Tag Archives: University

#ReadUPK in the Washington Post

The following editorial has been re-published from the Washington Post Monkey Cage blog (12/16/2016).

Trump may be borrowing Nixon’s ‘back channel’ strategy in his contacts with Russia

by Richard A. Moss

News that the president-elect’s son, Donald Trump Jr., met with pro-Russian Syrian opposition in Paris, or that two Russian officials acknowledged longer term contacts with the Trump campaign, has prompted concern about undue foreign influence — especially given recent news that the CIA has concluded that Russian hacking during the election was designed to help Donald Trump. Those worries have escalated with the president-elect’s apparent selection of Rex Tillerson, chief executive of ExxonMobil who has made multibillion-dollar deals with Russia President Vladimir Putin, for secretary of state — especially since Russian Duma members applaud his nomination.

But we can look at the incoming Trump administration’s contacts with Russian officials in a different way. The Trump team may be taking a page from Richard M. Nixon’s 1968 playbook by using “back channels” to improve U.S.-Russian relations. Perhaps the incoming administration can achieve detente — a relaxation of tensions — through this more informal approach to diplomacy. If that’s what’s going on, the Trump team might wish to be mindful of this approach’s longer-term pitfalls.

 

MossComp2.indd

Richard A. Moss is the author of Nixon’s Back Channel to Moscow

Nixon used two ‘back channels’ before taking office

 

Before his narrow victory in November 1968, Nixon used two back channels to get messages to the Soviet leadership. First, Nixon dispatched his longtime aide and personal friend, Robert Ellsworth, to contact Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin and Soviet Charge d’Affaires Yuri Cherniakov. Once he did so during the campaign, Ellsworth conveyed the incoming Nixon administration’s views on a variety of issues, such as the ratification of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Middle East.

The second channel — one that would probably raise eyebrows today — involved Henry Kissinger and a KGB intelligence officer, Boris Sedov. This connection functioned informally during the presidential campaign when Kissinger was a foreign policy adviser to Nixon and petered out shortly after Kissinger became national security adviser. The Kissinger-Sedov contact added the dimension of Soviet intelligence seeking additional information about the main players in the incoming Nixon administration and corroborating the Ellsworth-Dobrynin-Cherniakov exchanges.

Both Ellsworth and Kissinger were assessing whether the Soviet leadership might be open to working through back channels. These contacts quickly led to the Kissinger-Dobrynin Channel, which came to define U.S.-Soviet relations during the Nixon administration and led to detente.

Many analysts consider “the Channel” to have been an effective tool. At a 2007 conference hosted by the State Department, Russian-born scholar Vladislav Zubok stressed that there was “a 90 percent chance . . . that there would not have been a summit in Moscow in ’72, and such a productive summit that it was, without the back channel.”

Back channels can convey messages more subtly than formal contact  

The early back-channel forays also helped communication during the transition between Nixon’s election and inauguration. Nixon used both channels to kill the idea of an early U.S.-Soviet summit championed by his predecessor, Lyndon B. Johnson. As Nixon explained later, he did not “want to be boxed in by any decisions that were made before [he] took office.” The Soviet leadership received Nixon’s intended messages via Ellsworth and Kissinger. The private exchanges kept the issue out of the spotlight and set a precedent of back channels as preferred communication mediums for both Washington and Moscow.

Because of an exchange between Kissinger and Sedov, Nixon added a line to his inaugural address. At the posh Pierre hotel in New York City on Jan. 2, 1969, Sedov told Kissinger that the Soviet leadership “was very interested that the inaugural speech contain some reference to open channels of communication to Moscow.” Kissinger recommended that a phrase be included, and Nixon initialed his agreement on a memo two days later.

“I was never clear whether this request reflected an attempt by Sedov to demonstrate his influence to Moscow,” Kissinger wondered years later, “or whether it was a serious policy approach by the Politburo. In any event I saw no harm in it.”

And so in his inaugural address, Nixon proclaimed, “our lines of communication will be open.” The gesture cost nothing but almost certainly established goodwill between the new administration and the Soviet leadership.

Why use U.S.-Russian back channels?  

 

IMG_2082.JPG

Nixon, Dobrynin, and Kissinger at Camp David in 1973. Source: NPMP

When used to supplement rather than supplant traditional diplomacy, back channels may offer a protected forum free from leaks to explore points of agreement, disagreement and potential conflict. For instance, on relations with Vietnam, Nixon and Soviet General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev disagreed. The United States wanted the Soviets to cut aid and push Hanoi to negotiate, while Moscow wanted the United States to stop bombing North Vietnam and withdraw its troops from Indochina. Nevertheless, via back-channel exchanges, Nixon and Brezhnev eventually reached tacit agreement on broader issues, like the status and tone of U.S.-Soviet relations, and had a successful summit meeting in Moscow in May 1972.

If they choose, Russian and U.S. leaders may use back channels to clearly convey what they see as their core interests, to explore potential areas of cooperation, and to try to mitigate conflict or escalation.

Back channels are like regular diplomacy, but with more intimacy and without the bureaucracy. Like intimacy, it requires willing partners. Kissinger found one in Dobrynin, and Nixon in Brezhnev; both the United States and the Soviet Union benefited during the short-lived period of detente that enabled the two superpowers to start cooperating on arms control and in other areas, like agreements signed at the Moscow Summit on avoiding naval incidents at seabilateral trade, science and technology, public health, environmental protection, and collaboration on space exploration(the Apollo-Soyuz docking in 1975).

Of course, U.S.-Russian relations are now strained. The two nations have been backing different sides in the Syrian civil war; Russia has invaded and annexed a portion of Ukraine, resulting in U.S. sanctions; NATO installed a missile defense site in Romania and began another in Poland; and the Russians have sent nuclear-capable short-range ballistic missiles to Kaliningrad, to note a few issues. While there is no Cold War now, both countries remain nuclear powers. In the Internet era, when provocations and communications travel instantly around the globe, keeping back channels open could conceivably help prevent or minimize confrontation.

If the Trump team is indeed in informal contact with the Russians, which it denies, some observers may find comfort in the idea that diplomacy — even the back-channel variety — is underway.

But of course, Nixon — for all his accomplishments — isn’t usually held up as a president to admire, given his illegal actions in the Watergate scandal, leading to the only U.S. presidential resignation in history. Relying on back channel communications too exclusively means operating in secrecy while avoiding — or even disdaining — the news media. Circumventing the usual systems, his example tells us, has its risks.

Richard A. Moss is an associate research professor, co-director of the Halsey Bravo research effort, and a faculty affiliate in the Russian Maritime Studies Institute at the United States Naval War College’s Center for Naval Warfare Studies. His book, “Nixon’s Back Channel to Moscow: Confidential Diplomacy and Détente,” is available now.

Author’s note: The thoughts and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author and are not necessarily those of the U.S. government, the U.S. Department of the Navy or the Naval War College.

Happy 100th Birthday to Kirk Douglas!

One of the original leading men, Kirk Douglas came along in the final days of the major studio system, and he was one of the first box office stars to take charge of his own destiny by  becoming involved in the production and marketing of the films in which he appeared.

He was a vital force in such classics as Out of the Past (1947), Champion (1949), Detective Story (1951), Ace in the Hole (1951), The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), and Lust for Life (1956). He formed his own company, Bryna, and made such major films as Paths of Glory (1957), Spartacus (1960), Lonely Are the Brave (1962), and Seven Days in May (1964).

Along the way, he distinguished himself in a number of westerns, including The Big Sky (1952), Man without a Star (1955), Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957), and The War Wagon (1967), while also tackling several action roles in historical period pictures like 20,000 Leagues under the Sea (1954), Ulysses (1955), and The Vikings (1958).

conversations_with_classic_film_stars_coverRenowned for his support of liberal causes, Douglas is often credited with helping break down the dreaded Hollywood anti-Communist “blacklist” by hiring blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo (who also celebrates a birthday today!) to write the screenplay for Spartacus.
In a conversation with Douglas in conjunction with Draw!, a 1984 HBO TV western, Ronald Miller asked the iconic actor about his work with other leading actors and actresses, antiheroes, and working within the studio system. You can find a full transcript of their conversation in Conversations with Classic Film Stars—a perfect gift for the film buff this holiday season.

In the excerpt below, Miller and Douglas discuss the unique art of filmmaking, and its pitfalls, as well as Douglas’s involvement in the Oscar-winning, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

Excerpted from Conversations with Classic Film Stars:

Miller: You’ve worked with every kind of movie director and you don’t have a reputation for getting into disputes with them, but you are known for demanding a collaborative atmosphere on the set. Explain that.

Douglas: I’ve worked with [Joseph] Mankiewicz, [Howard] Hawks, [Elia] Kazan, [William] Wyler, [Billy] Wilder. I’ve been very fortunate. All of them work differently. I’ve even directed a couple of pictures, so I have respect for the work. But no matter what anyone says, it’s a collaborative art form. No matter how much one person is a binding force, it’s still a collaboration.

I think the problem today is that we’ve been contaminated by the European concept of the auteur system. I’ve had movies where I bought the book, developed the script, and cast the whole picture, but then the director walks in and says, “It must be a John Smith film!” I think sometimes we emphasize that too much.

Miller: Though you’ve avoided big hassles with your directors, you’ve had a few disputes with studio managements, haven’t you?

Douglas: Let me give you an example of that: Lonely Are the Brave. You need the proper selling of a picture like that. I thought Universal just threw it away. They didn’t give it a chance. They took it out of circulation. Then there were all those great reviews and people said, “Where’s the picture?” Their ego prevented them from making a different campaign for the picture. The longer I’m in this business, the more amazed I am that a movie can be made, good or bad.

Miller: You’ve taken lots of chances in your career, but I imagine one of your greatest frustrations was not being able to play McMurphy on the big screen in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest after acquiring the rights to the book from Ken Kesey and playing the part on the stage in New York.

douglas-kirk_03Douglas: It was way ahead of its time. When I took it to Broadway, the critics didn’t know what to make of it. The audience loved it, but it didn’t do very well. I tried for nearly twelve years to make it as a movie. I took it to every studio. But they wouldn’t do it, even with a limited budget. Finally, I went into partnership with my son, Michael, and we were able to find somebody outside of the industry to put up the money and we made a little picture that I never predicted would be a hit. So it did over $200 million! Nobody knows what will really be successful.

Miller: What do you think of Michael as a producer?

Douglas: I told him, “Michael, you’re the kind of producer I’d like to work with because you give everything to the other person even when you’re in the movie.” He did that in Romancing the Stone [1984]. He focused all the attention on the girl [Kathleen Turner]. I haven’t been that generous. I’ve been a producer, but I find a product like Spartacus or The Vikings or Seven Days in May or Paths of Glory and somehow there always seems to be a good part for me.

#ReadUP in Your Community: Day 1

carter_proclamation_smIn the summer of 1978 President Jimmy Carter proclaimed a University Press Week “in recognition of the impact, both here and abroad, of American university presses on culture and scholarship.”

That influence continues today, as does the increasing vitality of university press publishing programs, the many ways and means by which works are now produced and distributed, and the urgent need for articulate discourse in times pervaded by sound bites. Today, a renewed University Press Week highlights the extraordinary work of nonprofit scholarly publishers and their many contributions to culture, the academy, and an informed society.

This year’s #UPWeek theme is COMMUNITY—honoring the people we serve through our mission to publish academic books of high scholarly merit in a variety of fields and to publish significant books about the history and culture of Kentucky, the Ohio Valley region, the Upper South, and Appalachia.

Download your own UPK #ReadUP Bookmark!

 

The University Press Community as a whole has collected their works that best exemplify this year’s theme in a gallery where you can find a great new read (click below):

Screen Shot 2016-11-14 at 9.26.15 AM.png

You can also explore other University Press’s efforts to empower and inform their communities via our yearly blog tour. Today’s posts highlight the people in our neighborhoods, read more on their blogs:

Northwestern University Press

http://northwesternup.tumblr.com/

Rutgers Unviersity Press

Sneak a peek at Rutgers’ 250th anniversary celebrations and the press’s role in them (with lots of pictures!)

Fordham University Press

Featuring Professor Mark Naison, co-author of Before the Fires: An Oral History of African American Life in the Bronx from the 1930s to the 1960s.

University of Toronto Press

Our history editor recounts her experiences running lectures at a nearby Jewish Community Centre in Toronto on Why History Matters Today, featuring a string of our higher education authors.

University of Toronto Press Journals

Featuring one of our journal editors and the work they are doing in their own communities related to the journal they are responsible for.

Seminary Co-op Bookstores

Curated book list of favorite University Press titles from Haun Saussy, University of Chicago faculty and Columbia University Press and Fordham University Press author.

Athabasca University Press

We will be featuring members of our editorial committee.

University Press of Florida

An introduction to our “neighborhood” of readers, authors, bookstores, sales reps, staff, and more.

 

 

 

Celebrate Earth Day and the Culture of the Land

Springtime is here, and that brings Earth Day- one of our favorite holidays around the office! Whether you celebrate by planting a tree or garden, taking a walk, turning out the lights for an hour or two, or just recommitting yourself to doing all the little things you can to help preserve our planet’s ecosystems, The University Press of Kentucky has some great books that can inspire your Earth-love.

The following books come from our Culture of the Land series, edited by Norman Wirzba, and is devoted to the exploration and articulation of a new agrarianism that considers the health of habitats and human communities together. Far from being a naive call to return to the land, the books show how agrarian insights and responsibilities can be worked out in diverse fields of learning and living: history, politics, economics, literature, philosophy, urban planning, education, and public policy. Agrarianism is a comprehensive worldview that, unlike other forms of environmentalism that often presuppose an antagonistic relationship between wilderness and civilization, appreciates the intimate and practical connections that exist between humans and the earth.

A full listing of the titles in the Culture of the Land series can be found here.

Cultivating an Ecological Conscience: Essays from a Farmer Philosopher documents Kirschenmann’s evolution and his lifelong contributions to the new agrarianism in a collection of his greatest writings on farming, philosophy, and sustainability.

“Fred Kirschenmann may not be as well known as Wendell Berry or Wes Jackson, America’s other indispensable farmer-philosophers, but the publication of this superb collection of essays should fix that. These essays make clear to all what some of us have long known: that Fred is one of the wisest, sanest, most practical, and most trusted voices in the movement to reform the American food system.”–Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto

In From the Farm to the Table, over forty farm families from America’s heartland detail the practices and values that relate to their land, work, and communities. Their stories reveal that those who make their living in agriculture–despite stereotypes of provincialism perpetuated by the media–are savvy to the influence of world politics on local issues.

“Rural America is not somehow ‘behind us,’ a part of a past that is no longer central to our lives. For all of us, Holthaus shows, the thinking of rural people is relevant to the well-being of the nation and far more complex than we have realized. This book provides fresh insight into what is going on in the rural countryside and what farmers themselves have thought about those changes.” –Donald Worster, author of Nature’s Economy: A History of Ecological Ideas

Coming in Fall 2011:

The costs of industrial agriculture are astonishing in terms of damage to the environment, human health, animal suffering, and social equity, and the situation demands that we expand our ecological imagination to meet this crisis. In response to growing dissatisfaction with the existing food system, farmers and consumers are creating alternate models of production and consumption that are both sustainable and equitable. Growing Stories from India demonstrates that conventional agribusiness is only one of many options and engages the work of modern agrarian luminaries to explore how alternative agricultural methods can be implemented.

“This book is highly significant for its stunning cross-cultural leaps that work. Sanford’s call to environmentalists to turn their minds from wilderness to agriculture is of enduring significance.”—Ann Grodzins Gold, author of In the Time of Trees and Sorrows: Nature, Power, and Memory in Rajasthan