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Gorbachev, Massie, and a Bit of Optimism

Justin Lifflander

Gorbachev, Justin, Palazhchenko and Ambassador Jon Huntsman
Photo: Marina Buligina, Vesmir Publishers

Gorbachev and Massie inspecting the Votkinsk “Trust But Verify” T-shirt.
Photo: Anatoly Kotov, Vesmir Publishers

 In a classroom at Cornell in the Spring of 1986 we discussed Gorbachev’s speech at the 27th congress of the Communist Party of the USSR, then taking place in Moscow.  I realized the style of the new General Secretary, Mikhail Sergeevich Gorbachev,  was going to be very different than his predecessors. And I had an inkling that the field of study in which I was getting a diploma – “Soviet Government,” aka Kremlinology – was about to become a whole lot more interesting.

 So, spending an afternoon this month with Gorbachev at his foundation in Moscow, along with other giants from the Cold War – Foreign Minister Alexander Bessmertnykh, General Vladimir Dvorkin, and historian and Ronald Reagan confidant Suzanne Massie – was a surreal culmination of a journey I began three decades earlier. The occasion was the publication in Russian of Massie’s recent memoir “Trust But Verify: Russian Lessons for Reagan.”

 The full article about the book launch you can read here.

 Before she headed back to her home in Maine for the holidays, I had breakfast with Suzanne. We commiserated over the sad state of global affairs and bonded over our love for Russia. When you’ve spent 35 years dedicated to a cause, and then meet someone  35 years your senior who has been working the same cause her whole life, hope easily rekindles.