|Russia and the CIS News Digest
Russian Military Paper Cites FDR on Russian-American Relations
With greater pungency than any press in the United States, the Russian Ministry of Defense daily Krasnaya Zvezda (Red Star) on Feb. 2 published a special message on the occasion of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's 125th birth anniversary, which was Jan. 30, 2007. Included was a commentary by Victor Ruchkin, who interviewed Academician Andrei Kokoshin, one of Russia's leading specialists on the United States and strategic affairs. Kokoshin is also a committee chairman in the Russian State Duma, which recently passed a resolution calling for more and better direct contacts with the U.S. Congress.
The commentary by Ruchkin, titled, "A Politician with Firm Principles, is given here in full.
"January 30 marked the 125th anniversary of the birth of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, an outstanding statesman of the 20th Century. He was elected President of the United States four times, from 1933 to 1945, which was unprecedented in the history of that country. This politician with firm principles, as even Roosevelt's adversaries called him, played an important role in the destiny not only of America, but of all mankind. It was largely thanks to him, that the political alliance of the "Western democracies" and the Soviet Union became possible. Despite their ideological differences, they were able to unite their efforts in the international arena, in the face of a global threatNazi Germany's attempts to rule the worldand they defeated it totally. On this memorable date, our correspondent asked Academician Andrei Kokoshkin, chairman of the State Duma's Committee on CIS Affairs and Ties with Compatriots, to tell us his opinion of the policies of the 32nd President of the U.S.A.
"Kokoshin: 'Franklin Delano Roosevelt is one of the greatest statesmen not only of the U.S.A., but in world history. He is known for his New Deal, which brought the United States out of the deep crisis of the Great Depression, and which Roosevelt put forward against the resistance of many representatives of Big Business.
"'For our people, Roosevelt is one of the main leaders of the anti-Hitler coalition, which achieved a crushing victory over Nazi Germany and its satellites, and eliminated a tremendous threat to world civilization. Roosevelt's name is linked to the deliveries to our country of weapons and military equipment, food, other goods, and various materiel, which helped the U.S.S.R. attain victory. These supplies, especially a whole array of specific parts, were highly rated by Soviet commanders, especially Marshal of the Soviet Union Georgi Konstantinovich Zhukov.
"'For us, Roosevelt is a symbol of truly mutually beneficial and equal cooperation between the U.S.A. and our country, an example that, unfortunately, has not been followed by the great majority of American leaders in the postwar period. Recognizing the growing role of the U.S.S.R. in world politics, the Roosevelt administration, on Nov. 16, 1933, established diplomatic relations with the U.S.S.R..
"'After Hitler's attack on the U.S.S.R., Roosevelt, already on June 24, 1941, announced the U.S.A.'s readiness to support the struggle of the Soviet people. We remember that Roosevelt, to a greater degree than Churchill, sought to open the second front against German fascism on the west coast of France, rather than in other places, in order to hasten the defeat of the Axis. There are many reasons to believe that if Roosevelt had lived longer, our relations with the U.S.A. would have developed in a different way during the first post-war years.
"'It is by no means certain, that Roosevelt would have taken the decision to drop the American atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We know that his successor, Truman, did this largely to intimidate the U.S.S.R.. This gave a powerful impulse to the transition to the Cold War, and the nuclear arms and nuclear missile race, which repeatedly brought the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.A. to the brink of a hot war. I believe that today's generation of politicians ought to draw appropriate conclusions from these lessons of history.'"
Primakov Speaks on Indicative Planning, Invokes Roosevelt
Former Prime Minister Yevgeni Primakov gave a high-profile interview to the Sunday Evening program on Russia's NTV channel which appeared Jan. 28. His discussion had several elements of strategic importance:
* Primakov said that Russia is being criticized today more sharply, than at any time since the end of the Cold War. He thinks this is due to "subjective factors on the other side," because of expectations that Russia would be a towel boy for Western institutions, beginning in the early 1990s. He recalled how, when he was Prime Minister, "a representative of the International Monetary Fund came over and tried to impose certain models of development on us. They were trying to impose on us a system when the state was not to be involved in anything, everything was to be left at the mercy of the market and the market was supposed to take care of everything."
When the interviewer asked him if Russia should form a bloc with countries that have been ostracized, e.g., for seeking nuclear weapons, Primakov strongly condemned any notion of turning anti-American: "To form a bloc against America? I am against it.... There should be no anti-Americanism in our policy. We should look for ways to uphold our national interests without confrontation. This is Putin's course and I support him on that to the hilt."
* As against the fallacies of the IMF, Primakov cited Franklin Roosevelt, saying: "No country has ever managed to extricate itself from an economic crisis situation without decisive interference of the state. This is what Roosevelt said, and this is what Erhard in West Germany after the Second World War said, and he acted accordingly.... We have seen a turning point; at long last we have rejected the views of the people I would describe as dogmatic liberals who thought that the market would provide all the answers.... At present the state is increasingly involved in the economy. It does not mean that the state will revert to Gosplan, to issuing directives. But indicative planning and even industrial policy as such were also denied. Now, thank God, we have abandoned this, and this is not liked."
* He reiterated, this time for a national TV audience, his recent remark that Saddam Hussein was hanged unexpectedly and in a hurry, in order to prevent him from speaking out "about the game which was played around him and together with him," especially by Donald Rumsfeld from the U.S. side.
Lavrov: Russia Welcomes Baker-Hamilton Approach
Remarks by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Jan. 27, prior to a Feb. 2 meeting of the Quartet (Russia, the U.S.A., the EU, and the UN, conferring on the Mideast) and his bilateral talks with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and with U.S. Senators, were explicit on the consonance of Russia's approaches with those of the Baker-Hamilton report. About bringing Iran and Syria into talks, Lavrov said, "After a long break, the theme of the need for a comprehensive settlement was sounded for the first time in St. Petersburg at the G-8 summit.... The Baker-Hamilton Commission has confirmed this. Many Arab countries are likewise saying that it's necessary to draw all influential players into the settlement process. Of course, this presupposes involving Iran and Syria in the solution of the Lebanon and Palestine-Israel problem....
"I am convinced that it is in the national interest of all those who are in one way or another involved in any aspects of the Near and Middle East conflict, to seek participation of all influential players in the discussion. You really can't expect somebody to help you if you're telling somebody: 'Now you help me, and in the rest of things you are a rogue.' This won't work, and any person understands it. It is no coincidence that the Baker-Hamilton Commission and most in the U.S. Congress are for substantial changes in the Iraq policy of Washington."
At the same press briefing, Lavrov was asked about U.S. aircraft carriers being moved up, "as if they are going to attack somebody," and he replied that Russia would demand clarification on "what stands behind this ... hard-line policy against Iran, which presupposes in the American vision much harsher measures than those envisaged by the latest resolution of the UN Security Council. We would like to get explanations on what stands behind this."
President Putin travels to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Jordan the week of Feb. 5.