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On Monday, President Clinton said that America can “do business” with
acting Russian President Vladimir Putin. Despite Putin’s KGB background
and his sinister program of building up Russia’s military, Clinton said,
“What I have seen of him so far indicates to me that he is capable of
being a very strong, effective, straightforward leader.”

In keeping with this favorable view of Putin, Clinton’s State
Department recently welcomed the new friendship treaty between North
Korea and Russia. The rabid North Korean Communists have long promised
death and destruction to America. But there is no reason to worry. A new
friendship treaty between Russia and the most openly insane regime on
the planet is okay with President Clinton. After all, Vladimir Putin is
in charge of Russia. And Vladimir Putin is a good guy. “Based on what
I have seen so far,” said Clinton on Monday, “I think the United States
can do business with this man.” (Even as “this man” extends his
friendship to the crazies in Pyongyang.)

Perhaps President Clinton should remember what happened in January.
Putin’s Unity Party, the largest “moderate” faction in the Duma, joined
with the Communists to form a new ruling majority. Because of this,
Russia’s democrats and liberals were defeated. Reform was thwarted and
the Soviet economic system, still largely in place, was given yet
another lease on life.

Despite this obvious betrayal, Clinton holds up Putin as a
“straightforward leader.” In this context, we must forget that Putin was
a KGB careerist. We must forget that Putin was the chief of Russia’s
dreaded secret police. We must forget that Putin rose to power through a
fraudulent and bloody war in Chechnya — made to order. President
Clinton has set us an example of forgetfulness, saying, “I think the
United States can do business with this man.”

Putin is an alliance-builder. He builds alliances with the North
Korean and Russian Communists. He builds alliances with the Chinese and
Iranians. But this is only the beginning. There are many countries that
need Putin’s friendship, for example, the former republics of the Soviet
Union.

In early January, Putin became the Chairman of the Council of CIS
heads of state. In other words, he became the ostensible chief of the
former Soviet Union (now called the Commonwealth of Independent States,
which includes all the former Soviet republics excepting the Baltic
states). Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznyov, a leading Communist, said, “It
is evident to everyone that Russia is the CIS locomotive. It is good for
a locomotive to have a firebox full of coal. At present, the locomotive
has a low efficiency, but Putin has the energy and the strength. Let him
boost our locomotive.”

And behold! The first boosting of the Russian locomotive has begun.
The Kremlin recently announced that Putin’s dear friend, Pavel Borodin,
will direct the phased absorption of Belarus into Russia. Even as Putin
is the Chairman of the Council of CIS heads of state, Borodin is the
State Secretary of the Russia-Belarus union. To what end?

According to Borodin, the Russia-Belarus union is only the beginning.
A much larger unification is actually under way. Borodin released a
policy statement last week, which admitted, “The various states that
emerged in the former Soviet space are fated to live together. While
Europe integrates, we shall integrate. …”

Borodin claims that this new combination of states will “not become a
Soviet Union, but a union nonetheless.” The security implications are
staggering. According to a leading Russian military analyst, Viktor
Kremenyuk, the Russian-Belarus union “strengthens the Russian
Federation’s strategic position in Europe, enabling Russia to advance to
the Polish border and face NATO along that line.”

Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko believes the Russia-Belarus
union paves the way to a Slavic super-state. According to Lukashenko,
this new super-state will include Serbia and Ukraine. If such a union
can be accomplished, Moscow’s territory would suddenly extend from the
Pacific to the Adriatic. Think of it! NATO’s involvement in Kosovo would
retroactively become an act of war against Russia, since Kosovo would
then, technically, belong to the Kremlin.

“What I have seen of him so far,” said Clinton of the acting Russian
president, “indicates … that he is capable of being a very strong,
effective … leader.”

America should notice, in this context, that the integration of
Belarus with Russia is a military integration. And this seems to follow
a definite pattern. Prime Minister Putin has declared himself in favor
of Russia’s overall militarization. On Monday, Itar-Tass announced that
Russia is “increasing its military orders in the defense industry.”
Russia’s ammunition, shipbuilding and electronic industries have
increased over 40 percent since a year ago. The reason for the increase,
said the Itar-Tass story, was “the government’s decision to build up
defense orders … keeping up the high pace of military production
growth.”

“I think the United States can do business with this man,” said
President Clinton.

Meanwhile, a large Russian-directed military exercise is taking place
in the supposedly independent republics of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and
Uzbekistan. The name of the exercise is “Shield-2000.” It involves
aviation, paratroopers and artillery. The exercise is part of Putin’s
program of integrating the former Soviet military districts (in the
outlying republics) with the Russian General Staff.

Even more interesting, Putin signed a decree last weekend, which
appears to reestablish a system of political commissars in the Russian
army. Of course, the secret police never stopped spying on military
officers, but now the spy network will be extended and enlarged. Decree
No. 318 calls for “the elimination of negative phenomena within the army
environment” and calls on the FSB to especially monitor “unsanctioned
army contacts with the press.”

Putin is a militarist. He loves the Russian army. On Putin’s first
day in office, he signed a decree entitled “Readiness of Russian
Citizens for Military Service.” This decree authorized three hours a
week of military training to students in state schools.

Then there is Russia’s new security doctrine, authorized by Putin and
published in January. It accuses the United States of seeking global
domination. It also cryptically refers to a group of unnamed countries
that are allegedly seeking to weaken Russia economically, militarily and
politically. “An open campaign has been unleashed to destabilize the
situation in Russia,” says the Russian document.

It seems that Moscow is employing official code-language to mark out
the United States as an enemy. In this context, a number of Russian
generals have stated that the Chechen rebels are clients of NATO, that
the Chechen crisis is an attempt by the U.S. to break up the Russian
Federation.

Besides its unabashed paranoia, the Kremlin’s new security doctrine
says that the army must “ensure that the (Russian) economy is socially
oriented.” In other words, the army must guarantee that the economy
remains socialist. It should be noted that the Soviet army was similarly
charged with “defending socialism.” However vaguely the commitment is
worded, Russia’s new military doctrine apparently clings to the
country’s socialist past.

It cannot be denied, after all this, that Prime Minister Putin has
presided over a transition period in recent Russian history. He is
openly building up Russia’s military readiness and military industry. He
is reconstructing, piece by piece, the old communist bloc.

Despite all this, President Clinton has said, “I think the United
States can do business with this man.”

But why would we want to?

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