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Oral History

Jan Kalicki Oral History, Chief Foreign Policy Advisor to Edward Kennedy

Copyright 2016 the Miller Center Foundation and the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate.

Heininger

This is an interview with Jan Kalicki on March 18, 2009. Let’s start at the beginning. Why don’t you tell me when you first met [Edward] Kennedy and what your initial impressions of him were.

Kalicki

I met him in 1977, and at the time I was on the Policy Planning staff, having made the transition from Henry Kissinger to Cyrus Vance, and the director of the staff was Tony Lake. I was approached by his office and met initially with Carey Parker and Eddie Martin.

Heininger

Who approached you? 

Kalicki

I think it was Carey who approached me, having heard about me from a number of people.

Heininger

And knowing Bob Hunter was leaving.

Kalicki

Bob and I also had a chat, but Carey was the one who was having more of a discussion with me about it. Then after a few discussions that spring—I was really busy with a number of things, as you might imagine, in Policy Planning, so I was not looking for anything at all. I was quite happy where I was. It got to the point where they felt they really wanted me to come onboard, and where I was enough interested that they thought I should see the Senator. That’s how it worked.

Heininger

Didn’t you first say no to him?

Kalicki

Did somebody tell you that?

Heininger

I’ve seen that written up.

Kalicki

It’s true. I did, although I had a tremendous respect for the office. But I was really happy where I was.

Heininger

It had to have been difficult to leave Policy Planning.

Kalicki

It was a great challenge. It was a combination. My job in Policy Planning was to worry about China and Korea policy and nuclear nonproliferation issues, which were extremely—

Heininger

At a critical time.

Kalicki

—extremely active at that time. The only person working on China of any consequence in the Kissinger period, besides the Secretary himself, was [Winston] Win Lord, whom I worked with, so it was a really great job. Korea was a tremendously live issue. This was the time that Jimmy Carter was talking about getting U.S. forces out of the Korean Peninsula and I was one of the State Department people working on that for the Secretary.

Heininger

We’d had Mayagüez under [Gerald] Ford, too.

Kalicki

Yes, Mayagüez was under Ford. Then the Nuclear Suppliers Conference, I worked on that quite a bit, initially with people in the Kissinger period. There was a nuclear policy review in the fall of the previous year, 1976, and then some very big non-proliferation issues involving the President and Vice President [Walter] Mondale, who made some pretty strong public statements that made it much more difficult to accomplish our purposes in our private efforts. 

So that was the backdrop. I was extremely engaged with that, and the idea of going anywhere else came totally out of the blue to me. That was not my interest or purpose at the time, but rather it was to continue to work for Cy Vance and Tony and all those people. It was a new idea and since I was so busy with what I was doing I didn’t really pay much heed until the office became pretty persuasive in terms of wanting me to do a lot working with the Senator, until I met him, which I did finally in the late spring. It was just a charming discussion, which I think is quite similar to other discussions he’s had with people, because I’ve talked to other people about coming onboard. It was one of those discussions where very little was discussed about the job in particular and everything was discussed about the Senator’s broader interests, the history. We met at the house.

Heininger

Oh, you met at the house?

Kalicki

It was just a charming interview. Yes. We didn’t meet at the office ever. I don’t think I ever had an interview in the office. Carey and I would meet out of the office. Nobody was trying to hide or anything; we just did this out of the office and I saw the Senator at his house.

Heininger

They really wooed you, then.

Kalicki

They were very persuasive and yes, they made every effort to make me feel that it would be a good move.

Heininger

What convinced you?

Kalicki

Well, the personal encounter with the Senator was pretty persuasive because I just found him to be a remarkable person. I knew a lot about him in general but I didn’t really focus on his personality, which was instantly engaging. By the time I met him I had heard enough about how he used his staff, which was extremely well, really relying and depending on each staff member to do a huge amount of outreach and thinking and organizing initiatives and so forth—that enormous responsibility, plus the opportunity to work with him directly and the fact that he was such an engaging and really charming, disarming, personable, just wonderful human being. Interacting made you feel instantly close and connected, which is a wonderful trait of his.

Heininger

Did you go into it expecting to say no?

Kalicki

By the time I saw the Senator I had probably gotten to the point where I would say yes, if it worked out fine, which it did. To be honest, I was asked several times before and I didn’t. I said, Thank you, I’m honored, but I’m really quite busy and happy doing what I’m doing. It took several months to get to the point where the Senator and I got to see each other, and where I was only too happy to come onboard. It never really reflected anything about the idea of being in his office. It was entirely a reflection of the fact that I was doing things that I felt were all-consuming and hugely demanding, and I felt I was making a big contribution where I was. It was one of those situations.

Heininger

So you didn’t feel like you were going into a backwater. You were giving up an influential position in the State Department. Did the fact that he was a potential, not announced or anything like that, but he had Presidential aspirations?

Kalicki

It didn’t have any impact on me at all.

Heininger

Really?

Kalicki

I was totally focused on him as a public figure who appeared extremely interested in moving on the issues that I cared about. It was very much a substantive engagement and not at all political. I was pretty apolitical at that point. Remember, I came into the Foreign Service in the [Richard] Nixon period, not that I’m a Republican. I’m a Democrat, but I was pretty apolitical and I always felt it was kind of hilarious that my Foreign Service Commission attested to my character and integrity and was signed by Richard M. Nixon. I thought it was pretty funny. And then I went on to the Ford administration and I worked very hard for Republicans, not because they were Republicans but because I thought the policy issues that they were asking me to advise on were very challenging and difficult and that I could make a difference. Then the Democrats came in: Cy and Tony. I guess another feature of this was Tony. Of course, it was a little bit tricky because they wanted me to stay in the State Department, so we had some conversations and Warren Christopher was involved in those.

Heininger

Oh boy, that had to have been hard to resist.

Kalicki

It was very nice, but they made it really good because they had such regard for Senator Kennedy, and I thought that was pretty impressive. They said, Look, we’d really love you to stay, but if you are going to go anywhere, to work with Ted Kennedy is really, really something. That reaction I thought was striking. It wasn’t, Oh, if you go we’ll never talk to you again. Quite the opposite. It was, Boy, that’s something. We’d love you to stay, but on the other hand you should consider this. 

Actually I went on a leave of absence from the State Department to start with, because my plan was just to be a foreign policy professional and to work at State. I came in as an FSO [Foreign Service Officer] and then became an FSR [Foreign Service Reserve Officer] because I didn’t want to serve outside of Washington. That’s a story in itself. So I got a leave of absence and then we learned a little bit later that some rule somewhere made it impossible for me to hold the job that I held on a leave of absence, so I had to sever the ties with mother State, which was fine. It’s not so much a function of job security at that age. When you’re in your twenties you don’t think about things like that very much, but more about where you thought the challenge and the interest was. The Senator was just hugely engaging and disarming. 

When I came onboard, a couple of interesting things happened: one was sort of the flow of Senate business; the other was just personal. The flow of Senate business: Very early after I came, the Senator decided he really wanted to move against military assistance of any kind to Argentina because it was under the military junta at that time. So here’s Jan coming in from the Policy Planning staff and he says to me, Look, tomorrow I think we might want to do something on this. Why don’t you give me your thoughts? In good State Department style, I came up with three options: a strong statement of disapproval, partial—

Heininger

Hoping he’d pick B, which is the way these memos are sent.

Kalicki

Partial or total, you know? I thought the partial one in the middle was always the one you go for, right? I gave it to him and he looked at this for just a moment, and he was kind enough not to crack up. He said, I think I’m going to go for total termination of assistance.

Heininger

Welcome to the Hill.

Kalicki

Welcome to the Hill. So overnight I became an instant specialist. I had no clue about military assistance to Argentina. What is that all about?  But I put it all together and we went on the floor. He and Jesse Helms, as I recall, had a huge argument, as they usually do about things of that kind, where the Senator was obviously right and Helms was not. To me it was just a very profound demonstration of two things. One is that the way of looking at issues is very different depending on which side of Pennsylvania Avenue you’re on.

Heininger

It is.

Kalicki

And the ability to move is huge and fast if you’re working for a public figure like the Senator, and that was substantively a huge impression. Some ten-plus years later when that legislation was still in effect, and people were trying to work around it, still, on the Administration side—It just spoke volumes about the process and the substance and the impact that the Senator could have on just about any issue.

Heininger

To say nothing about not having to go through the clearance process.

Kalicki

They had no clearances or anything. It was a surprise to me personally, but everybody knew that the Senator had strong views, of course, about Latin America and human rights. The situation in Argentina was horrible. But technically, the idea that he would move in and put a rider on whatever it was at the time, and make it happen and then it would become the law through the usual process with the House and all that—It was just really interesting. So that was one big substantive impression from the start. 

Personally, early on there were two things that struck me. This sounds a little sappy but it happens to be true. I just happened to be walking alongside the Old Senate Office Building in the course of the day, thinking about issues. A car came to a very quick halt and there was the Senator—It was like day two that I was onboard—saying, Hello, Jan. How are things? How’s it going? You know, I look forward to talking about this, that, and the other. He just has this capacity to zero in, which is wonderful for a new staff member. 

Also, a little bit later in the year, we were walking at the usual incredible clip between the Office Building and the Capitol, and he suddenly came to a halt. I was totally focused on the papers and on what had to be done on the floor, and briefing him, which you have to do very quickly for the issue of the day. All of a sudden I see that the man I’m briefing is no longer next to me and I say, My gosh, what’s happened? I see him over there with a handicapped kid and his mom. There was the Senator kneeling next to the kid, talking with the kid. And there were no cameras or other people to say, Oh, isn’t that amazing what he’s doing? He was doing that because that was a natural connection that he had. 

Really, it’s small experiences like that, that speak volumes to you about the character and what’s inside a person that you’re working for and how incredibly committed he was to things that I cared about a lot. Anyway, a long answer to a question about how I came onboard. I came onboard and it was incredibly interesting to me. I’m not sure it’s interesting to others, but to me it was very moving in many ways.

Heininger

Now, Mark Schneider and Bob Hunter both departed close to the same time and the portfolios had been somewhat divided, with Mark being very heavily focused on Latin America.

Kalicki

Right.

Heininger

Was there anyone else there when you came in, or did you inherit everybody’s portfolio?

Kalicki

No. Basically I had the foreign portfolio, which was also unified with the defense portfolio—it was basically a national security job, and there wasn’t really anybody else. He had committee staff people who were quite interested in specific slices, like the health staff on international health issues or the refugee staff with Dale de Haan and Jerry Tinker on refugee issues, but on the foreign policy side I was it. He didn’t have a committee assignment. He was not on Foreign Relations, Armed Services, or Intelligence. It was entirely a personal staff-driven assignment. 

One of the questions in my mind, quickly dispelled, was would this in any way be a limiting factor? With someone like Ted Kennedy it was the opposite. Any issue that he wanted to engage in was not really a function of what committee assignment he had but to what extent did he want to spend time on it, and his engagement with it, because he had such a multitude of connections going well beyond the Senate, well beyond Washington, going to the family and its relationships and his own relationships with people on a global basis. It was a multitude of riches, to decide with him where he could have more impact, what was worth his spending time on.

Heininger

If you had to rank overall what his top foreign policy interests were at the time, what would you come up with?

Kalicki

Well, there was an interesting correlation. There is, was, and will always be an abiding interest and engagement in human rights. That was global. He did a lot on Latin America for sure, with Mark Schneider’s help, and then beyond that, building on that. It was true in all parts of the world. It’s a huge engagement, whether it was in the former Soviet Union or Central Europe or South Africa or Asia. We did a lot on the human rights agenda and I’m very proud of all the work, much of which people don’t remember any more. He did a great amount, for example, on human rights in Korea. People don’t talk much about Kim Dae-jung, Kim Young-sam and Kennedy—and I happened to be supporting him and his work there. It was very big, the whole Democracy and human rights movement in Korea. In the Philippines as well, the Senator was deeply involved in the democratic transition from [Ferdinand] Marcos. You name the country and he will have a record on it. So that was one very big thing.

Where I brought some personal value was in two other areas where he had a very strong immediate interest. One was normalization of relations with the People’s Republic of China. I had spent a lot of time thinking about China, as I told you, with Win Lord of Policy Planning, but before that I had written a book about U.S.–China relations. Then, the Soviet Union and arms control issues, and of course I was up to my ears in nuclear issues in the previous period. Actually, as a Foreign Service Officer, I started in the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. I spent a couple of years there, working on East Asia, so it was a combination of the two. 

So in very short order after I came onboard, we were working really hard on what the Senator would say and then ultimately do on China. In the summer just after I came in, he made a speech at the World Affairs Council in Boston, which was really quite seminal at the time. It talked about what needed to be done to normalize relations with China and it basically was the public outline of what the Administration was considering privately at that time. The speech was developed with great care, with a lot of external and internal input, including from the administration. Then Assistant Secretary Dick Holbrooke, NSC Senior Director Mike Oksenberg, and others were aware of and saw the speech before it was given, and external advisors, a great number of them, including Jerry [Jerome] Cohen, a good friend of his from Harvard. He gave that speech in the middle of August and the following day it was page one, the leading article by Bernie Gwertzman in the Washington Post. That was a pretty immediate impact. It was a strong call for normalizing relations with China.

Then we moved forward with a concern also for the security and well-being of Taiwan. I worked hard with Senator [Alan] Cranston’s staff, on the Kennedy-Cranston resolution that became the core language in the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act on security. The interesting thing was not only that the Senator was able to push normalization with China and continued support of Taiwan effectively as a political matter, but that in turn he was able to talk with the Chinese about it so that the Chinese Ambassador—or the head of the Liaison Office at the time because we hadn’t normalized relations—was aware that he would be taking initiatives on the Taiwan side but would be doing so in a way that would not undermine the effort to normalize with China. There was an occasion where the Senator had leading people from the administration and the Chinese head of the Liaison Office together at his house for a dinner, where the head of the Liaison Office criticized, but not too strongly, the language in the Taiwan Relations Act, in a way that the people there interpreted as saying this would fly. It was a fairly subtle but very important signal that was given in advance.

The Senator went over to China at the end of 1977. The TRA was in ’79. The combination of his giving a speech, engaging with the administration, engaging with the Chinese, engaging with Taiwan on their concerns, external advisors, his going to China, his following-up with Senator Cranston on the Taiwan Relations Act: altogether, that was over the course of one-and-a-half to two years and it played out really well. It was a very good case study in the interaction of politics and policy in the best sense of the word, and in a way that really helped advance U.S. interests. The administration was a little cautious at the beginning, to put it mildly, on the China account, and about moving much more proactively to embrace the proposition that you could both have normal relations with China and behave supportively vis-à-vis Taiwan.

Heininger

OK, lots to talk about here. Let’s back up to the speech, the World Affairs speech. Why Jerry Cohen?  There were lots and lots of China experts.

Kalicki

I mentioned Jerry as an example. Jerry was very helpful, but there were a number of other people, Doak Barnett, for example, who was in many ways America’s Dean of China Studies. We had a whole series of people who were involved in that speech and even more who were involved in preparing the Senator for his trip to China. I organized at least eight or nine briefings of the Senator on all aspects of China. It would be interesting to find the list if we’re going into any detail, but it basically was people who were specialists in the economic side, the political side, the health side, the justice side because he was on the Judiciary Committee—We really made an extensive outreach—and people of different points of view, too, more conservative scholars. Bob Scalapino was involved, and more liberal ones like Jerry. It was basically anybody who was knowledgeable on and had something interesting to say about China, who interacted either for that trip or for the speech before that.

Heininger

Once you had been in the Senate for a while, did you get a sense that other Senators prepared in this kind of depth for trips the way Kennedy did?

Kalicki

My sense was he really did a lot more homework. I’m sure others did their preparation, but in the Senator’s case it was just massive engagement in the country he was visiting, thinking about what it meant for the United States, thinking about what initiatives could be pursued either before or after the trip, and how the trip could be used to advance that policy purpose. In the case of China it was a family engagement because members of his family came along with him. It was great. Caroline Kennedy was part of that trip, his sisters, his children Ted, Kara, Patrick, and Joan [Bennett Kennedy].

Heininger

His sisters?

Kalicki

His sisters, yes—Eunice, Pat, Jean, and also Steve Smith. We went not only to China but to Japan. For China it was almost two weeks, and Japan less than a week, so two-and-a-half weeks perhaps. In Japan he went not only to Tokyo but to Kyoto, Osaka, and then Hiroshima, where he made a very big speech on nuclear issues and the lessons of World War II and the need to stop nuclear proliferation and to control the arms race, which was very well received as you might imagine, in Japan. 

Each time, there was tremendous preparation and follow-through as well. After he came back he met with the President, the Secretary, and the National Security Advisor. He really made sure to follow up and share his thoughts with them. Typically, we would write a note or a memo to share with people in the administration. Beyond what met the eye, the public side of it, was the intense policy side of it and the interaction with the administration, which in the foreign policy area was extraordinarily intense and constructive, in my view. You have a real sense of moving them in a direction faster than they might otherwise move, or coming up with ideas that might not have been part of the discussion to start with.

Heininger

Your sense from when you were still sitting in the State Department was—How quickly did you expect Carter to move on normalization?

Kalicki

Not very quickly, but remember I was only with the Carter team for a few months so it would have been too soon to make any kind of confident judgment on that. The sense I had was more as a result of discussing it afterwards with people I knew in the State Department, a number of whom felt that we should move more quickly and felt that a public statement of the kind that the Senator made could help move the process along more quickly, which indeed it did.

Heininger

Was the work that Kennedy was doing prompted by a sense that the Carter administration needed a prod to move on this, or was it he just plain felt this was time to—?

Kalicki

I think it was both. I don’t think that there was any sense that the political was driving the policy, if that’s what your question is getting at. It was the sense that it was time for the policy to move, and this is an administration that in its early period has many things it has to decide. So, which one will be the priority? China was not at the top of the list but it should be, and there were a number in the administration, as you might imagine, who felt the same way. The consultative process was really one of the best kinds of undertakings, where people of like mind in the Executive and the Legislative Branch talk about the issue, feel the same way about it, and the President is open to persuasion. It wasn’t that he was closing the door on it, but it was a matter of putting it high up on the list.

Heininger

So you were getting quiet words of encouragement from within the administration, that this would be useful for Kennedy to do?

Kalicki

Oh, yes. It was more than quiet words. In private, we were talking in detail about what the Senator would say and how to say it and what the message should be—what the Senator planned to say and what their view of it was. So when Bernie came out with his article, the response to it was quite favorable from a number of people in the administration as well as externally. That probably tracks with Bernie. I don’t remember exactly how that article came out but he felt that this was not just a good speech on China policy, it was a speech that had some real connection to the course of events, which it did at the time.

Heininger

As you’re looking back on this, do you think the Carter administration would have moved as quickly without the prodding from Kennedy?

Kalicki

I don’t think so. No, I think the Senator really took this on earlier than others had any inclination to, on either side of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Heininger

Did he provide some cover for the administration?

Kalicki

I’m not sure it’s so much cover, as strong public encouragement and demonstration to them that, when advocated, the policy really would receive considerable support. I’m not sure the administration was that concerned that the old China lobby would rear its head, or anything like that. It was more, in my perception, that there were different priorities and they had to decide which one to push first, rather than the sense of political downside in doing so.

Heininger

What was the feeling within the Senate at this point about moving towards normalization?  I mean when the language finally came forward there were lots of problems about how we were going to deal with Taiwan.

Kalicki

True, but now that we’re talking about this process, the Senate engagement was belated. The Taiwan Relations Act was passed, I’m pretty sure, in 1979. The Senator’s speech was in 1977.

Heininger

Right, his was early.

Kalicki

His trip was late December 1977-January 1978. The TRA and the move to normalization only occurred later, the actual normalization, as opposed to the Liaison offices. When the Senate did engage, which was at the latter part of the process, there were people who were traditionally quite opposed to normalization and very concerned about the future of Taiwan. Senator [Barry] Goldwater is a good example of that. People were extremely favorable to normalization. Senator Cranston was an example of that. The idea that Senator Cranston and Kennedy would be the ones articulating the case for the security of Taiwan was counterintuitive. It was highly responsible for them to do it, and people would have expected that from a Goldwater but not from a couple of liberals in the Senate side, so it was very good politics as well as the right policy.

An interesting personal element of this to me is that Senator Goldwater’s staff and I hit it off tremendously, even though we had different views on China. In fact, I remember our going together at the time on trips to Taiwan and South Korea. Goldwater’s advisor, Terry Emerson, was one of my close colleagues. The Senator has done that a lot. He’s been able to work with people perceived to be and who often are at a very different place on the political and ideological spectrum, and he’s been able to accomplish good results by working together with them. Even though Goldwater had a very different view on China, I think the fact of our shared interest in doing the responsible thing more broadly in the Asian arena, including with Taiwan, contributed a great deal to the final positive result.

Heininger

How much of it was a political calculation that you couldn’t normalize relations with China without finding a way of accommodating Taiwan?

Kalicki

There was some concern about that, but I would put it in a different way: I would say it was if you were to move forward with China for all sorts of appropriate reasons from a policy point of view—a billion-plus people and huge political and strategic impact—you have to behave responsibly with the people who have been your longtime partners and allies. That’s just truly important from an ethical point of view of American values and foreign policy. It was not so much, We have to cover our flanks, as it was, This is the right thing to do. Now, I’m sure it’s the case that it had a political benefit to get everything through. You know you ought to do that. But the driver initially was very much, What is the right thing to do, and how much will the traffic bear, vis-à-vis this incredibly tense confrontation at the time between the China mainland and Taiwan?

Heininger

When it came time to normalize relations with Vietnam, much of the pressure to do so came from the business community.

Kalicki

Right.

Heininger

How much pressure was coming from the business community to normalize relations with China?

Kalicki

The business community was very favorable but it was not the major factor there. Much more of a driver in normalizing relations with China was the strategic environment with the Soviet Union, and the recognition of China’s position not only vis-à-vis Moscow, but just as importantly on a regional basis, and the recognition that we have a key role to play, and it was well overdue that the U.S. should have some relationship with such a large and important power. We had no relations to speak of on a diplomatic level for over 30 years. That’s a very long time. 

It’s not the first time. We also had this similar problem with the Soviet Union when it was created. I think that was much more of it. The business community was certainly supportive, but I don’t view it as much of a driver then. It is clearly an important component in the U.S.–China relationship as it exists now and as it moves forward. The economic and commercial dimensions are quite important.

Heininger

Well, because there’s always been—From the beginning of our relations with China, the myth of the China market has been a very powerful force.

Kalicki

It has been. It was almost a romantic one, tied in by the way to New England. The China trade was tied very much to the—

Heininger

The China Clippers.

Kalicki

—ports of New England. We made reference of course to that in the speech, but more from an Isn’t this interesting history? than from a view that this is a real driver of why we should be doing what we’re doing, which was the more central foreign policy reasoning that we had. 

There was another very nice element to this that has been written about a lot, and that is that there was a large number of Chinese who had come to the U.S. but who had left relatives behind. In that time it was unheard of for families to reunify. Now it’s much more common for Chinese to go back and forth. It’s just a normal thing.

Heininger

Yes, it is.

Kalicki

You just get on the plane and go. But then it wasn’t. And they were divided for years. People who had last seen their relatives in 1949, since before the Chinese Revolution, were separated from their relatives. We were able to put together a list of people in Massachusetts who were divided from their relatives, as well as a list of people outside of Massachusetts. A significant number of them were in fact allowed to leave as a result of the Senator’s intervention, and at a very early stage. I don’t think there was anything like that before. I think Senator Kennedy was the first one to do that in any significant number—about 30 families were united.

Heininger

There had been a precedent for Kennedy in having done this with the Soviet Union.

Kalicki

That was true, but the major break for the Senator was afterwards. The big number was as a result of his 1979 trip, which we can talk about.

Heininger

He had had about 15 come out.

Kalicki

He went to China in late ’77. This was a year earlier. These are people—I remember still a family from Delaware who came by just to say thank you. They brought their members both from Delaware and from China who were there together now as a united family. The feeling of satisfaction that you get from something as concrete as that is wonderful, as you know from your own experience. Throughout the conversation the mother held my hand, and tears were in her eyes as she was talking about what a difference this made. Even now I get choked up thinking about it. Again, that’s something very special about working for someone like Kennedy. You get that sense that you can make a huge difference, not just against the wide backdrop of history, but in terms of individual lives, in ways that make it all worthwhile.

Heininger

I don’t want to skip ahead to the Soviet relations yet, but you had to deal with exactly this issue with both the Soviets and with the Chinese, of Kennedy wanting to get people out.

Kalicki

Right.

Heininger

How did it differ, dealing with the Chinese versus with the Soviets, on doing that?

Kalicki

It was quite different. With the Soviets it was a process that involved pretty much secret trips that I took to Moscow to make this happen. In the case of the Chinese, it was private in the sense that we would share with the embassy and with the Chinese government when we arrived, and we would make sure to hand over the list—The Senator would hand them over in the senior level meetings with the Chinese—but there was none of the sense of having to put together a complicated plan in advance with the secret involvement of certain elements of the bureaucracy. It was much more of an engagement with the Chinese government as a whole, and their representatives. 

Heininger

When they got the list did they respond positively, or did they say, We don’t talk about this?

Kalicki

Neither. They just took it in and said they would look at it, and then it happened. Whereas, in the Soviet case it was very much a matter of arguing about a list in advance—in my experience enduring a lot of abuse over the list—and then finally they’re agreeing that if the Senator is to come they have to do something, and agreeing that the people would be released afterwards, and then anyone looking at the record will see that there was a controversy over the release that reached the Soviet press, Pravda, at the time. 

It was worked out, interestingly enough in the Soviet case, much more in detail on the specifics of the cases, much more in detail on the way it would unfold, and it was subject to pushback by parts of the bureaucracy that presumably were very much opposed to this kind of thing happening. In fact, I know that they were very opposed to it, because the visit I had was with people who were associated with the security apparatus of the country. The people who were not involved, [Andrei] Gromyko and the people in the Foreign Ministry, were decidedly not engaged in this discussion, and they were the ones who took it upon themselves to react negatively to it afterwards. 

So you had very much of a sense of internal struggle over the release, in terms of what this meant in terms of being subject to U.S. pressure. If you do it now, what happens the next time? One had very much that sense. Both systems were totalitarian in nature. In the Soviet period one had very much of that sense of internal struggle—whereas in the Chinese system there may have been a similar struggle underway but nobody would see evidence of that on the outside.

Heininger

Do you think some of it had to do with the fact that many of the Chinese that you were trying to get out—it was really family reunification, versus—There were some pretty high profile people of concern. There were refuseniks; there were dissidents—

Kalicki

There were some but there were a number of Soviets who were not.

Heininger

Right.

Kalicki

They really weren’t. They were just people who had relatives in Massachusetts or who had relatives elsewhere. It was around 50:50, between the Commonwealth and elsewhere. It’s true, though there were some who were highly visible, who got all the attention.

Heininger

Right.

Kalicki

The member of the [Soviet] Academy of Sciences, [Benjamin G.] Ben Levich, is one, and the Jessica Katz family, of course, was another. It probably was because of the attention received in the Western press by those individuals, that some people felt that they had to say something on the Soviet side.

Heininger

So you get—

Kalicki

If it were a reunification standard—There was no standard. It was the first time off—But if it were not that kind of highly visible two or three cases, it might have unfolded differently.

Heininger

So some pushback is going to happen because there was press attention to it, that it doesn’t look good for the Soviets, where you don’t have that with the Chinese?

Kalicki

No. There was press attention, for sure, but it was at a regional level. Those who advocated releasing the refuseniks and dissidents on the Soviet side were expecting the positive press but not the negative. When people were focusing, for example, on the malnutrition problem of Jessica Katz, which the Soviets felt reflected extremely badly on their system and they didn’t agree with, they felt bound to come up with a rebuttal on that, and also then to talk about intervention in their domestic affairs. It became more of a mountain than it should have been. It should have been much more contained. 

It was an interesting time. My interlocutor in Moscow asked me to simply go to the embassy in Washington to get a visa. I said, Well, that’s interesting. What do I tell the embassy is my reason?  He said, You don’t give a reason. You just go in and say you want to have a visa. So I went in and I saw the chargé—That was in 1978—and said, I’m here from Senator Kennedy’s office and I need a visa to go to Moscow. He looked at me and said, Could you let me know what the occasion may be?  And I said, I’m afraid I can’t, but I can tell you that I need to go to Moscow on behalf of the Senator, and I would appreciate a visa. 

It went back and forth like that for, I would say, a good 45 minutes, without his pushing too hard, given whom I was representing. Then he finally said, Well, if Senator Kennedy asks someone to get a visa, we have only one possible response and that’s to issue it. He personally made the arrangements to issue it. I was to leave in a few days, but the morning of the day that I was leaving, a junior member of the embassy drove to my house near Mount Vernon with a gift, saying, I want to give you a gift and wish you a very safe trip. I said, Thank you very much. And he said, And by the way, exactly what are you doing when you get to Moscow? I said, I’m sorry but I can’t tell you. So they made what they thought was a clever personal approach to me to see whether I might be more communicative, which of course I wasn’t.

I arrive in Moscow and my counterpart meets with me. He comes into the meeting with this long cable, laughing and saying, This is a cable about the discussions that you had in Washington. I think it’s hilarious. This cable was sent to me because the Foreign Ministry said, ‘There’s only one person that we know of in Moscow who would do something like this, and this must be this guy, so we’re going to send this cable to him to tell him what happened.’ They sort of put two-and-two together in Moscow easily enough, but in Washington they were totally perplexed, which was to me a hilarious incident just on a personal level, but also an example of the Senator’s capacities to get things done even if he doesn’t, at that time, choose to say too much about why he’s doing it.

Heininger

Tell me about the trip to China. Who did he try to see? How did he go about raising issues?  Did he raise the same issues—Did he have the same agenda for every meeting, or raise different issues at different levels?  What was it like trying to get to see places that he wanted to see?

Kalicki

  He had a very interesting trip. We’d have to review the names for me to give you the details, but the key person that he saw was Deng Xiaoping, who then was not the head of anything but he was the up-and-coming—He was certainly the man who was going to be the head. There was definitely a long meeting with Deng Xiaoping and there were meetings with others in the government at lower levels. He went to Shanghai and then on to Beijing—then on to Changsha, to Mao’s [Zedong] birthplace and on to Guangzhou. He had not only the meetings you would expect at the political level, with the most senior people, not just in Beijing but the heads of the party apparatus in each of these regional centers too, but he also had a great interest in educational establishments and the prisons, as a function of his work.

Heininger

A touchy subject for the Chinese.

Kalicki

Very touchy for the Chinese. It’s a function of his work  in three areas: health, education, and justice. He asked for and got access, which was not too difficult, to the health establishment.

Heininger

I’d say they’d probably be pretty happy to let him see their—

Kalicki

But including pretty primitive health measures that we certainly would not willingly accept. For example, we were treated to acupuncture leading up to, if not at the time of, open-heart surgery. It was pretty extreme stuff. 

Then he went to different schools and he decided—I think it was in Changsha—to have a little opinion poll, because at that time they had four modernizations, including military modernization. He asked the students to rank order them, which of course is inconceivable because all of them are top priority, but he actually got the students to rank order them and found that military was less important than the others, and you can imagine how the Chinese felt about his extracting that out of them.

Heininger

How did he do that?

Kalicki

Well, as I told you, he is instantly engaging and he is a presence. He is an incredible presence, there’s no question about it. There he was with a class and the Chinese thought this would be just a nice how-do-you-do, and the teacher saying something, and everybody saying hello and then leaving. No way. He decided to do his little public opinion poll. He did it, and he used it afterwards. He wrote about it. I thought it was amazing. I mean, I spent a lot of time working on China and wrote a book on it. It would never cross my mind in a thousand years that he could walk into a Chinese classroom and do that at that time.

Heininger

No.

Kalicki

Jerry Cohen was with us and we both found that really quite striking. Then the Senator asked for—They really resisted his going into prisons but finally he was allowed to go into a prison facility: common criminals, nothing political about it, a pretty Spartan environment. They weren’t trying to make it look like some kind of paradise on earth or anything like that. People working—

Heininger

Not a dog-and-pony show?

Kalicki

No. People were working their heads off at the machines. No torture or anything like that. The Chinese wouldn’t show anything like that, obviously, but it was a fairly sobering environment, one that I would not want to be in if I were in a jail anywhere. It was something that again was a function of their responding to his interests. 

On the political level, discussions with the Chinese covered the gamut: all of the bilateral issues, all of the normalization issues, all of the strategic issues, relations with Russia, regional—You name it. It was an expansive set of discussions. The meeting with Deng Xiaoping was striking on a number of fronts. One was, he was at a point where he was quite confident of his position and ability to talk without worrying about hedging, so that was very satisfactory on the policy level. But on the personal level, two things struck the family. One was that this is a very short man. You know, the tall Kennedys and here’s this short man, a man who by the way suffered hugely, as did his family, in the Cultural Revolution.

Heininger

Yes, he did.

Kalicki

The Senator was well aware of that from his briefings. A survivor. Here is a small man but a very big survivor who had made it through that system, who had seen the worst and been able to get through. The other thing is while the Senator was talking, Deng Xiaoping did what was very common for him, which is he had a spittoon halfway between him and the Senator. At a certain point he cleared his throat and came out with this huge amount of spit while the Senator was talking. The rest of the family had a very hard time—in fact, a couple of the kids started laughing and I gave them the eye, You can’t do this, but they did. It was really an extraordinary experience for those who don’t know that was what Deng Xiaoping does, and what many other Chinese of his generation do. That’s what they do. 

So they had all of that. And these briefings for the Senator in advance with the China experts were not just for him but for the family. The family needed an educational enterprise—not the whole family necessarily for all the briefings, but they would join in. Some of them would come to some and others to the others. Most of these briefings were at his house, so they were in a more informal environment and several hours each or two hours each. 

We did a lot. Afterwards the briefers, about half of whom were from government and about half from outside, uniformly commented on how they had never seen someone probe as deeply into their issues and ask so many questions and want to learn so much, as they found with the Senator. They didn’t find it in their own administration; they didn’t find it anywhere else in the Congress. He was one of a kind in terms of wanting to really know the subject matter inside and out.

Heininger

Is Kennedy a note-taker when he does that?

Kalicki

He takes a few notes but it’s mostly taking it in and relying on notes that I took and shared with him afterwards. There was definitely note-taking going on. He might make a note or two of the things that he found interesting, that he wanted to talk about as a follow-up, but for record purposes or to remind himself later, he would rely on staff for that.

Heininger

But his own style is to take it in orally.

Kalicki

More orally but making a note or two as he’s going along. Typically for briefings I would prepare some material for him in advance, so he would read in advance, which he always did.

Heininger

Would you give him questions to ask?

Kalicki

I would come up with issues to discuss and he would make sure to ask about those issues. As you’re familiar with the style, you might have a page of key issues, and as he went along he would make a note on some of the issues that he wanted to return to or ask me about afterwards or get some follow-up on, and that would be the way he would organize it.

Heininger

He approached this as educating his family as well as himself.

Kalicki

Oh, this was truly a family expedition and they absorbed a lot. It was a great educational experience. Remember, this was early days in China. It was not long after the end of the Cultural Revolution, so the country was in very bad shape.

Heininger

Only a couple of years.

Kalicki

We got there at the end of December 1977—it was over December–January that we were in China and Japan.

Heininger

Freezing.

Kalicki

Hardly any heat, so when we were going around the cities, we’d sit in these extremely cold meeting rooms, with a cup of tea to warm us up and we would be keeping our coats on and things like that as we went along. This was no picnic for the family. It was truly a labor of love and an engagement with a country at a very difficult time in its history.

Heininger

The kids were pretty young. How did they do on this?

Kalicki

They did great. We ended up in Guangzhou, in Canton, where there was a banquet to say goodbye. At the time, everybody was raising a toast and Patrick [Kennedy] made a toast of his own, which was really great.

Heininger

Did he really?

Kalicki

There was in fact a news story because we had a couple of reporters with us who were writing for the Boston papers. They actually wrote that up because it was quite touching and nice the way that the Chinese talked about—it was a story about Patrick losing his tooth along the way, so he was young enough to do that. The Chinese said, You left part of yourself in China, or something like that.

Heininger

Yes, so you’ll come back.

Kalicki

And you will come back, right.

Heininger

The Chinese do love children too.

Kalicki

Oh yes, they instantly responded to the kids.

Heininger

And so the kids were in all the briefings?

Kalicki

In the briefings, yes.

Heininger

Were they in the meetings?

Kalicki

They were in most of them. They came with him to Deng Xiaoping’s meeting and I would say that generally it was a family effort straight through.

Heininger

How difficult was it to get a meeting with Deng Xiaoping?

Kalicki

Very. It’s not something that you do every day, not at that time. The Chinese leadership has become more open since then, but at the time there was a real issue as to whether—We knew he would see a senior leader, that was for sure, but we were very interested in Deng Xiaoping because of his history and because of his prospects and because of the role that he played in that system. It required a great deal of pushiness on my part, on the Senator’s part, everybody’s part, to get this done. But we got it done.

Heininger

How did you find him?

Kalicki

Deng Xiaoping is an extraordinary personality. He was very down to earth, very tough, externally unsentimental, even though he suffered hugely, as did his family. A son of his was paralyzed because he had to jump—or was pushed—out of his building to escape the Red Guards. There was real suffering there. Very much of the revolutionary generation, I would say, but also understanding—and he became much more so after our visit—understanding that things had to change in a huge way in China. This was probably one of those discussions in which they were looking at the world in a different way, receiving western visitors and viewing them not as the enemy but as potential partners in things that needed to get done.

Heininger

What was your sense, from the Chinese perspective, of what they were going to get out of meeting with Kennedy?  Did you get a sense that they felt that he was going to be able to push normalization along?

Kalicki

I think they did. We were clear because we had meetings in advance. The Senator left no stone unturned, so in that department he would have meetings in advance with the head of the Liaison Office in Washington, the Chinese representative there. I would have meetings with that representative. We made it very clear that we wanted to do what we were talking about in the speech. There was no hidden agenda here. The speech said what we wanted to do, we went to China to do it, we talked with the Chinese about it privately, we talked beforehand with the administration. 

Afterwards, internally and externally, everybody could see what we were trying to do. The Chinese, in deciding to have the Senator come, very definitely made the decision that this had to be part of their view of moving forward toward normal relations with the United States; otherwise, why do it? I’m positive this was not simply receiving an important Senator; this was part of a larger view of the relationship with the U.S.

Heininger

What effect did it have on the [Jimmy] Carter administration, Kennedy’s trip?

Kalicki

Well, those who were for normalization with China were thrilled. They were extremely happy about it. My impression, and it’s not the result of any particular meeting, is that politically it probably was not the greatest thing to see happen in the sense that it was a reminder again to everybody that the Senator had a capacity to move things along that the President, his critics said, did not. So from a political perspective they probably viewed it differently, but certainly the people that I cared about, the policy people—that was my universe—thought this was a terrific idea and were delighted we were doing it.

Heininger

There was obviously a tense relationship between Carter and Kennedy, exacerbated by what led up to the decision to challenge him for President, particularly in the healthcare arena. But in the foreign policy arena did you have the sense that Carter considered Kennedy an asset or a threat?

Kalicki

I would say an asset. Remember, the China speech and the China trip were in 1977, a very early time in the Carter administration. We worked very hard on a number of other things that were really important to the administration. One was the SALT [Strategic Arms Limitation Talks] Agreement, where the Senator worked really hard and I organized a working group between SALT supporters on the legislative staff and the administration, with Brian Atwood who was then a deputy assistant secretary for Legislative Affairs at State.

Heininger

That’s a long time ago.

Kalicki

He and I, and Paul Warnke, who was head of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. We worked hard with them to set up a pro-SALT environment. We also worked hard on the Panama Canal treaties, and there he and Senator [Robert C.] Byrd did a lot together. Again, I remember the appreciation that the foreign policy people in the administration had, and I’m sure the political people, because this was a very tough time for all of the internal effort to get those votes, to get the atmosphere set up in such a way that you could overcome all of the people who were opposed.

Heininger

When it came time to do the Taiwan Relations Act, did you get the sense that the Carter administration—and I’m talking from Carter-down, not just the working level—saw that it was essential to have—I mean, Cranston and Kennedy are not the people that you would have expected to carry the water for the administration on getting this through. Was it appreciated, or was there again a sense of tension or rivalry?

Kalicki

No, it was totally appreciated. Their resolution, the Kennedy-Cranston resolution, spoke to the security dimension, and the TRA was across the board. The Taiwan Relations Act was truly a collaborative effort involving the Foreign Relations Committee, a number of Senators and the administration. The political plus was that the security provision, which was critical, came from this unexpected quarter.

Heininger

It was critical coming through. Yes, OK.

Kalicki

That was politically just the right thing. It really worked well. I think that administration people were very much taken, because this dinner that I told you about where the Chinese head of the Liaison Office was asked the question and gave his response on the Kennedy-Cranston resolution—They were very much taken with the ability to get that done informally, in a way that you could never do in a diplomatic or an official context. This was more of a political context, in a private house of a leading Senator, and it was asked in the right way and the response was given in such a way as to signal to everybody that this was a solution to the problem.

Heininger

Oblique, but a clear signal.

Kalicki

Yes, and everybody concluded afterwards that was the case. You had the people there who were key players working with us—Dick Holbrooke and Mike Oksenberg.

Heininger

So you had both the NSC [National Security Council] and you had the State and you had high levels.

Kalicki

Absolutely, and they checked all the time with Cy Vance and Zbig [Zbigniew Brzezinski] on this. There were lots of tensions between the NSC and State at that time, between Zbig and Cy, but in this area we were able to do this in a way that was really a good partnership with people who otherwise didn’t get along so well. The tension was not so much Legislative–Executive as within the Executive Branch.

Heininger

Less so between Oksenberg and Holbrooke, because really there’s a big advance, but on a personal level—

Kalicki

Yes. On a policy level they got along fine, but the personal and—Zbig’s view of the world and Cy’s view of the world were very different.

Heininger

Right.

Kalicki

Carter was spending half his time trying to pull those two views of the world together. Here’s a situation where you actually can transcend that and say, Hey look, this makes a lot of sense, whichever perspective you’re taking. 

You know, there was a subset on this, which was should Vietnam or China go first, in terms of normalization? Happily, the sensible view prevailed, which is that China is a very big country in which we have potentially many interests.

Heininger

Wow. I had forgotten that we actually considered normalizing even then.

Kalicki

Yes, even then, but it took a long while.

Heininger

It was so hard to do it later.

Kalicki

Yes, and it probably would have taken a long while anyway on Vietnam. There were lots of subtexts but the major piece to me was this balance between the China connection and the responsibility to Taiwan, which I feel really good about. I think the Senator did the right thing. Afterwards, he commented to me about that. He said something to the effect of he was really happy that he did that resolution with Cranston, that it really made him feel good because it was not the most obvious thing to do and yet it really worked out well.

Heininger

It was the right thing to do.

Kalicki

Right.

Heininger

And he felt that it was the right thing to do.

Kalicki

He felt good about it. He definitely felt right about it.

Heininger

Not that long after, you also then went to the Soviet Union.

Kalicki

Yes.

Heininger

Let’s talk about that trip.

Kalicki

There were these hilarious communications—at the time they were deadly serious, but in retrospect they looked pretty hilarious—involving the Russian Embassy and the people tied in with, let’s just say the security side and the Central Committee side, which was running the place, rather than the government apparatus, which we did not interact with. The Foreign Ministry, we didn’t interact with. The Senator went there at one of the most difficult times in U.S.–Soviet relations, when people were openly critical of the mishandling of the relationship by the administration and at a time when people were worried that arms control was completely off the rails. It was again a trip where the Senator briefed extremely extensively. He had a trip previously, so he had the exposure to [Leonid] Brezhnev and to the people around him from that trip. He went in this trip to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan in addition to Moscow. In Kazakhstan he gave a speech at the World Health Organization Conference, so the health interest was there.

Heininger

Larry [Horowitz] was there.

Kalicki

Larry was there for that and for all of it. In Moscow the focus really was on the Brezhnev discussion.

Heininger

Were you aware, going into it, how fragile Brezhnev’s health was?

Kalicki

Yes.

Heininger

Before you went?

Kalicki

Oh yes, we were aware that there was a real issue on health, so much so that there was a real issue as to whether we would see him. As it turned out, we did see him. He was in extremely bad health. In fact, what he did for most of the time, and I think in retrospect it had to be this way—they were just not confident of his ability to sustain a conversation, so he read from a prepared text. I was with the Senator, so what do I do?  I take notes on what Brezhnev is saying. Brezhnev’s foreign policy advisor leans over to me and says, No need to do that. We’re going to give you the text.  That was great. 

The Senator, at the very end, having thought a great deal about all the things that he would like to say to Brezhnev, says the key things. The Russians were basically trying to filibuster, because they were not confident of Brezhnev’s ability to keep up his end of the conversation. I think that’s what was going on. The Senator had a wonderful idea, which was to bring something from each of his stops, into Brezhnev’s office. You’ve heard the story.

Heininger

The melons.

Kalicki

Apples, melons and bread. Apples from Kazakhstan, melons and bread from Uzbekistan—a basket of the goods of the cities that he had seen. What do you give to Brezhnev? Brezhnev has everything, so you give something that is personal, connected to your experience. I think Brezhnev was quite moved by that actually. I don’t think anybody ever took it into his head to bring something like that to the Soviet leader, so that was a good connection. 

The list that I had pre-negotiated with my counterpart was not discussed in any detail in the meeting with Brezhnev. There was a reference made to it but no more than that. It was pre-wired and indeed, the people who were on the list were allowed to go out despite the fact that Pravda blasted our interference in domestic affairs of the Soviet Union. It was back and forth. I’m trying to remember now—I think I met the Katzes in Switzerland, their first stop out. I’d have to check that.

Heininger

I think they were at that meeting at [Aleksandr] Lerner’s apartment too.

Kalicki

Boris was in Lerner’s apartment and then they came—we’d have to check the itinerary, but they came into Boston finally and it was just a mob scene, and deeply moving. Even to this day I see that they talk about their experience, their coming in and seeing—The way Boris [Katz] put it was that he knew that Kennedy had impact but he didn’t realize just what a political figure he was back here in the States. That came to him viscerally as he came to Boston.

What a scene that was. That was very big. 

And what the Senator did, of course, was to advocate on arms control issues, not only SALT, but he was, and is, a great supporter of the Comprehensive Test Ban. Each year we would put that CTB resolution in and we got it up to pretty respectable support, both Republicans—[Charles McCurdy] Mac Mathias did that with him—and Democrats. 

After he came back he would visit with the President, as he does after all his trips. He did this time with President Carter, and Brzezinski was there. He provided feedback on his trip. The Russians dwelled a great deal on the failure to move forward on the CTB, which was personally important to Carter, so in that meeting I thought there was a real connection, even at that late stage where there was obviously more political tension, where Kennedy was saying that the CTB really is important. Remember, this is the brother of the President who concluded the Limited Test Ban, speaking to a President who had made this a priority. 

I noticed that as Kennedy was speaking to Carter about this, Carter was not looking at Kennedy but was looking most of the time at Brzezinski to see how Brzezinski was responding, by which I inferred that Carter was wondering when Brzezinski would drop his opposition to moving forward on the CTB. 

So you have these interesting kinds of connections. The Senator followed up with the President, and with Cy Vance. He visited him with him before he went. Cy would come to his office to see him and then afterwards they visited together about the trip. Marshall Shulman was deeply involved in all of this. All of the saga that I told you about these negotiations, I shared with Marshall, a dear old friend unfortunately no longer living. He was very supportive and gave us wonderful advice. And Paul Warnke, of course, was deeply involved. There was a lot going on.

Heininger

I know that when Bob Hunter came in, one of his goals was to try to broaden Kennedy’s perspective on arms control.

Kalicki

Yes.

Heininger

Because he had really been focused on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and Bob wanted him to go wider.

Kalicki

Right.

Heininger

I’m assuming that continued while you were there?

Kalicki

It very much continued, yes. For example, I developed quite a bit for him on the MX missile issue. That was a big engagement. We did that jointly with Mac Mathias and Cas [Casimir] Yost on Senator Mathias’ staff, with Walter Slocombe in the Defense Department, to talk about the MX and why they were moving forward with it at that time, and what impact it would have on the SALT negotiations. This was a very big issue. He became more and more broadly interested, building on what he and Bob did going through that period. Then toward the end of the time that I was there with him, he joined the Armed Services Committee and so he developed a big interest in the military side and how it interacted with the foreign policy, national security side.

Heininger

You could see Brezhnev in failing health. Were you getting any sense of who might be replacing him?

Kalicki

None. It was very much Brezhnev. He was the one. It was clear that this was an issue, but we’d have no particular insights given to us as to who might come after, no glimmers of [Mikhail] Gorbachev. [Yuri] Andropov and [Konstantin] Chernenko came afterwards. The transition was very slow, and each one, even Andropov, who seemed inclined toward reform, died before any of that happened.

Heininger

When we get to the time when the [Berlin] Wall comes down and we find that the CIA [Central Intelligence Agency] has not, shall we say, been on target with what the economy of the Soviets was like, what were you picking up when you were there, as to how the people were living, and what was being portrayed in the West? Particularly since you got out into Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

Kalicki

We did, but it was still very much in the context of official events and going to markets, which looked fine and healthy. We spent a good bit of time, actually, in the Tashkent market and then on to Samarkand, which is really an amazing visit and I’ve been there since. There was not really enough of a basis to evaluate living conditions or how the economy was doing more generally. Because I happened to have an interest in it more broadly, I knew this was an issue, but there were very few people, and I was not one of them, frankly, who felt that it would reach a crisis point. I felt it was an issue and that it would be a source of tension, but the idea that it would actually lead to the disintegration of an empire—hardly anybody had that notion at the time.

Heininger

That was very early.

Kalicki

Yes.

Heininger

That was really early. Having visited these two countries in such close proximity, did you get more of a dog-and-pony show from the Soviets than from the Chinese, or would you say kind of on the same level?

Kalicki

Well, the structure was different. The Soviet visit was tied into meeting with the leaders of the republics, giving the WHO [World Health Organization] speech, and then going on to markets and the like, but its main focus was the Moscow meetings. Yes, we were visiting the republics, but we were not having an in-depth exposure to them. And part of it is that the Senator had been to the Soviet Union before, so he knew about it. China was very much, Everything about this place is new and we need to learn a whole lot about it, and delving into many aspects of the country in depth, with the family and full immersion.

Heininger

And this was very early too. There were not many Americans.

Kalicki

Yes. It was a very different kind of visit. It was apples and oranges in terms of trying to come to any real contrast or comparisons.

Heininger

What was Larry Horowitz’s role in all this, on this trip?

Kalicki

On this particular trip, very much on the health side because he was head of the health staff, so he did the WHO. He was very much part of the traveling party. Larry, [Richard E.] Rick Burke, and Carey were with us.

Heininger

Carey was there.

Kalicki

Larry was basically totally supportive, but not in any way engaged on the divided family issues. I mean supportive in the sense of knowledgeable, would be part of the discussion, but he was not the one carrying the water as he did later, after I left the office, on the divided family issues or in the meeting with Brezhnev. I would go with the Senator to that, just the two of us. It was the division of responsibility at that time.

Heininger

Tell me about the meeting at Lerner’s apartment. What was it like getting there?  I understand it was in the middle of the night.

Kalicki

It was. Apparently everybody was contacted separately and came together, and it was not something that any Soviet official welcomed. In fact, they tried to be part of that discussion and were told that they couldn’t go in with the Senator into the apartment, that this was a private meeting, not that anything was private in Moscow at that time. We were well aware of that, but at least we wanted to have a meeting just involving the Senator and those families. 

It was very intense. The families spoke about how difficult it was for them to exercise their basic rights to travel, to move wherever they wanted, and how difficult it was for them to live in that environment. The Senator took Boris Katz aside privately and told him that he was on the list of approved exits. By Boris’ account, he didn’t really believe it. You know, he had heard this before. He didn’t believe this would be the case and therefore was amazed when it in fact took place. I had the same kind of conversation with Benjamin Levich, the Academy of Sciences member, who was actually more believing, although I’m sure I tried to say, Look, this is what I’m told. Let’s believe it when we see it. I didn’t want to feed expectations, but he found it credible.

Heininger

And in fact there was delay.

Kalicki

There were delays, although it all happened. And in the case of Benjamin Levich, it was fairly soon afterwards, and he was kind of a prize—he was a physicist.

Heininger

Why did they let him go?

Kalicki

He was a very visible case and he was very persistent, and the Kennedy connection brought it over the top. It’s all speculative because they did not explain. I’ll tell you, though, we had lots of arguments about other family members there. They had things in their files. I don’t want to, for any historical purpose or otherwise, go into what they had, but they would go after me on some of the families. What I had was a list of names of people from divided families. They would have things about their backgrounds, which they used in the pre-discussions to try to bully the Senator and me to getting them off the list, and I absolutely would not accept that. I said, Look, this is what you say, but the fact of the matter is they are divided families. They have come to the Senator asking to be reunited and we are, in good faith, asking you to do that. After a lot of abuse and a lot of complaint, they went along with it and even the people who drew most of their ire were finally allowed out.

Heininger

You just wouldn’t engage on the merits?

Kalicki

On the merits? How could I? And should I? There was no way that I should be involved with that sort of discussion.

Heininger

It was just family reunification.

Kalicki

Absolutely. They had a lot of things about their past, which you could argue should bring you to maybe a different view of the exercise, but my view was simply humanitarian. They had come and asked, and we are there to ask on their behalf, and that was it, and it was up to the Soviets to decide whether they would do it or not. It turned out to be the right approach.

Heininger

All of the ones that you had put on the list eventually got released.

Kalicki

That’s correct.

Heininger

Longer for some.

Kalicki

Right.

Heininger

Quite a bit longer for some.

Kalicki

Yes.

Heininger

Therefore, I assume you had been very careful who you’d put on the list.

Kalicki

We would verify, for sure, the facts as far as we could get them on our side, that they were indeed divided, that they indeed had asked for permission to leave. We did do the usual checking but remember, this is just for a small number of the overall list—

Heininger

Because there were a lot more.

Kalicki

—that they raised these issues, the small number of ones where there would be no way that we could possibly be aware of that from the public record or what we were told. I still think it was the right thing to do. It was absolutely the right thing to do because the facts were as they were presented.

Heininger

But there were a lot of people who were divided at this point. How did you decide which of the 18?

Kalicki

These were the people who had approached us directly, either from Massachusetts or other states.

Heininger

Or from their families.

Kalicki

Particularly their families. We just organized it in terms of Massachusetts and other than Massachusetts. In the case of other than Massachusetts, we let the colleagues of the Senator know that those families were on the list, or that the Soviets had indicated that they would be released. And when they came over, if they wanted to come over to the Senate, we always coordinated it with the colleagues as to whether they also wanted to meet up with them.

Heininger

So you weren’t picking and choosing?

Kalicki

No, nor did we feel it was for us to pick and choose. These people had come to the Senator over a long period of time, knowing that he is in a position to be helpful in ways that others perhaps are not, and the list composed itself.

Heininger

So it wasn’t like going out to groups who were interested in this and asking who should we be putting on?

Kalicki

No.

Heininger

It was really direct requests.

Kalicki

Direct requests from the families. Now, I believe in a couple of cases, that of Benjamin Levich and Boris Katz, they were so well-known that they would have been on the list in any event, but in the case of the Katzes, they had Massachusetts relatives who requested.

Heininger

They did.

Kalicki

In the case of the Leviches, I’d have to check, but he was so well-known. He was one of the most publicized dissident cases, so there was a lot of general concern about him.

Heininger

What about [Natan] Sharansky?

Kalicki

We did intervene for Sharansky, but he was released separately.

Heininger

Right, he was.

Kalicki

There was a whole saga to it.

Heininger

And much later.

Kalicki

But we did intervene for him of course.

Heininger

But there had been a request?

Kalicki

Yes, for sure.

Heininger

So again, there had been a request.

Kalicki

Oh definitely, yes. But Sharansky was sort of by definition—

Heininger

On everybody’s list?

Kalicki

On everybody’s list, exactly.

Heininger

Then we get into the ’80 election.

Kalicki

Yes.

Heininger

Kennedy has announced he’s going to run. When did you know you were going to end up coordinating foreign and defense policy for the campaign?

Kalicki

It just happened. I’m not sure that there was a big announcement. I was the one doing foreign and defense policy.

Heininger

And still handling things that were going on in the Senate?

Kalicki

Well most of the time that he spent then, to be honest, was to campaign. But in terms of anything on the Senate side, yes, I was basically two-hatted. We had people who were political people, including people like Mark Schneider, who were active on the campaign. I was the policy guy; I was not the political guy. I was the guy who was concerned about policy issues, and what the Senator says about arms control or defense or China or Russia or human rights or whatever, was driven by the policy operation in the Senate.

Heininger

Because there were some pretty big issues that surfaced during this time, quite complicating issues, with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, which actually comes late, and with the U.S. hostages.

Kalicki

Yes.

Heininger

Iran, with the grain embargo.

Kalicki

Yes.

Heininger

This was a real—on a foreign policy—

Kalicki

It was fraught.

Heininger

Yes, good word, fraught. OK, so what about the invasion of Afghanistan?

Kalicki

He gave a big speech on that at Columbia University, which I guess I wrote. You do this with a lot of input from people but basically somebody has to put pen to paper and do it, right?

Heininger

True.

Kalicki

So I did it. Of course there was a discussion as to: What is the best policy? What are the politics of this? How do you have the impact that you want to have for the things that you believe should be done? It all went into that speech process. We made an effort, privately, to try to persuade the Soviets to get out of Afghanistan early on, which was unsuccessful but we felt we had to make it. We called on them to do it publicly. As I described to you in the China effort, we made a corresponding effort privately. A country that decides to invade probably has already figured out it’s not going to leave at the request of anybody on the outside, but we felt we should make the effort, which we did, and we did quite a bit. We worked very hard on that, and I personally put a lot of effort into that, hoping that the Soviets might look at the Afghanistan speech at Columbia as not simply a political campaign speech but as a real policy effort that would lead them to make some comment of a more positive nature, but they chose not to.

Heininger

From the Soviet perspective, would they have viewed your dealings with them as being done in the context of the campaign?

Kalicki

I think they would view it very much in terms of the Senator’s position for a long time on relations with the Soviet Union, but also recognizing that here is a prominent candidate making a campaign speech on a big and sensitive policy matter. It’s up to them to say whether they think some of the elements are worth pursuing or not. They said nothing, as I recall, to no surprise of mine. Again, I very privately told a couple of people in the administration what I was doing. This was not in any way a private venture. We agreed it was the right thing for the Senator to do. We also agreed that they weren’t going to discuss this with political counterparts, that this was a policy discussion we were having. And we agreed that it was no surprise when the Soviets didn’t respond.

Heininger

But by the same token, it’s easy to stand up and oppose the invasion of Afghanistan. Everybody opposed the invasion of Afghanistan, but then comes Carter’s decision on the grain embargo. Kennedy didn’t go along with that.

Kalicki

No, he didn’t.

Heininger

And he doesn’t have those grain farmers in Massachusetts.

Kalicki

No, but he was a national candidate. The grain embargo—Was that prior to the Iowa primary that this blew up, or afterwards?  I’d have to check.

Heininger

I’d say February–March.

Kalicki

So maybe after. 

Heininger

Same time period.

Kalicki

Anyway, it’s part of the mix, even if it’s not for that primary.

Heininger

But did you get a sense that—There was obviously a political dimension to this.

Kalicki

Right.

Heininger

But did you get a sense that Kennedy really thought that this was not the right way to approach?

Kalicki

Yes, very definitely. Now of course there are some things that are not only the policy, but it also helps you politically. The driver was very much a policy sense that it was a bad idea. There were some very tough calls that were made at that time, but the sense that a total embargo approach, which was one that part of the administration favored, not another part of the administration, we didn’t feel would get you closer to the result of trying to get a diplomatic and political solution, which was that you want to get the forces out of there.

Heininger

And Kennedy also had a history on total embargoes, having opposed the embargo on Cuba.

Kalicki

That’s correct. It’s totally consistent with his long-term view on it, and in my view it was overwhelmingly dictated by a policy view. I don’t think it was a coincidence that the policy effort of the campaign was driven by the same people who did the policy effort earlier. There was not a political management of that at all. On the other hand, it’s naïve to think that you don’t factor in the politics of it. Of course you do.

Heininger

Of course you do.

Kalicki

You just think, well, is this the right policy? And secondly, is there any particular reason to change it now, and what are the political dimensions? Generally, in my limited experience, you are rewarded for being consistent in politics like this. 

Heininger

Sometimes.

Kalicki

Sometimes, anyway.

Heininger

When it got to the announcement of the U.S. nonparticipation in the Olympics, where was Kennedy on that?

Kalicki

I’d have to check. I’m not sure what the answer is but I’d suspect that he was not sympathetic to boycott. I have to check that. Do you remember?

Heininger

I don’t remember either, no. I know there was a big brouhaha over the grain embargo.

Kalicki

There was. I think he would have opposed that but I’d have to check to be sure.

Heininger

But at that point—it was announced when? Maybe June?

Kalicki

Was it that late?

Heininger

I can’t remember when the announcement came.

Kalicki

I suspect that it was a negative.

Heininger

All right, so then we go through the campaign period. Kennedy’s out, and then comes the U.S. hostages.

Kalicki

No, the U.S. hostages were during the campaign.

Heininger

But beyond Kennedy’s period in the campaign.

Kalicki

The later stages and the release—yes. But the taking of the hostages was at the beginning of the campaign.

Heininger

You’re right, ’79.

Kalicki

It stirred a huge amount of controversy because the Senator was asked about Iran and he said in very explicit, critical terms that the U.S. had done a lot of negative things in Iran and that one should take that into account. There are some quotes that I don’t have at hand but I’m sure you can pull out.

Heininger

Hugely controversial.

Kalicki

Very controversial. He paid tremendously for those statements that the U.S. policy and history in Iran were not a positive history. He paid for that in the primaries. Certainly in Iowa that was considered to be a major factor. I guess your question then would be, What was the policy input to that statement? I can tell you that, unfortunately, there was zero policy discussion of that statement before it was made. It was one of those situations where the Senator was asked on the campaign trail, relatively late in a day when he was very tired, what he thought. I suspect he was very critical of Iranian behavior, but he probably would have chosen different words to say that.

Heininger

This is one where you get campaign people going, No, no.

Kalicki

And I was called immediately afterwards. A campaign person called and said, This is what the Senator said. What do you think of that?  I said, I think this is a big mistake.

Heininger

It also happened to be true.

Kalicki

Well, both on policy and political grounds, you do not say something like that, and I said that at the time. Unfortunately, what I said was exactly right, that it was a big mistake. Yes, our history with Iran is a deplorable one in many ways, but there are ways to say that, and I don’t think in Iowa is probably the right time to say something like that.

Heininger

No, it’s not.

Kalicki

Or wherever he was at the time, New Hampshire, or whatever it was.

Heininger

He was in California.

Kalicki

Was he in California?

Heininger

I think so. No, it’s not the time or place to say it.

Kalicki

Right.

Heininger

Did he subsequently make efforts to try to get the hostages released?

Kalicki

Yes. He called on the Iranians to release the hostages and he wanted very much to help on that, but there was no way to be helpful on that. The Iranians wanted to hold them until the day after Carter left, as it turned out.

Heininger

Which they did.

Kalicki

Yes. Their first gift to Ronald Reagan.

Heininger

True. Tell me a little bit about getting the Cuban poet released.

Kalicki

Heberto Padilla, he was just wonderful. Well, the Senator—Again, this is an example of his reach. He had been advocating for Padilla’s release, a very well-known poet, one who had been in prison for quite a while in Cuba.

Heininger

He was, yes.

Kalicki

And viewed as an opponent of the regime. Finally, Cuba decided to release him. Fidel [Castro] personally decided to release him. I remember meeting Heberto in Toronto when he arrived on the flight from Havana. Here was this totally lost-looking figure. He inscribed a book for me afterwards saying something like, To Jan, the first friendly face that I have met in years, upon my arrival from Cuba, something to that effect. It was an honor, again, to be able to see that human intervention and the Senator’s capacities, and to be part of it. It was wonderful. In the end, Heberto was prolific in the States and wrote here. The Senator has that impact.

I visited with Fidel years afterwards, as part of a delegation of course. Here I was with a bunch of other people—We were looking into political prisoner issues. The Cubans were, Fine. If we want to talk about political prisons, we’ll talk to you about political prisons. We were called into Fidel’s office after midnight, the usual kind of treatment, and a good three-quarters of Fidel’s discussion with the group was, as you would expect, a monologue, directed at Senator Kennedy through me.

Heininger

Really?

Kalicki

About the Kennedy family. It was just a mixture. There was no big revelation that I can offer you, I’m sorry to say, but it was a mixture of huge respect for the Kennedys and a sense of connection and, paradoxically, hope. Given what he went through in the [Cuban Missile] Crisis and otherwise, you would think maybe it’s a little bit different, but it was an attraction, not in any way a negative or a hostile view but the opposite, an attraction, a respect, a sense of connection with this family, which I found mesmerizing, as he could be at that time. To see that firsthand and then to see the results over and over again of the Senator’s ability to help Cubans who were hurt by that regime, it’s almost on-the-one-hand/on-the-other-hand, like our discussion on China and Taiwan. You have a special connection to one place, but it then makes possible other actions on the other side of the ledger, so to speak.

Heininger

Success breeds success.

Kalicki

Yes, but you would think that if there was that hostility from the early ’60s, no way would they do anything for that family. No, it’s the opposite.

Heininger

But you’ve also got Kennedy being one of the most prominent voices in the mid-’70s, calling for a lifting of the embargo.

Kalicki

Oh, absolutely. He did a lot and he believes in that, but I would venture to say that above and beyond doing the right thing on the policy, there’s a sense of the family and it is larger than life. If you intersect with them, you may have been on a totally opposite side but for some reason, you will do things and you will respond to them in a special way. I just saw a lot of that. 

It’s true in his politics too. Think of the Barry Goldwaters and the Orrin Hatches of this world. You can go down the list of ideological opposites and how, personally, they love each other and they respect each other and they do things for each other and they agree with each other, specifically on points of public policy. You see the international dimension of that too. To me it’s in the department of political alchemy, almost, that you have these things develop. And yes, they’re against a huge policy backdrop and hopefully principled positions on a number of issues that people care about.

Heininger

Then you get into the Reagan years, which from a domestic policy standpoint were very frustrating for Kennedy, and had him feeling like he was fighting a constant rearguard battle to prevent things from happening that the Reagan administration was trying to do. Yet in foreign policy there is this area that Kennedy is able to carve out in relations with the Soviets that is extraordinary. How did that come about?

Kalicki

Well, the Soviets just have had, for a long time, a view of him and his place in support of a strong, positive relationship between the two countries that transcends particular administrations. They have that. But the other thing is the intersection between Soviet policy and arms control policy. He spent a lot of time on both. 

You were asking earlier about the broadening of the Senator on arms control. Well, the nuclear freeze movement is a huge broadening out, and I had the privilege of being very much a part of that. We had the Kennedy-[Mark] Hatfield resolution on the nuclear freeze, which Ed Markey and Democrats and Republicans on the House side supported. But it was not just a legislative initiative; it was a national initiative. It was a national movement against the nuclear know-nothingism of the early Reagan administration. 

Reagan, himself, transformed into the Reykjavik Reagan, which was totally different from the early 1980s. In the early 1980s, it was the image of a nuclear arms race, whose exponents made no bones of their interest in not concluding arms control treaties, but the opposite. People who worry about how the [George W.] Bush administration has dealt with this should check the early Reagan years, because that was very serious. We had a nuclear freeze resolution, which put two communities very much on the defensive in policy terms. One was the defense community, which was not interested in removing nuclear weapons but in developing new ones.

Heininger

And it was also getting its budget increased at the same time.

Kalicki

And getting its budget increased. The other, interestingly enough, was the arms control community, because the arms controllers typically are into fine-tuning of weapons systems. There was this famous effort called build-down, where people were saying that in order to reduce, you first have to build up. Build up before you go down.

Heininger

This part goes back to Vladivostok, too.

Kalicki

Yes, there’s a lot of history on that. A lot of arms controllers, including good friends of mine, were very much involved with this. Then there’s this initiative, which sort of took the breath away, which said, Look, you just stop building these things. No, you don’t build some of them and stop others. You don’t build up. You don’t build down. You stop, and then you go backwards. You stop. There’s nothing that you’re going to forego by stopping that won’t be more than offset in national security terms by the benefits of reducing the role of nuclear weapons in our security policies. So there they were, and it led to some delightful experiences, for example, the Heritage Foundation hosted a nuclear freeze debate, at which I happened to represent the Senator. I forget who it was, but we took care of the opposition really fast. The power of it and the number of people who were committed, not just in the halls of power but on the streets, was enormous. It was huge.

Heininger

This was a huge grassroots movement.

Kalicki

It was huge. And the Senator was absolutely in top form and it impacted the administration. I would venture to say that the historians of that period would say that Ronald Reagan, who was a political figure to his fingertips, could see the power of that, and that was a major element that led to the nuclear prohibitionist position, even further and more extreme, that he took in Reykjavik. To see that, and to see the Senator playing that key role again, is a reminder that this is not just a legislator; this is a political force, almost, on the key issues of the day, which is what initially attracted me to join his staff.

Heininger

Which had to have been more satisfying than fighting rearguard actions in domestic policy.

Kalicki

For sure. Or being in the Policy Planning staff of the Reagan administration, God forbid.

Heininger

Well it probably might not have been there.

Kalicki

I started as a career guy. I was really interested in policy, not politics, and then the lesson that I learned—There are many lessons I learned from the Senator, but a big one is how the interaction between policy and politics is where the true potential for change occurs, and if you don’t pay attention to both, you’re in serious trouble.

Heininger

And the importance of timing.

Kalicki

And position, which was never defined. Again, who cared about which committee he was on? He was saying what he was saying and doing what he was doing, regardless.

Heininger

How does this back channel develop?

Kalicki

Back channel?

Heininger

The back channel that Larry Horowitz had with the Soviets.

Kalicki

Oh Larry’s. I guess after I left, Larry developed relations with some of the guys that I dealt with. His description of his back channel—we would never use the word back channel. You notice I have not used that word once.

Heininger

I know. 

Kalicki

I won’t comment on that so much as to say that my view was that this was the Senator’s portfolio and I was in a privileged position to do my best to make the most of it on his behalf, and that was my job. It was not channel-this or channel-that. There were elements of coordination that fundamentally involved people in the administration as well as people outside. Not a single thing, I’m glad to say, that we did while I was there was something that would not have been the right policy thing to do and that I didn’t feel that I had talked to the right people about. I felt that we were doing things that were very much in the interest of our country to do. I’m sure Larry felt the same way about what he was doing. The issue is, probably the way each of us does things, Bob in his time, me in mine, Greg [Craig], Nancy [Soderberg], Larry—they have distinctive styles. There’s a variety of ways of doing things.

Heininger

One of the things, too, is that he was doing this in a period that was leading up to Reykjavik, where the Soviets were in part using Kennedy, with whom they’d had longstanding relations and kind of personal relations with the Soviet leaders, to send signals to the administration that they weren’t willing to make on the official level.

Kalicki

But they did that all the time.

Heininger

Right.

Kalicki

Yes, I’m sure they did that in the period leading up to Reykjavik. It’s well worth talking to Larry about that. They did that, for sure. The Brezhnev statement to Kennedy was, as you might imagine, shared with the administration and dissected and discussed in great detail with the administration. Even though I haven’t talked to Bob Hunter about it, I would be amazed if that first set of discussions had not had the same treatment. In that sense, I think there probably was continuity in how to handle this.

Heininger

Right, in part because of Kennedy having established a process of transparency with the administration. He would go over, discussing ahead of time what he was going to do.

Kalicki

Yes, but with very different players. That’s where your point comes in. To discuss that with a Marshall Shulman is a very different story than discussing that with a Reaganite, whose political agenda—

Heininger

With Richard Perle.

Kalicki

With Richard Perle, we wouldn’t have done that, I don’t think. But—whose agenda is totally different. I can see how in that sense the word back channel might have a special meaning, which it didn’t have for me. Yes, there was a lot of competition between Carter and Kennedy politically, but the main message I take away from the foreign policy management is that there was such a bifurcation within the Carter administration between different points of view that if your analysis led you to a certain point of view, there were kindred spirits whom you could work with in the administration to pursue that. I always felt we did the right thing, and that was a good feeling.

In the case of an ideologically opposed administration, like some of the people in the Reagan administration, not all, it’s much more challenging. But even there, people like George Shultz—I have a tremendous regard for him. I didn’t personally interact, but I can’t imagine that he and Kennedy wouldn’t have had a very good rapport. So there was that. 

There’s another piece that is very important to the Senator, and that’s the Irish piece, and you ought to talk to Carey about that.

Heininger

Right.

Kalicki

Which is delightful. Through all these administrations there is an Irish dimension, including with Reagan. One of the first things the Senator did was to connect with Reagan on that shared heritage.

Heininger

Finding some kind of shared ground.

Kalicki

Oh yes, and it was genuine.

Heininger

Which existed.

Kalicki

Yes, good stuff.

Heininger

Did you have to deal with any of the Ireland stuff or did Carey mostly handle it?

Kalicki

No. I mean, vicariously. I would talk to Carey about it because Carey was the one taking the lead on that.

Heininger

When did Greg come in?

Kalicki

Greg came in 1984, just at the end.

Heininger

Eighty-three–eighty-four, OK.

Kalicki

Yes. I went to New York in the middle of 1984 after advising on the foreign policy planks of the Democratic Platform, so that’s the period, from ’84–on.

Heininger

Why did you leave?

Kalicki

Well, I had spent seven years with the Senator and I had gone through the Senate campaign after the Presidential campaign, and I had spent since 1972 in Washington. It was the time to look for something non-Washington and nonpolitical and non-foreign policy, and I found all three in doing international banking with a firm called Lehman Brothers.

Heininger

Glad you were there then instead of now, right?

Kalicki

For sure. Actually they asked me to do things that were quite interesting, because I had to build their Middle East practice and their then-Soviet practice. I saw this from the point of view of industry and finance, and it was quite interesting to do that.

Heininger

How much contact have you maintained with Kennedy and his staff subsequently?

Kalicki

Lots, up to and including the present. Yes, you never leave that family, as you know, as you hear from everybody else, and you feel very much of a connection with it.

Heininger

I’ve said this to everybody because I’ve heard it from so many: Always on staff, regardless of payroll.

Kalicki

Yes, very much so.

Heininger

He still calls on you?

Kalicki

Oh yes, things have come up regularly. It’s a good connection. The most profound connection that I’ve had with any public figure, as you can see from this interview, certainly is Senator Kennedy.

Heininger

Is there also a similar connection between former foreign policy advisors and current foreign policy advisors?

Kalicki

Not so much. We’re friendly, but we don’t have reunions. Bob, Greg, Nancy, and I don’t get together over drinks or whatever, but we stay in touch. 

Heininger

When you had left, would Greg and Nancy run things by you on occasion?

Kalicki

When an issue would arise, yes, in the same way I did with Bob or Mark, but there was no sense of expectation that all the issues will need to be run by, or any particular issue needs to. It was a combination of things, either some area that I happen to have some particular expertise or insight in, or carryover issues where things that you were developing had—where the next chapter was developing—that would be a natural. Alternatively, and I wasn’t overbearing in this but wasn’t shy when I felt strongly, when there was something that I cared about that I thought would be good for the Senator to do, I would bring that to their attention.

Heininger

What was your relationship with the different chiefs of staff you had?  You were there at an interesting time.

Kalicki

Excellent. Yes, a very interesting time. Excellent relations. Eddie Martin was the chief when I was coming in. Eddie was just so marvelous and so human, such a human being. The effort to get me onboard was really Eddie and Carey. Carey took the lead but Eddie was there reinforcing.

Heininger

Cheering him on.

Kalicki

In his inimitable way. That was a lovely relationship. Rick Burke, of course, was chief of staff and traveled with us in both the China and the Russia trips. It was a very friendly relationship, completely unencumbered by all the personal details, of which I became aware only afterwards.

Heininger

Really?

Kalicki

I was very closely involved with the Senator and his nearest advisors, but it was always a function of all of the things that we were doing on the policy side, all the trips, all of the legislative, all of the political—you name it—but not the personal side. I was too busy. Probably in retrospect, it was a darn good thing that I didn’t bother to. It wouldn’t have been any good for me to do it.

Heininger

So you didn’t have any inclinations of what ultimately happened with Rick Burke?

Kalicki

I didn’t have any—none. Zero. I mean, I had the opportunity if I wanted to look into it, but I didn’t. I was too busy doing what I was doing, to pursue that. So Rick was there and Larry was there, of course, very close with Larry, both when he was head of the health staff and then when he became AA [Administrative Assistant], talking about our issues all the time. Larry played more of a substantive role across the board, I would say, than Eddie and Rick did. We had tremendous discussions. When the campaign came about, of course: Carey and Larry and Bob Shrum. Then when foreign policy or anything like that came up, we would interact. In the nuclear freeze, for example, we did a lot of work together.

Heininger

Ken Feinberg?

Kalicki

Ken was terrific, but he was really leading the charge on the Judiciary staff, which was hugely engrossing, but also AA. You’re right, he did some AA work too.

Heininger

He was there for a short period of time as AA.

Kalicki

The way it worked pretty much for the Senator was spokes of a wheel. On a big area of foreign policy, he basically would talk to me about it and the others would be aware of it. Carey was across the board on anything and everything legislative. The AA would be more connected to the politics of the moment, appropriately so, but you didn’t have the sense of people kibitzing or getting in the way of each other, at least during my time. I can’t speak for any other times. I was privileged just to send him my notes, get his responses, and do things. When there was a decision to be made, everybody would be liberal with their advice, but otherwise—For instance, nuclear freeze was a huge effort involving much of the office, really, when it came down to it. I didn’t ever have the feeling that people were getting in the way, which was a great feeling.

Heininger

Did you have any other foreign policy staff working for you?

Kalicki

Yes, quite a few people.

Heininger

Who else did you have?

Kalicki

During the campaign, Tom Dine was a wonderful colleague and served as deputy. He had a lot of background in budget issues, national security issues, Middle East. He went on to head AIPAC [American Israel Public Affairs Committee] after that.

Heininger

Right.

Kalicki

Many other people but less senior perhaps. Matthew Murray, West Coghlan, John Packs were active at various points. I could go down the list but it was basically a combination of LAs [Legislative Assistants] with specific defense, geographic, or human rights portfolios, and a number of interns. During the campaign, our area would probably be around ten people.

Heininger

Wow!

Kalicki

Pretty large.

Heininger

That’s a lot.

Kalicki

And non-campaign it would be around five.

Heininger

That’s still a lot.

Kalicki

Which in legislative terms was significant.

Heininger

Were you doing all the staffing for the Armed Services Committee too?

Kalicki

No, I wasn’t. Joe Kruzel came in when Armed Services started. He was wonderful. He’s unfortunately deceased.

Heininger

And then Bill Lind came in after him.

Kalicki

Bill Lind came in, yes—and Joe and I’m sure Bill also did wonderful work in that committee. Mine was a personal staff assignment, but before Armed Services, and I had to worry about defense as well as foreign policy.

Heininger

You enjoyed your years there.

Kalicki

Hugely. They were very intense and personally taxing because you didn’t have any time to yourself, but hugely rewarding in every other sense.

Heininger

Well, this has been wonderful, really.

Kalicki

I hope it has. I hope it’s helpful to you.

Heininger

Yes, very.

This is one of the many interviews that comprise the Edward M. Kennedy Oral History. For more information about the Edward M. Kennedy Oral History, including links to all interviews, please click here.

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