On The Monitor this week:
- As Russian President Putin consolidates Crimea’s position as part of Russia we take a look back at US-Soviet relations with President Reagan’s informal Cold War Russia advisor – an interview with Suzanne Massie
- America STILL trying to overthrow the Cuban government – an interview with Kim Scipes
More about this week’s guests:
Suzanne Massie is an American author and played an important role in the relations between Ronald Reagan and the Soviet Union in the final years of the Cold War.
Massie is the daughter of a Swiss diplomat. She was born in New York and graduated from Vassar College, but also studied at the Sorbonne and the Ecole des Sciences Politiques in Paris.
In 1975, Suzanne Massie and her then-husband Robert K. Massie chronicled their experiences as the parents of a hemophiliac child, Robert Kinloch Massie IV, and the significant differences between the American and French health-care systems in their jointly-written book, Journey. She subsequently married Seymour Papert.
Reagan first became interested in Massie when he read her book Land of the Firebird: The Beauty of Old Russia. She eventually visited the White House where she became an informal, back door, messenger between the President and Mikhail Gorbachev and his administration. She also asked Reagan to learn the now famous Russian phrase “doveryai, no proveryai”, which means “Trust, but verify”. Her importance in contributing to Reagan’s understanding of the Russian people, assisting in reaching a peaceful end to the Cold War, was described in detail in a number of documentary films. She applied for the job of Soviet ambassador via a letter to Reagan but was rejected, as the post had already been filled.
A fellow of the Harvard Russian Research Center (now the Davis Center) from 1985-97, Massie has also served on the Board of the International League for Human Rights. In 1991 she was appointed as the only lay member of the Permanent Episcopal-Orthodox Coordinating Committee which has involved bi-annual discussions in Russia and the United States with hierarchs of the church, including Patriarch Aleksy II.
Massie currently resides in Maine, but travels regularly to Russia and is writing a book about her experiences and her interpretation of the years of dramatic change in American-Russian relations.
Kim Scipes is Associate professor of sociology at Purdue University North Central in Indiana, and author of AFL-CIO’s Secret War against Developing Country Workers: Solidarity or Sabotage?
Quote:”The AP’s report about the U.S. government using Twitter accounts to inspire political dissent is just another example of the on-going U.S. war against Cuba. The statement by USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah is simply absurd; his denial of it not being covert defies belief for any one more developed than an amoeba. The AP’s documents clearly establish it was another covert U.S. attack on Cuba. As my research on developments in Venezuela have shown, the U.S. government has been found acting against governments with which it disagrees. Where it previously supported dictators in the countries U.S. leaders wished to control — Mobuto in Zaire, Somoza in Nicaragua, and Marcos in the Philippines, for example — since the mid-1980s, they have shifted their efforts to support civil society groups in countries they wish to control, trying to support groups who advance policies and actions with which the U.S. agrees, no matter how bad they are for the local population. Thus, prior to the 2002 coup in Venezuela, the U.S. was supporting a peasant organization that opposes land reform; an educational organization that has suggested no education reform; and organizing seeking to incite a military rebellion; a civic association that was working to mobilize middle class neighborhoods to ‘defend themselves’ from the poor; a civil justice group that opposes grassroots community organization because they support the Chavez government, etc. Altogether, Venezuelan and American groups operating in Venezuela received $4,039,331 from U.S. government organizations between 1992-2001. Further, reporting on the National Endowment for Democracy alone — a U.S. government initiated and funded organization that claims to be ‘independent’ but is not — showed that the NED provided $1,338,331 to organizations and projects in Venezuela in 2012 alone: they provided $120,125 for projects for ‘accountability’; $470,870 for ‘civic education’; $96,400 for ‘democratic ideas and values’; $105,000 for ‘freedom of information’; $92,265 for ‘human rights’; $216,063 for ‘political processes’; $24,962 for ‘rule of law’; $45,000 for ‘strengthening political institutions’; and $153,646 for the Center for International Private Enterprise. In short, despite any rhetoric to the contrary, the U.S. continually engages in attacks on and operations within any country it deems acting against its interests, no matter how democratically supported and politically engaged that government is with its own population. The U.S. government prattles on endlessly about its love for democracy around the world, but we see again and again — under both Democratic and Republican administrations — that it continues to seek to undermine governments with which it disagrees and which it believes it can bully. Ironically, it continually seeks to undermine governments seeking to improve the lives of their people, while supporting repressive regimes such as those in Egypt, Honduras, Saudi Arabia and the Ukraine. This behavior is despicable — and so very hypocritical.”