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Ted Kennedy’s Soviet Romance By: Jamie Glazov
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, November 08, 2006

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Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Paul G. Kengor, Ph.D., the author of the New York Times Extended List bestsellers God and Ronald Reagan and God and George W. Bush. He is a professor of political science and director of the Center for Vision and Values at Grove City College. He is the author of the new book The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism.

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FP: Paul Kengor, welcome to Frontpage Interview.


Kengor: Thank you, Jamie. I'm a big fan. I've read Frontpage for years. A lot of websites are redundant. This one truly stands out, especially for its willingness to confront the insanity in academia, as well as its service as a watchdog of the far left, which, incidentally, told us in the 1980s that Ronald Reagan was a nut who wanted to blow up the world.

FP: Thank you for your kind words. Today I want to focus in on a stunning revelation you make in your book regarding Ted Kennedy. But let’s first briefly talk about The Crusader. What inspired you to write it?

Kengor: I was talking to a fellow academic, one who is an honest liberal, who objectively assessed Ronald Reagan and had given him a lot of credit for winning the Cold War in a journal article that she had written. We were discussing her article. She said that although Reagan deserves much credit for helping to end the Cold War and, as she put it, "perhaps even helping to precipitate the Soviet collapse," she saw no "evidence" that this had been Reagan's deliberate intent. I told her that there was "mountains of evidence" that this had been Reagan's intent. She replied, "show me." Well, that's what I've done with this book.

My only surprise once I did the research was, first, precisely how far back that intent went, namely as early as 1950, when Reagan first called for a "crusade" to liberate the Soviet empire, and, second, the degree to which the Soviets were completely convinced of this intent. The Soviets knew that Reagan had drawn a target on their chest, and that sense is clear in nearly every article on Reagan in the Soviet press in the 1980s. I cite probably a couple of hundred examples in the book.

FP: Can you briefly tell us some of the key ways in which Reagan fuelled the fall of Soviet communism?

Kengor: Well, it is impossible to be brief on such a subject. I'll merely list a few of the headings without going into the details: economic warfare, such as the Farewell Dossier, the blocking the construction of the Siberian gas pipeline, and undercutting Soviet oil exports, all of which cost the Kremlin billions of desperately needed hard currency; defeating the Soviets in Afghanistan via aid to the Afghan resistance, including the supplying of Stinger missiles; the Strategic Defense Initiative; saving and sustaining Lech Walesa's Solidarity movement in Poland as the wedge to split the Soviet bloc. Those are merely a few deadly examples, none of which Mikhail Gorbachev supported, of course, since they bankrupted the country he was trying to hold together.

FP: Offer us a comment or two on how Gorbachev and John Paul II figured in the demise of the Soviet Empire.

Kengor: Gorbachev's primary intent was to preserve the USSR, not break it up, as, to this today, he laments each and every time he does an interview. Reagan's intent was to break it up. Reagan succeeded in his primary intention, whereas Gorbachev failed in his. His second main failure was losing the Soviet bloc, which was also a huge personal failure of Gorbachev's. Also, we now know, thanks to recently declassified memoranda of conversations from the May-June 1988 Moscow Summit, that Reagan asked Gorbachev directly to his face to tear down the Berlin Wall, as Reagan had dramatically requested at the Brandenberg Gate the previous year. Gorbachev told him no, flatly refusing. A few years later, Gorbachev won the Nobel prize, an award Reagan will never receive.

Having said that, Gorbachev created Glasnost, which led to genuine civil liberties and real freedom, including religious freedom, and he ended the Communist Party's monopoly on political power when he renounced Article 6 of the Soviet Constitution. He and Reagan had a superb relationship and together peacefully ended the Cold War, without a single missile fired. They also signed the greatest nuclear arms agreements in history, including the INF agreement. For these accomplishments alone, Gorbachev deserves much credit as well.

As for the Pope, he and Reagan were both convinced that God had spared them from assassination attempts in the spring of 1981, a belief they confided in one another in their first meeting together at the Vatican in June 1982. They felt God had spared them so they could work together to undermine Communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet empire, with Poland as the key. They did just that, and history has vindicated their sense of Poland's importance.

FP: What were some of the ways the Soviets uncovered what Reagan was up to? How did they try to counter his success?

Kengor: As early as 1975, Pravda began running panic-stricken pieces about how the "cowboy-crusader" from California was seeking to become president so he could "rollback" the Soviet Communist empire. They knew they were in Reagan's crosshairs even then, and they were right. That was one of the few accurate pieces of information in the Communist media.

One of the ways that Moscow hoped to counter Reagan was via leftists in the nuclear freeze movement, which was a gift to the Kremlin. The Soviets saw them as dupes and useful idiots.


FP: Which they were.


Ok., let’s get to the intended main focus of our interview. There is a shocking revelation about a Ted Kennedy in your book. Tell us about it.

Kengor: In my book, I comment on, and publish, a May 14, 1983 document from the KGB archives that reveals that Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) reached out to the General Secretary of the Soviet Union's Communist Party, Yuri Andropov, to propose a kind of public relations strategy to counter President Reagan's defense policy initiatives toward the Soviet Union, policies that Kennedy felt were too aggressive.

FP: How did you come in possession of this document?

Kengor: As a result of an article that I wrote on FrontPageMagazine.com, titled, "Reagan's Freedom Fighter," which was about Natan Sharansky.

So what can our interpretation be of this document?

Kengor: My intention in revealing this document was simply to place it in the historical narrative of the Reagan presidency as I did with hundreds of other documents in the book from the Soviet archives and various media archives. It is very important to understand that I tried not to cast judgment on the document or what it alleges that Senator Kennedy did.


Based on the document itself, as well as other Kennedy writings at the time, I believe that Kennedy did this because it was a very dangerous time and Kennedy, like many liberals, was genuinely worried that Reagan was too aggressive in his nuclear arms buildup.


Around this same time, Kennedy wrote a March 1984 article for Rolling Stone magazine in which he said that Reagan officials were "talking peace in 1984 as a prelude to making war in 1985." And he wrote of his "fears about an administration whose officials have spoken of winnable nuclear conflict." That was a reckless, irresponsible allegation, to be sure. Yet, it further illustrates where Kennedy was coming from: Clearly, Senator Kennedy was worried about the U.S.-Soviet confrontation spiralling out of control and going nuclear. He was seeking to defuse a situation that he thought could lead to nuclear war. His motivations were peaceful. This is not to say, of course, that what Kennedy allegedly did was not an example of very poor judgment and does not deserve heavy criticism, which it does. And what Kennedy did was obviously extraordinary.

FP: How are Kennedy’s actions relevant today in your view?

Kengor: First of all, I do not answer that question in the book because, as I said, I don't cast judgment on it in the book. However, if you're asking for my personal viewpoint, I do find it striking that certain American politicians were more worried about Reagan than about Yuri Andropov. In the KGB letter, which was written by the head of the KGB, Viktor Chebrikov, Chebrikov said that Kennedy was "very impressed" with Andropov. So, Kennedy was, By Chebrikov's account, impressed by Andropov but fearful of Reagan. Kennedy literally seemed more trustful of the Soviet dictator than the American president; that's a fair interpretation of Kennedy's thinking, based upon what Chebrikov reported to Andropov in the memo.


This kind of thinking is still common among much of the left today, as many liberals fear the conservative Republican president more than the dictator-enemy the president is trying to defeat. Today, there are many on the left who will tell you that George W. Bush is a greater threat to peace than Saddam Hussein ever was. This is a continuing example of poor judgment by the likes of Ted Kennedy.

FP: Kennedy was “very impressed” with the former head of the KGB? We don’t need to get into a history of the mass crimes that Andropov oversaw and ordered in that capacity. The ruthless suppression of Hungary's bid for freedom in 1956 was just one of them. Saying this about Andropov is the same thing as a person saying he was impressed with the head of the Nazi Gestapo. Where is the outrage on this shameful behavior?


Kengor: The mainstream media doesn't care. I literally have not received a single inquiry from the likes of the New York Times, CBS, or CNN. If not for the web and talk radio, and sources like FrontPage, there would be a total blackout on this revelation, and history would never learn about it. It is an amazing example of media bias, the most extraordinary example that I've ever personally encountered. Truly stunning. It makes me wonder how much history we never know.


FP: What Kennedy did, when all is said and done, was reach out a hand of solidarity to a monstrous and vicious totalitarian regime. Would we be so careful with our judgement of such an act if an American politician had done something similar with Nazi Germany? 


When you refer to the non-existence of inquiry from the mainstream media into this outrage, what do you think lies behind it? I am focusing in on the psychology here. What is the mindset within the Left that exonerates this kind of behaviour, and, as some would argue, even supports it?


Kengor: It indeed requires a psychological explanation. They don't want to report it because it involves one of their own icons on the Left. So, they simply convince themselves that it doesn't matter or happened too long ago or that no one cares -- or whatever works.


The mainstream media has never been outraged by Communism, and I fear never will be. It should be underscored here that the mainstream media is no different from mainstream academia, which likewise holds the key to reporting official "history."

I have a standard line that I use in speeches to academic audiences, where I quickly run through the various atrocities committed by Communism in the 20th century. Among those lines, I always begin my statement on the 100 million deaths attributed to Communism (twice the total of the World War I and II deaths combined) by The Black Book of Communism by first noting that the book was published by Harvard University Press, so I don't get scoffed at by the elites in the room. Even then, when I fire off a litany of horrific examples of Communist barbarism, students and non-faculty members are riveted, mouths agape, whereas the hardened leftist profs and media people in the room just sneer at me, daggers in their eyes, as if the ghost of Joe McCarthy has just flown into the room and leapt inside of my body.

As Richard Pipes has said, these folks are not necessarily Communist but are anti-anti-Communist; in other words, they don't like anti-Communists, who they detest and perceive as Neanderthals, unsophisticated. So, in the mind of these individuals, to point out such facts on Ted Kennedy would be a kind of modern day McCarthyism, worthy of angry dismissal at the messenger (who is deemed without honor) rather than outrage at the source, who, like them, took on the anti-anti-Communists.

If this doesn't make sense, it is because the line of thinking by these folks doesn't make sense; it is very emotional and quite unthoughtful, and indeed requires a kind of political-psychological explanation that can only be gleaned by probing the pathological depths of the far, hard left.


FP: Indeed. Overall, this whole episode threatens to expose what lurked in their hearts during the Cold War -- in terms of who they were really cheering for. And we just see the extention of that ugly tradition today in our terror war, as the hard Left offers its hand of solidarity to the Islamist jihadists. Chomsky's embrace of Hezbollah is the recent chapter. It's the same malicious and pernicious yearning that Kennedy engaged in with Andropov, but just in a new totalitarian theatre.


Paul Kengor, it was a privilege to speak with you. Thank you for your fight for the truth.


Kengor: Thank you very much, and I thank all of you at Frontpage for your fight for the truth. Not many publications have your courage.


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Jamie Glazov is Frontpage Magazine's editor. He holds a Ph.D. in History with a specialty in Russian, U.S. and Canadian foreign policy. He is the author of Canadian Policy Toward Khrushchev’s Soviet Union and is the co-editor (with David Horowitz) of The Hate America Left. He edited and wrote the introduction to David Horowitz’s Left Illusions. His new book is United in Hate: The Left's Romance with Tyranny and Terror. To see his previous symposiums, interviews and articles Click Here. Email him at jglazov@rogers.com.

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