Andrew Reveals KGB Cold War Machinations

By Dettmer, Jamie | Insight on the News, November 1, 1999 | Go to article overview

Andrew Reveals KGB Cold War Machinations


Dettmer, Jamie, Insight on the News


Historian Christopher Andrew's stunning revelations in a new book about KGB espionage in the West show that intelligence operations are a fundamental part of modern diplomatic history.

He walks briskly through the crowded lobby of Washington's Capital Hilton Hotel. In his right arm he balances a couple of copies of his latest bulk) book -- The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB. There are a few glances of recognition as professor Christopher Andrew strides past. That hardly is surprising: In the last week off September the Cambridge University historian (a former tutor of this reporter) took Washington by storm with a book that is a treasure trove of information about what the KGB was up to both within the Soviet Union and overseas during the Cold War:

Based on voluminous notes taken by KGB defector Vasili Mitrokhin, an archivist who handled the most secret of Soviet spy dossiers and files, Andrew's book is required reading for anyone who wants to understand the Cold War and the nature of the Soviet beast. There are eye-opening revelations in this one, ,from details of the disinformation campaigns the KGB mounted in the West against Martin Luther King Jr: and d. Edgar Hoover, just to name two, to the secret underground arms caches the KGB prepared in Western Europe and North America. Some of the arms dumps buried in Europe have been unearthed as a result of information supplied by Mitrokhin, who defected in 1992. But the archivist did not have detailed descriptions of the caches in the United States.

Andrew discloses how effectively me KGB managed to penetrate the U.S. defense industries in the 1970s and 1980s. And thew are a multitude of other heart-stoppers. If FDR had died a few months earlier, two top Cabinet posts -- the secretaries of state and the Treasury -- would have been occupied by KGB moles.

The book reveals the code names of hundreds of the KGB's moles in the United States and the West -- already in Britain it has led to the unmasking of 87-year-old Melita Norwood as a 1950s-era atomic spy and former Scotland Yard detective John Symonds as a "Romeo" agent for the KGB. And, on this side of the Atlantic, there are ,spies to be unmasked, too. One, for example, was at the heart of Jimmy Carter's 1976 election-campaign team and his reports went straight to the Politburo. That agent hasn't yet been exposed, but U.S. counterintelligence officers have unmasked at least one other KGB spy by using Mitrokhin's information, which the archivist collected for many years by scribbling on small pieces of paper the contents of KGB files and then hiding the notes under his mattress.

Andrew and Mitrokhin have not finished. A second volume is due out in the spring. That one will contain more details on KGB operations in Latin America and bring into sharper focus how Moscow manipulated and influenced "liberation movements" in South America. A third volume well may follow.

Insight: You started writing on turn-of-the-century European diplomatic history and then moved over to intelligence history. Why the change? What drew you to intelligence history and away from more traditional work?

Christopher Andrew: More than 30 years ago when I was doing my doctorate I realized intelligence history was the bit that was left out. It was a process of wonderment for me. I still remember working on French foreign policy before the First World War and trying to work out why the French did what they did. I was reading a book of German diplomatic documents and thinking, "If they had read the German documents it would explain all," but the documents were not published until 30 years later. What did the French get to see at the time?

Then it dawned on me (later, generally) that code-breaking intelligence signals is just part of 20th-century diplomatic relations. I don't know why the concept is so difficult to grasp for some historians. …

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