Cottage Diplomacy

The premise of Citizen Diplomats by Gale Warner and Michael Shuman, with a foreword by Carl Sagan, is simple: America's elected politicians and professional diplomats have been so inadequate in managing relations with the Soviet Union and coping with the nuclear threat that concerned citizens themselves should do all they can to improve our understanding with the Soviets.

While the book has no bibliography, footnotes, or index, it does contain a 76-page appendix of 38 different categories of U.S./Soviet exchange groups. It is, in short, a kind of motivational tool for antinuclear activists.

Each of the nine chapters tells the story of an individual "pathfinder." They range from Dr. Bernard Lown, cofounder of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNN), to Samantha Smith, perhaps the most politically exploited little girl in the history of US/USSR relations. The idea is to show that everyone can contribute to our better dealings with the Soviets, regardless of age or occupation. Grandmother? Sure. Farmer? Of course. Anyone.

But those who embark on this type of journey are not exactly typical Americans. In the 1950's, Dr. Bernard Lown had memberships in several of the subversive organizations listed in the Walter-McCarran Act. He first journeyed to the Soviet Union in 1968—the year of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia—after meeting a certain...

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