Brzezinski comments on Ukraine
Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security advisor, and currently counselor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and professor at John Hopkins Paul Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, recently appeared on two news programs, "MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour" (September 20) and John McLaughlin's "One on One" (September 24), where he expressed his views on Ukraine in the context of a general discussion of ongoing transformations in Eastern Europe.
The following are excerpts from Dr. Brzezinski's commentary:
I think that the advice we have been giving the Russians and the Ukrainians has created in Russia tremendous chaos, with people switching policies, going in a variety of directions, and the so-called big bang in Russia has produced very limited privatization and a small capitalistic class which is essentially parasitic. It's not a class that's investing and making the country grow. It's a class that's exploiting growth for its own benefit. And in Ukraine, we have essentially contributed to a stalemate by telling them to reform but by not being willing to help them.
...I would say to the Russians and Ukrainians, you have to have a reform program, that reform program has to be from the bottom up, but the government has to be engaged in that reform program, directed economic growth to some extent on the Korean model, for example, rather than on the Polish example, is what you people need. ...
The Korean model involved essentially a directing role by the government, some generalized goals and targets being set by the government and then the government deliberately using credit policy and subsidies to stimulte certain segments of the economy while at the same time creating a free market.
...where I fault the Clinton administration the most in the case of the former Soviet Union is that it has neglected by and large the non-Russian states, thereby contributing to a vacuum around Russia which inherently enhances the imperial aspirations of those in Moscow who would like to have both an empire and a strong economy financed by us.
- MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour, September 20.
...I don't think a world war with Russia is very likely at all. I don't think Russia for many years is going to be a rival to the United States on the world scene. I don't think Russia for a very long time is going to project outward any appealing ideology. But I think what is quite likely is that we are going to see a very intense effort to rebuild the old Russian empire, to subde the newly independent states, to subvert Ukraine, and thereby to recreate an empire which inherently will have to be dictatorial, probably poor because of the costs of empire, and perceived by its neighbors as aggressive. And that is, I think, a danger.
Mr. McLaughlin: Is Russia going to engage Ukraine in a war?
Dr. Brzezinski: No.
Mr. McLaughlin: Is Russia going to eventually annex Ukraine?
Dr. Brzezinski: Russia would like to subvert Ukraine so that the Ukrainians themselves say, "To hell with independence, it's not good, it's not comfortable, we don't like it, we want to rejoin Russia."
Mr. McLaughlin: What are the odds of that happening?
Dr. Brzezinski: I would still say not more than 35 to 40 percent, but that's awfully high.
Mr. McLaughlin: And it's tending in that direction?
Dr. Brzezinski: It's tending in that direction, and we are contributing to it because we have done not one thing to encourage the Ukrainians in their desire to preserve their independence. We have done not one thing to give them the feeling that the West really accepts them as a permanent entity and is prepared to help them if the Ukrainians are prepared to adopt a meaningful reform program.
Mr. McLaughlin: Dr. Brzezinski, what's the hot spot, real or potential, on the planet we should be focusing on that we're not focusing on?
Dr. Brzezinski: I think Ukraine, Ukraine is the most important one.
Mr. McLaughlin: And Russia, right?
Dr. Brzezinski: And Russia. Not because it's violent, but because the consequences of a significant change, namely, the absorption of Ukraine by Russia, would have enormous geopolitical consequences that would be bad for the West and bad for Russia.
- John McLaughlin's "One on One," September 24.
Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, October 10, 1993, No. 41, Vol. LXI
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