ONLY five weeks ago, President Bush was in the Soviet Ukraine,
warning against "suicidal nationalism" and applauding Soviet
President Mikhail Gorbachev's plan to revitalize the Soviet Union.
Today, one political earthquake later, the United States is
seeking to inject a sense of order into its dealings with what is
now sometimes called "the former Soviet Union."
Though the Bush administration maintains a special admiration for
President Gorbachev, the recent upheaval has forced an acceleration
of the administration's year-long strategy of diversifying its
relations with pro-reform leaders in a variety of Soviet republics.
And it has forced a flexibility in dealing with the fluid situation.
Secretary of State James Baker III will travel to Moscow next
week to attend a long-scheduled international human-rights
conference. The trip also gives him an opportunity to assess the
scene himself as well as explain in person the five principles that
will guide the US approach to the dissolution of the USSR - and to
recommend that the Soviet republics (excluding the Baltics) follow
the same guidelines as they re-configure their relationships with
one another and with the central authority.
In a press conference Wednesday, Mr. Baker said that "if the
developments in the Soviet Union proceed in accordance with the five
principles ... we will continue to work toward cooperation with the
Soviet Union and with the republics thereof."
In making that statement, Baker is dangling a carrot in front of
the Soviets: emergency humanitarian aid if needed, longer-term
economic assistance, and technical aid in setting up long-term
Conditions for aid
The five principles Baker outlined are:
1. That the future of the Soviet Union is for the Soviet peoples
to determine themselves peacefully and democratically, and in
accordance with the principles of the Helsinki Final Act.
2. That existing Soviet borders within the union and with other
countries be respected. "Any change of borders should occur only
legitimately by peaceful and consensual means," Baker said.
Though some Soviet borders were arbitrarily determined and
artificially divide certain ethnic groups, US analysts agree that
for the sake of stability all borders should be treated as inviolate
at least for now.
3. Support for democracy, the rule of law and "peaceful change
only through orderly democratic processes, especially the processes
of elections. …