News

22 September 1997

TEXT: STROBE TALBOTT SPEAKS AT STANFORD ON THE NEW RUSSIA

(U.S. goal "to see Russia become a normal modern state") (4570)



Palo Alto, California -- Returning to the campus of Stanford
University where he had done research on early 20th century Russian
history during the late 1960s and early 1970s, Deputy Secretary of
State Strobe Talbott declared that Russia is at a turning point, at
"the end of the beginning in post-Soviet Russia's evolution as a
modern state."


In a September 19 speech here, Talbott drew a parallel between the
British defeat of General Rommel in North Africa -- which Winston
Churchill described as "perhaps the end of the beginning" of the
Allies' defeat of Germany -- with Russia's difficult struggle to
become a modern democratic state.


"Churchill was saying that the Battle of El Alamein was a hopeful
moment. But he was also warning that the war would go on for a long
time. He was exhorting a combination of confidence, patience, and
fortitude," Talbott said.


"Like Britain in 1942, Russia in 1997 is still undergoing a titanic
struggle."


While many challenges remain, Talbott said, "Russians today can be
more confident than a year ago that their country will make it not
just as a safe, secure, unitary state, but as a law-based, democratic
society, increasingly integrated with the growing community of other
states that are similarly constituted and similarly oriented."


He said the goal of the United States, "like that of many Russians, is
to see Russia become a normal, modern state -- democratic in its
governance, abiding by its own constitution and by its own laws,
market-oriented and prosperous in its economic development, a peace
with itself and with the rest of the world."


Talbott said Russia is facing a quandary of how "to define statehood
itself" and wondered whether it would be in terms of its "specialness
and separateness" or of those heritages and interests it has in common
with the rest of the world. The U.S. national interest in this matter
is clear, he added: "Quite simply, we want to see the ascendancy of
Russia's reformers who look outward and forward rather than inward and
backward for the signposts of revival."


He predicted that "like Britain after El Alamein -- Russia may be on
the brink of a breakthrough" as shown by the confluence of several
events, of which he stressed four: Yeltsin's electoral victory over
General Zyuganov, the stabilization of Russia's GDP after years of
virtual freefall, the agreement ending the war in Chechnya which
recognized that the federation cannot be held together by brute force,
and the signing of the NATO-Russia Founding Act.


Key to our policy toward Russia, said Talbott, is the concept of
"integration" which "captures the imperative of working with other
states to revitalize and, where necessary, create mutually reinforcing
international organizations and arrangements to ensure peace and
prosperity in an increasingly interdependent world." Russia has
already made important steps in this direction and has been seeking to
become more active in international organizations, he said.


The United States, said Talbott, should aim to "weave beneficial
relationships and devise incentives that will encourage Russia to
continue its democratic progress, and that will yield material
benefits to the Russian people." He noted, however, that the idea that
NATO can be part of this effort is not evident to all Americans.


The NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council, which is holding its first
ministerial level meeting September 26, "must identify new ways for
NATO and Russia to work together in maintaining peace, combating
common threats, and dismantling the vestiges of the Cold War."


Regarding the Baltic countries, Talbott said that the Russians need to
stop looking at these countries as "a pathway for foreign armies or as
a buffer zone.... We and our European partners can help." He urged
Russian to see the Baltics "not as an invasion route inward, but as a
gateway outward."


The deputy secretary noted that part of the "dynamic of what is
happening in Russia today is not just Westernizers versus Slavophiles;
it is also young versus old." He cited surveys showing that although
two-thirds of Russians over 65 think things have deteriorated over the
past year, sixty percent of those under 35 think things have improved.


"Hence, to the extent possible, our policy toward Russia should be
geared toward the younger citizens of Russia who will decide who they
are, where they belong, how they relate to Europe and to the outside
world," he said.


Following is the text of Talbott's speech as prepared for delivery:



(Begin text)



THE END OF THE BEGINNING: THE EMERGENCE OF A NEW RUSSIA



An Address by Strobe Talbott

Deputy Secretary of State

Stanford University

September 19, 1997



Thanks, Chris (Warren Christopher), to you, to Bill Perry and to David
Hamburg for the chance to return to this campus, where I spent quite a
bit of time in the late '60s and early '70s. In those days I had an
academic pretext for hanging around this campus -- something to do
with multi-archival research on early 20th century Russian history at
the Hoover Institution. But that was a cover story. My real mission
was to court a Stanford undergraduate. I'm courting her still, and
she's here with me today, looking at me somewhat askance and hoping
I'll get on with this speech.


I also want to thank Chris and Bill for the chance to work at their
sides for four years. That work was far-ranging, fascinating and often
-- I can admit this because I'm among friends -- fun.


Among the most important of the many enterprises on which we worked
was the one that we are discussing at this conference: the design and
construction of a new security architecture in Europe -- one that
recognizes and encourages the full and vigorous participation of a new
and reforming Russia.


It is about Russia that I would like to speak to you this evening. I
believe Russia is at a turning point. Let me explain that assertion by
doing something that I've heard Bill Perry do on any number of
occasions -- by quoting Winston Churchill. In November 1942, just
after the British victory over General Rommel in North Africa,
Churchill said, "Now is not the end. It is perhaps not even the
beginning of the end. But it is perhaps the end of the beginning."


Churchill was saying that the Battle of El Alamein was a hopeful
moment. But he was also warning that the war would go on for a long
time. He was exhorting a combination of confidence, patience, and
fortitude.


The parallel I'm suggesting is this:



Like Britain in 1942, Russia in 1997 is still undergoing a titanic
struggle. We have a huge stake in how that struggle turns cut. Our
goal, like that of many Russians, is to see Russia become a normal,
modern state -- democratic in its governance, abiding by its own
constitution and by its own laws, market-oriented and prosperous in
its economic development, a peace with itself and with the rest of the
world. That, in a nutshell, is what we mean -- and more to the point,
what many Russians mean -- by the word reform.


The forces complicating, impeding, and often opposing Russian reform
include various demons of Russian history. We all know the litany of
experiences from Russia's past that cast a shadow over its future:
subjugation for nearly three centuries to the Golden Horde from the
East, followed by four centuries of imperialist expansion combined
with vulnerability to invasion from the West. Internally, Russia long
ago adopted an autocratic order. Along the way, it missed the advent
of the modern nation-state in the 16th century, the Enlightenment in
the 18th, and the Industrial Revolution of the 19th. Those blank spots
prefigured the tragedy of the 20th. The Bolshevik coup d'etat plunged
Russia into misery, brutality, isolation, and confrontation with the
outside world.


Against that background, the new Russia faces a particularly difficult
set of challenges. Like every country on earth, Russia wants to be
strong and secure. But how should it define strength and security?
I'll rephrase the question using Joe Nye's terminology: what is the
optimum mixture of hard power and soft power appropriate to today's
world?


All states face some version of this issue. But for Russia -- as
Churchill might put it -- the political quandary is wrapped in an
existential dilemma. It is an issue not just of what Russia wants to
do, but of what Russia wants to be. It's a matter of how Russia will
define statehood itself. Will it be in terms of Russia's specialness
and separateness? Or will it be in terms of those heritages and
interests it has in common with the rest of the world, particularly
with Europe and the West?


The Russians themselves often call this "the question of questions."
They have been grappling with it for a long time. The search for an
answer was underway during the Middle Ages in the rivalry between the
absolutism and isolation of Muscovy on the one hand and, on the other,
the openness and trading culture of Novgorod. In the 19th century the
issue was at the core of the schism between the Slavophiles and the
Westernizers. Then Lenin and Stalin, with their claim of championing
an internationalist ideology, forcibly suppressed expressions of
ethnic and national identity. By Brezhnev's time, the idea that
Ukrainians, Kazaks, Armenians, Karelians, and Chukchis were evolving
into a new species, homo sovieticus, was the object of much
lip-service -- but of much more muffled ridicule. Soviet Man was
everywhere on posters and pedestals, but nowhere in real life.


Now that Russia is again Russia rather than the metropole of an empire
or the headquarters of a global movement, the old debate rages anew.
The 19th and early 20th century literary and philosophical combatants
-- Chadaayev, Solovyev, Berdyayev -- are back in fashion, their works
selling briskly in the bookstores along the Arbat and Kuznetsky Most.
Last year Rossiskaya Gazeta ran an essay contest to see who could come
up with the best statement of "the Russian national idea." President
Yeltsin has established a blue-ribbon commission on the same subject.
It's hard to sit for long at a kitchen table with friends in Moscow or
St. Petersburg without someone agonizing aloud about where Russia
belongs and where it is headed. Needless to say, there's more than a
little intellectual wind in these debates, but how they play out in
Russian politics -- and policy -- does matter to us.


We are not simply neutral by-standers. There is no doubt where our own
national interest lies; quite simply, we want to see the ascendancy of
Russia's reformers who look outward and forward rather than inward and
backward for the signposts of revival. A Russia that reflects their
aspirations is more likely to be part of the solution to the world's
many problems. Conversely, a Russia that erects barriers against what
it sees as a hostile world and that believes the best defense is a
good offense -- such a Russia could be, in the 21st century just as it
was in much of the 20th, one of the biggest of the problems we will
face.


There is nothing preordained about the outcome of this clash of
alternative futures, but there is reason for hope that the latter-day
Westernizers will prevail over the latter-day Slavophiles. Let me
explain why.


During the most of the first term of the Clinton Administration, we
were witnessing what might be called the beginning of the beginning --
that is, the first phase of Russia's re-birth, and its own
self-liberation from Soviet communism. That phase is drawing to a
close. It has been a period of opportunity as well as of uncertainty
and even danger. I suspect I speak for Chris, Bill, Chip (Blacker),
Ash (Carter), and other veterans of the first term who are here this
evening when I say that all of us came to work more than once with the
bracing sense that everything in Russia was up for grabs, that Russia
itself was teetering on the brink of regression or chaos.


That danger has not disappeared altogether, but it has diminished, and
-- like Britain after El Alamein -- Russia may be on the brink of a
breakthrough. It has happened with a constellation of several events,
of which I'd like to stress four:


-- First, in domestic politics, there was the presidential election 14
months ago. With Boris Yeltsin's victory over Gennady Zyuganov, the
Communist electoral tide began to recede from its high-water mark.


-- Second, in the economy, after five years of virtual free fall,
Russia's gross domestic product seems finally, in 1997, to be
stabilizing and may be registering a real upturn. That achievement,
combined with the government's success in slaying of the beast of
hyperinflation, means that Russia can focus on taking advantage of its
immense human and natural resources to build a world-class market
economy.


-- Third, in relations between Moscow and the regions, the bellwether
event was the pact signed May 12 that ended the war in Chechnya. For
all the ambiguity in the terms of that agreement, and for all the
suspense over its implementation, it represented a recognition,
however belated, that the federation cannot, and should not be held
together by brute force; tanks, artillery, and bombers are not
legitimate or, in the final analysis, efficacious instruments of
governance.


-- And fourth, in relations with the West, there was the signing of
the NATO-Russia Founding Act in May -- which I look forward to
discussing with many of you in tomorrow morning's session of this
conference.


While none of these developments is decisive, each is significant in
its own right. Moreover, there is a synergy among them -- the whole is
more than the sum of its parts. Together they mark the end of the
beginning in post-Soviet Russia's evolution as a modern state.


This is not to say that Russian reform has scored a knock-out blow
against crime, corruption, the uglier manifestation of nationalism,
and the other forces arrayed against it, or that the Russian economy
is home free, or that old Soviet attitudes and habits are gone
forever. But it is to say that Russians today can be more confident
than a year ago that their country will make it not just as a safe,
secure, unitary state, but as a law-based, democratic society,
increasingly integrated with the growing community of other states
that are similarly constituted and similarly oriented.


The key word here -- the key concept -- is integration. It is crucial
to our foreign policy in general, since it captures the imperative of
working with other states to revitalize and, where necessary, create
mutually reinforcing international organizations and arrangements to
ensure peace and prosperity in an increasingly interdependent world.
Integration is also key to our policy toward Russia in particular,
since Russia's attainment of its most worthy aspirations will depend
in large measure on its ability and willingness to integrate -- that
is, to participate in, contribute to, and benefit from globalization.


The new Russia has already gone a long way toward repudiating the old
Soviet Union's delusions that autarky and self-isolation are even
options for a modern state. Russia today plays an active role in
organizations of which it was a founding member, such as the UN and
the OSCE. It is also knocking at the door of those from which it has
been excluded. Over the past two years, it has become a member of the
ASEAN Regional Forum and the Council of Europe, agreed to join the
Paris Club, and it has strengthened its ties to the European Union.


For our part, we are doing what we can to ensure that the
international community is as open as possible to Russia. That's why
we pushed in Denver for the expansion of the G-7 agenda to become the
Summit of the Eight.


That's also why, in Helsinki, President Clinton and President Yeltsin
set a joint goal to work toward Russian accession in 1998 on
commercial terms to the World Trade Organization and to launch a
dialogue in Paris that will accelerate Russia's accession to the OECD.
That means some Russian industries will face stiffer competition from
imports, but membership in the WTO will give Russia a seat at the
table for deciding issues of international trade, it will make Russia
more attractive for investment, and it will improve the efficiency of
the Russian economy.


Then there's the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum. When
Secretary Albright and the other APEC ministers meet in November in
Vancouver, they will set the criteria for new members, and we will
support Russia's admission to APEC as it meets those standards.


Russia's membership -- or aspiration for membership -- in these bodies
is itself welcome, since all of them enshrine the premise that the
modern state should be part of an international order that is based on
certain common principles. One of the most fundamental of those
principles is that there are limits to the role and writ of the state,
particularly with regard to its resort to force, both in its internal
regime and in its external behavior.


Since that is a principle that runs very much against the grain of
Russian tradition, under Czars and commissars alike, it is one that we
would like to see the new Russia associate itself with in every way
possible.


However, integration is not an end in itself -- it is a means to an
end. Now that Russia is an eager joiner, the issue remains what kind
of member is Russia going to be? How will it fit in? Will it play by
the rules?


There is a lot of skepticism on this point. Many experts and
commentators start from a presumption of guilt about Russia's
strategic intentions -- a suspicion that Russians are predisposed
genetically, or at least historically, to aggression and imperialism.


I believe that's the wrong way to think about the problem. The right
way is the one articulated by Ian Buruma in his book The Wages of
Guilt. He was writing about two other great nations -- Germany and
Japan -- whose peoples were, not so long ago, feared, and hated, as
inherently militaristic. "There are," said Buruma, "no dangerous
peoples; there are only dangerous situations, which are the result,
not of laws of nature or history, or of national character, but of
political arrangements."


Our purpose, in working with Russia, should be to fashion the right
political arrangements -- in other words, to weave beneficial
relationships and devise incentives that will encourage Russia to
continue its democratic progress, and that will yield material
benefits to the Russian people.


The idea that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization can be part of
that larger structure and that larger strategy is, to put it mildly,
not self-evident to all Americans, including, I gather from today's
discussion, some of you who are participating in this conference. And
it is certainly not self-evident to all Russians.


Stereotypes evaporate slowly. Just as many of our own experts and
commentators cling to Cold War prejudices about Russians and what
makes them tick, so many Russians nurture a Cold War image of NATO.


We believe that that this disagreement is manageable. Indeed, we now
have a mechanism for managing it.


One week from today, Secretary Albright and her 15 Alliance colleagues
will sit down at the UN with Yevgeny Primakov for the first
ministerial meeting of the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council. This
new institution has real promise. It can help ensure that Europe is
never again divided and that a democratic Russia plays its rightful
role in that new Europe.


But to live up to its potential, the Permanent Joint Council must be
more than a talk shop. It must identify new ways and places for NATO
and Russia to work together in maintaining peace, combating common
threats, and dismantling the vestiges of the Cold War, especially the
lingering fears and suspicions, on both sides of the old Iron Curtain
-- and on both sides of the new international boundaries that used to
be the internal, inter-republic borders of the USSR.


The most salient issue of Russian foreign policy for Russians and the
rest of the world alike is how Russia relates to those new independent
states that were, until only six years ago, part of the Soviet Union
and, as such, subject to Russia's domination.


In this regard too, there have recently been favorable, encouraging,
though by no means conclusive, developments.


One was President Yeltsin's landmark visit to Kyiv in May, which put
Russia's relations with Ukraine on a more equitable and predictable
footing.


Another is the way that Russia is now attempting to end the decade-old
war in Nagorno-Karabakh. This year Russia has joined diplomatic forces
with the United States and France under the aegis of the OSCE. This
willingness on Russia's part to internationalize, rather than
attempting to monopolize, the management of security along its
periphery augurs well for the chances of equitable settlements to
other conflicts in Moldova, Georgia, and Tajikistan.


Let me say a few words about the Baltics, which represent an
especially acute challenge. We need to bear in mind -- and, in our
diplomacy, balance -- two factors. One is the Balts' anxieties about
Russian strategic intentions and their legitimate desire to join
Western institutions, including the European Union and NATO. The other
factor is Russia's fear and loathing at the prospect of the Balts'
fulfilling those aspirations.


Quite bluntly, Russians need to get over their neuralgia; they need to
stop looking at the Baltic region as a pathway for foreign armies or
as a buffer zone, not just because to do so offends and menaces the
Balts but because it makes no sense, since there are no would-be
aggressors to be rebuffed.


In the final analysis, Russia will have to make that adjustment
itself, by its own lights and for its own reasons. But we and our
European partners can help. One way is to make the idea of commercial,
political, environmental, and other forms of collaboration among the
states along the littoral of the Baltic Sea a centerpiece of our own
activity there -- and an important part of our dialogue with Russia as
an important regional power.


If Russians insist on looking to the 13th century for models
applicable to the 21st, they should dwell less on the image of
Alexander Nevsky defeating the Swedish knights on the ice and think
instead in what might be called "Hanseatic" terms -- that is, think
about the Baltics not as an invasion route inward, but as a gateway
outward.


This is a version of what Peter the Great, the patron figure of the
Westerners, had in mind when he opened Russia's window to the West. In
fact, St. Petersburg is an obvious candidate for participation in a
revival of the Hanseatic concept.


So too night be Novgorod and Kaliningrad, the former Konigsberg, both
of which were associated with the original League. In fact,
Kaliningrad is an especially tantalizing case, at least historically.
Those of us who labor in the thickets of CFE -- the Conventional
Forces in Europe talks -- tend to think of Kaliningrad as the
headquarters of the Russian 11th Guards Army with its 850 tanks and
100 combat aircraft. But it is also one corner of what is now Russia
that did experience the Enlightenment. It's where Immanuel Kant lived,
taught, and set forth several principles of international law intended
to bind like-minded republics into a community of "civil states" that
could enjoy what he called "perpetual peace."


Few places on earth have seen as little peace of any kind as Russia
and its environs. But there is reason for optimism. In addition to the
ones I've already mentioned, I'd like, in conclusion, to add one more.
It's generational -- or to be even more blunt, biological. The dynamic
of what is happening in Russia today is not just Westernizers versus
Slavophiles; it is also young versus old -- and the young have a
certain advantage in at least that dimension of the larger struggle.


Let me illustrate the point this way:



Nearly four years ago, in a televised town meeting at Ostankino
television station, President Clinton put a question to the Russian
people -- and to the Russian leadership -- his own version of the
question of questions:


"How will you define your role as a great power?" he asked. "Will you
define it in yesterday's terms, or tomorrow's?" Russia, he said, has
"a chance to show that a great power can promote patriotism without
expansionism; that a great power can promote national pride without
national prejudice.... I believe the measure of your greatness in the
future will be whether Russia, the big neighbor, can be the good
neighbor."


Chris and I were both there when the President delivered that message,
and we were both struck that his youthful audience -- an audience
representing Russia's future -- burst into applause. They not only
thought the President was asking the right question -- they clearly
liked his proposed answer.


Perhaps the single most significant and hopeful statistic I've seen:
although 65% of those Russians over the age of 65 think things got
worse over the last year, 60% of those under 35 think things got
better. So among the positive trends underway in Russia is perhaps the
most basic one of all, the one represented by the actuarial tables.


Hence, to the extent possible, our policy toward Russia should be
geared toward younger citizens of Russia who will decide who they are,
where they belong, how they relate to Europe and to the outside world.
The essence of our policy, in short, is: give them time -- give them
time to consolidate the reforms that constitute the good news of the
past few years; give them time to beat back the forces that have
generated the bad news; give them time to work out their identity and
destiny in ways that will not only best serve a modern Russia's real
interests but that will also be, to the greatest extent possible,
compatible with our interests as well.


In other words, we need to make sure we have a policy toward Russia
that contains an indispensable feature: strategic patience. That means
a policy not just for coping with the issue or the crisis of the
moment or the week or even of the season, or for getting through the
next summit meeting; rather, it means a policy for the next century --
which, by the way, begins in two years, three months, eleven days, and
four hours.


So the timing of this conference could not be better. Nor could the
agenda be more germane and the participants more appropriate. Thank
you again, Chris, Bill and David, for helping our nation grapple with
what is, for us, also a question of questions -- how to understand and
deal with Russia -- and for helping make sure that we come up with the
right answer of answers.


(End text)