” policy that made harmonious relations between the nations possible; Ambassador to the Soviet Union Jack Matlock, the US’s top Soviet expert, who was an eyewitness to how the Cold War ended; the CIA’s Claire George, who oversaw all global espionage activities for the agency; James Webb, Secretary of the Navy and Edward Aldridge, Secretary of the Air Force; James A. Williams and Leonard Harry Perroots, Directors of the Defense Intelligence Agency; Alfred (Roy) Atherton and George Vest, Directors General of the Foreign Service; US Ambassador to the United Nations Jeanne Kirkpatrick and her aides James Wilkinson and Herbert Okun; Gen. Al Gray, Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Charles A. Gabriel, Air Force Chief of Staff, Generals John A. Wickham and Gen. Carl Vuono, Army Chiefs of Staff, and Adm. Paul Just, Commandant of the Coast Guard; influential presidential advisers who found themselves in hot water during the Iran/Contra affair Oliver North, Robert Bud MacFarlane and John Poindexter; and an army of Directors of agencies, Deputy Secretaries and Under Secretaries, such as Kenneth Adelman, Director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency; Lawrence S. Eagleburger, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs and later Secretary of State; Robert M. Sayre, Director of Counter Terrorism; and Elliot Abrams, Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights.

The post of US Ambassador to Great Britain was, and likely remains, the most prestigious ambassadorship in the gift of the President. For the last six of his eight year term, Reagan’s man in London was Charles H. Price II. During his five years as ambassador, Price participated in talks between the British and the Irish Republican Army and helped Mrs. Thatcher defuse protests after the United States used British bases to carry out attacks on Libya in 1986. He also deployed his sense of humor and Midwestern humility to try easing the anti-American sentiment that Reagan’s policies had stoked among some Britons, and he hosted elaborate receptions for members of the British government and press, becoming a familiar face on television there. When a terrorist bomb brought down Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in December 1988, killing all 259 people aboard, Price and his wife were at the scene within hours and received praise for their efforts. Price kept a personal guest book, with the words “American Embassy London, Ambassador Charles H. Price, II” engraved in gold on the cover. Great Britain was both the United States’  principal ally and a natural stopping off point for Americans traveling overseas, and an extraordinary number of senior American officials found themselves at the American Embassy in London. Over the years, some 1,500 people who were guests or were received there signed Price’s book. That book was recently sold by his descendants, and we offer it here. All of the people listed above signed it, as did so many others, a fraction of which are listed below.

Not only is the book notable for the breadth of its signatures.  It is a ledger of the comings and goings at America’s most influential embassy, which functioned as a foreign policy hub not only for relations with the UK but also with other countries, whose leaders would come and meet with Price, sometimes calling President Reagan from Price’s office.  As such, one can see great events take place.  A striking example of this are two signatures on opposite pages: One June 11, 1985, long time, influential Ambassador of Israel and aide to several Prime Ministers Yehuda Avner met Ambassador Price.   The next day, June 12, King Hussein of Jordan visited, calling Reagan from Price’s office.  On June 13, the Reagan Administration announced, as the New York Times reported, “that it would seek a $250 million increase in economic aid to Jordan as a show of support for what it said were King Hussein’s efforts to move toward peace negotiations with Israel.”  Ambassador Avner’s name appears multiple times, attesting to the Embassy’s role in the peace process.

Another poignant example is the visit (one of many) of the US Ambassador to West Germany Richard Burt just days before Reagan’s historic visit to Germany, where he told Gorbachev to “Tear down this wall.”  Interestingly, Jimmy Carter’s visit is just days after.

In late November 1987, one can see visits from the DOD and lead START Treaty negotiator Ron Lehman, just days before the announcement of the the major Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty between the US and the USSR.    Visits from the Ambassador of Iraq were timed during transfers of weapons during the Iran-Iraq War.

These are just a few small examples.

Some world leaders visited the embassy, including past and future US Presidents and First Ladies Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter and George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush, and Jordan’s King Hussein. Virtually the entire leadership of the State Department seems to have signed the book. In addition to those already mentioned above, there are these people, among many others to numerous to list: David Abshire as Ambassador to NATO; J. William Mittendorf as ambassador to the Organization of American States; Richard Fairbank as US Ambassador-at-Large, responsible for developing the Pacific Basin; Willard Ames De Pree, Director of the Office of Management Operations; Robert Oakley, Director of the State Department Office of Combating Terrorism; Robert M. Beaudry, Director of the Office of Regional Political/Economic Affairs in the Bureau of European affairs; Peter Rodman, Director of the Policy Planning Staff; Charles Redman; Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs; Chester Crocker, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs; W. Tapley Bennett, Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs; Joan M. Clark, Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs; Richard W. Murphy, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs; Kenneth W. Dam, Deputy Secretary of State; Michael Armacost, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs; W. Allen Wallis, Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs; and Jeffrey N. Shane, Under Secretary of State for Policy.

Scores of American ambassadors to other nations are in the book. A few are: Arthur Hartman and Jack Matlock to the Soviet Union; William A. Wilson as the first U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican; Maxwell Rabb to Italy; Richard Burt to the Federal Republic of Germany; James E. Goodby to Greece; Ronald Lauder to Austria; Margaret Heckler to Ireland; Robert D. Stuart to Norway; Allen Holmes to Portugal; John Thomson to Sweden; Arnold Raphel to Pakistan; William Lane to Australia; Thomas Pickering to Israel; Richard Viets and Paul Boeker to Jordan; Charles Dunbar to Qatar; Walter Cutler to Saudi Arabia; William Eagleton to Syria; Thomas Smith to Nigeria; Keith Brown to Lethoso; Herbert Horowitz to Gambia; Norman Anderson to Sudan; James Rentschler to Malta; Frank Gerard to Luxembourg; and Frederic Chapin to Guatamala; among many others.

The national security establishment is well represented, including the CIA, NSA, NSC, and FBI. There include in part: CIA head of covert operations Richard Stolz; CIA national intelligence officer for Counterterrorism Charles E. Allen; Director of the CIA Intelligence Community Staff Gen. Edward Heinz; Director of the US Secret Service John R. Simpson; Director of the National Security Agency Gen. Lincoln Faurer; National Security Council Director Walter Raymond Jr.; Executive Secretary of the Senior Interdepartmental Group Roger W. Robinson; Associate Director of the Office of Political Affairs Barbara Hayward; NCS staff members Philip Ringdahl and Helmut Sonnenfeldt; FBI Executive Assistant Director Oliver Revell; FBI Supervisory Special Agent who handled the Iran/Contra file Ellen Glasser; and future Deputy Director Robert Bryant.

The Defense Department and military are represented as well. There are: Asst. Secretary of Defense Richard Pearle; Director of the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization James A. Abrahamson; Deputy Secretary of Defense William H. Taft IV; Assistant Secretaries of Defense Lawrence Korb, Ronald Lehman, and Margo Carlisle;  Commander in Chief, U.S. Air Forces in Europe Gen. Charles Donnelly; Commander Third Air Force Thomas G. McInerney; Commander in Chief, United States Central Command Gen. George B. Crist; and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. C Trost.

Other present and former members of the President’s cabinet and the Executive Department came by. They were such people as: Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, probably the most influential person to hold that office in the 20th century; Attorney General Richard Thornburgh; Secretary of Transportation Elizabeth Dole; Secretaries of Agriculture John R. Block and Richard Lyng;  Secretary of the Interior William Clark; Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency William Ruckelshaus; former Attorney General and Watergate figure Elliot Richardson; former Secretary of Health and Human Services Margaret Heckler; Secretary of Defense under Jimmy Carter Harold Brown; Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board Paul Volcker; Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission David Ruder; Director of the Office of Science & Technology Policy George A. Keymouth; Chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Nancy Harvey Steorts; Director of the United States Information Agency Charles Wick; Director of the Voice of America Richard Carlson; Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration Francis Mullen; Commissioner of Customs William von Raab; and former US Ambassador to Great Britain Walter Annenberg.

Members of Congress and state governors visited, including: Senators Ted Kennedy, Al Gore, Thomas Eagleton, Gary Hart, Patrick Leahy, Lamar Alexander, John Tower, William Roth, Lloyd Bentsen, Phil Gramm, Carl Levin, Larry Pressler, Charles Mathias, and Christopher Bond; Congressman Henry Hyde; and Governors Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin, Gerald Baliles of Virginia, Donald Campbell of South Carolina, George Nigh of Oklahoma, and Tony Earl of Wisconsin.

American notables in the book include such people as: artist Jamie Wyeth, NASA Administrator James Fletcher, Coca Cola president Ralph Cooper, publishing magnates Arthur Ochs Sulzberger of the New York Times and William Randolph Hearst, Jr., president of Bechtel Corporation Stephen D. Bechtel, founder of Atlantic Richfield Oil Co. Robert O. Anderson, President of ABC Leonard Goldenson, foreign policy expert Susan Eisenhower, Mayor of Los Angeles Tom Bradley, caricaturist Al Herschsfeld, and aeronauts Jeana Yeager and Dick Rutan.

In addition, there are innumerable British personalities, including: Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson, leader of the Labour Party Neil Kinnock, leader of the Liberal Party David Steel, President of Royal Academy of Arts Hugh Casson, and artist Lucian Freud, grandson of Sigmund, who is considered perhaps the finest British artist of the second half of the 20th century.

The embassy entertained scores of members of the American and British press, representing most of the influential newspapers, magazines and television networks in the two nations. Just a few are: in the US media – the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Forbes, Time and Newsweek, and ABC news; and in the British media – the BBC, The Times, the Economist, the Scotsman, Northcliffe newspapers, Portsmouth and Sunderland newspapers, and Independent Television News. Also often invited to the embassy were members of the diplomatic corps representing other nations in London. Many of them were important figures in their home countries, as the post of ambassador to Great Britain was as high an honor as could be bestowed. Scores of them have signed this book, including the High Commissioners to London representing such British Commonwealth countries as India, Canada, Australia, Nigeria, Zambia, Sri Lanka, Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, and Antigua and Barbuda; and non-Commonwealth nations as the US, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Denmark, Yugoslavia, Greece, Netherlands, People’s Republic of China, Thailand, Japan, Korea, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zaire, Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, and Syria. Ethiopia sent a descendant of Haile Selassie.

Once in a very great while, we come across a book that evokes an entire era. Very often the great autograph books that do so reach up to us from the 19th century. Very few are from the 20th century, and fewer yet from the second half of that century. We had never seen one from the Reagan administration until now. Here, in one place, are the architects, planners and executors of Reagan’s foreign, security and defense policies, the leaders and their deputies, the designers and their aides, the administrators and their staffs, the ambassadors and their posts, the high and the low. We list only a tiny percentage of the signatures here. A more complete list of people and nations is available on request. Moreover, less than one third of the signatures have been reduced to writing on the list because of time constraints, so additional research would have a significant impact on the number of those identified and noted.

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