Anatoly Dobrynin, "In Confidence"

Posted By: Alexpal

Anatoly Dobrynin, "In Confidence: Moscow's Ambassador to America's Six Cold War Presidents (1962-1986)"
Crown | ISBN 0812923286 | 1995 Year | PDF | 4,46 Mb | 672 Pages

This diplomatic history by the former Soviet ambassador to the U.S. from 1962 to 1986 casts the Cold War as a saga of missed opportunities and misunderstandings. Dobrynin believes that the ideologies of both the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. perpetuated a wasteful, dangerous rivalry, and he blames the collapse of detente on the growing influence of the Soviet military-industrial complex, Moscow's overextension (e.g., in Afghanistan), U.S. inflexibility in arms control and President Ronald Reagan's bellicosity. Paradoxically, Dobrynin also credits Reagan for opening a dialogue with Moscow during his second term. Drawing on his own unpublished diaries and archival research, the ex-ambassador charges that during the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, Moscow made him an involuntary tool of deceit by keeping secret the deployment of Soviet intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Cuba. He also divulges that President Lyndon Johnson pushed for a negotiated end to the Vietnam War in 1965 whereby the U.S. would accept any government in South Vietnam, even if it eventually turned socialist. This monumental chronicle is a fundamental source on Soviet-American relations.

Dobrynin, the Soviet ambassador to the United States from the Kennedy through Reagan administrations, here recounts vividly the many frightening Cold War episodes that linger in the collective memory of the international community. In moderate language, the diplomat who strove above all to maintain cordial relations between the two superpowers discusses the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War, Afghanistan, and the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia. The book's title refers to the "confidential channel" that began with Dobrynin and Bobby Kennedy testing each other out with ideas and fresh proposals via a more informal communications network. This channel bypassed much of the traditional foreign policy-making bureaucracy of both countries and allowed for greater flexibility among negotiators. Dobrynin's memoir reads surprisingly well for this type of book, even as he goes into detail about specific meetings, crises, and American and Soviet personalities. His opinions of the individual American presidents and foreign policy leaders may challenge one's notion of Cold War political heroes and goats. Highly recommended for larger public and all academic libraries.