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One needs to have humility when confronting difficult questions, and
Russia is perhaps one of the most difficult questions of our time.
Making judgments about Russia is a hazardous undertaking. So an American
who writes about Russia has to be open to different perspectives and
opinions as a corrective. Saying that, I will present some thoughts
about Russia that are controversial.

There is credible testimony that the collapse of the Soviet Union was
pre-planned by Kremlin strategists, that it has been carefully managed
by the secret police and other hidden structures of the former Soviet
state. There are those who argue that liberalization in the former
Soviet Union is an ongoing totalitarian experiment in controlled
democracy. The purpose of this experiment has partly to do with the
reinvigoration of the totalitarian regime. By replacing neo-Stalinism
with a more subtle system based on perceptions management, the Kremlin
can better monitor those elements of Russian society which oppose them.
Another purpose of this experiment in controlled liberalization is to
weaken the West by taking away its image of the enemy. Without an
obvious threat from Russia, America would be encouraged to disarm.

Nearly all Sovietologists and Russia-watchers would call the above
paragraph “fanciful” and “paranoid.” Unfortunately, name-calling is not
an honest way of coping with a large body of evidence, and a growing
body of testimony. I have interviewed Russians and other Eastern
Europeans who tell me that ongoing Communist and secret police control
of the former Eastern bloc is rather obvious. They cannot understand why
this isn’t noticed by Americans or others in the West. They point to
cultural factors to explain Western blindness.

It would be one thing if testimony about a fake Soviet collapse only
appeared after the collapse. But published testimony about a Russian
plan to fake the collapse of the Communist bloc first appeared in the
autobiography of a high level Czechoslovakian defector in 1982. In his
book, “We Will Bury You,” Gen. Jan Sejna talked about being briefed on a
plan to fake the collapse of the Warsaw Pact. According to Sejna, the
Pact would secretly remain in existence after the collapse, maintained
through secret committees.

In 1984 another defector source went public. In the book “New Lies
for Old,” KGB Maj. Anatoliy Golitsyn claimed to have direct knowledge of
a secret Kremlin plan to fake the collapse of the Eastern bloc. He said
the plan was officially adopted in 1960, that its target date for
completion was the year 2000. Golitsyn’s book anticipated the coming
down of the Berlin Wall, the reunification of Germany, the collapse of
the Warsaw Pact, and the Communist Party giving up its monopoly of power
in Russia.

Golitsyn made over 130 predictions in his 1984 book. These were based
on his knowledge of Soviet strategy and the psychological warfare
technique on which it is based. A researcher made a list of Golitsyn’s
predictions several years ago and found him to have more than 90 percent
accuracy. Golitsyn’s predictive success begs further commentary, because
as every social scientist or intelligence analyst knows, no methodology
has that kind of success unless its underlying assumptions are generally
correct.

There is much more that could be written on the subject of the
phoniness of the Eastern bloc’s collapse. Day by day I continue to
encounter Eastern Europeans who share my view on the collapse of the
USSR. For example, last week I met a Rumanian woman at a dinner party,
and could not resist asking what she thought of Rumania’s new freedom
and the fall of Communism. She told me the Communists were still in
charge in Rumania, that little had really changed.

Returning to California on a flight from New York to San Francisco on
Saturday, I found myself next to a Russian journalist. She was on
vacation with her little girl and husband. She was mostly interested in
art and culture. But after a humorous discussion about Soviet art, I
asked her if Marx was dead in Russia. She smiled slyly and asked when
Marx was born. I said he was born on May 5 1818. She cleverly answered
that everyone born in 1818 was dead by now.

I then asked about Lenin’s corpse in Red Square: “Why haven’t they
buried the founder of the Soviet Union?”

“Because if they bury him,” she said, “they can’t bring Communism
back.” (Recent polls out of Russia indicate that if presidential
elections were held now, the Communists would win.)

“Well,” I said to the Russian journalist, “I hope that Russia and
America will work out their differences and grow closer together.”

To my surprise she frowned: “Russia and America will never be close,
they will never come together.”

“But why,” I asked. “Surely we are not so different?”

“We are impossibly different,” she said. “America is based on money
and Russia is based on suffering — on things of the heart.”

“If that is the basis of the conflict,” I told her, “then suffering
will win.”

She was pleasantly surprised by this comment. “You are exactly
right,” she said.

I then asked, “In your opinion, is the Russian Mafia the creation of
the KGB or is it something spontaneous?”

As if this were not a serious question, she waved her hand
dismissively and replied, “It’s entirely KGB, of course!”

It goes without saying that Russians disagree about Russia as much as
Americans disagree about America. Not all Russians would give this
answer. Many shades of political opinion exist. Most of them are based
on facts. Some observers emphasize one set of facts; other observers
emphasize another set of facts. Some see the social anarchy in Russia as
decisive; others see the hidden structures of the secret police as
decisive.

Whatever other facts are set before us about Russia, it is Moscow’s
war preparations that should concern Americans the most. Why is an
allegedly bankrupt nation continuing to pour billions into preparations
for a future nuclear war?

Andrei Piontkovsky, writing in Moscow Times on July 8, offers an
indirect answer to this question. He writes that “The Russian political
class to a man is made up of the same people that comprised the Soviet
political class.”

To drive his point home, Piontkovsky asks the following question:
“Why did the communists so uncomplainingly hand over power in 1991?”

Piontkovsky answers, “Because they did not give up power.”

It is an answer at once indisputable and stunning. It is the key to
understanding the former Soviet Union — from Belarus to Uzbekistan. And
it is the key to understanding Russia’s military buildup. Let us not be
diverted by the day to day soap opera in that great Potemkin village
called Moscow, where the old lies have been replaced with new ones. Let
us not be distracted by speculations on party X or party Y, on this
presidential candidate versus that presidential candidate. The truth is,
the Communist oligarchy continues. It controls the various political
factions from behind the scenes. It controls the outlying “independent”
republics. In fact, it created the Russian Mafia which supposedly rages
out of control.

And this leads us to yet another set of facts uncovered by Professor
Joseph D. Douglass Jr. in his book on Russia’s dominance of the
international drug trade. Throughout the text of “Red Cocaine” Douglass
shows how the KGB envisioned organized crime as a method for penetrating
Western political and financial structures. He documents the rise of the
so-called Russian Mafia, which Khrushchev formed in the 1950s. Douglass’
research is a necessary antidote for those Americans who have so misread
the political scene and who imagine (as do the Marxists) that all the
evil in the world is concentrated in the West’s financial elite. Rather,
it is the West that has been penetrated and corrupted by the East — and
not the other way around, as Russian propaganda would have us believe.

Some might argue that mine is a simplistic view, a throwback to the
Cold War. Perhaps they are right. We are not very good judges of our own
opinions. At the same time, those who disagree should take up the
challenge of explaining the accuracy of KGB defector Golitsyn’s
predictions about the Soviet Union. They should try to explain why
Yeltsin’s Russia continues to prepare for war and why the two greatest
powers of the former Communist bloc — Russia and China — are now
coming into closer and closer collaboration. If my analysis is so
simplistic, why does it yet offer a more satisfactory explanation for
actual Russian behavior than the notion that Communism’s collapse was
spontaneous and genuine?

It is my contention that the Communists in Russia changed the name of
their party, breaking it into several parties with several names. They
broke the Communist machine into sub-machines, relying on their agent
networks within various agencies, private organizations, and the press.
They forfeited their long-held monopoly of power, transforming it into a
kind of managed competition. According to KGB Maj. Golitsyn, this new
political formation has been fielded with two objects in mind: to
perfect a new system of control which is better able to contain dissent
at home and to gain financial assistance from abroad.

The idea that the Soviet collapse was “controlled” is difficult to
accept. The degree of organization, the secrecy, the discipline required
for such an undertaking would be impossible for Americans. As recent
events have demonstrated, we cannot even keep our most vital nuclear
secrets; therefore, it is difficult for us to imagine a culture that
excels in keeping secrets. But that is exactly what Russians excel at,
just as we excel at burying our heads in the sand.

If this is a wrongheaded way of viewing Russia, if this is somehow
uninformed or playing into the hands of so-called Clinton Administration
“warmongers,” then I apologize to those I have wronged and offended. But
if there is a long-range Kremlin plan to use controlled liberalization
and democratization to disarm the West, and if the Russian Mafia is the
secret creature of the KGB, then we had better come to our senses in a
hurry.

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