January 31, 2000
Relations with Russia
It's Time to End US Interventionism
The past month saw many interesting developments in Russia, and they have provided us with just cause for immediate concern. Of course the biggest Y2K event was the resignation of Boris Yeltsin.
Shortly after his replacement Vladimir Putin came to power, a very somber event occurred. Namely, the Kremlin granted him more power to use nuclear weapons. The first reason given for this change in policy was that the expansion of NATO had caused the Russians to see a threat drawing closer to them which had not been previously perceived. The second reason - the war in Yugoslavia had made it apparent that there is now a NATO precedent for launching an attack into a country that had not itself attacked any NATO member.
When the Clinton Administration and others were busy slapping each other on the backs with congratulations for what they saw as a "job well done" in Yugoslavia, I was warning that this act would have dangerous consequences that could not be foreseen at the time.
I regret to report how accurate that warning turned out to be. Russia is not happy with its attempts at transition to a more westernized economy and culture. The Russian people are looking for somebody to blame, and they are seeking out their old enemies as scapegoats.
The Russian bear has never stopped being a ferocious one, and our own policy, which is analogous to continually poking, prodding and otherwise "climbing into the cage" with that bear, is not and has not been in our own best interests. Through the IMF, the World Bank and other such entities we have continued to provide foreign aid to the bear. In doing this we are in essence feeding a very unfriendly entity.
Our US leaders have told us how we need to continue subsidizing the bear because that is the way, so they say, to keep the Russians "on our side." The latest moves indicate that Russia will pursue what is in her national interests regardless of any US subsidies they may receive. Thus, when we subsidize foreign countries, we subsidize their national interests - interests that are, more or less frequently, bound to be inimical to our own.
Another so-called "surprise" move of Mr. Yeltsin's successor was that he cut a deal with communist party members of the legislature, the Russian Duma. This seems to be a surprise only to those naive enough to believe that we could befriend a potentially hostile nation by sending lots of taxpayer money to it. The reason that the communists continue to be players on the Russian scene should be obvious. First of all, the indoctrination of Marxist ideology that nation underwent for nearly a century cannot be expected to disappear overnight, or even in a decade. Indeed it is likely to be many generations before Marxism is repudiated in the mind of the typical Russian citizen. Moreover, in the short run, the communists are a valuable ally to any Russian politician who is looking to maintain and increase his power base. The communists are traditionally hostile toward the United States, and since America makes a good scapegoat for any Russian leader, it is only natural that the current Russian boss would seek an alliance with the communists.
Also, it has long been a tactic of those in power that they will find outside scapegoats when internal problems persist. In the current instance the fact that Russia has had a terrible war with Chechnya has made it expedient for Russian leaders to begin to focus energy toward vilifying America.
The best way for us to break this vicious cycle seems most clear to me. We ought to recommit ourselves to a foreign policy that seeks our national interest. The components of such a policy involve a strong national defense and a policy of non-intervention abroad. That means that we should end these failed attempts to win people to our cause by giving them foreign aid payments.