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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

In Russia: A Few Goals For Clinton

Dear President-elect Bill Clinton, Congratulations on your impressive victory over George Bush. Granted, you were elected to tackle domestic American problems, but as the chief executive of the world's most powerful nation, you will still be required to bone up on Russia. As a goal-oriented person yourself, perhaps you would appreciate a few suggested goals for your first year in office.


Set a date for a Moscow summit. Come and take a look around; Russia has changed a lot since you were here two years ago, and even more since your trip in 1969. A face-to-face meeting with President Boris Yeltsin early on in your presidency would: 1) Settle uneasiness here that goes with a change in U. S. leadership; 2) Add prestige to Yeltsin's besieged but friendly government, and 3) Lay the groundwork of personal contact.


Forget about Mikhail Gorbachev. It's time that someone in the White House realized that Russia's most famous private citizen speaks for few in Russia. There are at least 50 figures in Russia more influential than the former leader of the Soviet Union. Get to know them. Send Gorbachev a Christmas card once a year.


Appoint a long-term ambassador. Bob Strauss brought with him the kind of new thinking needed to bring a Cold War embassy into the New World Order, but Russia now needs an ambassador with a knowledge of the country who is also willing to put in a long stay. Don't relegate this decision to the political spoils


Listen to Ambassador Strauss regarding aid. His arguments about a dollar spent now returning many more down the road are not simplifications, just simple truths. The last nine, painful months of economic reform could not have been better scripted if the U. S. government had written it itself.


But with unemployment rising, inflation running in the triple and possibly quadruple digits and the ruble setting record lows weekly, the social cost of reform is threatening to become a brake on the process the United States has a stake in encouraging. Send the country real aid, not pork barrel entitlements or, worse, a photo opportunity.


Forget about the commies. Russian politics is not about commies versus anti-commies.


Every other Western nation seems to have grasped this, yet U. S. policy is still driven by an urge to keep communists out of power.


The political spectrum here is a rainbow, so stop seeing everything as blue or red.