Clinton’s Strategic Failures In Russia

by J. Michael Waller, Ph.D.
American Foreign Policy Council
Washington, D.C.
May, 1996

Strategic nuclear modernization: Russia has more nuclear warheads in 1996 than when Clinton took office. Moscow is channeling its scarce resources into developing new generations of strategic weapons and delivery systems, including intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), air-launched cruise missiles (ALCMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), strategic missile-firing submarines, and a strategic bomber with stealth features. Top Russian military leaders have publicly called for modernization of first-strike weapons systems.

Arms control violations: Moscow is violating nearly all its arms control agreements, including the Biological Weapons Convention, various chemical weapons accords, the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, START, the Missile Technology Control Regime, agreements on transparency of fissile material storage and weapons dismantling, and possibly the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

Espionage: The FBI and British and German counterintelligence report that Russian espionage against the West continues at Cold War levels. Moscow continues to mount what an aide to Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Arlen Specter calls “arguably the most significant foreign intelligence operation ever mounted in the United States”-the SIGINT facility in Lourdes, Cuba. Over the past eight months, Yeltsin has instructed the GRU and former KGB to step up operations against NATO.

Terrorism: While Clinton praises Moscow for its commitment to fight terrorism, Moscow is renewing its old ties to terrorist Middle Eastern regimes and building new ones. Russian intelligence is training Iranian intelligence officers. Iraqi intelligence continues its surrogate service for the former KGB. Moscow is trying to lift U.N. sanctions against Iraq for the invasion of Kuwait and its refusal to come clean on weapons of mass destruction programs, and works aggressively to lift U.N. sanctions against Libya for the 1988 bombing of an American jumbo jet over Lockerbie, Scotland. Russia is also renewing military relations with Syria.

Nuclear proliferation: Russia’s transfer of nuclear technology and training to Iran has been well publicized, as has its transfers to the People’s Republic of China.

Military ties to PRC: Moscow’s military relations with Peking are warming and include transfer of high-tech weapons, including submarines and technology applicable to strategic modernization.

Organized crime: The Russian government has covered up large-scale money laundering and other criminal operations by top former Communist Party officials. Its secret services have refused to cooperate with parliamentary investigators. Many argue that Russia’s largest organized crime problem is the government itself.

NATO expansion: The Clinton administration has allowed Russia to veto NATO expansion, and has remained silent about threats by top Russian officials to take military action against Central and East European countries, particularly Atomic Energy Minister Mikhailov’s threat to use nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, the Russian Federation appears to be expanding westward.

Economic entrenchment of nomenklatura and KGB: Privatization has been hijacked by the nomenklatura and former KGB. The Washington Post reported last July: “The commanding heights of the [Russian] economy are now controlled by former Communist Party and KGB officials, who used official connections to amass enormous power and wealth.” The Clinton administration considers privatization to be the crown jewel of its Russia reform policy.

Human rights: The State Department reports that human rights conditions are deteriorating in Russia. Religious persecution has begun again. Belarus appears to be a preview of things to come.

Democratization: Very little U.S. assistance has gone to promote democratization in Russia. Pro-Western democratic groups have been undermined. The administration rallied behind Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin when he created his nomenklatura Our Home Is Russia party, a coalition designed specifically to include communists and nationalists and exclude pro-Western democrats.

Cash transfers: U.S.-backed cash transfers to the Russian Central Bank, in the form of International Monetary Fund loans, have been inversely proportional to the progress of reform. IMF funding went from $1.1 billion in 1992 to $10.1 billion in 1996. In a letter to Rep. Gerry Solomon on March 22, 1996, Clinton wrote: “the IMF program creates economic incentives for Russia to act responsibly and furthers this Administration’s goal of promoting an open, democratic, market-oriented Russia.”

-written by Dr. J. Michael Waller, American Foreign Policy Council, 1521 16th St. NW, Washington, DC 20036. Archives of other papers by Dr. Waller are available at the American Foreign Policy Council web site at

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.