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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Many Rhodes To a Clinton Russia Policy

This week's Russian crisis rates about a four on the Richter scale of the American media. It failed to make as many front pages as the reports from the shopping malls that business was good over the Thanksgiving weekend. The fate of Russian reform is not as sexy as it used to be for the American media.


But the good news is the reason why Boris Yeltsin's confrontation with the conservatives with the Congress of People's Deputies rates as high as a four on my makeshift Richter scale. Time magazine devoted more than half its issue to a special report on Russia's winter of discontent.


And the reason why that is good news for Boris Yeltsin is that Time magazine is the direct line to the attention of President-elect Bill Clinton.


That grand old British imperialist Cecil Rhodes is responsible. In 1899 Rhodes set the scholarship program to bring 32 bright young Americans to study at Britain's Oxford University every year. Rhodes's statement of purpose, as recorded at Rhodes House in Oxford, was "the ultimate recovery of the United States of America as an integral part of the British Empire".


Rhodes died a disappointed man. But his ghost sleeps easily this year, now that one of his scholars has finally made it to the White House. and Bill Clinton is taking a lot of other Rhodes Scholars with him, including his chief economic adviser Robert Reich from Harvard and his deputy head of domestic policy Bruce Reed.


But the Rhodes Scholar of particular concern to Russia is Strobe Talbott, one of Clinton's closest friends and the man responsible for the Time magazine special report.


"If the U. S. is going to reap domestic dividends from the end of the Cold War, Clinton must help Yeltsin prevail", Talbott argues. "The industrialized democracies, led by the U. S. , must assemble a more generous and potent package of emergency-assistance measures, including initiatives for Russia to climb back aboard the wagon of monetary and fiscal temperance".


A Time correspondent who has interviewed Leonid Brezhnev and Mikhail Gorbachev and Yeltsin, Talbott is a genuine expert on Russia. Hence the other thoughtful policy advice he passes on to his old college friend.


"The U. S. , the West Europeans and the United Nations must use their own considerable influence with newly-independent states to protect the rights of the Russian minorities there. Otherwise, Russia might take matters into its own heavy hands".


Clinton will have the State Department, the CIA, and the National Security Council all giving him advice on what to do about Russia. But the counsel he is likely to take most seriously comes from one of his oldest friends.