December 21, 1998

                   Russia Ends its Flirtation with the West

                   In the midst of last week's chaos, a single, crucial, clear and
                   historically significant event took place.  Russia's geopolitical
                   flirtation with the West finally came to an end.  There will
                   undoubtedly be periods of reconciliation, cooperation and even
                   good will in the future.  But a sudden and powerful consensus
                   emerged in Russia that held that Russia had been betrayed by the
                   United States over Iraq, and that the only way out of this
                   situation was for Russia to once again reassert itself as a great
                   power.  What is most important in this view is that it is the
                   only issue on which all factions appear to agree.  Apart from a
                   few, isolated pro-western liberals, the view from the office of
                   Boris Yeltsin to the most extreme nationalists and communists was
                   that the decision by the United States to bomb Iraq was
                   intolerable.  It has the potential to be the foundation of a new
                   Russian political consensus, with critical consequences for the
                   international system.

                   The problem was not only that the United States bombed Iraq, but
                   that it did not even consult Russia.  Indeed, that is one of the
                   most peculiar aspects of this attack and the one that led us not
                   to expect this attack.  One of the operational principles of the
                   Clinton administration has been that it was unwilling to take
                   unilateral military action.  Repeatedly, even at the cost of
                   substantial delays in initiating military operations, the Clinton
                   administration worked slowly and deliberately both to maintain a
                   broad coalition of international support and to remain within the
                   framework of international organizations, such as the UN and
                   NATO.  The administration completely departed from this pattern
                   this time.  The Russians, who normally are carefully informed and
                   consulted, found out about the attack from their own intelligence
                   services, according the Yeltsin's press spokesman.  In fact, he
                   complained, while French President Chirac had told Yeltsin that
                   an attack was coming, he himself had given the wrong time,
                   indicating that the French weren't informed either.

                   The administration's position was that, after the last crisis,
                   the United States had warned Iraq that it would proceed without
                   further consultations if Baghdad violated its agreements.  But
                   this warning had been given before in the aftermath of other
                   crises.  Unless the United States had some intelligence warning
                   that the Iraqis were about to take some imminent action that had
                   to be prevented, there was no urgency in the timing.  No one in
                   Washington has asserted an immediate threat from Saddam,
                   certainly nothing that would not have permitted 48 hours of
                   diplomatic consultation.  Nevertheless, the United States needed
                   urgently to launch its strikes on Wednesday night, and therefore
                   violated its own avowed diplomatic norms.

                   The reason for the hurry-up strike is obvious.  The effectiveness
                   of the attacks is minimal.  Neither Saddam nor his weapons of
                   mass destruction have disappeared.  The attacks achieved little
                   accept a 24 hour delay in the impeachment vote.  But the failure
                   of the United States to consult with the Russians has, we think,
                   had a permanent effect.  A process that has been underway for
                   several years has crystallized.  Russia has been retreating from
                   both its liberal economic reforms and its pro-Western foreign
                   policy slowly for several years.  The trend has accelerated since
                   Primakov, the former head of foreign intelligence for the KGB,
                   become Prime Minister.  Now, the increasing anti-Americanism in
                   Russian foreign policy has been galvanized.  It was something
                   that was waiting to happen.  Nevertheless, it has happened now,
                   and we need to consider its meaning and consequence.

                   What must be understood is that a firestorm swept Moscow last
                   week.  It was not only the government that was shocked by the air
                   strikes on Iraq.  The rhetoric from across the Russian political
                   spectrum was startling.  The lower-house of the Duma passed a
                   resolution that resolutely condemned "the barbaric bombing of the
                   Republic of Iraq," and said that it was an act of international
                   terrorism that posed a direct threat to international peace and
                   security.  The resolution passed 394-2.  Yuri Luzhkov, the mayor
                   of Moscow who is leading polls to succeed Yeltsin as President,
                   said, "In these conditions, we have to develop our defense
                   industry," and that, "Russia must be a great military and sea
                   power."  According to Itar-Tass, he also said that "We need a
                   modern army, a reliable nuclear deterrence system.  The
                   international community needs a strong Russia as a great power
                   that respects itself and other powers."  Gen. Leonid Ivashov, the
                   head of the Defense Ministry's international military cooperation
                   department, said that Moscow "will be forced to change its
                   military-political course and may become the leader of a part of
                   the world community that disagrees with the (U.S.) dictate."
                   Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov summed it up: "We condemn the
                   United States, and nobody should doubt our negative attitude."

                   Of particular interest here is the universality of the
                   condemnation and the nature of the rhetoric.  Russia has been
                   deeply fragmented, a polity in search of a center.  For the first
                   time since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia has found a
                   center around which virtually every major faction has been able
                   to rally: opposition to American hegemony.  There is also a
                   growing consensus that Russia must somehow recover the
                   international greatness it lost.  Izvestia ran an article
                   asserting that the past days simply prove that Russia is no
                   longer a superpower.  The liberal newspaper Sevodnya asserted
                   that, "Russia has the same influence on world affairs as any
                   third-world country."  The business daily Kommersant, lamented
                   that Russia had poor real-time intelligence from the region
                   because it has only one electronic intelligence satellite that
                   provides coverage only once every 24 hours.  In addition, it
                   complained that the missile tracking station in Azerbaijan does
                   not track cruise missiles of the type used by the United States.
                   Now, Kommersant is normally much more interested in an IMF
                   tranche or in trade issues than in doing careful analysis of
                   Russian operational military capabilities.  Everyone is upset.

                   There is a general sense that the international strategic decline
                   of Russia has gone too far and must be reversed.  This
                   sensibility has become so strong now that it will, we think,
                   become not only a rallying point in Russia, but more important,
                   something from which no Russian aspirant for political power will
                   be willing to stray.  Except for a minor handful of Russian
                   politicians, a dual commitment is emerging.  First, there is a
                   commitment to reverse the decline in Russian power.  Second,
                   there is a commitment to improve Russia's military posture.
                   Anyone not committed to this is not going to be a political

                   This evolution has, as we have long argued, been inevitable.   On
                   December 29, 1996, in our 1997 Forecast, we wrote that: "The
                   Russians have given away their empire in return for very
                   little... Yeltsin, unfortunately, has delivered little order and
                   less greatness -- and Russia is sick of it."  Liberalism in
                   Russia has been a disaster without any silver lining.  The
                   average Russian is poorer today than he was under the Soviets,
                   and much less secure.  Perhaps worst of all, Russia does indeed
                   have the influence of a third world country.  The United States
                   would never have ignored the Soviet Union in deciding to attack
                   Iraq, as it has ignored Russia.  It is absolutely essential for
                   non-Russians to understand just how intolerable this indifference
                   is to the Russian psyche.

                   There is a real parallel here between Russia today and Weimar
                   Germany.  The collapse of Imperial Germany ushered in a period of
                   economic decline, desperate poverty, massive inequality and a
                   sense of the impotence of the liberal regime not only in economic
                   life but also in international affairs.  The combination of
                   poverty and the sense of being treated with contempt by the
                   international community created uncontrollable social forces
                   committed not only to the abandonment of political and economic
                   liberalism, but also to a massive readjustment in the
                   international system.  National Socialism was the outcome.

                   Russia is in precisely the same position today.  Liberalization
                   had created economic disarray: poverty, inequality, and
                   hopelessness.  But what is going to galvanize the Russians
                   psychologically is their loss of international standing.  Bill
                   Clinton rubbed their faces in the fact that it really doesn't
                   much matter what Russia thinks.  Focused on his own problems, he
                   failed to calculate the impact of his actions on Russia.  It is
                   not that this evolution wouldn't have taken place anyway.
                   Clinton's action produced a galvanic revelation.  It drove home
                   American contempt for Russia's views and brought together the
                   entire Russian polity around a single issue: the return of
                   Russian greatness.

                   The reconstruction of Russia's military is inevitable.  Economic
                   dislocation does not block this.  Remember that Germany
                   revitalized its economy with a rearmament program.  In only five
                   years Germany went from essentially disarmed to being able to
                   overawe its enemies.  Russia's armed forces are in far better
                   shape today than Germany's were in 1933.  Although in disarray,
                   its research and development has continued and it has substantial
                   technologies in the pipeline as well as a massive standing force.
                   Revitalizing those forces and increasing defense production could
                   be precisely what is needed to kick-start the Russian economy.
                   It worked for Germany.  At various points, it worked for the
                   United States and other countries as well.  Since nothing else is
                   working for Russia, they may as well give it a try.  We think
                   they will.

                   Even today's Russian armed forces, if merely paid and fed, pose a
                   real challenge to its neighbors.  We believe that one of the
                   things that will flow out of this consensus is an increased
                   determination to recreate the old Soviet Union, in the sense of
                   reintegrating the fragments into a whole.  There is already a
                   great deal of economic integration and dependency.  It is
                   inevitable that the new Russian nationalists will want to create
                   an integrated political framework over that.  It will use
                   economic power to achieve its ends.  It will also use existing
                   military forces to force coordination and reintegration.  There
                   is not much talk of reintegration yet.  There will be.

                   The Iraq issue is a good place to start.  Primakov, who knows the
                   Arab world from his KGB days, can use his pro-Iraqi stance to
                   increase Russian influence among Islamic factions in the
                   breakaway fragments of the former Soviet Union.  By aligning
                   Russia with Iraq, Moscow becomes a friend of Moslems rather than
                   an enemy.  This not only increases Russian influence with
                   opposition groups in countries like Kazakhstan, it increases the
                   probability that Moslem countries will use their influence to
                   move these groups into a pro-Moscow stance.

                   But the real test will come in the West.  The situation in the
                   Baltic countries is intolerable to Russia.  Kaliningrad, part of
                   Russia, is cut off because of Baltic independence.  Aligned with
                   the West, these countries jeopardize Russian presence in the
                   Baltic.  More important, with Poland entering NATO, these
                   countries become the only buffers between St. Petersburg and
                   NATO.  Russia cannot allow this to happen. The Baltics, like the
                   Ukraine, are part of the Russian sphere of influence.  However,
                   since 1989, the Baltics have had the luxury of neglecting power
                   politics.  This should not be mistaken for a permanent condition.
                   While western investment flowed, Russia was motivated to forego
                   its national security interests.  Now that investment has
                   stopped, Russia will resume its natural search for national
                   security, especially as this will also make for good domestic

                   This will have serious repercussions for Europe in general and
                   Germany in particular.  German officials were, to put it
                   tolerantly, babbling incoherently in the face of the Washington-
                   Moscow crisis.  As if trying to convince himself, Defense
                   Minister Rudolf Scharping said, "Everyone, even the United States
                   and Great Britain, felt that what was happening in Iraq had
                   nothing to do with NATO."  When asked whether Germany would
                   participate in attacks on Iraq, he said that,  "We haven't been
                   asked, but we gave clear political support, and that's where
                   things will stay."  Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said that he
                   "expressed solidarity with the United Nations," as well as with
                   the United States and Britain.  Taken together, the German
                   position seems to be that Germany supports everyone and is
                   confident that nothing means anything and that they sincerely
                   hope that all this will go away.

                   Germany's anxiety is completely justified.  Not only is Germany
                   massively exposed on Russian loans that are not going to get paid
                   any time soon, if at all, but the reemergence of the Red Army
                   along the Baltic countries' frontiers or worse, along the Polish
                   border, is a dreadful German problem.  Russian nationalism is
                   Germany's worst nightmare.  The only thing worse would be a
                   Franco-Russian alliance, which certainly seems to be taking
                   shape.  According to United Press International, a French
                   diplomat in Amman stated that France "is in constant consultation
                   with Russian leaders."  He also went on to say that France could
                   never support any demands to change the Iraqi regime by force and
                   from outside in harmony with its constitution and international
                   laws, saying "this was why Paris did not take part in the latest
                   military operations against Iraq."

                   Now obviously, a Franco-Russian arrangement in 1999 is very
                   different from one in 1938 or 1914.  Many things have changed.
                   Nevertheless, France's growing anti-Americanism and links to an
                   anti-American Russia will pose a serious challenge not only for
                   Germany, but also for the European Union.  It will pose questions
                   for the SDP-Green coalition that it would be best not to have to
                   answer.  It will force open the question of the relationship
                   between a unified economic apparatus and Europe's foreign policy,
                   a question that the EU is not at all ready to confront.  Finally,
                   the inclusion of China in this alignment affects both the global
                   balance of power and the structure of Asian regional politics. On
                   a question of fundamental importance to the United States, Iraq,
                   a coalition consisting of France, China and Russia has emerged
                   very publicly, with Russia playing the leading, active role.
                   This is a matter of great significance.  It is far more important
                   than the future of Iraq.

                   In this sense, the U.S. attack on Iraq has had a thoroughly
                   unintended consequence.  It has triggered a response inside of
                   Russia that will have lasting effect.  This response will change
                   Russian defense policy and, in turn, will provide Russia with
                   opportunities to assert itself along its current frontiers,
                   increasing tensions in Europe and Central Asia dramatically.  But
                   the global effect will be the most significant.  Since 1989, the
                   world has lived in an unnatural condition of imbalance, with only
                   one major power.  This could not long endure.  As in 1972, when
                   the U.S. and China aligned themselves to contain the Soviet
                   Union, a new alignment designed to contain the United States is
                   emerging.  Including France and China, its center of gravity is a
                   re-energized Russia.  This has been developing for a long time.
                   What is most interesting is that it was an act of carelessness on
                   the part of the United States that provided the trigger for a sea
                   change in Russian politics, a sea change that will reshape the
                   international system.