Blogs > Cliopatria > Max Kampelman falsely takes the credit for the Gorbachev/Sakharov meeting

Dec 25, 2005 7:04 pm

Max Kampelman falsely takes the credit for the Gorbachev/Sakharov meeting

Stephen F. Cohen writes: American officials have a longstanding habit of attributing positive developments in Russia to the United States, which contributes to the ill-informed impression that Russians cannot reform their country without our guidance. A small but telling example appeared in The Weekly Standard (September 26) in a letter from Max Kampelman, US ambassador for nuclear arms negotiations in the Reagan Administration. Kampelman claims to have arranged the first meeting between the great Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov and the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev. According to Kampelman, he achieved this feat at a US Embassy dinner in Moscow hosted by President Reagan, which took place May 31, 1988. Considering the significant role the relationship between these two historical Russian figures played in Gorbachev's reforms and even in the end of the Soviet Union, Kampelman's claim, if true, would warrant at least a footnote in historical accounts. But it isn't true, and his mistaken assertion should be corrected, which The Weekly Standard declined to do. In the second volume of Sakharov's memoirs he writes that "my first face-to-face encounter with Gorbachev" occurred January 15, 1988, at a meeting in Moscow devoted to nuclear disarmament and human rights. It was a memorable encounter. Sakharov thanked Gorbachev for having freed him after nearly seven years in internal exile, and Gorbachev responded with equal warmth. Two other aspects of Sakharov's account should be noted. The January 15 meeting was organized by a Soviet foundation, not an American one. And it helps explain "the smiles and the immediate warmth" Kampelman observed when Sakharov and Gorbachev encountered each other (again) four and half months later.

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Arnold Shcherban - 2/19/2006

The story told is actually a small piece of a large canvas of contemporary mythology of the Cold War period trumped up and diligently
maintained by the neocons and, generally, by all zealots of Pan-Americana universal design, such as, e.g., the collapse of Soviet Union as
the almost exclusively result of Ronald Reagan's "tough" policy towards the former. Such anecdotal and primitive interpretations of the historical processes of enormous complexity, which have taken decades to develop, actually serve those ideologues well as the justification
precedents for maintaining current and perpetual state of another war,
though executed with the basically same Grand Goal in mind - world economic, political, and ideological domination.