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Joint Plan Links Western Aid with Soviet Economic Reforms

Harvard University Gazette

May 24, 1991

A team of top Soviet economists and American scholars met at Harvard this week to develop a joint plan that includes a program to move the Soviet Union toward democracy and a market economy and a program of substantial Western cooperation.

Led by Professor Graham Allison and Grigory Yavlinsky, deputy prime minister of the Russian Federation until his resignation last November, the group met at the Kennedy School of Government. Yavlinsky, principal author of the Soviet Union's 500 Day Plan, also delivered a public address Wednesday on the topic "Will the Soviet Union Survive?"

Allison said at a press conference at the Kennedy School on Monday that the team was looking for aid on a "Marshall-Plan scale," amounting to Western aid ranging from $15 billion to $30 billion a year for several years. "Right now this is a learning moment in the Soviet Union," said Allison. "This is a window of opportunity that may not always be open."

Allison described the effort as a "the Grand Bargain" between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

"Simply put, our joint program consists of initiatives the Soviet governments - the center and the republics - would take to move rapidly to democracy and a free market economy as the essential foundation of sustainable democracy," said Allison. "Simultaneously, there are actions the U.S. and its allies would take to motivate, enable, and facilitate these Soviet initiatives."

At the news conference, Yavlinksy said that President Gorbachev. Russian President Yeltsin, President Nazerbazev of Kazakhstan and others stressed upon his departure their interest in and support for the joint effort. Participants in the Yavlinsky and Allison groups are acting in a private capacity. Allison and Yavlinsky met with leaders last week in Moscow.

A forthcoming article in the June issue of Foreign Affairs by Allison and Robert Blackwill, a faculty member at the Kennedy School and former member of President Bush's National Security Council, argues that the Soviet Union shares with the U.S. a "fundamental common interest in avoiding the violent disintegration of the Soviet Union" into chaos and civil wars. "In fact, no single event in postwar history would pose such high and uncontrollable risks of nuclear war," they said.

"However, there is a program of action the Soviet Union could undertake, with significant Western cooperation, that could plausibly avoid this violent outcome and instead effectively support the evolution of economic and political democracy in the U.S.S.R.," they added.

The Yavlinsky team brought with it an initial draft of its program for the Soviet Union, a version of which was presented to Soviet President Gorbachev last week. Allison has provided Yavlinsky's group with an outline of a program for Western cooperation. This week the Joint Working Group will examine each other's first drafts, focusing on the concept with which Yavlinsky and Allison began: the strategic interaction between the actions each government takes. Allison and Yavlinsky will also present their proposals to officials of the United States and other countries.

The Working Group is a project of the Strengthening Democratic Institutions at the Kennedy School of Government, and is funded by the Carnegie Corp. American members include Kennedy School faculty member Robert Blackwill (who served as President Bush's special assistant for the Soviet Union and Western Europe until last September), M.I.T. Professor Stanley Fischer (former chief economist for the World Bank), and Harvard Professor Jeffrey Sachs (adviser to Solidarity in Poland).