September 5, 2009


On Kennedy, Andropov, and KAL 007 (Dr. Paul Kengor, 9/04/09, Townhall)

The most striking aspect of the KGB memo, not to mention Senator Kennedy’s many public statements and writings at the time—see, to cite just two examples, his March 24, 1983 Senate floor speech and March 1984 piece for Rolling Stone—was the late senator’s lack of faith and trust in President Ronald Reagan in contrast to his amazing faith and trust in Premier Yuri Andropov. This was evident in the memo, where the KGB head underscored that Kennedy was “very impressed” with Andropov—as opposed to Reagan, whose “militaristic politics” and “belligerence,” Kennedy judged, were the culprits for the increasingly tense Cold War.

This was a quite incredible perspective by Kennedy. I literally cannot name a single other American politician, Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, who saw the Stalinist Andropov as anything other than cold, calculating, brooding, sinister. Yuri Andropov was no Mikhail Gorbachev. He was a throwback to the Stalin years.

And yet, because of that misplaced faith and trust in Andropov, Senator Kennedy believed that he could help arrange a P.R. tour for the Soviet dictator in the United States in August-September 1983, where Andropov could “influence Americans” with his (alleged) charm and generally produce a betterment in U.S.-Soviet relations, arms control, peace, and “define the safety of the world.” To quote the steps outlined in the KGB memo: “Kennedy believes that in order to influence Americans it would be important to organize in August-September of this year, televised interviews with Y. V. Andropov in the USA.”

On its face, this was obviously an extraordinarily misplaced judgment, quickly apparent to anyone who lived through the 1980s and remembers Yuri Andropov. But the full degree to which this is so brings me to the other historical irony that passed unnoticed this week:

...but Gorbachev was a creation of Andropov whose access to accurate information about the disparity between the USSR and the US had convinced him of the need to reform the economy in order to save the Regime. That's what Gorbachev in turn tried to do, but neither understood the degree to which even incremental Reform would unleash an assault on the Revolution itself and, thereby, destroy the foundations of the Regime.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 5, 2009 8:13 AM
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