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Andrew Young Interviewee: Atlanta, Georgia, 1981 July 25 [Box 140, Item 13, Side 1]
Young discusses his resignation from the United Nations. He talks about what led to the decision and his discussions on the subject with Stoney Cooks, Jesse Hill, Cyrus Vance, and President Jimmy Carter.
00:00 - Tom Dent interviews Andrew Young. They continue to talk about Young's resignation from the United Nations. He was going to become the President of the U.N. Security Council in August 1979, traditionally a quiet month when U.N. people take vacations.01:09 - The previous president of the Security Council, British Ambassador Igor Richard, warned Young that they had put off the Palestinian issue and it would likely come up during August. A report from the Committee on Palestinian Rights contained a resolution supposedly written by the Palestinian Liberation Organization and sent by Yasser Arafat to the U.N. It called for Israel's right to exist for the first time, but also called for a Palestinian state. Carter had just asked the cabinet to resign and it was bad timing for a controversial political issue in the United States.02:36 - He called the Arabs together to see if they could do anything about resolution, which he did not want to come up at all. It was a no-win resolution.04:08 - He hear from Kuwait and the Saudi Arabians that people within the PLO were threatening the Arab world. If the U.S. did not vote for the moderate resolution, they would call for the Saudis and Kuwait to vote for an oil boycott or be threatened with terrorism.05:30 - Young thought it would be an impossible situation and that 'you should talk to people.' The Kuwait, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan ambassadors said they could do nothing and suggested he talk to the Palestinian representative himself. As president of the Security Council he was obligated to talk to any party in a dispute, even if the United States does not recognize them. He knew speaking with them would be controversial, but did not think of it as 'illegal or unpatriotic.'07:25 - He did not talk to Stoney Cooks or the State Department about the meeting because he did not want to involve anyone else. His son Bo was the only person he told. He told him they were going to see Kuwaiti Ambassador Abdullah Bishara and his son. He thought it was important for his son to be there. They walked to the meeting.09:00 - It was casual. He knows how people found out about the meeting, but he cannot discuss it due to a security pledge. He thought anyone who found out about the meeting would know it was in their interest. 11:20 - Bishara and the PLO representative Zehdi Terzi were the only ones there. More about Terzi. They had had casual conversations in public in the past, and Young found him to be a reasonable man. He asked him to withdraw the resolution or at least not put it to a vote.13:30 - News of the meeting leaked out and the controversy hit August 14. It came from an interview with Moshe Dayan in Newsweek in Jerusalem. Young and Dayan had met before.15:20 - Young had also met with Shimon Peres at Harry Belafonte's and discussed Israel. As a result of these conversations, he felt that this was a question 'even the best elements in Israel couldn't take on.' He knew of no one else in the U.S. who could take it on either. He felt it was dangerous to ignore the problem and it should be discussed.17:40 - Young got a call from Bill Maynes [Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations] while he was in New Orleans talking to Dent. He delivered the standard State Department line that there were no negotiations or attempt to recognize the PLO. Young reflects that it would perhaps have been better to say that Young had met with Terzi in his capacity as the President of the Security Council.20:15 - Young decided to meet with the Israeli ambassador when he got back to New York. The story stirred up in New York. New York Post headlines said 'Jews Demand Fire Young.' 22:17 - Young had dinner with the German ambassador, who was having a going away dinner for the Canadian ambassador. Stoney Cooks called to say there was trouble and he should come to the office. Young stayed to finish the dinner decided he should resign. Cooks had said the incident could split up the Democratic Party. 24:40 - Young had accepted the job believing there would one day be a confrontation on Africa policy and he would have to leave. He was surprised it came on the Middle East, but he was never uncomfortable about leaving. 25:30 - The talk was that Vance would leave if Carter did not fire Young. Jesse Hill, one of the first black people to support Carter, flew up from Atlanta to meet with Young and Cooks. Young had typed up copies of a resignation. He gave one to Hill to give to Carter and took the other to Vance.27:45 - Young gave the resignation to Vance. He was gracious but did not ask him not to submit it. The president called and asked to speak to Young. He asked him not to discuss the matter any further with Vance until the two of them could discuss it. Carter asked Young and Cooks to meet Hill in the Lincoln bedroom, where he would join them. 29:50 - Young and Vance discussed what they had hoped for from the administration. Young expressed his desire to ratify the SALT Treaty [Strategic Arms Limitations Talks], and perhaps continue to work on it from outside of the administration. Vance left and Young went to meet the president.
Young, Andrew, 1932-
Carter, Jimmy 1924-
New York City (N.Y.)
Tulane University Digital Library
Amistad Research Center
Audiocassette, mono. 16-bit
Box 140, Item 13, Side 1, Tom Dent collection, Amistad Research Center at Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana
Physical rights are retained by the Amistad Research Center. Copyright is retained in accordance with U.S. copyright laws.