By Waller, J. Michael
Insight on the News , Vol. 16, No. 38
A new report released by the Speaker's Advisory Group on Russia shows that the Clinton administration's policy toward Russia, led by Al Gore, has been a major disaster.
After eight years of Clinton policies designed to woo both Moscow and Beijing, the United States is the odd man out." That's a sober conclusion from the Speaker's Advisory Group on Russia, a congressional panel assessing the effects of U.S. policy toward the former Soviet Union.
Insight obtained an advance copy of the report, Russia's Road to Corruption: How the Clinton Administration Exported Government Instead of Free Enterprise and Failed the Russian People. This Insight article is the first analysis of the entire text of the 183-page report.
Even before the report's Sept. 20 release, Democrats were sniping at it as a cheap Republican political attack on Al Gore. Connecticut Rep. Sam Gejdenson, ranking Democrat on the House International Relations Committee, led the charge, calling it "an election-year gimmick devoid of substance" Gejdenson declared in a prepared statement, "This is a political hatchet job, nothing more," even though aides admitted to Insight that the Congressman had not read it. "This is a partisan report not worth the taxpayer-provided paper it's written on" claimed Gore campaign spokesman Douglas Hattaway who hadn't read it either.
Rep. Christopher Cox, the California Republican who chairs the Speaker's Advisory Group on Russia, counters, "They criticized it as partisan before they read it. But it is the book-end to the administration policy."
House Banking Committee Chairman Jim Leach of Iowa, a member of the Speaker's panel and one of the least partisan of House Republicans, adds, "I will tell all of you that there would be no greater dereliction of duty of Congress than not to assess important foreign-policy events."
Not surprisingly, reputed Russian gangster-tycoon Boris Berezovsky "scoffed" at the report during a Sept. 20 Council on Foreign Relations speech in New York, the Associated Press reported. According to AP, Berezovsky rejected the idea that the administration "allowed corruption to flourish," and he "defended President Clinton and the U.S. point man on Russian policy, Vice President Al Gore."
As its subtitle suggests, the Cox report is more of an analysis of the policies of the Clinton administration as a whole than an attack on the vice president. But Gore is fair game, the report argues, because of the dominant role he played in developing policy and running the day-to-day relationship with Russia.
Gore set himself up by claiming success after Russian policy success. While willing to take the credit for victories -- even for victories which were either Republican initiated or supported, such as the Nunn-Lugar program to dismantle obsolete Russian strategic-weapons delivery systems, signed by President Bush -- Gore and his supporters cry foul when fixed with responsibility for failures of their own making.
And the new House report lays plenty of blame at Gore's feet: from pushing policies that exacerbated Russia's economic and social woes, to taxpayer boondoggles that funded Russian corruption and organized crime, to turning a blind eye to Russian weapons proliferation to Iran, Iraq and China and failing to follow policies that would have made Russia less resistant to creation of a U.S. defense against nuclear missiles.
House Speaker Dennis Hastert of Illinois created the advisory group in March to assess the results of U.S. policy toward Russia during the Yeltsin era. Comprised of the chairmen of the main House panels dealing with Russia, the advisory group painstakingly documents Russia's internal conditions during the Soviet collapse and the highly productive, positive relations with Washington in 1993, when the Clinton administration came to power.
Gore campaign spokesman Hattaway says the report is riddled with "incomplete source materials" and "vituperative language. …