Thursday, December 29, 2016

Russians, Kennedy and American Elections

The Russians are interfering with our election! Several of Trump's appointees know Putin!

Being alarmed at Putin and the Russians is certainly reasonable; Russia has become a well-armed international criminal enterprise. What is not reasonable is how we seem to be alarmed so rarely. Any search for information of Russian disinformation campaigns aimed at the West generally and the U.S. in particular will yield volumes. Not paying attention to this is simple naivetĂ©, except when it's malicious.

According to Soviet documents found as the Soviet state dissolved, Teddy Kennedy tried to negotiate a deal with the Russians to his, and his party's, advantage. Kennedy literally asked the Soviets, avowed enemies of the U.S., to intervene on behalf of the Democratic party in the 1984 elections. Kennedy’s communique was not discovered until 1991, eight years after Kennedy had initiated his Soviet gambit.

Tim Sebastian, a reporter for the London Times, came across a memorandum composed in 1983 by Victor Chebrikov, the chief of the KGB. The memorandum was addressed to Yuri Andropov, the top man in the entire USSR. 

“On 9-10 May of this year,” the May 14 memorandum explained, “Sen. Edward Kennedy’s close friend and trusted confidant [John] Tunney was in Moscow.” (Tunney was Kennedy’s law school roommate and a former Democratic senator from California.) “The senator charged Tunney to convey the following message, through confidential contacts, to the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Y. Andropov.”

He proposed a quid pro quo. Kennedy would lend Andropov a hand in dealing with President Reagan. In return, the Soviet leader would lend the Democratic Party a hand in challenging Reagan in the 1984 presidential election. “The only real potential threats to Reagan are problems of war and peace and Soviet-American relations,” the memorandum stated. “These issues, according to the senator, will without a doubt become the most important of the election campaign.”

Kennedy made Andropov a couple of specific offers.

First he offered to visit Moscow. “The main purpose of the meeting, according to the senator, would be 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.” Kennedy would help the Soviets deal with Reagan by telling them how to brush up their propaganda.

Then he offered to make it possible for Andropov to sit down for a few interviews on American television. “A direct appeal … to the American people will, without a doubt, attract a great deal of attention and interest in the country. … If the proposal is recognized as worthy, then Kennedy and his friends will bring about suitable steps to have representatives of the largest television companies in the USA contact Y.V. Andropov for an invitation to Moscow for the interviews. … The senator underlined the importance that this initiative should be seen as coming from the American side.”

Kennedy would make certain the networks gave Andropov air time–and that they rigged the arrangement to look like honest journalism.

In 1992, Tim Sebastian published a story about the memorandum in the London Times.

Forbes commented as follows: When President Reagan chose to confront the Soviet Union, calling it the evil empire that it was, Sen. Edward Kennedy chose to offer aid and comfort to General Secretary Andropov. On the Cold War, the greatest issue of his lifetime, Kennedy got it wrong.

That greatly underestimates what Kennedy did. Kennedy did not pick the wrong side in an argument, he picked a known enemy of his own country for personal advantage. The Russians have changed their public political philosophy (Lord knows what they believe now) but they have not changed their spots. But neither have we: We did not worry then and we will not worry now.

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