What does it mean to be Jewish?
They give each other tit for tat.
The next tat may get Arafat.
The trial in The Hague of the first state president indicted for genocide was to be the ultimate showdown. In the culmination of a fifty-year struggle by the human rights community against impunity, the firm weight of evidence and international law would be brought to bear on one of the world's most brutal dictators, Slobodan Milosevic. But the set-piece confrontation that began on February 12--a combined case covering three wars over ten years, which is expected to last more than two years--soon ran into problems.
By refusing legal counsel because he rejects the legitimacy of the court, Milosevic did more than insure the image of himself sitting alone against the world. He also gave himself license to thunder, without risking cross-examination, about the Balkan wars as a Western "Nazi" conspiracy to destroy socialist Yugoslavia. "This is a political trial that has nothing to do with the law," he declared.
For procedural reasons, the judges had the case run backward, starting with Kosovo and later taking up the earlier wars in Croatia and Bosnia. This allowed Milosevic to focus initially on the NATO bombing campaign--spending many hours in his opening speech listing civilians and civilian institutions hit (and including many horribly graphic photographs) and stressing his argument that Albanians fled Western bombs, not Serbian forces.
Milosevic played to public opinion, and much of Belgrade was delighted, with a local poll giving his performance high marks and his proud wife, Mira, beaming. If the tribunal hoped to break through Serbia's deep rejection of any responsibility for the wars and atrocities, the proceedings appeared to be having the opposite effect. "He has decided to work for the Serbian people and not for himself. He has broken the media lies produced about us," boasted one parliamentarian from Milosevic's Socialist Party.
Nor has Milosevic been totally alone outside Serbia. The International Committee to Defend Slobodan Milosevic, comprising activists, lawyers and intellectuals (including Harold Pinter and Ramsey Clark) has asserted that the "kangaroo court" with its "victor's justice" is illegitimate because the UN Security Council does not have explicit authority under Chapter VII of its charter to establish tribunals. Critics of the court also focused on small errors and confused witnesses in a prosecution case that began weakly. Some Albanians who took the stand seemed lost, failing to nail down the points sought by the prosecution or appearing overwhelmed by Milosevic's aggressive questioning.
The presiding judge, who sparred so fiercely with the defendant in preliminary proceedings, settled into a routine allowing him fairly wide latitude to cross-examine witnesses, only occasionally scolding, "That is enough, Mr. Milosevic." The schedule of the prosecution's case is constantly revised, as the defendant draws out lengthy (sometimes surprisingly well-prepared) cross-examinations stressing the violence of NATO, the Kosovo Liberation Army and even Al Qaeda against innocent Serbs.
It was easy to imagine Milosevic's performance sending quivers down spines at the US State Department and European foreign ministries as he threatened to call world leaders to the stand, highlight contradictions in the West's Balkans policy as well as civilian deaths caused by its actions, and plot the judicial free-for-all Western governments most fear. Bush Administration officials, appearing before the House Foreign Relations Committee on February 28, criticized delay and mismanagement at the tribunal and called for curtailing some investigations. The comments were delivered by Pierre-Richard Prosper, ambassador at large for war crimes issues, in the very hours when NATO forces were attempting, and failing, to arrest former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic in Bosnia. (The Administration sees the arrest of Karadzic as key to its exit strategy for the Balkans and as a prerequisite for closure of the Hague tribunal on the former Yugoslavia by 2008.) Wire reports spoke of "abandoning" the UN system of tribunals and gave the impression that Prosper's view of international tribunals was not far from that of Milosevic himself. Indeed, Washington has been adamant in its rejection of the permanent International Criminal Court, and its position on prisoners from Afghanistan has raised concern in Europe over its commitment to international humanitarian law. Prosper subsequently traveled to The Hague to make more emollient, if less publicized, remarks. Whether the episode was purposefully contradictory, or a storm brewed by selective reporting, a message had been sent.
But for Milosevic, none of this matters. Playing to the media, cross-examining witnesses on tangential issues, making accusations against others (Washington, Sarajevo, Saudi Arabia) instead of addressing charges in the indictment, indeed rejecting the authority of the tribunal (while fully participating)--these are all classic defense strategies. They may influence some opinion in Belgrade and even internationally, but the only relevant audience in the tribunal's hybrid legal system is the panel of three judges who will examine the evidence against him.
Milosevic himself, in court, has several times confirmed a clear chain of military command within the Yugoslav forces. In the coming months, the prosecution can be expected to present senior witnesses from the Belgrade establishment who should go further to confirm a direct conspiracy from the top to commit crimes in Kosovo, particularly mass deportation. The Croatian and Bosnian cases are far more complex, taking place outside the territory over which Milosevic was the chief authority. But the prosecution has laid out detailed diagrams of control in what it calls a joint criminal enterprise, and by all accounts the legal teams on these cases are stronger. The record of Milosevic's responsibility for the wars in the Balkans over the past decade will be aired.
It nonetheless remains a concern that critics, both pro-Milosevic and anti-international law, will exploit the impossibility of anyone but those obsessively following the whole case (available live online at www.domovina.net) to make highly selective critiques. In doing so, they may raise their own profiles but will impede the justice and reconciliation in the region that is the underlying goal of the war crimes tribunal.
In the wake of the terrorist attacks on September 11, China has undergone a dramatic makeover: from the most outspoken adversary of the United States to a highly appreciated ally. The bitter spy-plane episode is all but forgotten. Relations between the two countries continue to warm, and George W. Bush is scheduled to arrive in China for his first official visit on February 21--the thirtieth anniversary of Nixon's breakthrough visit. Though short (it ends February 22), Bush's visit promises to be long on symbolism and good will. President Jiang Zemin could not have asked for anything more.
At home, however, he is enmeshed in a bitter power struggle leading up to next fall's passing of the baton from the current leadership to the next generation of China's Communist leaders, as mandated by the party's new service-limitation rule. Jiang Zemin is desperate to place his supporters in crucial posts, to insure his continued dominance as an insider, even when out of office. His maneuvering has led to open opposition. The radicals abhor his dictatorial style and lavish personal spending. There are rumors that the bugging of his $120 million Boeing 767, discovered in October, may have been carried out by his opponents in the military. Even the supporters of Zhu Rongji, his liberal ally, are accusing Jiang of arrogance and incompetence. The conservatives accuse him of being qin mei (a "US kisser").
It's true that his government seems suddenly eager to please. In preparation for the summit, it has released several imprisoned scholars with American ties. Foreign Minister Qian Qichen has welcomed members of Taiwan's governing Democratic Progressive Party to China and called for renewed dialogue, in a significant softening of policy undertaken with one eye toward Taiwan, the other toward Washington. Similarly calculated was the pledge of $150 million for the reconstruction of Afghanistan. And Chinese officials have made an effort to clear the United States of involvement in the bugging of Jiang's 767. No wonder a New York Times Op-Ed called Jiang "Our Man in Beijing."
On the other side, official Chinese media now fondly refer to W. as "Little Bush," in deference to his father. Little Bush has granted China permanent most-favored-nation trade status, calling it "a final step in normalizing US-China trade relations." Also, after years of resistance, US officials recently threw their support behind China's bid to host the Olympics in 2008.
So what's wrong with this picture? Hidden behind the new amiable facade are long-term problems--China's rapid economic growth and increasing political influence in Asia have placed it on a collision course with the United States, inspiring nationalistic posturing and encouraging military spending in both countries. Witness the US missile defense plan, aimed at limiting China's threat to Taiwan, and China's accelerated arms development program and massive purchase of Russian weapons in recent years. On the economic front, Chinese imports are creating a huge trade deficit for the United States--its largest with any trading partner, including Japan.
Meanwhile, things are far from well in China [see Jiang Xueqin, "Letter From China," page 23]. Its current leadership can hardly keep the lid on the boiling caldron of contradictions between the growing primitive capitalism and the rule of the Communist Party. An estimated 170 million people in China are currently unemployed or semi-employed, and millions more are expected to be added to the rolls as a result of China's joining the World Trade Organization, which will have a devastating impact on its agriculture. The corruption of the business and political elite has made the polarization between rich and poor more extreme than at any time since the establishment of the People's Republic. The malcontents are turning violent. Between November 25 and December 15, 2001, China was rocked by twenty-eight deliberate explosions and several assassinations of party officials, which prompted top national leaders to convene three consecutive meetings in Beijing. Targets of China's internal "terrorist" attacks include factories, housing facilities, train depots and police stations across the country.
Given these circumstances, it seems wise for Bush to steer clear of commitment to the troubled lame-duck Chinese leadership. He will be tempted to enjoy the photo-ops and allow Chinese leaders to get away with suppressing minority rights in China's border regions by invoking the goals of the new alliance against terrorism--especially in the Muslim province of Xinjiang. But if China is to become a stable and reliable long-term ally in the region, Americans will have to quit their cowboy swaggering, which has recently triggered strong anti-American sentiment among the Chinese, and use the lull in mutual antagonism to see to it that US corporate interests do not ignore labor and human rights abuses. Otherwise, there will be much more unrest to come.
President Hosni Mubarak is quite happy that the United States has decided to try civilian terrorist suspects in military courts. For ten years, Egypt has been taking fire from the West for court-martialing civilians; the new US policy, plus Britain's enactment on December 14 of a package of antiterrorism legislation that includes the right to hold suspects indefinitely, vindicates him. The US and British measures "prove that we were right from the beginning in using all means, including military trials, [in response to] these great crimes that threaten the security of society," Mubarak told the state-owned Al Gomhuriya newspaper in a December 16 interview. "There is no doubt that the events of September 11 created a new concept of democracy that differs from the concept that Western states defended before these events, especially in regard to the freedom of the individual."
In 1992 Mubarak, his regime under attack from a radical Islamist insurgency, authorized the referral of civilians to military courts on the grounds that such courts dispensed swift justice. Since 1997 there has been virtually no reported militant Islamist activity inside Egypt, but the trials are still going strong. In late November eighty-seven members of the alleged terrorist group Al Wa'ad ("The Promise") went on trial at the desert barracks of Haikstep east of Cairo, with another seven tried in absentia.
Despite the potentially grim outcome of the case--as leaders of a conspiracy that allegedly planned to assassinate Mubarak, some of the defendants could be sentenced to death--on some days there's almost a carnival atmosphere in the courtroom. The prosecution drew snickers from the audience when it tried to enter into evidence the group's arsenal, consisting of a baseball bat and an air rifle. Even the judge couldn't help but wisecrack as a state security officer, citing "secret sources who can be trusted" but could not be named, outlined how the defendants were attempting to overthrow the regime by assassinating, in addition to President Mubarak, a movie director who specializes in producing the closest that Egypt's censor will allow to skin flicks.
When the Al Wa'ad suspects were originally rounded up in May 2001, the papers reported that they had been sending money to Palestine and Chechnya. But after September 11, the defense says, the government wanted to show the United States that it was an active participant in the war on terror, so it added assassination charges and downgraded fundraising charges. So far the prosecution case is mostly confessions delivered to state security officers, which the defendants claim were extracted under torture.
Compared with Egypt's civilian courts, the standards of evidence in military courts are a bit looser. Procedurally, however, the two are much the same. The big difference is the outcome. Military trials are "like a movie," says defense lawyer Negad Al Borei. "They look like reality, but you know what will happen from the beginning."
According to the US State Department's 2000 report on human rights in Egypt, "the use of military courts to try civilians continued to infringe on a defendant's right to a fair trial before an independent judiciary.... While military judges are lawyers, they are also military officers appointed by the Minister of Defense and subject to military discipline. They are neither as independent nor as qualified as civilian judges in applying the civilian Penal Code." It will be interesting to see what the State Department says next year, now that military trials for civilians have become US policy.
Critical human rights reports, of course, never stopped the United States from considering Egypt its "strategic partner" in the war on terror, as State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said in November. Nor, according to reports in both the Arab and US press, did such reports discourage the CIA from assisting in the extradition of alleged jihad activist Ahmed Naggar from Albania to Egypt, where a military court tried and convicted him in 1999. He was hanged early the next year.
Nor have they deterred the tribunals from processing alleged Islamists at a fairly brisk rate: The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights counted a total of thirty-two trials involving 1,001 defendants in 1999, of whom 625 were sentenced to prison and ninety-four sentenced to execution (only sixty-seven were actually executed). Mubarak declared that military courts "would only be used to confront terrorism." In 2000, however, fifteen members of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has renounced violence since the 1970s, were given prison sentences of up to five years for "conspiring" to run for office in local and parliamentary elections.
Certainly, a few of those convicted over the past decade in Egypt's military trials were murderous fanatics. However, even when the trials deal with genuine militant groups, rights activists say, you rarely know which of the defendants are truly dangerous and which were simply picked up from the local mosque to round out the numbers.
Early in the 1990s, when bombs were exploding in Cairo and every week brought fresh reports of officers killed in the Islamist strongholds of southern Egypt, it was easy enough to figure out why the regime might resort to military trials. Perhaps they've continued after the demise of the militant movement partly because security officers want to show their utility (there have also been proceedings against a gay "conspiracy," an allegedly treasonous academic and a sacrilegious author in the past year). Perhaps they've continued because the regime just wants to keep Islamic activists on edge or feels it necessary to show that it's keeping up with the war on terror. Whatever the reason, the regime has certainly taken the West's "new concept of democracy" as a sign that it's on the right track.
Why in 1973 did Chile's democracy, long considered the crown jewel of Latin America, turn into Augusto Pinochet's murderous regime? Why did the United States, which helped Pinochet seize power from Salvador Allende, support the violent dictator for nearly two decades? Scholars answering these questions have usually focused on the threat posed by Allende, the first elected Marxist head of state, to Chilean and US business interests and to the cold war foreign policy of the United States. But recently declassified documents, along with the reissue of Patricia Politzer's Fear in Chile: Lives Under Pinochet, suggest that the Chilean counterrevolution, however much shaped by immediate economic and political causes, was infused with a much older, more revanchist political spirit, one stretching as far back as the French Revolution.
Edward Korry, who served as US ambassador to Chile between 1967 and 1971, greeted Allende's election in 1970 as if the sans-culottes were at the gate. Before all the votes were in, he smelled the "stink of defeat" and could hear "the mounting roar of Allendistas acclaiming their victory" arising "from the street below." Although no guillotine blade had yet dropped, material declassified by the United States over the past couple of years shows that Korry fired cable after cable back to Washington, warning of "the terror" to come and citing Baudelaire to brand Allende a "devil."
It may seem bizarre that an LBJ-appointed Democrat would pepper his diplomatic missives with the overheated prose of French romanticism. After all, critics have charged cold war liberals, such as Robert McNamara and McGeorge Bundy, with employing a dry calculus in deciding the number of casualties needed to defeat Communism. But Korry was no bloodless bureaucrat. In fact, in both tone and content, his writings were remarkably similar to those of the illiberal Joseph de Maistre, the arch-Catholic reactionary who launched violent, intoxicated attacks on the French Revolution. By injecting medieval Catholic orgiastic mysticism with the revolutionary zealotry of his contemporaries, Maistre offered a compelling alternative to earthly promises of secular justice and political participation. He was the first who understood that if a counterrevolution was to be won, it would be necessary to win the "hearts and minds" of what would come to be known as the masses.
As fervidly as Maistre hated la secte of Jacobins and eighteenth-century rationalists, Korry disdained Allende and his Popular Unity followers, and largely for the same reason: Where Maistre rejected the idea that people could be governed by enlightened principles, Korry dismissed as "dogmatic and eschatological" those who believed that "society can be structured to create paradise on earth." And both men reserved their strongest scorn for the pillars of the old regime--church, army and state--because, either for reasons of ineptitude or corruption, they had failed to see and to confront the evil before them. Lost in a "myopia of arrogant stupidity," the elites and officials who had allowed Allende to come to power were a "troupe of fools and knaves" leading Chile to the "marxist slaughter-house." It is as if Korry saw the revolution as divine retribution against a decaying polity. "They should be given neither sympathy nor salvation," he said of the weak-willed ruling party.
Echoing Maistre's observation that republican rule is ill suited to protect society against revolutionary fanaticism, Korry complains in his cables about a gracious political culture that places no brake on Allende's determination: "Civility is the dominant characteristic of Chilean life. Civility is what controls aggressiveness, and civility is what makes almost certain the triumph of the very uncivil Allende." Neither the military nor the outgoing president, Eduardo Frei, "have the stomach for the violence they fear would be the consequence of intervention," Korry wrote to Washington. The Communist Party, in contrast, Korry warned, was "that most clear-minded and cohesive force in Chile.... Allende is their masterwork in Latin America and they do not lack for purpose or will."
Korry worked to strengthen domestic opposition to Allende's Popular Unity coalition, yet he also opposed Henry Kissinger's plot to provoke a military coup (which led to the murder of Chilean Gen. René Schneider). Instead, he advocated patience, confident that, with encouragement, internal dissent would eventually oust Allende. Again, remarkably akin to Maistre, Korry felt that restoration had to come from within rather than be imposed from without. He had faith that time favored his position; that the revolutionaries, in their effort to build a society that ran against human nature, would soon exhaust themselves; that rumor and chaos, unavoidable spawns of popular rule, would fuel an irresistible counterwave that would sweep them from power.
In fact, CIA destabilization strategies, both in Chile and in other Latin American nations, seem to draw directly from Maistre's restoration scenario, which relied on counterrevolutionary determination to generate dissension. Rumor acts as the cat's-paw for fear, poisoning commitment, corroding solidarity and forcing an acceptance of inevitable reaction. In Chile the CIA, in a cable dated September 17, 1970, set out a plan to
create the conviction that Allende must be stopped.... discredit parliamentary solution as unworkable...surface ineluctable conclusion that military coup is the only answer. This is to be carried forward until it takes place. However, we must hold firmly to the outlines or our production will be diffuse, denatured, and ineffective, not leaving the indelible residue in the mind that an accumulation of arsenic does. The key is psych war within Chile. We cannot endeavor to ignite the world if Chile itself is a placid lake. The fuel for the fire must come within Chile. Therefore, the station should employ every stratagem, every ploy, however bizarre, to create this internal resistance.
After the end of World War II, when demands for social democratic reform swept the continent, a series of coups and political betrayals successively radicalized and polarized social movements. The Old Left gave way to the New, and calls for reform climaxed into cries for revolution. By the late 1960s, Latin American military elites and their US allies knew, as Maistre knew two centuries earlier, that a simple changing of the guard would no longer be enough to contain this rising tide: "We are talking about mass public feeling as opposed to the private feeling of the elite," wrote the CIA about the intended audience of its "psych war" in Chile. The Latin American military regimes that came into power starting in the late 1960s combined terror and anti-Communist Catholic nationalism to silence this revolutionary roar. As Gen. Oscar Bonilla, who helped Pinochet install his seventeen-year dictatorship, put it, "What this country needs is political silence. We'll return to the barracks when we have changed the mentality of the people."
Patricia Politzer's Fear in Chile: Lives Under Pinochet recounts, through fifteen first-person testimonies gathered in the mid-1980s, while Pinochet was still in power, how his dictatorship did just that. By 1973, the United States had succeeded in its stated goal of extinguishing Chilean civility and igniting political passions. It seemed to many that their country had become ungovernable. Chronic shortages of basic goods, violent conflicts, political impasses and swirling rumors of coups and invasions wore Chileans down.
Nearly all of Fear in Chile's witnesses begin their accounts with the coup, and they all convey the exhaustion and confusion of the moment. Andrés Chadwick Piñera recounts his lonely sadness at hearing of Allende's death while his middle-class family, wife and neighbors celebrated. Sympathetic to the revolution, he burned his books and eventually made peace with the regime. Even the most committed became disoriented. Raquel, a student member of the Communist Party, recalls the uncertainty of revolutionary leadership, which told members to first do one thing, then another. Blanca Ibarra Abarca, a shantytown community leader, became "furious" after listening to Allende's radio message broadcasting news of the coup. She wanted "to do something, to fight," but was paralyzed by "pain and impotence." Manuel Bustos Huerta, president of his union, called a meeting but "no one knew anything...some people said we should go home, and others said we should take over the factory. Finally, after much discussion, we decided that people should go home." (Maistre wrote, nearly 200 years earlier, of how confusion would replace revolutionary resolve with resignation: "Everywhere prudence inhibits audacity.... On the one side there are terrible risks, on the other certain amnesty and probable favors. In addition, where are the means to resist? And where are the leaders to be trusted? There is no danger in repose.")
At times the polarization described by Politzer's witnesses seems absolute. While many wept upon hearing news of Allende's death, others bonded in anti-Communist solidarity: "Everyone from the block got together in a neighbor's house to celebrate.... Everyone brought something and it was a very joyous occasion."
But it is where the testimonies intersect, often at unexpected junctures, that Fear in Chile reveals just how deep and popular both the revolution and counterrevolution were. Blanca Ester Valderas and Elena Tesser de Villaseca recount radically different experiences and backgrounds. Valderas is a poorly educated rural woman whose husband was murdered in Pinochet's coup. Under Allende, after growing weary of following her husband through a series of dead-end jobs, Valderas joined the Socialist Party and was appointed mayor of her town. Even after the coup, when she was forced to change her name and go into hiding, she continued in politics, working with Chile's nascent human rights organizations. Tesser de Villaseca is a well-to-do "Pinochet diehard" who untiringly organized women to bring Allende down, even though she denies that either she or her husband is "political." Nor did she return home after Pinochet took power; instead Tesser de Villaseca and her friends threw themselves into myriad social welfare organizations aimed at making Chileans "a sound race again, to make the country healthy." Despite the different historical consequences of their actions, both women used politics as an avenue of upward human mobility, to escape the restraints of family and to influence civic life.
In Costa-Gavras's movie Missing, which, while not mentioning Chile specifically, depicts Pinochet's coup, the first repressive act shown is of soldiers pulling a woman off a bus queue and cutting off her slacks, warning her that in the new nation, women do not wear pants. Many of the voices in Fear in Chile recall similar acts of violence: men who had their long hair shorn; women who were ordered to wear skirts; a worker who was arrested and tortured for being "an asshole" and not acting sufficiently submissive to authority. Notwithstanding Allende's supposed alignment with the Soviet Union and his threat to economic interests, acts like these illustrate that the real danger of the Chilean left was not that it undermined secular liberal democracy but that it promised to fulfill it, to sweep away the privilege and deference of patriarchy and class. "It was as if we had suddenly returned to a past era," recalls the wife of an Allende functionary in recounting her dealings with male military officers who, prior to the coup, she'd treated as friends and equals.
For many, Pinochet realigned a world that had spun out of control, and the power of Politzer's book is that it takes seriously the concerns of his supporters. Pinochet remained popular because he satiated the desire of many Chileans for both order and freedom. He haunts the pages of Fear in Chile like Maistre's powerful but distant sovereign, who "restrains without enslaving." As one of Pinochet's supporters put it, "I believe in a democracy in which certain general objectives are submitted to a vote; after that, each matter should be handed over to experts capable of realizing those objectives. In a family, for instance, where there is a health problem, you don't have a democratic vote about what steps to take."
It is this image of a family that is constantly invoked by followers of the regime to symbolize a just society, a family with Pinochet as the wise and strong father ("I adore Pinochet," says Tesser de Villaseca. "I adore him because he is a superhuman person who is also sensible and worthy") and his wife, Lucía, as the empathetic mother ("an extraordinary woman," says a Pinochet colonel, "who has created a volunteer corps in Chile that should be an example to the world. She's like a diligent little ant who works in different areas and also collaborates well with her husband").
Pinochet's success in generating a degree of popular legitimacy ultimately rested on violence and terror. By the time he left office, in 1990, his regime had arrested 130,000 people, tortured 20,000 others and, if the killing that took place during the coup is included, murdered between 5,000 and 10,000 Chileans. Fear not only led people to burn their books, drop out of politics, go into hiding and exile and switch allegiances, but allowed those who supported the government and dreaded a return to anarchy and conflict to justify murder: "I don't have any special knowledge about DINA [Pinochet's intelligence agency, responsible for a good deal of the terror], but if they were really out to find people working against democracy, people who didn't hesitate to kill to achieve their goals, I think what they were doing was good. I'm not one of those who don't believe that there were disappeared persons," says Carlos Paut Ugarte, an economist who returned to Chile following Allende's overthrow to work in Pinochet's government.
From Edmund Burke to Jeane Kirkpatrick, it has been the lie of modern counterrevolutionary thinkers that, against totalitarian abstractions, they defended historical actuality. The status quo is what should be, they say, and any effort otherwise leads straight to the guillotine or the gulag. But Pinochet's god, father and homeland were no less utopian and intangible than the just nation that Allende and Popular Unity hoped to build--the difference being that Pinochet had guns and the United States.
In his day Maistre was optimistic that restoration could be brought about with little violence. "Would it be argued," he asked, "that the return from sickness to health must be as painful as the passage from health to sickness?" Writing before the great counterinsurgency terrors of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, he can be excused his sanguinity. But Korry, too, liked to draw on historical analogies to make his case, and he has no such excuse. "There is a graveyard smell to Chile," he wrote immediately after Allende's election, "the fumes of a democracy in decomposition. They stank in my nostrils in Czechoslovakia in 1948 and they are no less sickening today."
It is too bad Korry couldn't escape the prison of his own abstractions and draw a lesson from a more relevant historical referent: Indonesia in 1965, where anti-Communist government agents slaughtered, as the United States watched, hundreds of thousands of its citizens. After all, the analogy was not lost on the CIA, which dubbed Pinochet's coup "Operation Jakarta."
In speeches delivered to the State of the World Forum in September 2000, Mikhail Gorbachev blamed the United States for squandering unique post-cold war opportunities to bring "new thinking" (novoe myshlenie) to the problems of globalization, arms reduction and nuclear disarmament. He's entitled. For, paradoxically, it was Gorbachev--the product of an ostensibly moribund, so-called totalitarian regime--whose idealism and dynamism went farthest in demilitarizing the cold war, assuring its peaceful resolution and ushering in those very opportunities.
Nevertheless, Gorbachev erred when he blamed the United States. In fact, it appears that the United States "won" the cold war (this month marks the tenth anniversary of the fall of the Soviet Union) without ever recognizing, let alone understanding, the indispensable role played by Soviet ideas. Thus, a corresponding paradox: Vibrant, dynamic, democratic America had no new thinking to squander.
Such conceptual disarmament can be traced to the US political leadership's cold war embrace of the concept of totalitarianism to explain Soviet behavior, and to the post-cold war support it found in the work of the "totalitarian school" thinkers. Apparently it mattered little to them that Richard Pipes and Martin Malia, two of the school's most prominent members, could not even agree on the origins of Soviet totalitarianism: Pipes indicted virtually all of Russia's history by finding fully developed totalitarianism to be the legacy of "patrimonial" rule under the czars, with the addition of Lenin's militarized lust for dominance. Malia simply blamed socialist ideology.
Having learned from Merle Fainsod that "the totalitarian regime does not shed its police-state characteristics; it dies when power is wrenched from its hands," both historians denied the very possibility of systemic change from within and, consequently, credited pressure from the West, best symbolized by the Star Wars program of the Reagan Administration, for precipitating the collapse of Soviet Communism.
If a flawed idée fixe like this could capture such erudite Russia scholars, imagine the blank spots that impoverished the thinking of lesser "totalitarian school" Sovietologists, especially those primarily concerned with national security problems. Suffice it to say that these scholars' intense search for the slightest improvements in Soviet weaponry obscured much bigger developments: the mellowing Soviet leadership identified by George Kennan, the "friends and foes of change" detected by Stephen F. Cohen and the potential implicit in generational change in the Soviet leadership suggested by Jerry Hough and Archie Brown. Imagine how much worse were the unschooled cold war politicians of both major political parties, who further militarized and coarsened the worst of cold war scholarship--which continues to this day, in some cases.
Serious and comprehensive early post-cold war scholarship by Raymond Garthoff and Archie Brown properly credited Gorbachev. Garthoff concluded that, "in bringing the cold war to an end...what happened would not have happened without him; that cannot be said of anyone else." Brown, in addition to proclaiming Gorbachev "the individual who made the most profound impact on world history in the second half of the twentieth century," explicitly rebutted the totalitarian argument by concluding: "From the spring of 1989 [thus, well before its collapse] it is scarcely meaningful to describe the Soviet Union as a Communist system."
The publication of Gorbachev's memoirs should have deflated the Star Wars claims made by Pipes, Malia and others. Rather than compelling the Soviet leaders to undertake the reforms that precipitated the regime's collapse, as they claimed, Star Wars was actually trumped by a comparatively cheap asymmetrical response--the Soviets' development in the mid-1980s (and deployment in the late 1990s) of the Topol-M ICBM. It remains capable today of penetrating any foreseeable missile defense system the United States might deploy. Gorbachev advised Reagan about his countermeasure in late 1985, but neither Reagan nor the totalitarian school paid much attention.
In 1999 Matthew Evangelista, in Unarmed Forces: The Transnational Movement to End the Cold War, dealt another blow to the totalitarian interpretation when he demonstrated the emergence, early in the post-Stalin period, of influential, dissenting Soviet "policy entrepreneurs" whose sources of information were often Western colleagues in transnational organizations. Evangelista's evidence thus demonstrated that Gorbachev's "new thinking" had deeper intellectual roots than is commonly assumed. Now Robert English confirms in his impressively researched new book, Russia and the Idea of the West, that the sources of Gorbachev's novoe myshlenie date back to the early post-Stalin period, when liberal, "Western" thinking began its slow but steady proliferation.
Before turning to those sources, however, English explains the origins and nature of Soviet "old thinking" from which it departed. Beginning with Peter the Great's compulsory Westernization of the Russian nobility, English examines the impact of Western influence in such events as the Decembrist revolt and Great Reforms of Alexander II, during the early and mid-nineteenth centuries, until he reaches the pinnacle of such influence in Russia's intellectual history, at century's end. Western inroads then, of course, brought Marxism, which appealed to many Russian intellectuals who sought absolute answers to life's fundamental questions. (English claims that an "Asiatic" disposition distinguished the Bolsheviks from other Marxists; a dubious assertion, but it scarcely detracts from his most critical conclusions.)
World War I precipitated the Russian Revolution and eventual seizure of power by the Bolsheviks, which in turn virtually guaranteed civil war and foreign intervention. In the wake of that extremely brutal civil war, the ranks of the Bolshevik Party swelled with half-worker, half-peasant "sovietized workers" who were "ill-educated, xenophobic and militant." They viewed the civil war as a heroic struggle against Western invaders and preferred the war's harsh, ad hoc system of requisition and supply (dubbed "War Communism") to the subsequent, if temporary, compromise with capitalism--the New Economic Policy.
Purges of Westernized, non-Marxist scholars and intellectuals only increased their influence, leading English to the critical conclusion that "their 'puerile' views of socialism, 'warfare' ethos, and crude anti-Westernism changed the Bolshevik Party radically."
Stalin exploited these beliefs by manufacturing the War Scare of 1927, decrying "hostile capitalist encirclement," exposing the "wrecking" by domestic and foreign subversives, substituting relentless propaganda for outside sources of information, rooting out ideological nonconformity and orchestrating the great purge trials of the late 1930s. Such measures not only secured Stalin's undisputed political power but also embedded what English labels "hostile isolationism" into Soviet life. Such was the "old thinking," which was not surmounted until Gorbachev came to power.
English correctly identifies the thaw era following Stalin's death in 1953 as "a critical turning point in Soviet history." Highlighted by Nikita Khrushchev's "secret speech" at the Twentieth Party Congress in 1956, which denounced Stalin's crimes, it "led to freedom and rehabilitation for millions, economic changes to benefit society instead of the militarized state, a cultural rebirth, and considerable truth-telling about Soviet history, politics, and the world."
Less noticed was Anastas Mikoyan's speech at the Twentieth Congress, which led to the creation of new research centers that became "oases of creative thought." A special oasis, however, was the journal Problemy Mira i Sotsializma (Problems of Peace and Socialism), based in Prague. In the early 1960s, its staff variously included talented young liberals, including Georgy Arbatov, Anatoly Chernyaev and Georgy Shakhnazarov, who were to play an important part in articulating and implementing Gorbachev's reforms two decades later.
The creation of new Central Committee consultant groups provided a pipeline for the "Praguers" and other liberal thinkers to move into the party apparatus, thereby enabling a critical mass to develop within the broader rebirth of the Russian intelligentsia. From that time forward, it challenged the legions of "proletarian intelligentsia" molded by Stalin.
According to English, on the literary front, it was not only questions raised about the Stalinist system by Solzhenitsyn's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and Vladimir Dudintsev's Not By Bread Alone but the work of the literary avant-garde of Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Andrei Voznesensky, Bella Akhmadulina and Vasily Aksenov, who increasingly brought a Western orientation to their work.
In philosophy, for example, a "revolt of the young" questioned limitations in the thought of both Lenin and Marx. In history, Mikhail Gefter was calling for a "'perestroika' of Soviet historiography" and subsequently established a section on methodology at the Institute of History. His seminars, which attracted scholars from many fields, were devoted to reconsidering "fundamental issues of the world-historical process." In economics, we have the word of Otto Latsis, who recalled "that by the early 1960s 'the urgent necessity of market reforms [was agreed on by] all serious economists.'" New and influential institutions like the Novosibirsk Institute of Economics and Industrial Organization and the Central Economic-Mathematical Institute were established in the early 1960s. Both became centers for liberal and reformist research.
Finally, English addresses the evolving views of the mezhdunarodniki, the scholars, analysts, journalists and practitioners particularly concerned with foreign affairs. Compelled to re-evaluate foreign policy as a consequence of Khrushchev's substitution of "peaceful coexistence" for Stalin's "inevitability of war," reformist impulses were abetted by the need to obtain accurate information about the West, especially the United States, in order to successfully manage arms control negotiations.
Borrowing from the work of Evangelista, English also notes how leading Soviet scientists utilized information provided by their Western colleagues to rethink "international confrontation, especially when the Soviet leadership entered serious arms talks."
After Khrushchev's forced retirement in 1964, a mild retreat toward Stalinism was followed by more forceful repression after Soviet tanks crushed the "Prague Spring" in 1968. Yet a Brezhnev "thaw" accompanied the SALT and ABM treaties, the Helsinki Accords and the joint Apollo-Soyuz space flight under détente, resulting in expanded Soviet-Western contacts.
English describes much of the liberal intellectual activity during Brezhnev's rule as one of "public conformism, private reformism." Privately, the intelligentsia pursued a "much more serious study of the outside world...that went well beyond that of the thaw era." Inspired by Andrei Sakharov's 1968 samizdat work Reflections on Progress, Coexistence and Intellectual Freedom, they came to embrace "universal human" values and repudiate their class-based worldview--years before détente flourished and more than a decade before Gorbachev made it the foundation of his new thinking.
But implementation required not only Gorbachev's selection as Soviet leader--by no means a sure thing during the period 1980-84, when the new thinkers, armed only with the power of their ideas, waged an uphill battle against the entrenched power of the conservatives, who were aided by the arms buildup and bellicosity of the Reagan Administration. According to English, implementation also required Gorbachev's deeper immersion into such thinking before the Soviet Union could finally escape Stalin's "hostile isolationism" to undercut America's militarized Soviet policy.
Anatoly Chernyaev's diary-memoir, My Six Years With Gorbachev, provides invaluable evidence of that very immersion. Chernyaev served as Gorbachev's top foreign policy aide from February 1986 until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. His account of those years pulls no punches.
The reduction of cold war tensions was considered an indispensable condition for undertaking urgent domestic restructuring, or perestroika. By 1986, according to Chernyaev, Gorbachev had "decided to end the arms race no matter what." Consequently, he aimed his January 15 proposal for a nuclear-free world by the year 2000 directly at Reagan's professed desire to render all nuclear weapons "obsolete."
Gorbachev subsequently introduced his new thinking, including "reasonable sufficiency" in military expenditures and "mutual security," based upon universal human values rather than class conflict, to the participants at the Twenty-Seventh Party Congress. Chernyaev, however, had his doubts: "As for guiding reform and guaranteeing its success, this role is still reserved for the Communist Party.... It never occurred to him that changes might bog down because of the system itself, even if people became more active."
Nevertheless, when Gorbachev met President Reagan at Reykjavik in October of 1986, the Soviet delegation was prepared to "sweep Reagan off his feet" by appealing to his antinuclear sentiments. Sure enough, an ill-prepared and overwhelmed Reagan ultimately suggested the elimination of all nuclear weapons--which Gorbachev eagerly embraced. Only a disagreement over Star Wars and the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty prevented two antinuclear radicals from formalizing an agreement to eliminate the very weapons that, in many Western minds, deterred a Soviet invasion of Europe. Margaret Thatcher likened Reykjavik to "an earthquake." Senator Sam Nunn observed that, had the negotiations not broken down over Star Wars, "it would have been the most painfully embarrassing example of American ineptitude in this century, certainly since World War II."
Chernyaev correctly placed some blame for Reykjavik's collapse on Gorbachev. Like Reagan, he wouldn't budge on Star Wars. Nevertheless, Reykjavik convinced Gorbachev that Reagan was a fellow nuclear radical who intuitively "felt the challenge of the times."
Gorbachev and Reagan brought starkly different approaches to Reykjavik, though. As Chernyaev's pre-Reykjavik Politburo notes clearly demonstrate, the concept of "mutual security" guided Gorbachev's plans: "We are by no means talking about weakening our security. But at the same time we have to realize that if our proposals imply weakening U.S. security, then there won't be any agreement." For contrast, note the questions that an exasperated US representative, Max Kampelman, asked a fellow member of the Reagan team: "Then why do we do this? Why propose something he'd [Gorbachev] never accept, something even we might not want?" The approaches demonstrate why Gorbachev was so instrumental in bringing the cold war to a peaceful conclusion, and why the United States still embraces the state-centered "realism" and unilateralism that guarantees an adversarial relationship, fifteen years later.
Although this watershed event opened the floodgates for subsequent foreign policy successes, it had little effect at home. Chernyaev still doubted Gorbachev's willingness to undertake economic reforms that would "change the system's essentials." He observed too much talk and too little action. Worse still, the actions taken were disastrous; an anti-alcohol campaign that cost him much popular goodwill and "predetermined much in the tragic course of perestroika," and a law on enterprises in 1987 that "was probably the first step toward the economy's collapse."
Nevertheless, by the middle of 1986, Gorbachev had "begun referring to the ills of 'the system,'" prompting him, at the January 1987 plenum of the Central Committee, to deliver a blistering critique of the party. Gorbachev used that plenum to schedule what would prove to be an extraordinary Nineteenth Party Conference during the summer of 1988.
Soon after that January 1987 plenum, Andrei Sakharov persuaded Gorbachev that Star Wars was a "Maginot line in space--expensive and vulnerable to counter-measures" that should not prevent the Soviet Union from concluding arms reduction agreements with the United States. A late-March meeting with Margaret Thatcher, to which Chernyaev devotes considerable attention, succeeded in persuading Gorbachev that Europe genuinely feared Soviet military power. Consequently, when Mathias Rust's Cessna aircraft landed in Red Square in late May, Gorbachev seized upon the ensuing scandal to replace his defense minister, the head of the air defense forces, and approximately 100 generals and colonels who opposed Gorbachev's mutual security initiatives.
Thus, by the summer of 1987, it was discontent with domestic perestroika (and not Reagan's Star Wars fantasy) that prompted Gorbachev's threat of harsh measures. For example, Chernyaev recounts one Politburo meeting where Gorbachev furiously tossed a "big stack" of letters on the table at which his colleagues were seated, before remarking: "They write many different things, but it all comes down to one and the same. What's this perestroika? How do we, ordinary people, benefit from it? We don't.... Here, in our Soviet state, big bosses enjoy every luxury and remodel their apartments at government expense. They couldn't care less about the people.... I'm warning you--this is our last conversation about such issues. If nothing changes, the next time I'll be talking to different people."
Gorbachev replaced rhetoric with action in the wake of the "Nina Andreyeva affair"--an ill-disguised but more formidable attempt by second-in-command Yegor Ligachev to bring perestroika to a halt in the spring of 1988--by compelling the participants at the Nineteenth Party Conference to schedule both the overhaul of the Central Committee apparatus and elections to a Congress of People's Deputies. Once implemented, both actions would break the party's stranglehold on political life.
Chernyaev's May 1989 diary entry vividly captures the political turmoil wrought by these changes:
All around Gorbachev has unleashed irreversible processes of "disintegration"...
the planned economy is living its last days and the 'image' of socialism is fading. Ideology doesn't exist anymore. The empire-federation is falling apart. The Party is in disarray, having lost its place as a ruling, dominating, and repressive force. Governmental authority has been shaken to the breaking point. And nothing has yet been created to take its place.
The disarray and shaken authority cost Gorbachev much of his domestic influence. Yet, according to Chernyaev, even as late as November 1990, "the disruptions and uncertainty of the domestic situation hadn't yet affected the authority of the Soviet Union as a great power." Gorbachev used it to conclude a treaty with Reagan on intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF) in December 1987. In April 1988, the Soviets signed the Geneva accords for removing Soviet troops from Afghanistan. And in December, Gorbachev stunned the United Nations and the world by denouncing both the threat and use of force in international relations--moral idealism he subsequently and courageously lived up to in 1989, when faced with the revolution his actions sparked in Eastern Europe--and announcing that the Soviet Union would reduce its armed forces by 500,000 men, withdrawing many from Eastern Europe.
During that extraordinary period, America's conservatives vilified Reagan for signing the INF treaty. Later, as Frances FitzGerald has reminded us in Way Out There in the Blue: Reagan, Star Wars and the End of the Cold War, Henry Kissinger, William Safire and George Will seized upon Reagan's subsequent performance at the Moscow summit (May 1988) to accuse him of "creating a false 'euphoria' that would give a breathing space to the unchanging enemy." Finally, who can forget Will's memorable bouquet to the departing President: "Reagan has accelerated the moral disarmament of the West--actual disarmament will follow." Nevertheless, in January 1989 a nonplussed Reagan proclaimed, "The cold war is over."
And so it was--notwithstanding needless obstacles created by the first Bush Administration. For, as Chernyaev notes, "beginning in the summer of 1990...Gorbachev was paying attention only to the major areas of foreign policy and almost entirely from the point of view of their necessity for solving domestic problems." Meetings with foreign dignitaries "were increasingly of a ruminating, 'philosophical' character." Thus, during President Bush's visit to Moscow, in July 1991, Gorbachev not only suggested a new strategic paradigm to replace nuclear parity but also engaged Bush in discussions about the best approaches for advancing the interests and solving the problems of other countries. In a word, "mutual security."
The meetings with Bush marked the culmination of Gorbachev's efforts, but only because a failed putsch against him in August facilitated the countercoup by Boris Yeltsin, in December, that ended his political career. Few should dispute Chernyaev's conclusion that Gorbachev's "epoch stands out as one of the most remarkable of the centuries." Nevertheless, prior to September 11, 2001, America's post-cold war triumphalism--distorted by the totalitarian school's refusal to countenance the very possibility of meaningful change from within the USSR--prevented the cold war "victor" from embracing Gorbachev's revolutionary lead.
But triumphalism collapsed momentarily with the World Trade Center, thereby creating yet another opportunity for new thinking. And who, better than Gorbachev, to both suggest and remind us? "It is now the responsibility of the world community to transform the coalition against terrorism into a coalition for a peaceful world order. Let us not, as we did in the 1990s, miss the chance to build such an order," he wrote recently.
"Arafat is guilty of everything that is happening here," Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon declared on television Monday night. "Arafat has made his strategic choices: a strategy of terrorism." In sync with these fierce words, Israeli forces launched attacks close to the Palestinian leader's house and destroyed his helicopters, an onslaught that the US government conspicuously failed to condemn.
So, in the wake of the recent suicide bomb attacks launched by Hamas, the sky is now the limit for Israeli reprisals: the killing of Arafat and, not so far down the road, perhaps forced expulsion of tens of thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank. In other words, untrammeled military repression by Israel's forces, and a deaf ear by the United States to all Palestinian calls for fair dealing. Write FINIS to all efforts over the past thirty-four years to secure a just settlement in Israel and some measure of satisfaction for Palestinian aspirations.
But isn't that exactly what Israelis like Ariel Sharon have wanted all along? Can anyone claim with a straight face that Sharon and those like him actually want a just peace that would see an end to Israeli settlements on the West Bank, the rise of a Palestinian state in any guise other than pathetic little bantustans ringed by Israel's security forces?
There are those in Israel who outlined clearly in November Sharon's plan to force matters exactly along the lines they have now taken.
Alex Fishman is the main commentator on security matters for Israel's largest mass-circulation paper, Yediot Ahronot, a publication with right-of-center politics. Fishman is known for his excellent contacts in the military. On Sunday, November 25, Fishman issued a prediction based on the November 23 assassination by Israel's security services of the Hamas leader Mahmoud Abu Hanoud. It was featured in a box on the newspaper's front page.
It began, "We again find ourselves preparing with dread for a new mass terrorist attack within the Green Line [Israel's pre-1967 border]." Since Fishman was entirely accurate in this regard, we should mark closely what he wrote next. "Whoever gave a green light to this act of liquidation knew full well that he is thereby shattering in one blow the gentleman's agreement between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority; under that agreement, Hamas was to avoid in the near future suicide bombings inside the Green Line, of the kind perpetrated at the Dolphinarium" discotheque in Tel Aviv on June 1.
Fishman stated flatly that such an agreement did exist, even if neither the Palestinian Authority nor Hamas would admit it in public. "It is a fact," he continued, "that, while the security services did accumulate repeated warnings of planned Hamas terrorist attacks within the Green Line, these did not materialize. That cannot be attributed solely to the Shabak's [Israel's security service] impressive success in intercepting the suicide bombers and their controllers. Rather, the respective leaderships of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas came to the understanding that it would be better not to play into Israel's hands by mass attacks on its population centers."
In other words, Arafat had managed to convince Hamas to curb its suicide bombers. This understanding was shattered by the assassination of Abu Hanoud. "Whoever decided upon the liquidation of Abu Hanoud," Fishman continued, "knew in advance that that would be the price. The subject was extensively discussed both by Israel's military echelon and its political one, before it was decided to carry out the liquidation. Now, the security bodies assume that Hamas will embark on a concerted effort to carry out suicide bombings, and preparations are made accordingly."
Ever since September 11 Israel's leaders followed with deep trepidation the building of the coalition against the Taliban and Al Qaeda. The months of studious indifference displayed by the Bush Administration toward the crises in the Middle East suddenly gave way to President Bush's abrupt, post-September 11 statement that he had always nourished the dream of a Palestinian state.
Consequently, the prime task of the Israeli government and of its supporters here has been to turn back any serious pressure for accommodation with even the most modest of Palestinian demands. In parallel, the faction mustered around Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Defense Policy Board chairman Richard Perle has been to push for the United States to reopen direct hostilities with Iraq and settle accounts with Saddam Hussein once and for all.
The Wolfowitz-Perle group knows perfectly well that any serious new confrontation with Saddam would probably be a prolonged and bloody affair. There is no Northern Alliance ready and eager for US intervention in Iraq. The Shiites in the south remember well what happened in 1991, when they rose against Saddam and the United States stood by while he methodically slaughtered them. The Kurds know that a post-Saddam regime might move against them, with similar US indifference. If the United States acted as supervisor and guarantor for an invasion by Ahmed Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress, the military and diplomatic consequences would be both messy and far-reaching.
It's clear that the Wolfowitz-Perle group is equable in the face of such uncertainties, since whatever the ghastly consequences for ordinary people in Iraq, the one outcome that would be certain is that Israel would be confirmed in its status as the United States' prime ally and supporter in the region, even as the post-September 11 coalition with Islamic countries falls apart. Small wonder they rapturously echo Sharon's denunciations of Arafat as a man of terror even though they, being smart people, probably don't need Alex Fishman to explain how the game is actually being played.
These are the stakes. They're far larger than the present tragicomic efforts to assemble a coalition to run Afghanistan, and there isn't much sign thus far that President Bush understands that comic-book advisories such as "You're for us or against us" do not, in this situation, really apply.
New evidence of a CIA scheme to use Ernest Hemingway's Cuban farm.