While the so-called mainstream media obsess over Russia’s attempt to set up a back channel through Jared Kushner in order for National Security Adviser-designate General Flynn to talk to Russian generals about Syria, it’s worth remembering we’ve seen this movie before — many times. We saw it with John F. Kennedy, who as president-elect sent his brother Robert to establish a back channel with the Kremlin via a Russian spy operating out of the United States. We saw it with Richard Nixon, who before he was elected, sent Robert Ellsworth, a longtime aide and personal friend, to relay Nixon’s thoughts on non-profileration and geopolitical issues to Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin and Soviet Charge d’Affaires Yuri Cherniakov.
Then there was Barack Obama:
During his first presidential campaign in 2008, Mr. Obama used a secret back channel to Tehran to assure the mullahs that he was a friend of the Islamic Republic, and that they would be very happy with his policies. The secret channel was Ambassador William G. Miller, who served in Iran during the shah’s rule, as chief of staff for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and as ambassador to Ukraine. Ambassador Miller has confirmed to me his conversations with Iranian leaders during the 2008 campaign.
Additionally when he was running for president, Obama sent Robert Malley to open up a back channel with Hamas, but when Malley was seen, Obama disowned the trip and made him resign. But the week after his first election in 2008, Obama sent Malley to meet with Hamas again.
But Obama’s back channels with Iran and Hamas were nothing compared with Ted Kennedy’s back channel communications with what was then the Soviet Union. Kennedy assured the USSR that he would help them with negotiations with Reagan, if they would help him become president in 1984.
In the early 1980s Reagan was isolating the Soviet Union while rearming the U.S. at a pace that the USSR could not keep up with. His strategy resulted in ending the cold war, destroying the Soviet Union and bringing down the Communist dictatorships across Eastern Europe.
A full description of Kennedy’s treachery was profiled by London Times reporter Tim Sebastian who found a report about it in the KGB archives after the fall of the Soviet Union.
“In 1992, Tim Sebastian published a story about the memorandum in the London Times. Here in the U.S., Sebastian’s story received no attention. In his 2006 book, The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism, historian Paul Kengor reprinted the memorandum in full. “The media,” Kengor says, “ignored the revelation.” [Anyone surprised?]
“The document,” Kengor continues, “has stood the test of time. I scrutinized it more carefully than anything I’ve ever dealt with as a scholar. I showed the document to numerous authorities who deal with Soviet archival material. No one has debunked the memorandum or shown it to be a forgery. Kennedy’s office did not deny it.”
Here are the details of Kennedy’s approach to America’s No. 1 enemy – long before glasnost and perestroika, way back in the dark days of bellicose nuclear standoff – according to the Soviet Communist Party Central Committee’s secret files.
Kennedy dispatched then-Sen. John Tunney (D-Calif.) to seek to establish face-to-face meetings between Kennedy and General Secretary Yuri Andropov. Tunney brought with him a memo on the tense relations between the U.S. and Soviets – with Kennedy siding unequivocally with the Soviets and blaming Reagan.
In a report by KGB Chairman Viktor Chebrikov, Kennedy is represented as suggesting “that in the interest of world peace, it would be useful and timely to take a few extra steps to counteract the militaristic policies of Ronald Reagan.”
Kennedy also offered to arrange a U.S. television interview with Andropov in which he “would have the chance to address directly the American people with their own explanation of peaceful Soviet initiatives.”
The memo says Tunney and Kennedy U.S. senators involved were motivated to make the secret contact because they wanted to reduce the threat of nuclear war, Chebrikov wrote in his report that Tunney indicated Kennedy was “directing his efforts at becoming president of the U.S. in 1988,” a time by which he would be 56 and his personal problems would be behind him.
What did the Soviet think of the overture? Not much. Andropov was not impressed with Kennedy. He suggested it would be better to meet with a more viable Democratic presidential candidate for 1988.
Paul Kengor, the author of the New York Times extended-list bestseller “God and Ronald Reagan” described the incident this way:
It was a May 14, 1983 letter from the head of the KGB, Viktor Chebrikov, to the head of the USSR, the odious Yuri Andropov, with the highest level of classification. Chebrikov relayed to Andropov an offer from Senator Ted Kennedy, presented by Kennedy’s old friend and law-school buddy, John Tunney, a former Democratic senator from California, to reach out to the Soviet leadership at the height of a very hot time in the Cold War. According to Chebrikov, Kennedy was deeply troubled by the deteriorating relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union, which he believed was bringing us perilously close to nuclear confrontation. Kennedy, according to Chebrikov, blamed this situation not on the Soviet leadership but on the American president—Ronald Reagan. Not only was the USSR not to blame, but, said Chebrikov, Kennedy was, quite the contrary, “very impressed” with Andropov.
The thrust of the letter is that Reagan had to be stopped, meaning his alleged aggressive defense policies, which then ranged from the Pershing IIs to the MX to SDI, and even his re-election bid, needed to be stopped. It was Ronald Reagan who was the hindrance to peace. That view of Reagan is consistent with things that Kennedy said and wrote at the time, including articles in sources like Rolling Stone (March 1984) and in a speeches like his March 24, 1983 remarks on the Senate floor the day after Reagan’s SDI speech, which he lambasted as “misleading Red-Scare tactics and reckless Star Wars schemes.”
Even more interesting than Kennedy’s diagnosis was the prescription: According to Chebrikov, Kennedy suggested a number of PR moves to help the Soviets in terms of their public image with the American public. He reportedly believed that the Soviet problem was a communication problem, resulting from an inability to counter Reagan’s (not the USSR’s) “propaganda.” If only Americans could get through Reagan’s smokescreen and hear the Soviets’ peaceful intentions.
So, there was a plan, or at least a suggested plan, to hook up Andropov and other senior apparatchiks with the American media, where they could better present their message and make their case. Specifically, the names of Walter Cronkite and Barbara Walters are mentioned in the document. Also, Kennedy himself would travel to Moscow to meet with the dictator.
Time was of the essence, since Reagan, as the document privately acknowledged, was flying high en route to easy re-election in 1984….
For the record, one news source, a regional cable outlet in the Philadelphia area, called CN8, took the time to call Kennedy’s office. The official response from his office was not to deny the document but to argue with the interpretation. Which interpretation? Mine or Chebrikov’s? Kennedy’s office wasn’t clear on that. My interpretation was not an interpretation. I simply tried to report what Chebrikov reported to Andropov. So, I guess Kennedy’s office was disputing Chebrikov’s interpretation, which is quite convenient, since Chebrikov is dead, as is Andropov. Alas, the perfect defense—made more perfect by an American media that will not ask the senator from Massachusetts a single question (hard or soft) on this remarkable incident. …They have not denied it. That’s important. Because if none of this had ever happened, and if the document was a fraud, Kennedy’s office would simply say so, and that would be the end of it.
The media were relatively silent about the Kennedy communications even though they were treasonous. Contrast that with their fascination with Russian overtures toward Kushner.
Cross-posted at The Lid