Dangerous Indifference in Russia

Discussion in 'Europe' started by Zhukov, Dec 5, 2004.

  1. Zhukov
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    Zhukov VIP Member

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    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A23724-2004Nov30.html
     
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  2. Merlin1047
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    Merlin1047 Senior Member

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    I believe that one of the greatest missed opportunities of the Reagan administration was when he failed to mobilize American capitalism to aid the disintegrating Soviet Union.

    The economic and political vacuum that followed the collapse could have been filled by American businesses. These would have led to a more stable Russian economy, reduced corruption, and given Americans much greater influence in the development of Russian political policy.

    Instead Pres. Reagan sat on his hands and watched a huge nation with an enormous population descend into chaos. Crime and corruption took over what little was left of Russia's business community. Even worse, their criminal syndicate is flourishing here.
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    http://www.fas.org/irp/world/para/docs/rusorg1.htm

    "The most common criminal enterprises undertaken by Russian organized crime groups in California (which includes groups whose members come from all of the former Soviet republics) at this time appear to be fraud schemes, particularly "fuel tax frauds" designed to divert fuel tax revenue to the pockets of criminals. However, more common organized crime opportunities--extortion, loan sharking, drug trafficking, auto theft, prostitution and other crimes--have attracted increasing interest among Russian organized crime groups.

    Law enforcement is taking this threat seriously. In California, three law enforcement intelligence groups consisting of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies are dedicated to investigating Russian organized crime. In addition, the California Department of Justice/Bureau of Investigation has assigned several special agents and analysts to identify and assess the overall Russian organized crime problem in our state."
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    We could have profited in the development of a new Russian economy. We could have helped a nation get on its feet. We could have eased the suffering of the Russian people. We could have minimized the impact of Russian crime syndicates. We could have made a new friend of Russia.

    We did none of these. To this day I cannot understand why Ronald Reagan, an otherwise courageous President, sat on his hands and remained oblivious to the opportunities inherent in investing in Russia and remained blind to the hazards of failing to act.
     
  3. Zhukov
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    Zhukov VIP Member

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    I myself am more inclined to blame the President's father's administration and Pres. Clinton's administration for the oppurtunity missed.

    During Pres. Reagan's administration, even though it was a goal they labored toward, the possibility of complete dissolution remained enough of an implausibility that I doubt much time was really spent considering courses of actions in an improbable afterward.

    The Wall didn't fall till after Pres. Bush took office, and during his term the attitude was one of 'non-interference'. Let it fall under it's own weight, and take no action to avoid any blame.

    By the time the Soviet Union was officially dissolved Clinton was President-elect.

    What the Clinton Administration did was provide a great deal of aid with little or no oversight to where the money went and what it bought. Consequently most of it, it is believed, went towards bolstering the robber barons and Russian mafia bosses that rose in the aftermath of the Soviet Union's collapse.

    Nevertheless, a historic and monumentally important opportunity was utterly squandered and we'll no doubt be dealing with the consequences of that mistake for decades.
     
  4. Avatar4321
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    Avatar4321 Diamond Member Gold Supporting Member

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    I am going to agree with Zhukov on this one. I deffinately not think it was Reagan who missed the opportunity because as he pointed out, Soviets didnt collapse till after Bush took office.

    We may have missed a global opportunity but i have a feeling Europe will shortly be at the edge of catostrophy and that we will be around to rebuild and the whole world will be grateful that President Bush is President and not Kerry.
     
  5. Merlin1047
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    Merlin1047 Senior Member

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    I believe that it was evident that the Russians were having substantial economic woes while Gorbyachev was in office. The economic collapse of the Russian economy was already well under way in 1987. Gorbyachev had handed the USA a major victory and we sat back and missed a huge opportunity to influence the development of Russia.

    The dismantling of the Berlin Wall really had nothing to do with the economic collapse of the Soviet Union. That had already happened.

    I don't think this is one we can blame on Clinton. By the time Slick Willie took office, the Russian mafia was already running the country. But I will agree that there was still a window of opportunity during the administration of Pres. Bush Sr.
     
  6. Zhukov
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    Zhukov VIP Member

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    I'm not sure really how evident that was to us at the time. I just don't know. Also, North Korea is currently in the midst of economic problems that would probably have made the economic status of the Soviet Union at the time of it's collapse look like an economic boom. Just because their economy was going to crap, doesn't mean we knew it would collapse. And giving them economic aid before they collapsed may very well have delayed or completely avoided that collapse.

    No, but the collapse of the Soviet Union was more than just an economic one. The fall of the Wall was a clear indication to everyone in the east that the Soviet Union was no longer willing to use force to keep it's satellites in line. This in turn led to the overthrow of the communist regimes in a number of other satellites which then prompted the coup against Gorbachev by the communist hardliners. The popular rejection of that coup along with the Baltic states announcing independence, is what led to the dissolution.

    Now Gorbachev's liberal policies were a direct response to the stagnating economy to be sure, but I'm not sure how helping the Soviet Union economically at that time (which incidentally I think we actually did do, if on a relatively small scale) would really have been a good thing for us in the long run.

    Well, he did what any Democrat does with any problem. He threw an enormous amount of money at it, assumed it was fixed, and then walked away.

    I guess you can't blame him for being what he is.
     
  7. Merlin1047
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    Merlin1047 Senior Member

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    It was pretty obvious to me at the time. I had a number of discussions with friends and co-workers on that subject. But our government was too busy being smug about the fact that the Reagan SDI program caused the Soviets to yell "uncle". If I had figured it out, seems that the bright boys in the think tanks should have had no problems seeing the obvious.

    I agree. We could have prevented the coup by aiding the Russian government in establishing economic stability. No coup could have gained traction if the existing infrastructure - both government and military, had not collapsed due to lack of capital.

    The Soviet economic collapse has been an absolute disaster for us. We missed a huge opportunity to develop another market and another trading partner. We missed an opportunity to turn the Soviets from an enemy into an ally. We missed an opportunity to get oil exploration rights in Russia. But worst of all, due to the economic collapse of the Soviet Union, there are untold tons of fissionable material which are unaccounted for. That too could have been avoided have we assisted in preventing the massive unemployment that followed the collapse. I hope that stuff doesn't come back to haunt us one day.

    I'm not sure how much money Clinton funneled to Russia. Other than some assistance with military payrolls, I never heard much about it. But regardless of what Clinton did or did not do, by the time he assumed office, it was too late by far.
     
  8. Zhukov
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    Zhukov VIP Member

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    Well, it was obvious the place was a dump and that their economy was perpetually redifining the phrase 'rock bottom' but was anyone predicting the collapse of an enormous empire? I remember that coming as a bit of a surprise.

    But the coup didn't gain traction because, in large part, the economy was so awful. The people were sick of the communists.

    The coup was a good thing; because it failed.

    The question is though, would we be better off if the Soviet Union still existed?

    Here's an article about Pres. Clinton's request for a $1.6 billion aid package for Russia in 1993, with numerous indications that he'd be back asking for more later.

    Also, here, it says, though the Russian mafia had been active since the economically troubled Premiership of Brezhnev (to be sure the Communist Party was really just one big crime organization)...

    Gorbachev's reign ended December 1991. 785 to 5,691 in 1994.

    This indicates to me that the Russian mafia really began to flourish once they were no longer constrained by the law enforcement capabilities of the Soviet police state and also at about the same time Pres. Clinton was giving Pres. Yeltsin billions of dollars.
     
  9. Merlin1047
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    Merlin1047 Senior Member

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    I guess there's not much point in beating this horse. I firmly believe that the economic collapse of the Soviet Union should have been forseeable and we should have acted while Reagan was president.

    And I notice you didn't dispute my main point which dealt with the loss of one of the most tremendous business opportunities of the century.

    As far as Clinton's actions - they were doomed to failure. Like any leftist, he thinks that government can solve problems. That is rarely true. Usually government merely creates problems. Instead of squandering billions of taxpayer dollars, he should have developed a coalition of businesses and offered their services to the Russians. That way we would at least have something to show for our trouble and the Russians would have better employment and a better standard of living today.
     
  10. Zhukov
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    Zhukov VIP Member

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    No, I don't argue that a tremendous economic opportunity was lost, preferential access to huge stores of untapped oil reserves was lost, the chance of creating an unshakable alliance with Russia was lost, and the ability to confidently secure their nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, perhaps to the great detriment of us all, was lost as well.

    I wouldn't argue with any of that.
     

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