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Profile: Morton Blackwell

Morton Blackwell was a participant or observer in the following events:

Paul Warnke, at a 1986 press conference.Paul Warnke, at a 1986 press conference. [Source: Terry Ashe/Time and Life Pictures / Getty Images]President Carter’s nomination of Paul Warnke to head the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) galvanizes opposition from conservatives throughout Washington.
Long Record of Opposing Arms Buildup - Warnke, a trial lawyer who began his political career as general counsel to the secretary of defense under President Johnson and established himself as an outspoken critic of the Vietnam War, has a long record of favoring negotiations with the Soviet Union over confrontation. His 1975 article in Foreign Affairs magazine, “Apes on a Treadmill,” ridiculed the conservative idea that the only way to counter the Soviet nuclear threat is to build ever more nuclear weapons, and earned the lasting enmity of those same conservatives. “We can be first off the treadmill,” he wrote. “That’s the only victory the arms race has to offer.” Carter also wants Warnke to head the administration’s negotiating team in the SALT II (Strategic Arms Limitation Talks) with the Soviets. [New York Times, 11/1/2001; Scoblic, 2008, pp. 101]
Conservative, Neoconservative Counterattack Creates Grassroots Element - The Committee on the Present Danger (CPD—see 1976) leads the opposition to Warnke’s nomination. Even before Warnke is officially nominated, neoconservatives Penn Kemble and Joshua Muravchik write and circulate an anonymous memo around Washington accusing Warnke of favoring “unilateral abandonment by the US of every weapons system which is subject to negotiation at SALT.” The memo also cites the conclusions of the Team B analysts (see November 1976) to deride Warnke’s arguments against nuclear superiority. Shortly after the memo, one of the CPD’s associate groups, the Coalition for a Democratic Majority (CDM) creates a “grassroots” organization, the Emergency Coalition Against Unilateral Disarmament (ECAUD), that actually functions out of the CDM offices in Washington. ECAUD, though an offshoot of the CDM, has a leadership made up of conservatives, including the American Conservative Union’s James Roberts, the Republican National Committee’s Charles Black, and the Conservative Caucus’s Howard Phillips. The directors of Young Americans for Freedom, the Young Republican National Federation, and the American Security Council (see 1978) are on the steering committee. And the executive director is Morton Blackwell, a hard-right conservative who works with direct-mail guru Richard Viguerie. In 2008, author J. Peter Scoblic will write, “Thus were the views of neoconservatives, hawks, and traditional conservatives given a populist base.” [Scoblic, 2008, pp. 101-102]
Contentious Confirmation Hearings - Scoblic describes the opposition to Warnke at his Senate confirmation hearings as “vicious.” Eminent Cold War foreign policy expert Paul Nitze (see January 1976) lambasts Warnke, calling his ideas “demonstrably unsound… absolutely asinine… screwball, arbitrary, and fictitious.” Neoconservative Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) gives over his first Senate speech to blasting Warnke; Moynihan’s Senate colleague, neoconservative leader Henry “Scoop” Jackson (D-WA—see Early 1970s) joins Moynihan in criticizing Warnke’s nomination, as does Barry Goldwater (R-AZ). Another conservative congressman accuses Warnke, falsely, of working with both Communists and terrorists: according to the congressman, Warnke is in collusion with “the World Peace Council, a Moscow-directed movement which advocates the disarmament of the West as well as support for terrorist groups.” Heritage Foundation chief Paul Weyrich uses Viguerie’s mass-mailing machine to send 600,000 letters to voters urging them to tell their senators to vote “no” on Warnke. [New York Times, 11/1/2001; Scoblic, 2008, pp. 103-104]
Warnke Confirmed, but Resistance Established - Warnke is confirmed by a 70-29 vote for the ACDA, and by a much slimmer 58-40 vote to head the US SALT II negotiating team. The New York Times’s Anthony Lewis later writes of “a peculiar, almost venomous intensity in some of the opposition to Paul Warnke; it is as if the opponents have made him a symbol of something they dislike so much that they want to destroy him.… [I]t signals a policy disagreement so fundamental that any imaginable arms limitation agreement with the Soviet Union will face powerful resistance. And it signals the rise of a new militant coalition on national security issues.” [Scoblic, 2008, pp. 104]
Effective Negotiator - Warnke will resign his position in October 1978. Though he will constantly be under fire from Congressional conservatives, and will frequently battle with administration hawks such as National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, he will earn the respect of both American and Soviet negotiators. In 1979, disarmament scholar Duncan Clarke will write that the Soviets come to regard Warnke as one of the toughest of American negotiators, with one Soviet official saying: “We always wondered why Americans would pay so much for good trial attorneys. Now we know.” Warnke will have a strong influence on the eventual shape of the final SALT II agreement (see June 18, 1979-Winter 1979). [New York Times, 11/1/2001; Scoblic, 2008, pp. 104] Upon his death in 2001, fellow negotiator Ralph Earle will say, “Arms control will be forever on the agenda due in large part to Paul and his articulation of the importance of the issues.” [Arms Control Today, 1/1/2002]

The masthead of the Dartmouth Review (2005).The masthead of the Dartmouth Review (2005). [Source: Huffington Post]The Dartmouth Review, an alternative campus newspaper with a conservative slant, is founded by Greg Fossedal, the former editor of Dartmouth College’s official student newspaper, The Dartmouth. Fossedal feels that the Dartmouth administration is composed of “Stalinists” who oppose his views. Taking several staffers with him, Fossedal leaves The Dartmouth and founds the Dartmouth Review. The newspaper, which receives no university funding, quickly demands that the university purge most non-Western curriculum materials and coursework, takes a strong stance against affirmative action (claiming that the “administration has given in to every minority demand”), complains that professors are unfairly punishing students who express pro-American and pro-Christian viewpoints, and demands a return to “traditional values.” Early issues feature an article calling for the return of the old Dartmouth Indian symbol, and calling modern Native Americans “drunken, ignorant, and culturally lost”; an interview with a former Ku Klux Klan leader, illustrated with a staged photo of a black person lynched from a tree; and an open letter on parents’ weekend that says affirmative action at Dartmouth “explains your son’s stupid friends.” Before long, the Review begins receiving funding from conservative organizations and individuals, beginning with conservative alumni, and eventually receives funding from around the country as part of a program by the right-wing Institute for Educational Affairs to develop conservative publications on college campuses. Early support comes from former Reagan White House staffer Morton Blackwell, whose Leadership Institute will later recruit Review editors to train campus conservatives starting up their own newspapers (including Ann Coulter, who will start a similar publication, the Cornell Review, at Cornell University.) According to a 2006 article by the Dartmouth Free Press, “[t]he Dartmouth Review probably could not have survived without the national publicity it received by claiming Dartmouth was trying to silence its conservative voice.” The Review quickly gains a reputation for racism (see March 15, 1982, 1983, and August 2002), anti-Semitism (see October 1982, November 9-10, 1988, and October 4, 1990), homophobia (see 1981, 1984, and 1985), and personal innuendos, such as when it calls one visiting pro-choice speaker “allegedly syphilitic.” Relations between the Review and campus administrators sour even further as time goes on. [Nation, 2/17/2003; Dartmouth Free Press, 9/20/2006; AlterNet (.org), 1/15/2010]

Entity Tags: Greg Fossedal, Cornell Review, Ann Coulter, Dartmouth College, Dartmouth Review, Morton Blackwell, Dartmouth Free Press, Institute for Educational Affairs

Timeline Tags: Domestic Propaganda

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