[home page][map of the server][news of the server][forums][publications][Yabloko's Views]

Channel One TV, "Vremena" programme, March 30, 2003

Russian experts on the situation around Iraq

Anchor - Vladimir Pozner.

Guest experts:

Vladimir Lukin, Deputy Speaker of the State Duma (the YABLOKO faction), Sergei Karaganov, foreign policy expert, Head of the Defence and Foreign Policy Council and former ambassador, Aleksandr Bovin, political commentator, former RF ambassador to Israel

Pozner: The war will be protracted. Clearly Rumsfeld's plans are not going as planned...What do you think? How will events develop? Can you say how long the war will last? What outcome of the war in Iraq will suit Russia?

Karaganov: Now it is possible to say that the Americans have lost the propaganda war and political war. Consequently they changed their plans and launched a ground attack instead of mass bombing. They have been proved wrong in their forecasts, as they ignored everybody who said that the Iraqis would resist. I think the war will last at least two or three months. Then there will be a long and painful period, when there will be guerrilla operations and suicide bombers and the like. We now face a totally different situation. And we need urgently to change and reconsider our policy...

Pozner: So what would be the best outcome for Russia: what sequence of events would benefit Russia, if the scenario put forward by Sergei Karaganov were to prove to be correct?

Lukin: We need to think and must not become emotional. It is not Russia's war. We are not particularly interested in the regime in Iraq after the war. We should not be emotionally attached to Saddam Hussein's regime, unlike some of our friends on the Left.

It should be noted that America has, through its actions, lowered the threshold for launching a military campaign. This threshold was psychologically fairly high until recently. America has lowered it...

It is in Russia's interests to raise the threshold again. In this sense we are by no means indifferent to domestic developments in America after the war. Will we see something akin to the Vietnam syndrome? You also had the Lebanon syndrome. Remember how in 1983 President Reagan sent troops to Lebanon. There they lost something like 260 men, and he pulled them out. And the Lebanon syndrome lasted for quite a long time. So we are interested in seeing a minimum number of victims during the war, but also a relatively protracted and problematic war for the initiators of the conflict. So that we see something like the Vietnam syndrome.

Need to avoid anti-Americanism

Pozner: Aleksandr Yevgeniyevich Bovin . I don't know about you, but I gain the impression when I look at the newspapers and TV and put on the radio that people are rejoicing, albeit not overtly, at the misfortunes of the US. Will we benefit is America is defeated in this war?

Bovin: Of course, not. This is silly and this will not happen. Of course, America will win. And the quicker this happens the better, as less blood will be shed. Everything else is beside the point. We won't get the USD40 billion in debts owed by Iraq to Russia back whatever happens, whether Saddam beats America or not...

The greatest misfortune is that we are driving our own people God knows where. The anti-American syndrome is attributable to the fact that we were taught for 70 years that America was our main enemy...

Pozner: How far have relations with the USA being seriously damaged?

Lukin: I think that relations have been damaged compared to their status before the Iraqi war. They have suffered psychologically. You can sense a different kind of chemistry, as the Americans themselves say. Before there was a pleasant chemistry, now it is, if not confrontational, then cold and reserved, indeed more cold than reserved. The duration of this attitude will depend on how our government and the US government control, so to speak, the chemistry. I think that, first and foremost, it is extremely important for America and us not to sever relations.

I still think that the Iraqi war is an episode in strategy, where we should cooperate and where we will cooperate...A partnership with the USA is in our vital interests, and is inevitable

Karaganov: Relations with the USA have not been seriously damaged so far. Dialogue is still going on. However, there are problems which could deteriorate, if we don't pursue a policy that is clear both for ourselves and our current opponents in the USA. By the way, I don't know what their policy is, as it is now fundamentally confused. However, that is their problem, not ours. The situation will also deteriorate if we do not seek a way-out for the Americans, for ourselves and for the Iraqis, if we adhere to a policy that says the worse things are the better. Such a policy is, in principle, logical for the Americans. But this is a totally bloodthirsty policy. It would mean more Iraqi deaths. The better things go for the Americans, the better things will be for the world...

And the longer the war goes on the longer the current mistrust and tension will continue to build up between our two countries. We need damage limitation. And in the coming months we need to coordinate our policy, which in my opinion has not been coordinated that well.


See also:

Situation Around Iraq

Channel One TV, "Vremena" programme, March 30, 2003

[home page][map of the server][news of the server][forums][publications][Yabloko's Views]