Kennedy assessed the situation and said “The problem here is the American president.”
Earlier this week I interviewed Paul Kengor, author of The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism. The book is a fascinating and detailed study of President Reagan’s strategy to defeat the USSR and wreck international Communism.
Among its most sensational aspects is a section detailing the domestic opposition to Reagan’s campaign for re-election in 1984 and his decision to deploy intermediate-range nuclear forces (INFs), Pershing II missiles, into Western Europe to counter the Soviet deployment of nuclear weapons across the Warsaw Pact. Specifically, Kengor includes what is purported to be a translated memo from the KGB archives, dated May 14, 1983, that describes an offer made to the KGB on behalf of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) by former Senator John Tunney (D-CA), a fellow Democrat and close friend of Kennedy’s.
According to the document, Sen. Kennedy offered to help the Soviet leadership mount a media public relations campaign in the United States that would do two things. First, it would convince the American people that the Soviets intended peaceful co-existence with us. Second, it would undermine President Reagan’s efforts to deploy the Pershing IIs and build the Strategic Defense Initiative as well as undermining his national security stances and strategy on a broad basis, which in turn would dent Reagan’s campaign to be re-elected in 1984. In short, Sen. Kennedy was offering to work with USSR General Secretary Yuri Andropov against the President of the United States.
The interview is linked below both as Flash and downloadable mp3. It’s about 20 minutes long. I’ve edited it here and there for clarity, but not for content. In the interview, Dr. Kengor establishes several important things about the document. He establishes where and when it was found and by whom, and how it ended up in his possession and therefore in his book. This gives us a chain of custody going back to 1992, when then Russian President Boris Yeltsin had opened the Soviet archives in order to keep the resurgent Communists at bay, and when Tim Sebastian of the London Sunday Times discovered the document in the Soviet archive. Sebastian first reported on the document in the Times, in 1992, though his story only included a few sentences from the document. Kengor’s book includes the entire translated document. The scholars Kengor mentions as having passed the document to him both have serious pedigrees in researching the Soviet Union. Their names are Herb Romerstein, author of The Venona Secrets, and Marko Suprun. They are also named in the book’s footnotes.
Outside the Sebastian article and Kengor’s book, there is independent confirmation that Sen. Kennedy made yet another overture to the Soviets. In 2002, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, chaired by former Sen. Lee Hamilton (D-IN) and which can hardly be regarded as a Republican shill, published Working Paper #40. That paper is online at this link, and contains about a dozen references to Sen. Kennedy. On page 167 it refers to Kennedy’s intent to work with the Soviets to free the hostages in Tehran–in order to bolster Kennedy’s prospects against President Jimmy Carter, against whom Kennedy was running for the Democrat nomination for president in 1980. Kennedy was also hoping to work with the Soviet leadership to keep detente on track, even as Carter was castigating the USSR for its invasion of Afghanistan. Working Paper #40 goes into some detail about Kennedy’s efforts against President Carter’s anti-Soviet policies in 1980. As in the 1983 overture, Kennedy enlisted Tunney to be his agent in Moscow against a sitting US president’s foreign policy. Taken together, it seems that Sen. Kennedy was equally ready to undermine a Democrat or Republican president.
Update: In the interview, Dr. Kengor mentions an article written by one of his sources, Herb Romerstein, regarding the Kennedy KGB document. Here is the article. It’s very much worth your time. (h/t A Blog For All)