Date: Tue, 16 Mar 1999
From: "W. George Krasnow" <email@example.com>
Subject: Open Letter on the Russian Crisis
On behalf of my cosignatories to the "Open Letter on the Russian Crisis,"
I would like to thank you for posting it on JRL (#3083, March 10).
We have received a very encouraging response. Moreover, though we appealed
to "concerned American citizens," we have also been receiving strong
endorsements from non-Americans.
I want to make clear that we welcome ALL endorsements. JRL is a truly
global forum. More and more people realize that Russia's problems have
most serious global implications. "The world may be sleepwalking into a
crisis which could have catastrophic effect on all of us," writes one such
world citizen. We are convinced that the very survival of Russia as a
distinct civilization and a major contributor to the cultural
"biodiversity" of the planet is at stake.
It is in this global spirit that I ask you to run our Letter again, albeit
in an abbreviated form and with the names of new endorsers appended.
I would like to ask all endorsers to check out their entry for uniformity
(names, titles, position, affiliation, city, and country) and promptly send
corrections to me.
We plan to submit this briefer statement to high US government officials in
hopes of improving relations between Russia and the United States. We are
determined to make a difference.
We do not pretend to know all the answers to the Russian crisis. But we
find the current US Russia policy essentially flawed and in need of speedy
We welcome NEW endorsements. Stand up to be counted.
Send your endorsements to W. George Krasnow (aka author Vladislav Krasnov) at:
Or write to: W. George Krasnow
Russian American Goodwill Associates
1332 Vermont Ave. NW
Washington DC 20005
An Open Letter on The Russian Crisis
We, a group of scholars, business people, journalists, and students of
Russia, are alarmed over the ongoing crisis in Russia and the deterioration
of U.S.-Russia relations.
According to the U.S. News and World Report,
"Death is one business that flourishes in the catastrophe that has
overtaken Russia. Elderly pensioners dying of starvation no longer make
news. .. And the question for the country now is whether it can survive at
all as a coherent state, still less as a civilized society. The statistics
are staggering: At least 70 percent of Russians live near or below the
subsistence level...The decline of Russia in the 1990s is deeper than even
the Great Depression in the United States. From 1929 to 1935, American
national incomes and gross domestic product fell by a third; in Russia,
real per capita incomes are down by as much as 80 percent."
The weakening of the Russian state should give us no reason to gloat over
the demise of our former Cold War opponent. On the contrary, if Russia
disintegrates we would be faced with an arch of instability, starvation,
and armed struggle, stretching from the borders of NATO countries to China,
North Korea and the Sea of Japan. Should this happen, with Russia's
enormous stockpiles of nuclear weapons and fissionable materials, our
present problems in the Middle East, Bosnia and Kosovo would pale in
We agree with the U.S. News and World Report that Russia's present
near-catastrophic predicament is "man-made," and that the U.S. and other
Western governments and institution have actively, if inadvertently,
participated in its creation. The financial crash of August 17, 1998, was
a collapse, not of the reforms that Russia needs and seeks, but of the
peculiar course of reforms that the "young reformers" imposed on Russia,
with America's advice and encouragement.
We do not wish to exempt the Russians from the main responsibility for
their present situation. However, we want the U.S. government to
acknowledge that serious mistakes were made in both formulating and
implementing our Russia policy.
We join former U.S. Senators Gary Hart and Gordon Humphrey in deploring
that "we have handed the U.S. foreign policy mandate to the International
Monetary Fund, while all but abandoning unilateral efforts to stimulate
Russia's dormant productive capacity." We too wish to summon "America's
vision and creative spirit" to assist Russia in her efforts to extricate
itself from the dangerous situation in which it landed on the advice of
U.S. officials. (The Washington Post, February 11)
We agree with Katrina vanden Heuvel and Stephen F. Cohen that a new policy
toward Russia is urgently needed. It should be "based on a very different
principle--not the intrusive, ideological conditions imposed by US and IMF
officials, but...by letting Russians, not our State and Treasury
Departments, decide what constitutes reform in Russia." Instead of trying
to transform Russia into a replica of America, the United States should
support "any Russian government that promotes the well-being of ordinary
citizens without abrogating the still fragile process of democratization."
(The Nation, January 11-18).
Unfortunately, the U. S. government has shown no willingness to acknowledge
the obvious failure of its Russia policy. Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright continues to nudge Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov to the
same course of "reforms" that, under his predecessors, brought Russia to
the brink of disaster. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin continues to cajole
the Russians to accept the dictates of the IMF--or else. Both the IMF and
the U.S. government have remained deaf to any other proposals for economic
reforms in Russia, including those advocated by prominent Nobel Prize
winning American economists.
IMF Managing Director Michel Camdessus continues to refuse Russia
desperately needed loans "unless the government overcomes internal
resistance to market reforms." The trouble is that the catch word "market
reforms" has become anathema for the majority of the Russians whose incomes
have plummeted under the "reformist" oligarchic rule, for which the IMF is
partially responsible. And what about democracy? After all, Primakov's is
the first government since 1993 that is built on a consensus with the Duma
and that enjoys the support of nearly all political forces.
We are convinced that making our aid conditional upon the Russian
government's support for U.S. policy, be it on Iraq, Kosovo, or NATO, must
seem humiliating to the Russians. It is also unwarranted, as even our NATO
allies sometimes disagree with us on vital issues. We should respect the
right of Russia to conduct her own foreign policy based on her national
* We appeal to the U.S. government to re-invent its policy toward Russia.
Stop encouraging the intransigence of the IMF. Give a clear signal that we
are ready to cooperate with Primakov's government in rooting out the
oligarchy and the corruption it breeds. Instruct the FBI to work with the
Russian authorities in preventing the illicit capital flight from Russia.
* We appeal to the U.S. Congress to exercise its oversight duty over U.S.
foreign policy with greater vigor and rigor. Don't fall into the trap of
"the weaker Russia, the better for us." Russia is already weak way beyond
what is good for U.S. national security and world peace.
* We appeal to U.S. non-profit organizations working in Russia to open
their hearts and minds to all Russians, regardless whether they agree or
disagree with us. Advocate the principles of democracy, civil society and
free enterprise not just among the self-proclaimed "Westernists" and
"reformists," but among all Russians of good will.
* We appeal to the U.S. private sector. Be more creative and imaginative in
helping the Russians build a private sector. Don't tolerate the oligarchic
monopoly in Russia. Teach Russians to use anti-trust laws. Don't wait for
the governments. Do business, ignoring ideological strings.
* We appeal to the American people to show magnanimity to our World War II
ally who sacrificed tens of millions of lives to secure our freedom, too.
Why should we give a cold shoulder to the people who in 1991 chose freedom
and proclaimed the sovereignty of the Russian Federation, thus putting an
end to both Communism and the Cold War?
We want the Russian people to know that the American people have not
abandoned them in their most difficult times, that "Friends in need are
Dirk Bezemer, Economics Department, University of Amsterdam, the
Andrew J. Brown, PH.D. Candidate ( dissertation on daily life in
Kazakhstan, U of California, San Diego
Abraham Brumberg, independent writer, former editor of Problems of
Communism, contributor to the Los Angeles Times, Times Literary Supplement,
and other periodicals, Chevy Chase, MD
Mary Ellen Chatwin, Ph.D., Tbilisi, Georgia
Rachel Dubin, MA Candidate, International Affairs with concentration on
Russia, The George Washington U, Washington, DC
Ethel Dunn, Executive Secretary, Highgate Road Social Science Research
Station, author of books on Russian anthropology, Berkeley, CA
Colin Farlow, Exeter, UK
James K. Galbraith, Professor, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public
Affairs, The U of Texas at Austin and Chair of Economists Allied for Arms
Mason Gaffney, Professor of Economics, U of California, Riverside, CA,
took part in Duma Parliamentary Hearings on Land Revenues
Adrian A. Helleman, Ph.D., Faculty of Philosophy, Moscow State U, a
Canadian citizen teaching in Russia.
Dr. Michael Hudson, President, Institute for the Study of Long-Term
Economic Trends (ISLET), author of numerous trade books on U. S. - Russian
Gabriel Hughes, Research Staff (Eastern Europe), Department of
Economics, U of London (Wye College), UK
Richard D. Jacobs, President and CEO of Newstar, Inc., an international
investment and advisory company with offices in Washington, D.C. and Moscow.
Andrew Jameson, Chair, Russian Committee, All Languages and Professional
Development, Lancaster, UK
C. William Kauffman, Dept. of Aerospace Engineering, U of Michigan, Ann
Nomeda Repsyte Kildsig, postgraduate student, U of Copenhagen, Denmark
Sara Frederick Knizhnik, graduate student, Monterey Institute of
International Studies, Monterey, CA
Philip L. Kohl, Professor of Anthropology, Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA
Larisa A. Koval, scientist, National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA), Washington, DC
Dr. W. George Krasnow (aka author Vladislav Krasnov), former professor,
Monterey Institute of
International Studies, president of Russian American Goodwill Associates
(RAGA), Washington, DC.
David E. Leventhal, science educator, St. Louis, MS
William M. Mandel, Hoover Institution Fellow in 1947, Soviet-affairs
scholar for fifty-nine years, taught at five universities, the author of
five books, Berkeley, California
Alexandra Mattson, Vice President, Russian American Goodwill Associates
(RAGA), intercultural communications specialist and trainer, Washington, DC
Bruce McClelland, Ph.D. Candidate, U of Virginia, former Director of
USIA/ IREX sponsored Internet Access Training Program for Russia and the CIS
Alex McDonough, new student at the U of Michigan, Las Vegas, NV
David W. McFadden, Associate Professor of History, Director of Russian
and East European Studies, Fairfield U, Fairfield, CT; Fulbright Scholar at
Hertzen U, St. Petersburg, Russia
Tatiana Metodieva, MA, Slavic Philology, U of Sofia, Bulgaria; worked in
the former Soviet Union; now Administrative Manager of an international
non-profit organization, Washington, DC
Andrei Nikitchyuk, an aerospace engineer and translator, Senior
Consultant, Russian American Goodwill Associates (RAGA), Herndon, Virginia
Erin Nikitchyuk, a software engineer, Program Manager, RAGA, Herndon,
John M. Oshust, ret. Chemistry Teacher, Snug Hollow Farm, lived in
Magnitogorsk, Russia and adopted a son from an orphanage there.
Diane Pearson, M.Ed., Baker School District Library Director, Baker
Catine E. Perkins, farmer from Bastrop, TX, member of The Transnational
Institute (now The Vladimir Soloviev Society), Moscow
Dr. Ronald R. Pope, Associate Professor of Russian Politics, Illinois
State University; President, Serendipity: Russian Consulting & Development,
William G. Rosenberg, Alfred G. Meyer Professor of History, University
of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Natalia Roudakova, Doctoral Student, Cultural and Social Anthropology,
Stanford University, CA
Just Rugel, Director of Hrast Ltd., Ljubljana, Slovenia, now in Moscow,
Michele Anderson Schmidt, Doctoral Candidate, U. S. diplomatic history,
University of Colorado, Boulder, CO
Olga Shevchenko, Graduate Student, Sociology Department, U of Pennsylvania
Wendell W. Solomons, economist and author of July 1992 report to IRBD,
warning of catastrophe if privatization was nor supported by development of
commercial law and tax base in Russia, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Nathan Stowell, Commercial Director, ACI Industries International
Corporation, Moscow Representative Office
Olga Sudnitsin, aeronautical and mechanical engineer, Brisbane, Australia
David Swann, a physician, member of Physicians for Global Survival,
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Isaak J. Tarasulo, Director of the Bethesda Institute for Russian
Studies, editor of two books on Gorbachev's Russia.
Clive Tempest, Head of the School of Politics, University of the West of
Walter C. Uhler, Chief of Financial Services at the Defense Contract
Management Command of the Defense Logistics Agency, Philadelphia, PA;
active in the American People Ambassador Program, will lead a delegation of
U.S. defense analysts to Russia.
Michael Urban, Professor of Politics, University of Santa Cruz, CA
Dmitri Glinski Vassiliev, Research Associate at the George Washington
University, Washington, DC
Tony Vickers, Chief Executive, Henry George Foundation of Great Britain,
Larissa Wagen, New York Representative, ISI Emerging Markets, New York
Jason Wallace, Clemson University
Janine R. Wedel, Associate Research Professor, Department of
Anthropology,The George Washington University
Thomas E. Weiskopf, Professor of Economics, Director, Residential
College, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Dennis Whelan, Director, Center for Russian Law, Visiting Scholar,
Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH and Moscow, Russia
Heide Whelan, Professor of Russian History, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH
Anne Williamson, the author of the forthcoming How America Built the New
Russian Oligarchy, who since 1989 has shuttled between Moscow and New York
City where she now lives.
Stephen G. Wright, President, The Global Community Project, Inc.;
Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins U, Cross-Cultural Management; Visiting
Lecturer, Georgetown U, Understanding U.S. Culture and Business Etiquette
Michael Zarechnak, Ph.D. in Slavic Linguistics, Harvard U; Professor
Emeritus, Georgetown U, Washington, DC
Geoff Zeiger, high-school student and debater on US-Russia relations,
Puyallup HS, WA