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'Back Channels' Strategy Rooted in Presidential History

'Back Channels' Strategy Rooted in Presidential History
Trusted FDR aide Harry Hopkins in 1945. In this photo, with sealed folder in hand, he awaits to be driven to the White House, as he arrives at National Airport in Washington, D.C. after a flight from Europe. Hopkins was bringing a report for then-President Harry Truman on his reportedly successful mission to Moscow. (AP Photo)

Ben Stein's DREEMZ By Tuesday, 06 June 2017 04:18 PM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

The media and the Democrats are screaming about Trump’s use of "back channel" representatives to talk to Russia about easing tensions in the world. This is as if it’s a rare and scary thing for the White House to go around the State Department for foreign policy initiatives.

But the exact opposite is true. Presidents have not trusted the striped pants boys in Foggy Bottom with anything vital for a century or close to it.

When Woodrow Wilson wanted to talk to Britain and France about helping them in their struggle with the Central Powers, Germany and Austro-Hungary, he didn’t dare send the ultra-isolationist William Jennings Bryan, Secretary of State, for the task. He knew Bryan and his State Department would never help the struggling Brits and French.

Instead, he sent his pal and aide, Col. Edward House, to see the lay of the land. Col. House sent reports to Wilson that eventually led to the U.S. entering the war. Bryan was furious and so were his pals in the Senate. But the U.S. entered the war.

When Franklin D. Roosevelt wanted an honest appraisal of the looks of World War II, and the danger of Hitler, especially from the viewpoint of beleaguered London, he did not bother to ask the gangster, bootlegger, anti-Semite, pro-Nazi U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James’s, Joe Kennedy. He knew Kennedy wanted a Nazi Britain and a pro-Nazi Ireland. He could not be trusted to tell the straight story.

So FDR sent his trusted aide, Harry Hopkins, secretly to London and then to Moscow to get the lay of the land.

This was crucial in making the U.S. "The Arsenal of Democracy" and helping Britain stay in the war. In every way, this use of "back channel" diplomacy by a non-professional diplomat was indispensable in saving the world.

In the Cuban Missile Crisis, John Kennedy, Joe’s son, did not trust the State Department to work things out with Russia to avert nuclear catastrophe. Instead, Jack Kennedy sent his clever, trusty brother, Robert F. Kennedy, to meet with the Russians and work out a deal with the Soviets to avert nuclear Armageddon. The details of the deal were not made public for years.

In every vital foreign policy situation, the President uses back channels. Nixon used the genius Henry A. Kissinger, not Secretary of State Bill Rogers, to work out the opening to China that led to the end of the cold war and the collapse of communism in Europe. (It is making a big comeback at colleges and universities, though, here in the U.S.)

The State Department has its uses. I worked there in 1966 and it was there I met my future bride, Alex. We were both summer interns. But speed, flexibility, and audacity are not parts of its skill set.

My point is that it’s just nonsense to see Trump’s use of back channels to Russia as at all unique or dangerous. It’s standard. See Ben Stein's full article in The American Spectator, by clicking here

Ben Stein is a writer, actor, and lawyer who served as a speechwriter in the Nixon administration as the Watergate scandal unfolded. He began his unlikely road to stardom when director John Hughes as the numbingly dull economics teacher in the urban comedy, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." Read more more reports from Ben Stein — Click Here Now.

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It’s just nonsense to see Trump’s use of back channels to Russia as at all unique or dangerous. It’s standard.
back channels, fdr, hopkins, kennedy
Tuesday, 06 June 2017 04:18 PM
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