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Kennedy, Reagan . . . and Andropov


On a sentimental evening in 1985, Peggy Noonan writes today, Teddy Kennedy and Ronald Reagan struck up a friendship. True enough.

It is also true that just two years earlier Kennedy had engaged in astonishing gambit to undercut Reagan.

In the spring of 1983, during perhaps the tensest moment in the Cold War since the Cuban missile crisis — having called the Soviet Union the evil empire that it was, Reagan was preparing to deploy Pershing missiles in Europe — Kennedy sent a message to Soviet leader Yuri Andropov. This would be the same Yuri Andropov who had been the director of the KGB and had played central roles in both the crushing of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and the suppression of the 1968 Prague Spring. Arguing that Reagan, not Andropov, threatened world peace, Kennedy offered to help Anropov contain Reagan by manipulating American opinion.

Teddy Kennedy did indeed prove charming — irresistibly so. But let’s look at the record whole. If Kennedy had had his way, he wouldn’t have stopped at charming Reagan. He’d have rendered Reagan utterly ineffective.

For an account of Kennedy’s approach to Andropov, click here.


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