John Scali. 1962. When diplomacy is out of work


Today, the name of the American John Scali is unlikely to say anything to the Russian reader. And in the 60s of the last century, this name was gratefully mentioned by the top Soviet leadership.


John Alfred Scali was born April 27, 1918 in the city of Canton (Ohio). After graduating from Boston University, Scali worked as a correspondent for ABC News. In this capacity, he played an extremely important role in the normalization of Soviet-American relations, when the USSR and the USA were on the verge of war as a result of the Caribbean crisis.

As a correspondent for ABC, Scali became a mediator in the Soviet-American negotiations. On October 26, 1962, he transmitted emergency information received from a resident of the Soviet foreign intelligence colonel of the KGB, Alexander Fomin (real name is Feklisov), to the American administration.

It is noteworthy that the initiative to establish contact with Fomin-Feklisov came from Scali. Such a communication channel has become vitally important because, due to the secrecy of the Anadyr operation conducted by the Soviet military, the USSR Embassy in the USA did not possess all the information about the changes in the military-political sphere.


A. S. Feklisov

Scali was personally acquainted with President John F. Kennedy. Feklisov realized that he was not just a journalist, but an important communication channel, and decided to take the opportunity to informally scare the US leadership. On his own initiative, he warned the Americans that in the event of an American attack on Cuba, Soviet troops would strike at American troops in Europe, particularly in West Berlin. After that, the White House took steps towards the Kremlin, and the Caribbean crisis was resolved. And the Soviet-American communication channel through Feklisov and Scali continued to function for some time.

J. Scali's further career was more than successful: he left ABC in 1971, becoming President Nixon’s Foreign Affairs Advisor, and in 1973 became the US Ambassador to the United Nations and held this post until 1975.


J. Scali died on October 9, 1995 in Washington and was buried in Arlington Cemetery.

Unfortunately, the American counterpart Feklisov, unlike himself, did not leave any memoirs. It would be very interesting to compare the notes of the Soviet and American heroes who had prevented a nuclear catastrophe.
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  1. Trilobite Master 28 February 2020 18: 20 New
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    I read somewhere, maybe at Feklisov himself, maybe some kind of interview with him, that the dialogue with the American was a little different than what the author of the article described. In the article we have:
    On his own initiative, he warned the Americans that in the event of an American attack on Cuba, Soviet troops would strike at American troops in Europe, particularly in West Berlin.

    If I remember correctly, I can not vouch for verbosity, then this dialogue, according to the story of Feklisov himself, happened approximately like this:
    Scali: Sasha, what can the USSR do if the US invades Cuba?
    Feklisov: the USSR may strike back at US bases.
    Scali: And where can such a blow be inflicted?
    Feklisov: Where it will be more convenient for us to do this.
    Scali: Sasha, do you think it could be West Berlin?
    Feklisov said nothing. Scali quickly packed up and sped off to report the results of the conversation.
    1. Catfish 28 February 2020 18: 58 New
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      Good evening, Michael. hi Yes, your option is more like the real one, any intelligence officer would not name a specific point of a possible strike.
      1. Pavel Gusterin 29 February 2020 02: 15 New
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        Dear Sea Cat, please see my response to the comment of the Master Trilobite.
        1. Catfish 29 February 2020 03: 31 New
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          Dear Pavel, yes, according to the “written” - everything is true. But I will never believe what is written in the memoirs of politicians, and especially intelligence officers. This is by no means reproached in your direction, they just have such a “job”, they are not friends with the truth, which, in general, is probably correct.
          As one anti-hero of an old film said when he was offered to take a post in the government of pre-war Poland: “I did a lot of things in my life, deceived people, seduced women, robbed and killed, but engaged in political activities ... Excuse me, I, nevertheless, I consider myself a decent person. "
          Not a completely correct example, but it is difficult to completely trust people from this circle.
          1. Pavel Gusterin 29 February 2020 08: 56 New
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            Dear Sea Cat, it is difficult to trust all people. Therefore, I curtained and scribbled that, unfortunately, there were no Scali's memoirs left. Nevertheless, the book of Feklisov I mentioned was published during the life of Scali, from whose side there were no objections or refutations about what Feklisov wrote.
    2. Pavel Gusterin 29 February 2020 02: 13 New
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      Dear Trilobite Master, here is a quote from A.S. Feklisova "Overseas on the island. Notes of a scout" (M., 1994): "The Soviet Union can strike back at a vulnerable spot in another part of the world that has important military-political significance for Washington.
      Scali, apparently, did not expect such an answer. Silently looked into my eyes and asked:
      “Do you think Alexander, it will be West Berlin?”
      “As a response, this is entirely possible,” I said.
      “The US and allied forces will stubbornly defend West Berlin,” my interlocutor retorted.
      “You know, John, when a thousandth avalanche of Soviet tanks goes into battle, and attack aircraft attack from a low-level flight, they will sweep everything away in their path.” In addition, the troops of the GDR will support the offensive actions of Soviet divisions. I think that they are unlikely to need more than twenty-four hours to break the resistance of the American, English, French garrisons and capture West Berlin [17].
      That’s where our polemic ended. "
    3. Pavel Gusterin 29 February 2020 02: 43 New
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      Dear Master of Trilobite, for completeness, I quote the continuation of the quote: “This was the end of our debate. In silence, we drank the cooled coffee, thinking about the situation. Then Scali said to himself, as if to himself:
      - It turns out that the war with its unpredictable consequences is not so far. Because of what can it begin?
      “Because of mutual fear,” I answered, and continued: “Cuba is afraid of an American invasion.” And the United States - rocket fire from Cuba.
      We did not make any attempts to formulate a proposal for a way out of the crisis, we only lost the first steps in the escalation of a possible war. Expressing the hope that our leaders would not allow the slaughter to occur, we parted. I went to report to the ambassador, and Scali went to the White House.
      Here I must say: no one authorized me to tell Scali about the possible capture of West Berlin, as a retaliatory measure of the USSR on the American invasion of Cuba. It was like a rush of my soul. I acted at my own risk and peril, did not think about the consequences, for I was convinced, having analyzed the situation, that things would unfold in this way. Now, in hindsight, it’s completely clear to me: yes, I took the risk, but I was not mistaken. "
      1. Trilobite Master 29 February 2020 11: 29 New
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        Good afternoon, Pavel.
        By my comment I do not pretend to the ultimate truth, because I do not remember the source of the quote, nor can I guarantee the accuracy of its reproduction. I remember what it was in my student years, which means until the mid-nineties. And I remember for sure that even then, at the first reading, I noted to myself that during the dialogue the word "West Berlin" was uttered only and exclusively by an American, but our resident did not confirm or deny his guess.
        While writing this text, I remembered that, in my opinion, the note I am talking about was published in a magazine and it was in the very beginning of the 90s. The rest, alas, has been erased from memory.
        Perhaps in the later editions of his memoirs Feklisov changed or corrected something, I don’t know. Be that as it may, I cannot refer to a specific source, which I honestly admit. hi
  2. Undecim 28 February 2020 20: 41 New
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    A table in the Occidental restaurant, Washington, at which Skali and Feklisov met.
    Scali was personally acquainted with President John F. Kennedy
    Scali was personally acquainted not with President John F. Kennedy, but with his brother Robert Kennedy, through whom communication was made. According to some sources, involving Scali in negotiations is just his idea.
    Unfortunately, the American counterpart Feklisov, unlike himself, did not leave any memoirs. It would be very interesting to compare the notes of the Soviet and American heroes who had prevented a nuclear catastrophe.
    The American counterpart has left several extensive interviews in newspapers, for example, the Los Angeles Times.
    1. Pavel Gusterin 29 February 2020 02: 05 New
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      Dear Undecim, here is a quote from A.S. Feklisova "Overseas on the Island. Notes of a Scout" (M., 1994): "I was unexpectedly invited for breakfast by John Scali, whom I had regularly met for almost a year and a half. He was at that time a well-known foreign observer for the AB television center. -si, once a week hosted the Q&A program, which was attended by ministers, members of Congress, well-known political figures. The program was popular - Scali conducted it interestingly. From his stories I learned that Scali was born in Boston and was personally acquainted with the Kennedy clan, including the president. "He had a very good relationship with Secretary of State Rusk, whom he often accompanied on trips."
    2. Pavel Gusterin 29 February 2020 02: 28 New
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      Dear Undecim, can you give a link to some quote by J. Scali?
  3. Reptiloid 29 February 2020 17: 28 New
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    Thank you for the facts, dear Paul. hi
    The old past, which is rarely remembered today, in my opinion so?
    1. Pavel Gusterin 29 February 2020 20: 14 New
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      Please, dear Reptiloid.
  4. Doliva63 29 February 2020 19: 29 New
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    The article does not contain the main thing - about the cause of the crisis and its consequences. The Union then America just got its missiles in Turkey and aircraft at the borders. This is the reason. After the crisis, the Yankees removed all this. These are the consequences. So the essence of the “crisis” is that the Union showed the Yankees where he “turned” them, if that. The Yankees agreed and worn themselves out. The Russian Federation cannot afford this.
    1. Pavel Gusterin 29 February 2020 20: 18 New
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      Dear Doliva63, the article is not about the crisis, but about the people who helped solve it. They still remember Feklisov, but they don’t know anything about Scali. You did not understand the author’s intention.
      1. Reptiloid 29 February 2020 21: 21 New
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        Quote: Pavel Gusterin
        ..... They still remember about Feklisov, but they don’t know anything about Scali. .....
        That's just what I did not know and did not remember (because I did not know before.) Yes, hesitated to say request
        Although about the crisis met common phrases, as well as about the fact that "" managed to resolve ""
      2. Doliva63 1 March 2020 19: 32 New
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        Quote: Pavel Gusterin
        Dear Doliva63, the article is not about the crisis, but about the people who helped solve it. They still remember Feklisov, but they don’t know anything about Scali. You did not understand the author’s intention.

        Why did you decide that you didn’t know this story in the Union? I remember the most reading country in the world was. But the role of this clicker is the tenth, to say the least. I would not agree, another option would be to convey to the Union that the Yankees are ready to make concessions so that our missiles are not on their shores. So I don’t see any sense in the author’s intention, excuse me hi
        1. Pavel Gusterin 2 March 2020 16: 03 New
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          Quote: Doliva63
          Why did you decide that you didn’t know this story in the Union? I remember the most reading country in the world was.

          Doliva63,
          This story became known in 1994 after the publication of the first book of Feklisov, which was mentioned here in my comments. The Union in 1994 was no longer there. If you, Doliva63, are such a reader, please provide a link to a source from which you could learn about this story before Feklisov’s book.
          Quote: Doliva63
          So I don’t see any sense in the author’s intention, excuse me

          And you, Doliva63, cannot see the point in the author’s intention, judging by your reasoning ...