Upon meeting Vladimir Putin in 2001, President George W. Bush announced that he had looked the Russian leader in the eye and found him to be “straightforward and trustworthy.” Since then, we have witnessed the rise of an authoritarian state, bolstered military capabilities, and growing antagonism toward the West. Could this be the start of a new Cold War, or do strategic differences mean a cold peace, and nothing more?
For The Motion
Russia’s focus on modernizing its military capabilities, including building an intercontinental ballistic missile force and nuclear submarines, does not reflect a nation seeking peace with the West.
To deflect attention from their increasingly autocratic policies and practices, Russian leaders are stoking nationalistic sentiment against American values and customs.
The ideological divide that consumed global affairs during the Cold War era is over; America can disagree with a nation’s internal politics without declaring that nation an enemy.
Russia’s growing push for influence in global affairs and demands of national sovereignty make Russia a challenge to some American interests, but not an enemy.
Russia and the United States have a shared interest in combating security issues, such as the rise of Islamic extremism, and it remains in both nations’ best interest to work together.
ROBERT ROSENKRANZ Thank you, Edward, and, uh, welcome, Dana Wolfe and I, uh, are very pleased to, uh, to extend a warm welcome to this evening’s debate, “Russia is Becoming Our Enemy Again.” Now this is not a debate about Russia’s domestic arrangements, and whether we approve of them.
Uh, clearly, President Putin has presided over a massive transfer of wealth and influence to a new Russian elite of former KGB operatives. He’s an autocrat who wants to keep his power.
Russia is pursuing a far more assertive foreign policy, disrupting oil supply when displeased by its neighbors, threatening a new arms race, attacking the US as, quote, “the main violator of freedoms and human rights.”
On the back of $90 oil, the Russian economy is growing rapidly. The bear is well-fed and snarling. And by all accounts, the Russian public heartily approves. The question tonight though is whether a new Cold War is emerging. The most troublesome evidence is Russia’s belligerence, even when its interests and ours seem to be aligned.
It’s hard to imagine that Russia wants a nuclear Iran, or a radical Islamic insurgency. So what do they hope to gain by undermining US pressure on Iran? It’s also, uh, hard to see the advantage of discouraging foreign capital, technology and management skill. Or how it serves Russian interests to be perceived as an unreliable long-term supplier of energy. On the other hand, it’s easy to understand why Russia might be smarting from a loss of empire, and international respect.
Why it might be wary about an American missile defense shield placed in its own back yard. It’s easy to see why the former oligarchs were viewed as having gained their wealth illegitimately. And it’s understandable why Russia favors economic sanctions to exert pressures in its neighborhood, particularly when sanctions are favored policy tool of ours.
So it’s easy to see how Putin’s new assertiveness enhances his domestic popularity and power. Is Russia becoming our enemy again, or is it reacting in an understandable way to domestic political considerations, or perhaps to our own mistakes.
Well, we have an outstanding panel to help us decide, and a very able moderator in Edward Lucas—a veteran observer of the collapse of the Soviet Union, a long-time Moscow bureau chief for The Economist, fluent in five regional languages, and the auth—author of the forthcoming book, The New Cold War, so maybe he’s not, uh, quite so neutral as he appears. [LAUGHTER] Edward, the evening is yours. EDWARD LUCAS
Well, thanks very much indeed, Bob, for your, um, gracious introduction. [APPLAUSE] Now for those of you who haven’t been at one of these de—de—debates before let me just give you a brief rundown of the, um, of—of the evening. Um, the members of the teams on both sides are going to give brief eight-minute introductions to their arguments, an eight minutes which will be ruthlessly enforced from the chair.
And when those are complete I’m going to have a bit of discussion among the panel, and then open up to questions and points from the audience, and at the end of that we will have two-minute summations from each member of the panel, and then a vote. And you’ll vote with these keypads, and you’re gonna get a chance to practice, ‘cause we’re gonna have a vote at the beginning, and a vote at the end.
Because as someone who works at The Economist I know that statistics are much better if you can measure them over time. And this will show how opinion has shifted in the course of the debate.
So we’re gonna—in the course of the debate. So we’re gonna start off with the pre-debate vote, which shows your opinions as they were before you heard the arguments. So please pick up the keypad which in almost all cases will be on the armrest on your left. But, if you’re on the right-hand…aisle, you’ll have to pick up—you don’t have a left, you have—there’ll be two keypads on your armrest and you’ll pick up one of them.
And so tonight’s resolution is “Russia is Becoming Our Enemy Again.” And when I tell you to, I’d like you to press 1, if you’re for the motion, 2 if you’re against, 3 if you’re undecided, and on no account press buttons 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, “Go O.J.” or “question mark,” because then something—something bad will happen. [LAUGHTER]
So you may begin voting now, you don’t need to talk while you’re voting, we just—it’ll just take a couple of seconds, so please, 1 for “for,” 2 for “against,” and 3 for “undecided,” the panel is not allowed to vote, and I’m not going to. So, let’s see. [PAUSE]
Now, if you’ve all voted, you won’t see the result now, uh, but you will see it in the course of the evening, and it’ll be very interesting. And I’m now going to introduce—introduce the panel, although you may have very strong personal views for or against, please refrain from either giving applause or even unmannerly boos, until all six have been introduced.
So for the motion, uh, Claudia Rosett, staff journalist-in-residence at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies; Bret Stephens, foreign affairs columnist and member of the Editorial Board of The Wall Street Journal, and J. Michael Waller who’s the Annenberg Chair in International Communication at the Institute for World Politics, and also Vice President for Information Operations at the Center for Security Policy. Don’t clap. [LAUGHTER]
Against the motion, the Senior Fellow of the World Policy Institute and Professor of International Affairs at the New School here in New York, Nina—Nina Khrushcheva; Robert Legvold, who’s the Marshall D. Schulman Professor of Political Science at Columbia University; and finally Mark Medish, who’s the Vice President for Studies of Russia, China and Eurasia at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Welcome. [APPLAUSE] So, Claudia Rosett, you have eight minutes, starting now. CLAUDIA ROSETT
Thank you and good evening, um… [PAUSE] For the radio audience I’ve just placed a teapot and a teacup on the lectern. It’s a pleasure to be here this evening, thank you to our host, the Rosenkranz Foundation, to NPR. Thank you also, to—thank all of you for coming and thank you to the opposing team, for what I know will be a well-articulated argument for something we all wish were true.
Unfortunately it is not. I am here to argue for the motion that Russia is becoming our enemy again. I’d like to begin with a few definitions. Russia is an enormous polity encompassing more than 140 million people, 11 time zones and a multitude of views.
I’m sure that many people in this room are personally acquainted with Russians who are by no means our enemies. Uh, but inside Russia, their views count for less and less. And in speaking of Russia, we must speak increas—of the increasingly authoritarian state—
In speaking of Russia in this debate tonight, the increasingly authoritarian Russian state of President Putin, of the security apparatus, and the chief and increasingly centralized and authoritarian centers of power. Um, another definition I’d like to just get into quickly that’s important is “enemy.” The American Heritage Dictionary, which seems appropriate tonight, defines “enemy” as, quote, “one who manifests malice or hostility toward or opposes the purposes or interests—interests of another. A foe; an opponent.”
Finally, no one is here tonight that Ru—to argue that Russia is right now our enemy. The motion up for debate is that Russia is becoming our enemy again. It is that direction, that becoming, that trajectory, which we are here to debate.
For two benchmarks, I would like to share with a memory of a dinner in Moscow more than a decade ago. It was with someone who has experienced, then and since, firsthand, Russia’s trajectory not at a distance but has been living it. Uh, he was then optimistic, it was a dinner with a number of journalists and despite our worries, he assured us that all would be well, that Russia was heading in a good direction, that Russians could get rich doing honest business.
His name was Garry Kasparov. Today, Mr. Kasparov has been pouring forth articles and giving interviews in the West warning us that Russia is becoming, indeed has become, a criminal petro-state.
The model he tells us is not the old czarist autocracy, but The Godfather, the Mafia. He wants to run in the Presidential election next March, but what he recently told MSNBC is that we’re not—quote, “We’re not fighting to win elections, we’re fighting to have elections.”
Okay, that may be bad for Russia, but does it mean that Russia’s government is becoming America’s enemy. Yes. We live in an age when governments tend to export their creeds, methods, and technologies—uh, and techniques, excuse me.
And, um, I’d like to just invite you for a minute to imagine, engage in a little imaginary experiment, that you are a Russian democrat, a patriot, trying to warn the free world that Russia is becoming an increasingly dangerous police state.
Let’s say you’re investigating the murder of a journalist and you meet in a city, say London, with an emissary of the Kremlin. You have every right to the question you wish to ask, tea is served. Would you without a second thought these days, drink that tea? [LAUGHTER]
This is a picture of Alexander Litvinenko who drank it, he’s here on this deathbed, these are the effects of Polonium 210 on the human body. This—the Kremlin denies anything to do with it. Uh, this is a picture of Viktor Yushchenko, during his successful bid for the Presidency of the Ukraine, over the Kremlin’s objections, these are the effects of dioxin on the human face. [
:09] The Kremlin denies anything to do with it. Uh, to get to the bottom of such stories, can we turn to the Russian media. No, not likely. They’ve been murdered, harassed, taken over, again the trajectory in the early ‘90s, when that optimistic dinner with Garry Kasparov took place, Russia had a lively press, you could quarrel with what they wrote, but they could say what they wanted to, the shutdowns and takeovers since then, and I include a very partial list—
NTV, the independent TV station, ORT, all sort of coopted by government forces. The newsweekly Itogi Savonia [PH], TV-6, Kommersant, the list goes on. The broad narrative over this time is that there have been phases and steps forward and back, to this direction that the Russian government is taking.
But, the broad arc, is that in the early 1990s, everything was up for grabs, the rules, the property, the whole thing, it was being sorted out. At this point, the shake-out has largely taken place. What do we see. The government has effectively reabsorbed the revenues coming from such oil and gas giants as Yukos and Gazprom.
Uh, we’ve seen them murdering of journalists, we’ve see the targeting of businessman Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who wanted to engage on Western terms with Western business. We’ve seen the increasing control over the regions, we’ve seen the rising charade of elections with President Putin now suggesting he might want to stay on as Prime Minister. Again the rise of the authoritarian state.
Again, does this make Russia our enemy. Um…yes, that’s—and the reason why is, governments such as this need enemies to justify what they do, to deflect anger and frustrations, to show that they are important and necessary. And in Russia’s—the Russ—Russia in the sense of those who now rule—
In Russia’s quest to do that the real rival is the US. And, following, sort of the initial and conditional cooperation we saw in a sort of sunny phase just after September 11th— even that was problematic—Russia’s government has become increasingly hostile and confrontational.
If I run out of time my colleagues are going to cover more for you, but, let’s give a few examples. Uh, Putin’s polarizing speech in February in Munich accusing the US of, quote, singling out the US, of forcing its will on the world, and accusing the US of undermining international security. Quote, “One state, the United States, has oversepped a— stepped its national borders in every way,” he said.
You can find a great many more examples of states, you can argue about US policy but, he was directing this at the US for the world to hear. Um, according to a recent statement by the US Director of National Intelligence, Russia now spies on the US nearly as much as during the Cold War.
Uh, the difficulties raised for neighbor—nearby states, uh, which are inclined to be friendliest to the US, including…lobbing a missile into Georgia, fiddling with gas supplies to the Ukraine, waging cyberwar on Estonia, and, finally, Iran, where Russia has spent more than a decade over US protests transferring nuclear technology.
Uh, and at the UN in Security Council efforts to do something about this has been, one of the prime obstacles, watering down resolutions, objecting, signing only when— EDWARD LUCAS One minute. CLAUDIA ROSETT
—it may, may—it couldn’t really do much more. Oil prices. Russia has every interest in keeping those high, roiling the Middle East, making trouble that is…in—inimical to US interests. Six years ago President Bush looked into President Putin’s eyes and thought he saw a friend of the United States of America.
If only. What we have been learning since then as Russia charts its course, its direction of becoming, is that in America’s dealings with the Kremlin, it is wiser as with any antagonist, foe, opponent, enemy in the making, to watch your back. Thank you very much. [APPLAUSE] EDWARD LUCAS
Thank you very much indeed, um, Claudia Rosett, for the benefit of the radio audience I should say the teapot was blue. Robert Legvold. ROBERT LEGVOLD
It’s a pleasure to be with you and a pleasure to be a part of this event. I think everybody in this hall would agree that Russia today is not a US ally, not even a disaffected ally as so many of our traditional friends are. But then to claim that Russia is, or soon will be an enemy, seems to us to be both wrong, and unhelpful, almost certainly even harmful.
It’s wrong because it misunderstands what Russia’s all about, and it misunderstands what motivates its foreign policy. And it’s unhelpful, maybe even harmful as I’ve said, because it almost certainly runs the risk of bringing about the behavior and the stance on Russia’s part that we fear in the first place,
and not the least, not the least, by…driving home or reinforcing the extraordinary excessive suspicion of the US that radiates across not merely the political leadership but the political spectrum in Russia, and the enormously warped misinterpretation of US, uh, foreign policy and what we are all about.
There’s no question, that Putin’s Russia, Putin himself has put Russia, in the forefront of the most vocal critics of US foreign policy, there’s no question that anti-Americanism within Russia, is more intense and more widespread not only than it has been at any point in the 15 years of Russian independence but well back into the Soviet period.
There’s no question, that the Russian leadership and much of the political elite sees…NATO initiatives and US foreign policy initiatives as a threat to their national security, and indicate that they mean to offset them.
There’s no question that what Russia’s doing on a number of issues of concern to us are contrary, is contrary to our preferences. Uh, and there is no question as Claudia has well-demonstrated, that under Putin Russia has veered from the democratic path.
That makes Russia a challenge. That doesn’t make Russia an enemy. What is Russia about. I think three things. First of all a renewed voice. Russia once again wants a place at the table with the major powers.
Secondly, Russia wants respect for its national interests as it defines them, not the way in which we define them. Secondly—or third, Russia wants an end to the assigned role as either a pupil or as a junior partner.
As one of the Russians wrote not so long ago, “The pedagogical relationship is over,” and Russia wants an independent role in international politics, even a leadership role. And we’re seeing it increasingly in the way in which they exert themselves as a mediator on major issues, among and between major powers.
And third, or second, what it wants beyond voice, is an enhanced power and influence within the post-Soviet space. And this in two ways particularly, first of all, as a lead role in managing security within that sphere, that’s very different from acquiring real estate, and secondly aggrandizing itself economically within the post-Soviet space, and aggrandizing itself economically is very important to Putin at this point.
None of this you’ll notice, suggests that Russia is easy or not a problem for us, I said challenge. Doesn’t make it an enemy, and third it wants…it wants influence over the design of an evolving international order. The first step from that is to blunt what they see as excesses in US foreign policy.
That’s a problem for us. They’re not the only country in the world that wants to blunt the excesses in US foreign policy. But they then go on to talk about collective major-power responsibility in international politics, and they want to extend the circle.
They mean to bring in China and India and probably beyond that. So wherein then is the problem? What makes Russia a challenge and not an enemy. I think it is the ambiguity and the shapelessness at the very base of Russian foreign policy today.
Because, the heart of Russia’s international posture today, is a unity of opposites. Russia claims it has no enemy, it has no ally. Everyone—no one is an enemy, no one is an ally, everyone is a partner, everyone is a competitor.
And that leads to a behavior, which is troublesome not only for us but I think for the future of Russia in its foreign policy, a policy of trying to have its cake and eat it as well.
And this and fur— furthermore is compounded by the absence of strategic vision, within Putin’s Russia, and on his part as leader. Uh, Russia foreign policy’s driven by impulses and di—and, and desires, but impulses are not a strategy. And even less are they a strategic vision.
And without strategic vision Russia is not in a position to make durable, long-term strategic choices. So then, what should be our response in these circumstances. First of all, what not to do. What not to do is premature containment, and jumping to that conclusion.
Not empty hectoring, not drawing red lines. Not even tough love, particularly when we have so little direct leverage in order to pursue that kind of a policy.
And what to do? A policy that would be deft, that would be coherent, that would be frank, and that would be firm, and that would follow, in my view, three guidelines. First of all to try to engage in a constructive and an effective dialogue with Russia over all issues including the most fundamental ones that concern Claudia and her colleagues as, uh, even—
uh, uh, that concerns us as much as it concerns Claudia and her colleagues, that is, the basic values question and where things are going within Russia. But not posturing. And in order to get to a dialogue with Russia we have a fundamental initial problem.
That is to persuade not merely Putin and people around him but a vaude [sic]—broad part of the political spectrum, that our stake in this is not an ulterior motive, that it’s genuine, and that it is direct. Secondly, I think that… uh, we want to as much as possible focus on the overlap in our core interests, and they’re very considerable, while mitigating the increasingly tension-field [sic]—uh, tension-filled differences over tactics.
The core interests are, the struggle against global terrorism. Islamic extremism. The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. And the issue that we forget about these days, that is regulating, producing stability among the nuclear haves, not merely dealing with the nuclear have-nots.
This is now a multipolar nuclear world. And we need to manage it in a way that we’ve neglected for any number of years, and finally, in a still more positive note, to, uh, promote the progressive and dynamic development of the post-Soviet economies, not just Russia.
The entire region, those are our common core interests, but we really do disagree often on how we go about a number of these cases, take the one that’s very much in the forefront of our mind these days, Iran. I would not for a moment— EDWARD LUCAS One minute— ROBERT LEGVOLD
—deny that Russia and Putin and people around him, special interests around him have very self-regarding, selfish interests when it comes to developing their relationship with Iran.
But at heart the problem is a different one. We agree, both Russia and the United States that we do not want a nuclear Iran. But, at the tactical level we disagree about first of all, what kind of a time-frame we’re operating in, how much time we have or not.
And then secondly how we put carrots and sticks together. And the degree to which we privilege the sticks and privilege them early, that’s the kind of thing that we need to do if the core interest coordinate—if the core interest, is as I’ve said, to deny a nuclear Iran.
Uh…the…the third guideline would be that we coordinate our assessment and our approach to Russia among the major countries of the West, Europe and Japan, while at the same time in our policy toward China and India, that we deny Russia the opportunity of using China and Indian against us— EDWARD LUCAS
Robert Legvold, your time is up, I’m afraid. ROBERT LEGVOLD Thank you. I’m finished. [APPLAUSE] EDWARD LUCAS
Now just before Bret Stephens, um, continues the debate for the motion, um, if the remarks you’ve heard so far have already got you wanting to make points of your own the index cards are here held by the ushers, do attract their attention, get them to start jotting down questions you’d like to make to—or you’d like to ask and points you’d like to make, and they will then be passed to me and I will call you in due course, if I can. Bret Stephens for the motion. BRET STEPHENS
Well, like, uh, Claudia I wanna preface my comments by reminding, uh, all of you of what it is we are debating here. Uh, Claudia, Michael and I are not on this stage to argue that Russia is an enemy of the United States.
And you as the audience are not here to vote on whether or not that proposition is true. Rather, we are here to make the case that Russia is becoming an enemy. So what’s at issue here, is the trend, the direction, the question of where all—all this is going.
So let me devote my time to looking at in a very factual way, how events have unfolded in just the past year. Let me remind you that we are on the eve of the anniversary of the poisoning of, um, Alexander Litvinenko.
Let me remind you also that Alexander Litvinenko was a British subject. He was murdered by a lethal dose of Pol—of Polonium 210, which was a de facto case of nuclear homicide if not nuclear terrorism. From his deathbed, Litvinenko personally accused Vladimir Putin of ordering the sa—the assassination. Since then, Scotland Yard has pinned, uh, the murder on a Russian businessman, an ex- or if you will current FSB man, named Andre—Andrei Lugovoi. [
:11] In July, the British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, noted that, quote, “The Russian government has failed to register either how seriously we treat this case, or the seriousness of the issues involved.” The Russian Foreign Ministry responded with a brush-off, that they could not understand why British would hazard its relationship with Russia, quote, “for the sake of one man.”
For the sake of one man, let me remind you that, liberal democracy is constructed for the sake of one man. In a month’s time, Mr. Lugovoi, Litvinenko’s killer, is likely to be elected a member of the Russian parliament.
In December of 2006, the Kremlin pulled out— pulled the rug out from the largest foreign, uh, investment to date in Russia, which was, uh, Shell’s 20—$20 billion oil and gas project on Sakhalin Island, using transparently phony regulatory excuses. It happened again in June to British Petroleum. [
:12] The assault on foreign investment in Russia, was the natural extension of the illegal seizure of Russia’s privately held energy assets, particularly those of Yukos and its seek— and its CEO, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, whose prison term in a Siberian, uh, labor camp, has recently been extended.
In January, Mr. Putin forced the Belarusian government to sign a new gas contract, or else have its gas supplies turned off in the dead of winter. Now Belarus is not a friend of the United States, but Ukraine and Georgia are friends of the United States.
And in both cases Mr. Putin had previously used what I would call pipeline warfare to threaten his neighbors, to threaten and bully his neighbors at their coldest and most vulnerable moments.
Nex—in the next month, in February, a man named Ivan Safronov, a reporter for the, uh, for the Kommersant newspaper, was—or I should say fell from a fourth-story window onto the street, where he died instantly.
The authorities ruled it a suicide, but most observers believe that Safronov, who had repeatedly embarrassed the Russian military with his reporting, was executed, making him the 14th such journalist killed, murdered, during Mr. Putin’s reign.
The same month, a Russian court condemned nine members of the ethnic minorities’ rights group Froda, for having a quote-unquote, “unsanctioned tea” with two German students. Quote, “We were told that under the new law on NGO’s, any meeting of two or more people, with the purpose of discussing publicly important issues, has to be sanctioned by the local administration three days in advance,” Froda’s director told London’s Daily Telegraph. [
:25] The next month, in March, an American Russia analyst named Pol—named Paul Joyal, was shot outside his home in suburban Maryland, shortly after meeting a former KGB general. Four days before that shooting, on “Dateline NBC,” Mr. Jo—Joyal had noted that, quote, “A message has been communicated to anyone who wants to speak out against the Kremlin.
If you do, no matter where you are, we will find you and we will silence you in the most horrible way possible,” end of quote. The next month, in April, Mr. Putin indicated that he intended to withdraw Russia from the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, one of the landmark agreements ending the Cold War.
He has since indicated, that he is prepared to withdraw Russia from the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty, signed by Reagan and Gorbachov. The next month, in May, um, ethnic Russians rioted in the city of Tallinn, when the Estonian government decided to remove a World War II monument to their Soviet liberators.
Estonia was subject to a conv—uh, to a concerted cyber-attack, and its ambassador in Moscow was attacked by youth protesters almost certainly belonging to a neo-fascist group known as Nashi, I should remind you that Estonia is a member of NATO and the European Union.
In June, Mr. Putin warned that if the US deployed just 10 ballistic missile interceptors in Poland, then Russia will, quote, “have to get new targets in Europe. Which weapons will be used,” he said, “ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, or some completely new systems, that’s a technical matter.”
In July, Mr. Putin took a vacation. In August… [LAUGHTER] Um, in August, Russia detained a mainstream business journalist for the Vedomosti paper, a paper that is, uh, uh, partly owned by, by Dow Jones, on suspicious of so-called extremist activity, via a law that defines the term “extremist” so broadly that it can be used to target ordinary political critics of the Kremlin.
Russia also resumed, and this is notable, a policy of sending its heavy bombers out on lower—long-range sorties, on more than several occasions, Norwegian, British, and finally American fighters have been forced to scramble into the air, in order to intercept these Russian bombers, the first time this has happened since the Cold War.
In September, Mr. Putin appointed an unknown apparatchik, Mr. Vic—Viktor Zubkov, as Prime Minister, and later announced that he himself may become, uh, may—may—may become Prime Minister, um, in the next government, which is contrary to every prior promise he has made, that he would leave the political scene when his Presidential term expires.
This sets the scene for the youthful Mr. Putin to remain in power for a very long time indeed. EDWARD LUCAS One minute. BRET STEPHENS
In October Mr. Putin became the first Russian leader to visit Tehran since Josef Stalin in 1943. He said Iran’s purposes are entirely peaceful, Russia has stopped, um, cooperating with the rest of the Security Council on the UN, forcing the US to resort to the uni—to—to unilateral sanctions.
And finally I would like to make one point. Just last week George W. Bush insisted in a speech, that Russia is not an enemy of the United States. Now if that does not convince this audience [LAUGHTER] that our side is right, I don’t know what will. Thank you very much. [APPLAUSE] EDWARD LUCAS
Thanks very much and if you’ve filled in some cards with questions now’s a good time to pass them to the end of the row, where the ushers will, um, will collect them. Nina Khrushcheva, against the motion. NINA KHRUSHCHEVA
Thank you very much, thank you Rosenkranz Foundation, thank you the opposers of the motion, and thank you those who vote for it and thank you, Edward Lucas. Uh, there are at least three reasons as to why Russia is not becoming an enemy, or at least shouldn’t become one. One. Today the world is no longer bipolar, in fact it’s not even multipolar, even—um, unipolar, even if some in the United States may still think it is.
That is America is no longer in a position to decide who to make or not to make an enemy, even though it certainly continues to be listened to in this regard. But there are many more actors in play today, China, Middle East, Europe, whose international interests have to be considered.
There is no Cold War ideological divide in which one ideology wants to take over the other, and dominate the world. Thus at present, there are no geopolitical conditions for the Cold War. Two. Despite the 11 time-zones, Russia is not a Soviet empire, to fight against. It’s not an empire at all.
Although true, under Vladimir Putin, it appears Russia still has its imperial ambitions as, uh, the, uh, those who supported the motion very ably demonstrated. However the country today doesn’t have its former capabilities. It could with varying successes create an illusion of those capabilities such as testing weapons, or, um…reinstating military exercises, which actually have been very much prone to accidents.
Although at times Putin tries to flex his imperial muscles, old—at—old habits die hard, obviously. Such as during the 2004 Presidential Ukrainian elections, he’s more interested in being recognized as, uh, an international player than really building an empire.
But if he feels, in order to be recognized as player he needs to play an empire, he would, and he does. Three. The United States grumble about Putin’s international policy, but loudly talks about his internal policy. But actually disagreements on how to run a state is not enough to make an enemy. Just look at Saudi Arabia.
While in foreign policy, the discussion actually does take place. Here I would like to quote quite commonsensical Condoleeza Rice during the talks on the US missile defense plan in Eastern Europe. And I quote. “Even though we have our differences, we have a great deal in common, because that which unites us in trying to deal with threats of terrorism, of proliferation, is much greater than the issues that divide us.”
She said it in Moscow on October 12th this year. Moreover, even Dick Cheney, who came out of the Dr. Strangelove Cold War generation, and thus sees enemies everywhere, in 2006 Vilnius presentation, despite his tough talk on Putin’s backtracking on democracy said, and I quote, “None of us believes that Russia is fated to become an enemy,” so it’s not just George Bush. There are smarter people who said that. [LAUGHTER]
Um, let me develop on all three points. To one, on ideological—on no ideological divide. In fact, Putin would argue that both Russia and the United States today are of the same ideology, that is democracy, and of the same economic system, which is capitalism.
In essence, he feels they disagree on tactics, methodology, and implementation. The unifying context of his Presidency is that Russia will be great and strong if it continues to be a multi-party democracy.
But, despite the wishes of the West, it can’t exist without a strong leader. President, Prime Minister, or wherever he chooses to continue to be. In Russia, the economy is free, he says, but the state must control its wealth. Therefore, Putin so bristles at suggestions that he’s backtracking on democracy. At the Valde [PH] discussion club, uh, meeting in Solche [PH] this September, Putin criticized the United States’ criticism as a ploy. And I quote.
“We see efforts to exploit the phraseology of democracy to influence over internal politics. This is dangerous. It undermines faith in the basic principles of democracy, if you need something from us you need to talk about the substance, not to approach it from another angle.
You need to re—you need to resolve Kosovo, talk about Kosovo. You need to resolve the, uh, nuclear issue from Iran, talk about Iran. Not about democracy in Russia.”
To number two. On threatening so far imperial—Russia imperial ambition. Putin’s message that Russia is a great powerful and divinely ordained state, that stretches back 1000 years, and the fact that he’s there to restore its glory and its proper place in the world, is very much embraced by the Russians, as Mr. Rosenkranz indicated.
At times, it may sound like boastful animosity. But this tough imperial-sounding stunt is only a logical consequences—consequence of the brutal disappointment of the Russians with the course of events since the collapse of Communism.
Poverty, politic wars, crony privatization, the 1998 financial crisis, along with the humiliations, perceived and real, uh, inflicted the West, from the NATO expansion to endless preaching. As Russians see it, it is Putin’s no-nonsense rhetoric, and his firm actions both at home and abroad, that allowed—allows him, in just a dozen years, to lead the country from bankruptcy and despair to wealth and power. Which in Russia historically are thought of in imperial terms.
To number three. To common interests. Putin is prepared to cooperate with the state. Even if he promptly switches to confrontation when he senses a snub, like that Cheney talk in vil— Vilnius. However, the Russian President’s and the US President’s…bickering is not about the future Cold War I think, but rather means the following, and these are my words, not theirs.
We’re annoyed at each other, for either country putting itself first. Obviously, none lost superpower ambitions. For not being what the other wants it to be. But this is rather a political game, than a war, in a—an enemy public holder,
while we deal with much more pressing issues that really preoccupy us, terrorism, nuclear threats, energy, security, and many, many more. In conclusion, US-Russian relations today certainly display annoyance, and some genetic Cold War-rooted suspicions. EDWARD LUCAS One minute— NINA KHRUSHCHEVA
So the language of the Cold War creeps in, and is read as animosity. But there is a serious recognition that there is plenty of common interest in the oil and energy strategy talks with Iran and North Korea and many others.
Let’s face it. We all need a good enemy. And while bin Laden is at large, and terrorism is still amorphous, and the fight with it is not going too well, Russia and the United States need their Cold War dance moves to pass time before they figure out what their relationship really is, or should be, when next year, the next administration, at least in America, comes in. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] EDWARD LUCAS
Thank you very much, Nina Khrushcheva. Do keep passing your questions on those little cards to the end of the aisle. And now for the motion, Michael Waller. J. MICHAEL WALLER
Thank you, Edward. It’s great to be here up in Manhattan, I don’t get up here a lot but if—if I have to go back to Washington knowing that you folks ratified Dick Cheney’s views on Russia, uh, I don’t know what I’m gonna be doing for the next week but certainly Edward will have to change the lead of his article, uh, for next week.
Um…first, US Presidents since George Bush the elder, President Clinton, this current President Bush have bent over backwards, to make sure that Russia doesn’t become our enemy. We’ve done practically everything possible from subsidizing their economy to looking the other way at a lot of their transgressions to make sure that, that, uh, that we don’t offend Russia, we don’t try to over…make them overreact.
We don’t criticize them too harshly and so forth. And, uh…but while we were doing that we chose to look the other way, when certain elements of the old Soviet regime, uh, regained power, consolidated power with gangster interests that took advantage of the economic reforms, and seized control in the form of Vladimir Putin.
And that is the former secret police, uh, the Chekists, the KGB, who have managed to take control of a formerly— of a former democratic experiment, and turn it into a dictatorship. And any secret police system in the world needs to have a foreign enemy in order to justify its own political grip on power.
So, given that, it’s the will of the Putin regime itself to have the United States as an enemy, and to become an enemy of the United States in order to perpetuate itself in power.
This was revealed in Kommersant Daily in, in early 2000, after Putin became President, when Putin’s chief of staff and the state security chief Petrushev, got together and they decided the democratic institutions should not be nurtured. In fact they should be, uh, there should be a return to, to rule by force in Russia. And they recommended exceeding the Constitutional limitations on the power of the Presidency, to create this dictatorship.
And to create the nec—necessary conditions not just in Russia, but in the near abroad, which is the old Sovietspeak for the, for the former Soviet empire. So there was a clandestine manipulation and, and oppression of political parties, of politicians.
We saw the faces of, of, of one of the Ukrainian politicians who, who happened to run afoul of them. Another one of those politicians, Galina Starovoitova was on our editorial board, she was murdered before, before this document happened but another one of our members of our editorial board, Yuri Shekoshekin [PH], uh, editor, very brave editor was, was poisoned to death, uh… as a—as a staunch critic of the KGB-ization of the new Russian government.
This document, uh, was designed to promote Putin as the President, and to, and to wage, quote, “preventive political action.” Throughout Russia, and to plant KGB personnel, throughout the Presidency,
throughout the government ministries, in control of the armed forces as it never had been before, and in control of governorships, and administrative regions across the country.
At the same time there was no accountability or national reconciliation so if you look at, at South Africa after apartheid they had truth commissions to uncover the crimes of the past, or Chile, or Argentina, or El Salvador, or Poland, or East Germany, or the Czech Republic.
Or so many other countries that had been under a tyrannical government, had tried to come clean and expose the secrets of the past and the—and the—and those who were responsible for committing those crimes against humanity.
That was never the casein Russia. Where there was a de-Stasification campaign in East Germany against the Stasi, there was nothing of the sort in Russia. So no one has brought—been brought to trial, no one has been, been exposed or held accountable for any of the crimes of the past.
And as a result of that lack of accountability, and lack of national introspection, it’s become normal among most Russians to be treated as they had been. And so there is no coming to terms with the past, no break…no de-Nazification, imagine having a, a free West Germany without de-Nazification.
And allowing former Gestapo to stay in their posts, and even become President of the country, it—it’s the moral equivalent there. So, all—over time they’ve whittled away at human rights, they’ve whittled away with—at a free press and everything else.
At the same time, this summer, the Russian government came out with an ideological guidelines [sic] for social studies and history for public schools in Russia. And it’s a Kremlin-imposed guideline. Putin himself addressed the teachers and the academics at the book launch, he said, “We must not allow others to impose a feeling of guilt on us.”
In the Washington Post coverage of, of this event, uh, they surveyed the sto—social studies guide, they said it’s, quote, “marked by intense hostility to the United States.” And the editor of the manual, Leonid Polyakov, said “We are developing a national ideology that represents the vision of ourselves as a nation, as Russians, a vision of our own identity, and the world around us.”
A paranoid, hostile, enemy-oriented identity. Stalin in these books is shown, for the teachers’ guidelines in the Russian public schools he’s shown as, quote, “the most succ—successful leader of the USSR.” And the guidelines on teaching about Stalin’s crimes are so ambiguous, that they’re not even required in Russian public schools.
And the last chapter of the history guidebook…lays out a new cult of personality of the new Russian President. Quote, “We see that practically every significant deed is connected with Vladimir V. Putin.” So this cult of personality is being built, they require some foreign adversary to, to justify the repressive measures they take.
Now the iconography of the old KGB has been preserved, imagine if, if after de-Nazification in West Germany, they’re—the old symbols were still preserved of the, of the, of the, of the Nazi party. Yet if you go to the Russian police stations, they have the sword and shield, that’s the old Bolshevik Cheka secret police symbol.
You go to the Foreign Intelligence Services offices, they have the same symbol, you go to the FSB State Security Services, they have the same symbol. You go to the, to the state prosecutor, they have the same symbol.
So that same conscious iconography of the past, where the sword was there in Drz—Felix Dzerzhinsky’s words, to, “to protect the revolution even if it came down on the heads of the innocent.” This is the type of system that Russia’s preserving. You have an out-of-control spy services [sic], where corruption, uh…contract killings, bombings since Putin has been, uh, suc— was first state security chief and then Prime Minister, and then President.
The Russian military intelligence, which feeds on paranoia, the same way it did in the Soviet times, that—that organization has not been reformed at all. Yet, that continues to feed on paranoia, uh, of the paranoia, in its intelligence reporting to the Russia military and political leadership, that the West is still a great threat.
Organized crime is, is rampant in a country with a huge secret police system that could easily crush it if it wanted to. Journalists who investigate organized crime have been murdered, especially those investigating the organized crime in St. Petersburg, where Putin used to handle hard-currency operations before he came to, to, uh, Moscow.
When he took power as President he stuffed the government with KGB people, to the Defense Minister, the first time in Russian history that a secret policeman had been put in charge— EDWARD LUCAS One minute. J. MICHAEL WALLER
—of the military. Military reform has not occurred. In fact the military is modernizing, they have an intercontinental ballistic missile force, brand new, modern force, the Topol-M. They don’t need it. We’re not their enemy, they don’t need it.
Right now as we’re speaking, the Yuri Dolgoruky which is a new Borei class, uh, submarine, nuclear submarine, is undergoing its sea trials now, new ballistic missile submarine, more modern than anything we have, they don’t need it.
They’re building—uh, an aircraft-carrier fleet is in their budget for the next few years as well, as a power-projection force. This is not a sign of a country that’s seeking to be an ally of the West, and every sign that intends…that the intent is in the future to have the capability to be our enemy if the political climate so declares. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] EDWARD LUCAS
Michael Waller, thank you, and now against the motion, Mark Medish. MARK MEDISH
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for coming this evening, particularly if, uh, you’re voting against the motion. I urge you to reject the motion, ladies and gentlemen. To reject it…is not at all to defend Russia, or to defend Mr. Putin. It is to be clear about US interests, and about realistic US policy options.
It’s to be realistic about the complexity of the world in which we have to conduct our foreign policy. Indeed—indeed the motion is wrong for at least three main reasons in my view. First it gets Russia wrong from the standpoint of US national security interests.
Whoever’s in the White House, whether a Democrat or a Republican, will have to advance those same US national security interests…many of which we share with Russia, that my colleagues have named, uh, and, and, these are absolutely vital to our national security.
Uh, for example, combating nuclear pro—uh, proliferation, uh, uh, counter— counteracting Islamic extremism around the world. I’ll develop this a bit further. The second reason that the motion…is wrong, is that it lacks historical perspective, and is incorrect on its face.
Russia is not the Soviet Union…the motion conflates the two, Russia could not be becoming our enemy again, this Russia has never been our enemy. So the motion is simply wrong on its face. If we were in a courtroom, I would ask the judge for a directed verdict. And I urge you to consider one too.
Third, the motion is framed with a friend-versus-foe mentality, that is most likely…to lead us down the wrong path. It misunderstands the world which is much more complicated. There’s a vast middle distance. All those who are not our friends are not necessarily our enemies, and are not necessarily becoming our enemies.
It’s that difficult work in the middle distance, uh…that Russia, challenges us to do. Russia’s becoming more difficult… indeed, in many, many ways. But it’s not becoming our enemy, certainly not our enemy again. We are not their enemy, they are not ours.
Russia may be its own worst enemy. Indeed I think it is in many, many respects. But that does not make it our enemy. Again to go back to US national security interests, questions of this are not about metaphysics or metaphors. They’re about concrete security interests.
Where we find interests in common with other countries, we must work together with them as best we can. We may have disagreements, there may be friction, there may be deep disappointments and indeed there is great disillusionment and disenchantment in the mutual relationship today.
On both sides. Nevertheless that doesn’t change our core national security interests, in containing weapons of mass destruction, in limiting the proliferation of fissile materials, in strategic arms control, in stability through Eurasia… and in the Middle East and in countering Islamic extremism around the world.
These are core issues, they have not changed recently for us, or for the Russians. We need to do a better job working together, to address these interests. Second, once again, the proposition simply cannot be correct on its face.
Russia has not been our enemy before. We are not talking here about the Soviet Union, or a return to the USSR. Or a return to the gulag…or to rule by the Communist party. So there is no “again” at play here. And I urge you to take the words seriously, the words do matter, when we vote on a motion. [PAUSE]
We don’t have a new Cold War coming. It may be a cool peace, but that’s a very important distinction. It’s disagreeable, it’s suboptimal, it’s difficult, but it’s not a war. It’s a heightened challenge. We go through this kind of debate in the United States periodically. Who lost Russia. Right?
The Red threat, we did it in—during our last political cycle, we’re doing it again now. We ought to be careful about this, we need to separate the rhetoric from the reality and the rhetoric from what are the core US national security interests, that any President and any administration will have to serve.
Finally I wanna talk about the mind-set, the friend-foe problem. Because it really represents a mentality that has gotten us into more trouble, uh, in recent times, and I think we need to steer clear of it. We need, we need to pay careful attention to distinctions and details…in assessing the trend lines, lest, the friend-foe distinctions become a—a self-fulfilling prophecy.
It simply need not be so. It need not be so. Regrettably there are people in Russia, who think the same way. If we were in Moscow today, I’d be debating against them. Reminding them that the US is not their enemy and is not becoming their enemy. But so too I remind you today, Russia is not becoming our enemy.
There’s a vast middle distance. Lots of difficult complicated countries. China. Pakistan. Turkey. Saudi Arabia. All countries where we could have…a long discussion, about the litany…of problems, of sorrows, of mistakes, as we’ve just heard about Russia.
It doesn’t make them our enemy. It doesn’t mean that they’re becoming our enemy. They are counterparts, partners with whom we have to work. We have to work on a basis of shared interests where we can find them, and we have those with Russia.
We know who the real enemies are. I don’t need to remind people, in this city certainly, who real enemies of the United States are. In my view we can’t afford to shift our focus from our real enemies to our imagined ones. EDWARD LUCAS One minute. MARK MEDISH
In sum, once again, Russia may very well be its own worst enemy, but that does not make it our enemy. Thank you very much. [APPLAUSE] EDWARD LUCAS
Well, thank you very much indeed, Mark Medish. And I would hate to think that the legendary reticence and shyness of the New Yorkers was going to prevail even on this occasion, so do, please, make yourselves known to the ushers, the ladies on the left and on the right have cards, you can fill ‘em in, make points, you don’t need to give your name if you don’t want to, I will find you just by the item of clothing which you like to be identified by.
Um, if you’re from the press however we would like you to make your, um, to just identify yourself as from the press. And we’re very keen to have audience participation here and be interactive.
Now, um, we can now resul—um, announce, the results of the, um, vote that you, um, cast at the beginning of the evening. And it’s this. For the motion, 41 percent. Against the motion, 23 percent. And undecided, 36 percent.
So there’s everything to play for, it could go either way by the end. If you’ve made your mind up, may—if you’ve made your mind up once already you can already make it up again, as the, uh, as the discussion continues.
But I’d like now just to come back to the panel and, and see if we can get a bit of discussion going here and I’d like first of all to ask Bret Stephens to come back on the point that Robert Legvold made, about how this is just Russia wanting to be heard, this is, Russia is no longer on its knees, it’s an economically successful country with a popular President, with its own view of how things should be in the world.
And feeling that it really has the right to make itself heard and to have that, um, that view taken seriously, so, Bret Stephens, don’t you think there’s, there’s something in that? BRET STEPHENS
All countries have the right to make themselves heard, the French make themselves heard very, very vocally and often very effectively. Um, uh, the same goes, it’s a, it’s an ordinary fact of international political life. But if you are, say, the President of a struggling young democracy called Georgia, and it is the middle of winter, and you find that there have been two simultaneous gas epxlo—uh, pipeline explosions,
that are piping in, uh, gasoline supplies, uh, to your country on, on Christmas eve, that is a very different way of making yourself heard. The same happens, of course, if you, if you are Viktor Yushchenko, and you are campaigning for the Presidency of an independent country called Ukraine,
which nonetheless, Vladimir Putin and his, uh, friends in the Ukraine still consider a tr—satrap of the, uh, of Russia or excuse me, um, what they, uh, wish, uh, still was the Soviet Union. And so, the way you go about dealing with Mr. Yushchenko, is by, um, administering a nearly lethal, uh, dose of dioxin, that is a very different way of making yourself heard.
If you are the Poles and you are trying to export simply meat products to Russia and they, and they will not, um, and they will not allow it on rankly mercantilist grounds, that is again a very different way of making yourself heard, and it is our contention, on this side—
We are not interested in making Russia another enemy, we wish…with all respect to the psychoanal— analysis on the other side, we— as, as they— as Mark rightly pointed out, we have common, we ought to have common interests.
We really do have a common enemy in Islamic extremism. But facts are facts, and when Russia or rather, this Russian government, makes itself heard, it makes itself heard by bullying, by violence and by intimidation. EDWARD LUCAS Um, Robert Legvold, do you think that answers your point that this is not just Russia making itself heard, it’s breaking the rules and doing things in an extreme and damaging way that disrupts the neighborhood and that must be something the United States has to, uh, try and counter. ROBERT LEGVOLD
I think that’s right, as my, the argument I’m making is not that Russian behavior is admirable in all respects and doesn’t pose a problem. But I am saying that the major motivation for doing this kind of thing is as I described it, and often, I think we overlook that dimension of it.
My problem with the argument that’s being made by the other side right now is the risk of oversimplification. The monochromatic picture that’s being presented, which, in its characterization of Russia, carries a very high risk of generating a self-fulfilling prophecy in the first instance,
and secondly, that is almost certainly going to be, uh, would, would recommend behavior on our part, that would be contrary to our national interests because of the stakes we have in being able to cooperate with Russia if we can move in that direction.
Even in terms of moving Russia domestically. One of the, one of the questions that we need to ask the other side in the course of the evening, what do they wanna do about it.
And what they wanna do about it, well begin telling you what the risks are of acting on their characterization of Russia, as they present it. Which is vastly oversimplified. There’s nobody in this room that wants to as Mark said defend what’s happening in Russia.
Not only is it disturbing to us, there are a number of things that have happened that are utterly reprehensible. But it’s not only a black and white story. I was witness to a conversation between Steve Hadley, who is our national security advisor, uh, the principle advisor to President Bush, and Vladimir Lukin, who is the ombudsman for human rights in the Soviet Union, a position that’s appointed by the duma. Hadley’s point was…in Russia, I’m sorry.
Uh, Hadley’s point was that we wish well, we believe that democracy and building democracy’s very I mean in Russia, and as a part of that a free press is crucial, and we are very disturbed over the murder of Anna, Anna Politkovskaya.
Uh, and we— and it was clear that Hadley wanted a message carried back to Moscow on this story. Lukin’s response was very measured and very careful, he said we are deeply concerned about it as well in the ombudsman’s office.
As I said this is an official, he’s appointed by the duma. He said that, there are—there is an investment underway, he said we’re concerned because, not only Anna Stepanova but also two other editors from Novaya Gazyeta her newspaper, have been destroyed along the way.
The investment is very important to us, and he said the important thing is that at this stage the editors of Novaya Gazyeta which is one of the more open and critical newspapers, are satisfied with the way in which this—this process is proceeding.
And then he finished by saying that each year the ombudsman’s office for human rights makes four awards for advancing human rights in Russia, and this year the ombudsman’s office made that award to Anna Stepanova, and to Novaya Gazyeta.
Now, that’s not to deny all the other things that are very true. The crackdown on the NGO’s, the closing down particularly of electronic media. The unwillingness now to cooperate with the OSCE moving into the elections. Maybe even the suspicion that officials at the—at a senior level were involved with the murder of Litvinenko.
But that’s still not a proven point, I mean, Lugovoy may be the murderer, but we don’t know that it traces directly to Putin. And there are a series of these accusations that are being made tonight, that are simply too monochromatic. EDWARD LUCAS Well Robert Legvold, let me— ROBERT LEGVOLD [UNCLEAR] black and white— EDWARD LUCAS
—just take—you made a very interesting point, what would the other side like to do about it, let me put that to Claudia Rosett, okay, imagine you were Secretary of State or National Security Advisor in some future administration, what would you be tell—or even President. What would you be, what, what policy would you be advocating, what should we be doing. CLAUDIA ROSETT
Well, with due respect, I think the motion tonight is not what we should do…about the fact that Russia is becoming our enemy again, but is it becoming our enemy again. And, uh, so, I’m actually not going to suggest a policy in reaction tonight, but, I would like to just mention that, from the opposing side, and, again I stress, I wish they were right, but I urge you to…look at what we are presenting, and vote that they are not.
Um, we’ve heard about, and I’m quoting here, “the cool peace.” “The challenge.” “The heightened challenge.” Uh, and we’ve also heard the Saudis described as a…good example of…a country that—with which we may have disagreements but they are not our enemy.
That might be a good subject for a future debate. Uh— [LAUGHS] And, I would suggest that, what we’re…actually listening to here is, uh… the difficulty of figuring out what to do about the fact that, yes indeed, Russia is becoming our enemy again. EDWARD LUCAS
Thanks very much, Claudia Rosett, and I know Mr. Rosenkranz is in the audience and I’m sure he’ll bear that in mind when he’s planning the next, uh, next schedule for debates. But I think it’s time to take a—take a question from the audience, and I’m going to, um, go for the right-hand aisle.
Um, Mr. Barry Wade, if you’d like to identify yourself, um, I believe you’re wearing—yeah, down at the front here. And, uh, you’re wearing a red tie and you’ve put that on your card and that’s very good so I can see you, and a microphone is making its way to you right now, so please, sir, state your question. BARRY WADE
As I understand some remarks that Garry Kasparov has made recently on his book tour in the United States, uh, he charges Putin with, essentially devoting his administration to the support of oil prices, and creating turmoil throughout the world, for the specific purpose of increasing oil prices, essentially so that he and his friends can pocket the money.
That it’s really about the money, it’s not about geopolitics. My question is, is Kasparov correct and if so what does that say about tonight’s proposition. EDWARD LUCAS
That’s an excellent question, I’m gonna give it first of all to Nina Khruschcheva. What do you think about, uh, Garry Kasparov’s analysis of what’s happening. NINA KHRUSHCHEVA
Um, well, Garry Kasparov is…speaking and very popular in the West, he is very much, uh, called for, his opinions are called for. Um, not so much in Russia and in fact I must say that for a lot of Russian observers, in fact, uh…Garry Kasparov often becomes a nuisance because he also simplifies the real problem that Russia faces and, uh, uh, takes away attention from, um, detailed policies that, that could be, uh, presented and, um… and designed.
As for this assumption, I have to say I sort of agree with them, that, uh, Putin’s Russia is quite a bit about money, I mean, Khodorkovsky’s story, Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s story, as the Russian saying goes, they broke the YUKOS company just to give Putin, um, um…the, the dowry for his daughters.
Uh, so that’s—I mean it’s, it’s oversimplification probably but the money certainly is a huge, huge, uh, huge part of, of, uh, the Putin story. However, it’s not exactly part of that. Because, um, Putin also, uh, tries to establish the Russian ideology, as—well not the Russian ideology,
sort of reestablish the, um, the, um, greatness of the Russian state, and I think that he’s very much preoccupied with. And he—he believes that the state needs money to do that so I’m not quite sure that, uh, all the Kasparov’s assumption that it all goes to him personally is quite correct,
I think they do put it, uh, to, uh, to work into sort of creating, uh, the state strength. So, um, as, uh, my, um… colleague suggested, in discussing Russia we need not to, uh, look at black and white and, and, uh, and simplification but really see it, um, see what kind of real policies are happening and, uh, exactly what, what’s behind those decisions and policies. EDWARD LUCAS
Well Nina Khruschcheva, thank you very much for that, let me put that point then to, um, Michael Waller, you’ve written extensively about corruption at the highest levels in Russia, and if it really is, um, just a front for corruption, all this xenophobic and imperialist rhetoric, then, isn’t in a way that—
make—doesn’t that make it impossible for Russia to be our, our enemy because they’re only really interested in self-enrichment. [LAUGHTER] J. MICHAEL WALLER Well… [LAUGHS] EDWARD LUCAS We can buy them off. J. MICHAEL WALLER
[LAUGHS] Well, we really—with oil prices it’s like kinda hard to find a—a better way to buy them, we certainly don’t have any influence with them with our loans anymore with the IMF. But with the, uh… In—in fact it was, uh, Boris Fyodorov the early finance minister in the democratic Russian government who waned us that, uh, don’t loan us a billion dollars from the IMF because that’s, that’s not enough to help us and it’s too much to fuel corruption.
But when you look at Putin’s background where he was in St. Petersburg as a KGB guy handling foreign currency transactions, hard-currency transactions with no checks and balances,
his, his qualifications were that he was a liaison officer to the East German Stasi, for several years. In fact that was his nickname in St. Petersburg, Stasi. So, so you have a—so, so Stasi comes to, to Moscow to run the Presidential Property Administration.
The, the notoriously honest Boris Yeltsin administration’s property-management system, where his daughter also had great, uh, economic interests at stake. So here, he, he, he’s the money-mover, he’s the money-hider, he’s the one with the KGB contacts to, to, networks to, make sure everything can be done quietly, and efficiently.
Uh, but at the same time, he’s a patriot, he does love his country. And you can have crooked patriots. And so, so, he’s using oil revenues and gas revenues to finance a huge military, uh, uh, modernization program that’s a—not a reform, not to reform the military ‘cause they still have their beatings of their troops and all of this other nonsense but it’s to modernize with force projection and with weapons of mass destruction.
Um, using that currency for that, for infrastructure development, and for other things that will ensure that he and his people are kept in power, they cannot leave power because if they do leave power they’ll be arrested or—or worse, because of the crimes they’ve committed.
So, so, so you have sort of a, a, uh, a, uh, a, a Mobutu-type system here, uh, only Russian-style, uh, where you have a more— much more efficient administration than Mobutu ever had but unlike Mobutu, uh, Putin’s not looting everything.
He’s leaving a lot, for the Russia public, for the pension system and for others so that he gets a perm—permanent support base probably for the rest of his life. ROBERT LEGVOLD Edward, let me— EDWARD LUCAS
Yes, do— ROBERT LEGVOLD —respond to something that— EDWARD LUCAS —do, do, do come—Robert Legvold, do come, do come back on that. ROBERT LEGVOLD
Uh, respond to what Michael’s just been saying, one of the phrases he uses, “this enormous military modernization.” Military modernization within Russia. You know what the Russian military budget is this year? It’s $31 billion. You know what our military budget is, $430 billion.
Our military budget is half the GDP of Russia, at this point. Secondly, he talked about the modernization of strategic forces including this nuclear submarine, which is be—behind schedule, it’s only one, and serious analysts on the Russian side that know this and are very critical of foreign policy in the Putin regime, like General Dvorkin, and Alexei Arbatov, are very concerned about a different kind of a problem because if we really do move in this direction where we are adversaries and we do begin again, engaging the nuclear contest,
then somewhere around 2015, Russia because of the attrition of its forces, its weakening of its strategic forces, will be forced to what is called a launch on warning policy which is very destabilizing, it’s the part of the world that we’ve forgotten about.
As we concentrate on these other problems, in addressing that, we have to deal with the Russians. We are together still 90 percent of the nuclear weapons in the world when we talk about the nuclear haves, we need the Russians, not just in energy, not just in dealing with issues of regional instability and nuclear nonproliferation, or weapons of mass destruction.
But indeed of working this problem of stability within the Eurasian heartland. What they’re talking about in terms of the tension in Russia’s relations with Georgia or the things that the Russians are doing with Ukraine, they’re quite right. That really is a threat.
We need to work that problem. How are we gonna work the problem, Claudia says, we don’t have to talk about what the implications are of this. I’m saying, everything matters because the way you phrase this problem is not cost-free. EDWARD LUCAS
Let me just straight back to Michael Waller, the Russian military is very weak and we’d be safer if they had more nukes. J. MICHAEL WALLER
That’s sort—yeah. [LAUGHTER] Well, and they’re spending their money in the, the, the nuclear weapons program with the Topol-M SS-27 ICBM, they, they boast that it can break through our missile defense systems yet they complain about how dangerous our missile defense system is.
It doesn’t matter whether their submarine has had problems or it’s over schedule, they’ve laid the keels for two more of them. And the current one is at sea trials now and it is a very advanced piece of equipment and it’s a revolutionary design so it’s going to have problems.
Oh, okay. Oh, that when we, uh, when we had détente, and, uh, the Russians, uh, withdrew militarily, we kept our missiles in Europe, ostensibly, to be directed at the Middle East supposedly. And I’m wondering if that didn’t…turn Putin, into a cynic who said well I can’t trust the United States if they’re gonna keep their missiles there, and that—that set him off on a, uh, shall I say, a right-wing course. EDWARD LUCAS
But let’s—on the subject of missiles there’s an excellent question from the audience, last row, left side, Marvin D. Resnick. If you’d like to identify yourself, um…I see a hand, it’s right up at the back there, if you can, uh… Ushers are sprinting towards you with microphones.
Both of them at once, it’ll be interesting who gets there first. [LAUGHTER] Um, but, um…Marvin Resnick, the, um, please, please, give us your question. MARVIN D. RESNICK
Do—do you ask me to repeat the question? EDWARD LUCAS Um, yes, would you—I mean I can say it for you but I thought you might like to say it yourself— MARVIN D. RESNICK
Right. Well I think it’s very interesting in this context to look at the American missile defense bases in, um, which are planned for Poland and the Czech Republic and have been very controversial there, so let’s wrap that together, let me put that to Claudia Rosett, do you think that, um, if—how, how justified is Putin in seeing after-NATO expansion when he was promised, Russia was promised that there’d be no NATO, big NAT—NATO bases in the former Warsaw Pact countries and now here we are building two quite important ones.
Aren’t the Russians justified in feeling a little bit antsy about this, a little bit par— paranoid? CLAUDIA ROSETT
Uh…I think that from the Russian point of view if anything it’s one more convenient excuse. I mean the, the—could we back up here for a minute. Um…when…the Russian government came in, building on the debris of the Soviet Union, and in many ways it is the same Russia…
In fact the basic framework for many things, is the same Russia. Um, they had an enormous challenge ahead where the great hope was that they would build a genuine democratic state, and that required great concentration on internal reforms. And more and more, what we’ve been listening to, is a focus on external enemies.
On ways of avoiding that kind of…of actually dealing inside. What you got instead, was this criminal state, which, is going to basically take anything that’s convenient and use it for a sort of rallying point.
So, should he be concerned? We’re not about to attack Russia. Um, and I don’t think that we’re arguing here this evening that Russia is about to physically attack the United States, we’re not worried that with their military budget they’re going to launch missiles that will hit New York next week.
Uh, what we’re worried about, is that they have become a force that is antagonistic, or they are becoming increasingly antagonistic to our interests, and, could I just suggest that this is not only military. On the diplomatic front, if you follow the United Nations, Russia is over and over again at loggerheads with everything that is in the US interests, uh, both in the debate that’s gone on in Iran, uh, in the effort to enforce sanctions on Iraq they were the number-one cheaters.
Uh, have done nothing about that, there’s been no investment, nothing, well, we have federal prosecutions here into people who did dirty deals. Um, and, if you go to things like the Human Rights Council, you will find Russia and its votes lining up squarely with countries that I think you can reasonably call enemies of the United States,
if you would accept, you know… countries like…uh, let’s see, I’m thinking on the Human Rights Council…we get into Saudi Arabia again, but in the votes at the UN— forgive me, I need to parse out the councils, at—with more time.
But, they line up with Iran, with Cuba, with Sudan, with Syria, with countries that are very much opposed to the US interests, it’s that kind of, growing…sort of, that trend— EDWARD LUCAS Right— CLAUDIA ROSETT —that we’re talking about tonight. EDWARD LUCAS
Mark Medish, um, against the motion, do you wanna come back on that? MARK MEDISH
I would, I’d like to go back to the gist of the question because I think it, it, it really brings up an important point, that, that again if we were sitting in Moscow, we would hear from, from people there a long bill of particulars about how they feel that Russia has been slighted, in, in the post-Cold War period.
Uh, how the US, uh, uh, advanced its interests, in an unconsultative manner, uh, um, against Russia’s interests, and you named one area, uh, of, of the forward basing of missiles, the NATO enlargement which the US had, had actually promised to rule out, uh, during the process of German unification but that, that went forward.
I think it’s good that it did but it irritated the Russians. Uh, the unilateral abrogation of the ABM treaty, by the Bush administration in its first months in office. That angered the Russians, it annoyed them, the unilateralism of it in particular.
The fact that promises have been made about the lifting of the Jackson-Vanek Amendment. Promises not kept. So there’s a long list on that side as well. We have a list. We need to cut through this. We need to cut through this, because these…bills of particulars, don’t actually add up to a hostile enemy relationship.
We need to bear in mind, in America, that other countries are allowed to have national security interests as well. And they’re allowed to interpret those themselves. And they won’t always line up perfectly. There’ll be friction. And we’ve gotta work out issues, that are at the, at the, uh, uh, tension points. [And missile defense is a great example that, that Ed brought up. The US has a bold concept of missile defense. Well, not everybody in the world is, is comfortable with it, including amongst our European allies. And the Russians have problems with it or claim to have problems with it.
I think what Secretary Rice and Secretary Gates did in Moscow, a couple of weeks ago was actually quite productive. They went there and they listened to the Russian views, as to how this project could perhaps be done better in a—in a cooperative manner, and I think they’ve made some progress in that regard.
And so I—I commend the Bush administration for opening its ears, and, and trying to avoid the self-fulfilling prophecy, of believing the rhetoric. And by gosh there’s a lot of rhetoric out there. EDWARD LUCAS
Well let me just follow up on that with another question to the people opposing the motion. Um, that there’s—I think a consensus here that the mood in Russia is quite anti-Western and a lot of the, um, propaganda or, or stands taken by the, um, the media in Russia stokes this up, we heard about textbooks, it’s, it’s in the media as well. Um, I’d like to ask Nina Khrushcheva, um, who’s, uh, speaking against the motion—
Isn’t there a danger that people actually start believing this, even if this anti-Western propaganda that paints, paints America and the West as, as Russia’s enemy, even if it doesn’t, um, take effect right now when the problem is still, um, dealable with, it’s surely only a matter of time before that propaganda starts taking effect and, and we’ll—they’ll, they’ll get what they wish for. NINA KHRUSHCHEVA
Absolutely, there is always a danger with propaganda, uh, it could be successful or unsuccessful and Putin’s propaganda is incredibly successful because as you know, not only that he has tough stands on, on, uh…uh, on America, sometimes, on, um…
international debate, but he also walks around half-naked in Siberia, showing off his abs, I mean and this is the most successful propaganda you can have, all of a sudden Russia has a President that is better than James Bond. I mean that’s, uh, that is a very powerful, powerful, uh, message, and in fact,
I think this message is, is also created because, um, as I think, uh, Bob mentioned, uh, the military exercises threatening as they may look, in fact they’re not really going that well, and we also know that Russia’s, um, uh, Russia’s technology or at least implementation of, of, uh, service,
uh, is no longer what it was during the, the Soviet period when the training was, was good, in fact excellent, now it’s sort of all over the place so they may come up with some latest technology but they have no idea how to service it,
I mean, you know, let’s face it, even KGB now has the third-rate people there, so there is a certain danger that it could happen. But, you know, I’m the only Russian here so I can speak from experience.
Um, uh, Russians are only gullible to a certain extent. And, uh, when they really realize, because so far the words actually kind of correspond, whatever they wanna believe, but, the minute it stops happening, I can assure you, dissidentship will come back as it was in the ‘50s and ‘60s or what we’ve never seen before. EDWARD LUCAS
Thanks [UNCLEAR]—Nina Khrushcheva, very briefly, Bret Stephens, you [UNCLEAR] come back on in, on, on, on that— BRET STEPHENS
On a, on a couple of points, first of all to Nina’s point, um, incompetence is not intention. If the Russians are building brand-new nuclear missile submarines which is, um, a, uh, I would say a bizarre project given the shambles of their regular forces and, uh, what their needs are,
the fact that they’re not building them well or the sea trials aren’t going well, uh, doesn’t address the basic point which is that this is what they intend to do. So that’s, that’s a point that needs, uh, to be, uh, made. I wanna, um, get back to something that Mark said as well. Um, which seems…
First of all, I, I’m, I’m delighted, that we have found finally a bipartisan moment where a former Clinton administration official is handsomely praising the diplomacy of, of, um, of, uh, the successors, and, and I find this one of the ironies of this conversation.
Um, but this comes from a kind of school of, what, what Mark said comes from a kind of school that this is all big un— misunderstanding we have with the Russians. They have one view of the world, we have a different view of the world.
We need a kind of therapy session to work through, uh, um, these kinds of misunderstandings and while that is true, uh, in some ways, I don’t think it can really account, um, either for Russian behavior, or, as Michael said, um,
the efforts by two if not three American administrations to bend over backwards for, uh, um, to—and make excuses for the Putin government, in fact one of the great complaints I hear when Russian, uh, usually dissident figures come through our offices at The Wall Street Journal, they will say, why is your President constantly… forgiving, acquiescing, making excuses, for, um, uh, for Vladimir Putin.
There—there’s one other point I’d like to make if I can—if I— EDWARD LUCAS 15 seconds if you can squeeze it in. BRET STEPHENS
Well, it’s, it’s an issue that someone here needs to address, which is, uh, yes, the United States and Russia, um, ought to have common interests, and yet strangely the Russians seem to work at cross-purposes with what we would say at this table are their basic interests.
Why are they building a nuclear reactor at Bushehr, which Mr. Putin just said he is ready to complete, which in a period of about 15 months, will create 330 kilograms of spent fuel, which can easily be reprocessed into about 50 to 60 Nagasaki-type bombs, is that the Russia interest? EDWARD LUCAS
Right, well we now move on to the final, um, uh, part of the, the debate, where the, um, members of the panel will be able to come back and make final points, I could see Mark Medish was itching to come in there on Michael Waller but you will have a chance in your peroration to, um…uh, to respond to him.
So, we are going to go in reverse order, so the first, um, uh, person to, to conclude, um, from the side against the motion, that Russia is not becoming our enemy, is Robert Legvold. Robert. ROBERT LEGVOLD
This is a country with an enormous number of major foreign policy problems, and the next administration Republican or Democrat are going to have to—is going to have to review the whole gamut of US foreign policy, not just struggle with this problem of the Iraq war.
I think the last thing that we wanna do at this point, what we do wanna do is reduce the number of problems, we don’t want needlessly to add problems. As I’ve said, phrasing the issue as though Russia is becoming the enemy,
which has implications for action, is not cost-free. And at a time when we have so many issues where cooperation with Russia is important, and it’s not absent, we’re getting it in a number of important respects—
It’s—it is the struggle on global terrorism, there is still essentially a cooperative relationship in dealing with that problem. In addressing the questions of Islamic extremism, there is still essential cooperation in that area.
And in terms of strengthening the non-proliferation regime, including the North Korean issue, there is still cooperation between our two sides. But addition [sic] on other issues like, the relationship among— EDWARD LUCAS One minute— ROBERT LEGVOLD
—the nuclear powers, the problem of weaponization of space, that most of us are not focused on, the problem of lowering the nuclear threshold and making nuclear weapons usable,
bunker-busters on our side, incorporating nuclear weapons into conventional doctrine on the Russian side…when 90 percent of the weapons are held by these two countries, Russia’s absolutely essential.
Now, if we are going to make any kind of progress, it doesn’t mean that we whitewash Russia or that we put our head in the sand or that we ignore all of the issues that the other side has raised so well about the reprehensible trends within Russia.
But we’re still then left with the question of how we address those isshens [sic]—issues effectively. Not in ways that give us emotional satisfaction. But in ways in which we can make some progress.
The experience I have, is that if it’s done carefully and with certain segments within Russia including some that are fairly close to official circles, you can have a conversation about all of the issues that they raised. EDWARD LUCAS Thanks very much— ROBERT LEGVOLD And indeed the Russians are the ones that are raising these issues themselves as their critics inside— EDWARD LUCAS Robert Leg— Robert Legvold, your time’s up, thank you very much. Now, uh, for the motion, Claudia Rosett. CLAUDIA ROSETT
Thank you. Um, I think, um, we are not debating here whether Russia is the enemy or becoming the enemy. We’re discussing whether it is becoming our enemy…it is possible for the United States to have more than one. In fact to have several.
Um, and, uh, in trying to frame what we’re actually talking about, um, the issue actually isn’t what we’d do about it. That is a very important issue, it’s one worth debating and I once heard somebody say, well the first thing that we need to do is start by telling them what we need. The thing that we rather neglected to do in the 1990s.
We were so busy worrying about what Russia needed, that we neglected to say, we as America need the following things. Um, uh, there have been a lot of points raised here, the one I’d most like to just…refute is, that we are cooperating in Islamic extremism.
I would class in Islamic extremism the activities of Iran. A genuine terrorist-sponsoring state, I think there’s no doubt about that. And on that Russia along with China has been one of the main stumbling blocks in American efforts to actually stop that nuclear program.
Uh, in the larger picture, is Russia becoming our enemy, we can discuss many ways in which Russia’s aggrieved, challenged, needs validation, peeved, upset and so on. But, we’ve heard here a list of things going badly wrong inside Russia itself.
What we’ve heard effectively is there is no real check on what is happening with the power that now accrues to the Kremlin. And, the agenda that will follow is one where we’ve heard a list, as Bret gave you, of the kinds of things that come from that.
They are dangerous, they are inimical to the kind of values this country stands for. And in some things they’ve been downright confrontational, singling out the US. I wanna tell you just a quick anecdote. A wonderful— EDWARD LUCAS In eight seconds, please. CLAUDIA ROSETT An editor of mine once explained, the difficulty with defining insider trading. He said it’s a very blurry line, when you really start parsing the cases, but if you find yourself walking around with suitcases full of cash, making calls from pay phones, you can have crossed that line. And— EDWARD LUCAS
Claudia Rosett, your time is up— CLAUDIA ROSETT —with enemy, may I just suggest that when you find yourself running a Geiger counter over the teapot, and trying to defend obvious interests of the free world— EDWARD LUCAS
You’ve made your point. it’s— CLAUDIA ROSETT Thank you. [LAUGHTER] EDWARD LUCAS
Uh—to the, to the people who are watching, uh, who are listening, um, on the podcast or on the radio at this point, uh, Claudia Rosett pointed at the blue teapot. [LAUGHTER] Um…Nina Khrushcheva against the motion. NINA KHRUSHCHEVA
Thank you, um, I would like to go back to what our side keeps arguing is that, um, what is the policy, what is to be done, because obviously, um, Russia is a difficult… case to defend today. So when I was thinking how I would ret up [sic]— wrap up, um, provided that there would be some, there would be no surprises, and I started looking for, um, some great American or great British diplomats, because they seem to have, uh, really a lot of say about the Soviet Union at the time.
People like George Kennan and Isaiah Berlin, and actually, uh, please forgive me, would like to quote from Isaiah Berlin, who was a Russian Empire born British diplomat, political philosopher and historian of ideas.
And this is a short piece, 1946 written, why the Soviet Union chooses to insulate itself. And here is the quote. It is necessary to remember that the Russians do not believe a word we say, because they think they understand us more clearly than we do ourselves. True or not, it has been centuries long convention that the west is to get them.
The only way to convince them is the British, and we can say the West, or the United States today, mean no harm, is simply by not meaning any, they will always judge behavior by deeds and not words. If we follow an undeviating policy with whatever we believe right for its end, making concessions where possible, but not letting the end out of sight, and if treat the Russians as any other great power, despite their odd non-reciprocal behavior, and do not answer back despite, despite their intolerable provocation, but firmly contrive to work for whatever seems in our and the world’s crucial interest, then we may hope for success.
Otherwise, the wrangle of policies will become an ideological, ultimately armed conflict, and end war, when principles equally unacceptable to liberal persons. Thank you. EDWARD LUCAS
Nina Khrushcheva, and Isaiah Berlin, thank you very much. And uh, Bret Stephens, for the notion. BRET STEPHENS Uh, none of us on this side wish to see Russia, um, as an enemy again. We are not looking for another enemy.
We have enemies enough in places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, and Iraq. The battle against Islamic militancy and radicalism is one that we would do, we would do better to fight alongside Russia, not at cross purposes with it.
We also don’t want to needlessly antagonize Russia with rhetorical excesses. But as Vaclav Havel said, told me when I interviewed him in June, with me, “Ras-Putin,” as he called him, becomes more and more suspicious. We have to tell him plainly what we think of his behavior.
Mr. Havel has a philosophy about that, it’s called living in truth. So let’s tell Mr. Putin the truth, let’s tell ourselves the truth, the truth. We worry about the political trends within Russia, not just because we are friends of democracy, human rights, freedom, the rule of law, but because the respect the governments have for their own people tend to correlate with their attitude and behavior vis-à-vis— EDWARD LUCAS One minute. BRET STEPHENS …the outside world.
We worry about Russian behavior toward countries like Ukraine, Estonia, and Georgia, because we fear that that behavior is a harbinger for what’s in store for Europe and the United States.
And we look on the trends in Russia, in Russian attitudes towards journalists, human rights groups, foreign investors, neighbors, toward their own history, and finally towards us with growing alarm. And the direction seems clear and unrelenting, and it leads us to conclude that Russia is on its way toward again becoming an enemy of the United States, and we won't be able to do anything to change that until we come to terms with the reality that we are facing. Thank you. EDWARD LUCAS
Bret Stephens, thanks very much. Mark Medish? MARK MEDISH There is no irony in my praise for, uh, the work of, of the present administration. I come from a strong bipartisan tradition in US financial policy, and I, I wish the Wall Street Journal editorial board would rediscover that part of the American heritage. [APPLAUSE]
On Iran policy, uh, I just wanted to mention that Russia and Israel have both reaffirmed many times that they view each other as strategic allies. After Putin’s visit to Tehran recently, he met with Ehud Olmert in Moscow, and the same statements and reassurances were made.
And that, that gives me confidence, uh, that the Russians are not, are not beyond the pale on this issue, uh, but, but may in fact be part of the solution ultimately. It’s a very difficult problem.
Once again, I urge you to reject this notion, rejecting it is not to defend Russia, and it’s not to defend Mr. Putin’s track record. The motion should be rejected because— EDWARD LUCAS One minute. MARK MEDISH …of core US national security interests. This is a question about core interests, not about metaphors or metaphysics.
The proposition is wrong on its face. Russia could not be our enemy again, it, this Russia has never been our enemy. We also should avoid Manicheanism in our financial policy. We have enough real enemies, let’s not imagine new ones.
Like China, Russia is a very difficult counterpart and partner. It’s not our enemy. Russia may be its own worst enemy, but that does not mean it’s becoming ours. I urge you to reject the notion. Thank you. EDWARD LUCAS
Mark Medish, thank you very much. And finally, Michael Waller. J. MICHAEL WALLER Thank you.
Not even al Qaeda is building a nuclear missile system that can wipe out our entire country. And we, some of us want to turn a blind eye to those who are doing just that program, and they’ve budgeted it out through the year 2015.
Now, we’ve had great relations at times, or common interests at times with the Bolsheviks, with our humanitarian programs after the Russian civil war, with Stalin during World War II. We even offered him the Marshall Plan aid. With, with Brezhnev and Andropov with trade, uh, and arms control, and with Gorbachev supporting glasnost and perestroika.
So even at our worst parts of relations with the Soviet Union we still, which was actually communist Russia, we still had a, a common relation. It didn't take away the fact that they did want to destroy us. But, I think what the danger now is that anti-government regime propaganda in Russia is so dominant, where they have shut down a free press, they have shut down all of the radio stations in Russia that broadcast Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, that’s US broadcasting, except three or four, so they’ve effectively silenced us.
I believe they’ve silenced the BBC Russian broadcasts. And then their propagandizing their children, that we are the enemy, that Stalin was not a bad guy, that, that Russia should not be held accountable for the crimes of the Communist past.
So, what the regime is teaching its children today tells us a lot about where that regime may be headed.
It doesn’t need to head that way. What we need to do is call them on it, as we would call a friend or a neighbor or a wayward relative or somebody else, and try to stop them from taking this path that they’ve chosen to take. EDWARD LUCAS
Michael Waller, thank you very much. And now, ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for you to decide who carried the day. And I hope you’ve still got your key pads here. Um, it’s on the left arm rest of your seat, unless you're on the right, right aisle, in which case it’s on the other arm rest. So, when I tell you to, press one if you're for the notion, two if you're against, and three if you're undecided. So please cast your votes now. Very good. And while those, um, are being tabulated, and uh, we’ll hear the results in a moment, I want to first of all announce a few things before thanking both the debaters and the audience. The next Intelligence Squared US debate will be on Tuesday November the 13th here at the Asia Society Museum.
And the notion to be debated will be a domestic one. “It’s time to end affirmative action.” Nice, uncontroversial motion. It will be moderated by Robert Siegel, who many of you will know from NPR, and the panelists for that debate, for the notion, John McWhorter, who’s a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and columnist for the New York Sun; Terence Pell, who’s the President of the Center for Individual Rights; and Joseph Phillips, actor, social commentator, and syndicated columnist.
On the other side, against the motion, defending affirmative action, will be Khin Mai Aung, the staff attorney at the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund; Kimberlé Crenshaw, professor of law at UCLA and Columbia Law School, and Tim Wise, writer, activist, and educator.
Now, an edited version of tonight’s Intelligence Squared US Debate can be heard locally on WNYC, which is on AM820 megahertz on Sunday November the 11th at eight o'clock p.m.
So, if you really enjoyed it you can tune in and listen again. Or you can hear it for the first time. And please check your local NPR member station listings for the dates and times of broadcasts outside New York City.
Um, no public appearance is complete without a plug, and copies of Robert Legvold’s book, Russian Foreign Policy in the 21st Century in the Shadow of the Past are on sale upstairs in the lobby
And another plug, you can purchase DVDs from previous debates here tonight, or from the Intelligence Squared US web site. And now the debate results, very interesting. It was a bad night to be undecided.
After the, um, after the debate, forty-seven percent of you were in favor of the motion, so small rise, but forty-one percent of you were against, which is a huge rise. And only twelve percent were undecided.
So, I declare the motion carried but by a much smaller margin than at the beginning. So, both sides have some laurels to rest on. So, thanks very much. [APPLAUSE] Good evening to you all. [END]