- (ZAVTRA) -- The Russian intelligence-linked weekly "Zavtra"
publishes, in its latest edition, the transcript of a round table discussion
on the world situation since Sept 11 of last year.
- Participants were "Zavtra" deputy editor Alexander
Nagorny, strategic analyst General Leonid Ivashov, financial expert Mikhael
Khazin, the well-known Russian television commentator Mikhail Leontyev
and former high-level KGB official Leonid Shebarshin.
- The discussion contains interesting elements, on how
relatively well-placed Russian observers are thinking about the present
situation. Here are some excerpts (quotes in quotation marks, the rest
- Ivashov: Sept 11 was an internal operation in the United
States. It is necessary to recognize two forces operating in the U.S.,
"that have two different conceptions on using the military power of
the U.S. to create a world empire."
- "The first... wants the U.S. as a powerful nation.
The second, the world financial elite ... considers that the U.S. must
be subjugated to the world empire, whose time has come.... It is not an
accident, that many Western commentators speak of Sept 11 as an attempted
coup d'etat... The force that gave the order [for the attacks], I believe,
is connected with the world financial mafias, having representatives in
the power structures of the USA, including the intelligence and special
- "It is also no accident, that parallel with the
investigation of the Sept. 11 attack, investigations are going on concerning
the activities of a number of other structures, including the Mossad, within
the U.S. intelligence community.... I believe the ongoing events in the
U.S. will develop out of the conflict between these two forces.
- "What unites them, is the necessity to use the military
power of the U.S. to crash down the boundaries of sovereign states....
Behind this is the various geopolitical theories of Huntington, Brzezinski,
- "Evidently the U.S. feels under itself under a tight
time limit for securing control over world resources and political power
in most countries... Why the hurry? Because, firstly, China is growing,
secondly, the Arab occident is consolidating itself, thirdly, a rather
powerful development is going on in Southeast Asia. Russia's position is
- "The present state of Russia satisfies these U.S.
interests, but what will be tomorrow, is not clear.... Thus, the U.S. is
now at a transition point. She has come to the climax of her military-power
adventures for grabbing power over the planet. I think this peak will be
crossed in 1 1/2 to 2 years, after which the USA will retract from its
positions as a result of economic problems. I think the attack on Iraq
will occur. I think Iran will be drawn into the confrontation, and it should
not be excluded, that Israel will participate.... After that, U.S. policy
will disintegrate under the influence of the economic and social-political
collapse inside the U.S.. One has the feeling, that the financial oligarchy
in power on this planet are not interested in maintaining the U.S. population
at its present living standard...."
- Mikhael Khazin drew a direct connection between the war
threat and the unprecedented "structural crisis of the U.S. economy",
for which the Administration has no solution. The only scenario for staving
off a catastrophic financial-economic collapse in the U.S., would be a
drastic reduction in the domestic oil prices inside the U.S., perhaps together
with a sharp increase of oil prices for other countries.
- "America needs prices in the range of $12-13 per
barrel... or even down to $7 per barrel. This is possible only under one
condition: getting full control over the petroleum resources of Iraq and
Saudi Arabia. Isn't that what we are seeing? .. For this there is a limit
of 4-6 months. ... Certainly, there are the factions Ivashov mentioned,
but without objective economic causes, no global events would occur. Now
global economic causes have emerged again: The situation in the U.S. economy
has become intolerable. It is obvious, that Sept. 11 was prepared by many
forces. Sept 11 occurred at a moment, when their interests coincided...."
- Khazin also said he thinks the option of use of tactical
nuclear weapons is part of the U.S. war plan, and would have the purpose
of terrifying the whole world, showing the U.S. would stop at nothing.
- On the other hand, with obvious reference to Bush and
the whole leadership situation in the U.S. Khazin remarked: "The present
big weakness of the U.S., is the fact, that in the middle of a really critical
situation, the people in power are all small-minded. This is exactly the
way it was in the USSR. Many talk about Gorbachov as a criminal, and American
agent, etc.. But he didn't voluntarily give up power. He simply didn't
think through what was really going on. The stature of this figure did
not match up to the position he held. In a normal situation this is not
so disastrous, but in a critical situation it makes things many times worse."
- Mikhael Leontyev made some of the most interesting comments,
particularly given his notorious influence on Russian public opinion and
his closeness to certain "Russian oligarch" interests as well
as sections of the Russian government. Leontyev noted:
- "In fact, the U.S. really is in a systemic, structural
crisis, not only of economic, but also of social character. Qualitatively
speaking, this crisis reminds us of the crisis of the Soviet Union at the
beginning of the 1980s. At that time few people realized how quickly the
country would disintegrate. Today in America, as in the USSR then, the
elite is either not able, or at least does not demonstrate the capability
for getting out of the crisis with the old methods.... What happened on
Sept. 11 was necessary for a transition to other, new methods.... The battle
between two groups in the U.S., the `military force' group and the `isolationists'
have taken on a brutal character. The `isolationists' are interested in
saving the U.S. economy and industry. They think the U.S. should concentrate
on its own problems, and that it, for example, should carry out a controlled
devaluation of the dollar. They think the U.S. does not need world hegemony,
but only a system of regional gendarms. The whole new policy toward Russia
expresses this. ..
- "[But] at the moment, the `military force' group
is winning... their tactics are strengthened by a stronger understanding
of the depth of the crisis in the U.S. economy and not only in the economy....
The military power group wants to exploit the unique area, where they have
an overwhelming advantage and no competitors -- in the military-political
sphere.... There is a great danger of explosive developments, of an uncontrollable
evolution of the situation. One thing is massive air bombardments [of Iraq]
without major losses to the U.S.. A very different thing would be a ground
operation, which could last a long time. In that case the situation would
get worse and worse, and the internal struggle between different groups
inside the U.S. would constantly grow. ... It would be completely unrealistic
to try to predict what will happen. The important thing is to define the
algorithm for Russia's reaction.... We need a fundamental shift in the
internal policy of Russia. Today we basically have no domestic economic
policy.... We must go to an economic policy of growth, based on maximum
utilization of internal resources, in order to prepare ourselves for the
damage, that will be connected with the global crisis which is practically
- Alexander Nagorny: There is a big internal fight in the
U.S.... "but nevertheless, it appears that the decision for a military
operation has been taken... The worsening of the economic situation in
the USA plus the growth of social unrest practically insures losses by
the Republicans in the midterm elections, and 2004 is approaching fast...
My scenario is rather categorical: the bombardment of Iraq will necessarily
begin in September and a ground operation would have to begin soon before
the midterm elections on November 2, in order to get Democrats to support
it... If the U.S. could install a "liberation regime" in Bagdad,
this would create a whole new situation in the Middle East... Only a change
in the Saudi regime would guarantee the room for financial-economic moanouver
for the U.S., that Khazin mentioned. But all of this could lead to a huge
war, involving Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, Israel...."
- Leonid Shebarshin: The U.S. made a demonstration of its
power in Afghanistan. She overwhelmed the Taliban, "put in her chosen
Prime Minister, gave him 72 bodyguards, established an island of stability.
Already, people are talking about a U.S. presence in Afghanistan of 5-10
years, and maybe longer.
- "Another important result: "the Americans used
Afghanistan to take over the positions of the former Soviet Union in Central
Asia. They got very good bases in Kirgistan, bases in Tadjikistan, agreements
with Uzbekistan, pressure on Kazakhstan. I think we are looking at preparations
for a serious confrontation with China, which is turning into a strategic
issue. We are seeing the same approach with China, as earlier with the
Soviet Union... China is already surrounded by a whole chain of major military
bases, in Central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the taking over of the former
Russian base in Vietnam, the base in Okinoawa; plus, Russia is being drawn
into the NATO structure. .. This is the more long-term perspective. At
the moment, after the `triumphal' victory in Afghanistan, the U.S. is launching
a new adventure: the war in Iraq. Afghanistan was a `limited operation',
although the firepower used there was collossal. Even in World War II it
never happened that such firepower was deployed to overrun a single, weak
opponent. ... But Iraq is not Afghanistan. Here there is a `50-50 situation'.
The U.S. might stumble, and it this happens, it could be the beginning
of a total collapse. Everything could disintegrate, just as the Soviet
Union disintegrated, when in just four days, the whole state ceased to
- Nagorny remarked to this: "The myth of supposed
omnipotence of the U.S. military-political machine has already been overcome.
We saw the Hollywood movies, and everyone there is convinced that Schwarzenegger
could defeat a whole army just by himself. But the Americans are just as
much idiots as we were..."