Former U.S. Ambassador Matlock Speaks about Russia, U.S. in Post-Cold War World, Nov. 13

November 7, 2014

Jack F. Matlock Jr.

Jack F. Matlock Jr., former U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union and to Czechoslovakia, will visit the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Thursday, Nov. 13. During his visit, he will deliver remarks on “From Gorbachev to Putin: Russia and the U.S. in the Post-Cold War World” at 5:30 p.m. in the Pleasants Family Assembly Room in the Louis Round Wilson Library. Matlock will discuss his personal involvement at the end of the Cold War and will also comment on renewed Russian military involvement in Ukraine.

Following his remarks, Ambassador Matlock will participate in a roundtable discussion, which will include UNC faculty members Donald Raleigh, Jay Richard Judson Distinguished Professor of History, and Klaus Larres, Richard M. Krasno Distinguished Professor of History.

Ambassador Matlock’s visit to UNC is in conjunction with the Ambassadors Forum. The Forum brings to campus prominent diplomats, politicians and business leaders to deliver public lectures and conduct seminars for graduate students. Students have the opportunity to engage first-hand with international leaders and obtain insights into the practical application of their study of history, political science, European studies and international relations. The forum is organized by the Richard M. Krasno Distinguished Professorship in the Department of History and the College of Arts and Sciences, with support at UNC from the Curriculum in Peace, War and Defense, the Institute for the Arts and Humanities and UNC Global, as well as from the Triangle Institute for Security Studies and the West Triangle Chapter of the United Nations Association of the United States of America.

Jack F. Matlock Jr. is a former American ambassador, career foreign service officer, teacher, historian and linguist. He was a specialist in Soviet affairs during some of the most tumultuous years of the Cold War and served as U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1987 to 1991.

Matlock became interested in Russia as a Duke University undergraduate. After studies at Columbia University and a stint as a Russian-language instructor at Dartmouth College, he entered the Foreign Service in 1956. His 35-year career encompassed much of the Cold War period between the Soviet Union and the United States. His first assignment to Moscow was in 1961, and it was from the embassy there that he experienced the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, helping to translate diplomatic messages between the leaders. The next year he was posted to West Africa, and he later served in East Africa, during the post-colonial period of superpower rivalry.

At the beginning of détente, Matlock was director of Soviet affairs in the State Department and began to participate in the summit meetings between the leaders, eventually attending all but one of the U.S. – Soviet summits held 1972 to 1991. He was back in Moscow in 1974, serving in the number two position in the embassy for four years, and was assigned to Moscow again in 1981 as acting ambassador. Reagan appointed him as ambassador to Czechoslovakia and later asked him to return to Washington in 1983 to work at the National Security Council, with the assignment to develop a negotiating strategy to end the arms race. When Mikhail Gorbachev became the leader of the Soviet Union in 1985, arms negotiations and summit meetings resumed. Matlock was appointed ambassador to the Soviet Union in 1987 and saw the last years of the Soviet Union before he retired from the Foreign Service in 1991.

After leaving the Foreign Service, Matlock joined the faculty of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University and then taught diplomacy at several New England colleges.

Event Contact: Klaus Larres, Richard M. Krasno Distinguished Professor, Department of History,, 919.962.8079.

Media Contact: Katie Bowler Young, Director of Global Relations, UNC Global,, 919.962.4504.