Kennedy-KGB col­lab­o­ra­tion

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

His­tory has long since vin­di­cated Ron­ald Rea­gan’s Cold War pol­icy. Even Sen. Ted Kennedy, whom no one would ac­cuse of har­bor­ing pro-Rea­gan sym­pa­thies, had to ad­mit that Mr. Rea­gan “will be hon­ored as the pres­i­dent who won the Cold War.” But opin­ions have not al­ways been so united.

In his new book, “The Cru­sader: Ron­ald Rea­gan and the Fall of Com­mu­nism,” Grove City Col­lege pro­fes­sor Paul Ken­gor sheds light on a let­ter writ­ten by KGB head Vik­tor Che­brikov to Soviet leader Yuri An­dropov. The let­ter is dated May 14, 1983, right as the de­bate was heat­ing up over Mr. Rea­gan’s pro­posed de­ploy­ment of in­ter­me­di­ate-range nu­clear weapons in West­ern Europe to counter the Sovi­ets’ medi­um­range rock­ets in East­ern Europe.

Most Democrats and much of the left were uni­ver­sally op­posed to Mr. Rea­gan’s plan, which they ar­gued would lead to nu­clear war. Head­ing the list of crit­ics was Mr. Kennedy, who had, ac­cord­ing to the Soviet let­ter, sent for­mer Sen. John V. Tun­ney to meet with Krem­lin lead­ers. Che­brikov writes that Mr. Kennedy “charged Tun­ney to con­vey the fol­low­ing mes­sage, through con­fi­den­tial con­tacts, to An­dropov.”

Ac­cord­ing to the let­ter, Mr. Kennedy was con­cerned with “Rea­gan’s bel­liger­ence,” which he felt was in part the re­sult of the pres­i­dent’s pop­u­lar­ity. “The only real threats to Rea­gan are prob­lems of war and peace and Soviet-Amer­i­can re­la­tions,” wrote Che­brikov, re­lay­ing Mr. Tun- ney’s mes­sage. “Th­ese is­sues, ac­cord­ing to [Mr. Kennedy], will with­out a doubt be­come the most im­por­tant of the [1984] elec­tion cam­paign.”

The let­ter goes on to say how Mr. Kennedy felt that the Sovi­ets’ peace­ful in­ten­tions were be­ing “quoted out of con­text, si­lenced or ground­lessly and whim­si­cally dis­counted.” Con­versely, Mr. Rea­gan “has the ca­pa­bil­i­ties to counter any pro­pa­ganda.” In other words, if the let­ter is to be be­lieved, Mr. Kennedy felt his own pres­i­dent was the real ag­gres­sor.

Mr. Kennedy had two pro­pos­als for An- dropov, ac­cord­ing to Che­brikov. First, he asked for a meet­ing later that sum­mer in or­der “to arm Soviet of­fi­cials with ex­pla­na­tions re­gard­ing prob­lems of nu­clear dis­ar­ma­ment so they may be bet­ter pre­pared and more con­vinc­ing dur­ing ap­pear­ances in the USA.” Sec­ond, that “Kennedy be- lieves that in or­der to in­flu­ence Amer­i­cans it would be im­por­tant to or­ga­nize . . . tele­vised in­ter­views with [An­dropov] in the USA.”

If Che­brikov’s ac­count of events is ac­cu­rate, it’s clear Mr. Kennedy was ac­tively en­gag­ing the Rus­sians to in­flu­ence the 1984 elec­tion. He also seems to have gen­uinely be­lieved that Mr. Rea­gan’s poli­cies were en­dan­ger­ing U.S.-Soviet re­la­tions and that the best so­lu­tion was to get Mr. Rea­gan out of of­fice. The let­ter closes with Che­brikov say­ing that “Tun­ney re­marked that the sen­a­tor wants to run for pres­i­dent in 1988,” pos­si­bly sug­gest­ing Mr. Kennedy had other, more self­ish mo­tives.

As Mr. Ken­gor con­cludes, “if the memo is in fact an ac­cu­rate ac­count of what tran­spired, it con­sti­tutes a re­mark­able ex­am­ple of the lengths to which some on the po­lit­i­cal left, in­clud­ing a sit­ting U.S. sen­a­tor, were will­ing to go to stop Ron­ald Rea­gan.”

We agree. Even in a jaded world, it is breath­tak­ing to dis­cover a U.S. sen­a­tor — brother of a for­mer pres­i­dent — ac­tively and se­cretly col­lab­o­rat­ing with Soviet lead­ers in an at­tempt to un­der­mine the pres­i­dent of the United States’ nu­clear de­fense pol­icy dur­ing the height of the cold war.

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