PRAVDA.Ru corespondent met with Russia's famous political commentator Valentin Zorin, the host of several popular TV programs. Valentin Zorin interviewed prominent political leaders like John Kennedy, Charles de Gaulle, Indira Gandhi, Helmut Kohl, Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Bill Clinton, Perez de Cuellar, Henry Kissinger and other top leaders of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushev, Yury Andropov, Mikhail Gorbachev. At present, Valentin Zorin is a political commentator of the state-run radio Golos Rossii, the first deputy chairman of the Peace and Consent Federation (former Soviet Peace Protection Committee), the president of the International non-governmental organization Intervidenie, the chairman of board of the Prometei-AST TV company.
Why Russia's opinion isn't taken into consideration? Why is there only one superpower left?
I wouldn't say so that opinion of Russia is not taken into consideration. If we develop the idea we might also say that positions of Germany, France, China and India are not taken into consideration, while these countries make up half of mankind. And it is not right to say that Russia has become some kind of Cinderella, the political authority of the country is still great even under the present-day critical situation. when US President George W. Bush strictly criticized Chirac's policy, he at the same time emphasized his respect toward Russia President Vladimir Putin; he speaks about the necessity to preserve relations between the countries, but he does it after the war has been already started. So, Americans acted so not because they disrespected Russia, although there is still some truth in the question you've asked. While there were two superpowers and the Soviet Union was equal to the USA at least regarding the military potential, Washington would have never acted so recklessly as it is doing now. The break-up of the Soviet Union certainly made easier US's realization of what will go down in history as "Bush's doctrine" (probably, with minus but still): the USA can proceed with discretion. It is good if the UN and the world community agree with them, but if they don't, the USA can do perfectly well even without them. Until recently, the idea was declared just rhetorically. Ideologists, politicians and the leadership are at present anxious about importance of an attempt to put into practice ideas of the only superpower, the superpower that disregards all laws. This is the first attempt to act as an actually only superpower that can live as it sees it. To my mind, it is a historical mistake because it is unrealistic not to take into consideration the international public opinion, that this policy has split NATO, US's support in Europe. It is a mistake to disregard the fact that powerful countries that are the center of might, no matter whether Washington wants it or not, that they are now on the opposite side. I wouldn't dare to predict further development of the situation in the nearest weeks and months. But it is no doubt that from the point of view of the international political process Americans have made a mistake, and they will have to pay a lot for the mistake, no matter what is to happen next in Iraq.
Do you think Russia enjoys equal rights with other participants of the struggle with international terrorism? Or is its role secondary?
Probably, attempts will be made to give Russia an auxiliary role. But on the other side, there are some problems in today’s world that the USA won't be able to settle alone, no matter what officials in Washington say. Let's take the problem of terrorism for example. I'm afraid that Americans may soon see it on the US territory. Terrorism is not an enemy that can be defeated employing the methods of WWI and WWII. Terrorism is scary for its universal penetrability. Some separate kamikazes can strike blows, and they are not people with whom negotiations can be held. This is one of the several global problems that cannot be settled neither with the help of high-precision weapons, nor with military and economic potential. This problem cannot be settled on one's own, but only by common efforts. Now Americans rate struggle with terrorism second important, they are trying to show the Iraqi war is a war against terrorism, however they cannot present any proofs of the fact. They desired to obtain facts proving that Saddam Hussein was connected with al-Qaeda and terrorists, but there are no relations of this kind at all. The war in Iraq is America's war against Iraq, not against terrorism; this war may have an inverse effect and result in outbreak of terrorism. The unstable situation in the Middle East and active Islamic fundamentalism are a solid basis for recruiting of more and more terrorists. The action in Iraq doesn't intensify, but eases the struggle with terrorism. And America will be the first to reap the sad fruits of its aggression in Iraq. This is one of the most serious errors committed by Washington. It seems to be a nice opportunity to remember what Talleyrand, the greatest diplomat of the history, said when Napoleon ordered to kill one of the Bourbons: "It was worse than a crime, it was a mistake." I have been studying the USA for several decades already, I met all presidents. I am sure that George W. Bush will go down in history not the way he intended to.
Do you think it is the same mistake that Lyndon Johnson committed when he introduced troops in Vietnam?
Lyndon Johnson was a brave man, he was the only leader who, being on the top of his might, still quitted political scene on his own will. Nixon was forced to quit under the threat of impeachment, Kennedy was removed with the help of a sniper, but Johnson quitted himself as he realized that his policy went to pieces and reached a deadlock. I am afraid that George W. Bush cannot do so.
What is your forecast concerning the roles of the UN and Russia?
We speak not only about the fate of the UN, but about the whole of the international law system created after WWII. It includes creation of the United Nations Organization, the Nuremberg Tribunal which stated the basic regulations of the international law; the system also means a great number of international treaties and agreements that define the international legal system of today's world. The present-day situation poses a danger not only to the UN, but to the whole of the international law system. As Russia President Vladimir Putin says, it is an attempt to substitute the right of the law with the right of the power. Preservation of the UN is the top priority objective of the international community. The objective necessity of its preservation is still evident. I suppose that very soon Americans themselves will be in a deadlock similar to the international isolation; in this situation they will appeal to the UN themselves. By the way, the UN Charter is to be amended. It was compiled in 1945 under quite different circumstances; some of its regulations do not correspond the reality. Improvement of the Charter is a very difficult process which has a perspective.
Do you think that Russia has done everything possible to maintain peace?
I think that Russian diplomats have done everything possible. We don't know why Eyugeny Primakov went to Baghdad. The world press reported that as far as he knew Saddam Hussein perfectly well, he tried to persuade him to leave the country, not express his support to the Iraqi leader. We have done everything we could, as well as France President Chirac and German Chancellor Schroeder. When a bull goes wild, it is difficult to stop it. It may sound cynically, but the bull should be given a chance to smash its forehead. I am sure that Washington will achieve its momentarily goal, and Saddam will be overthrown. What Washington is doing now reminds me of a chess game performed by an inexperienced player who just knows that the pawn moves E2-E4. The first move, overthrowing of Saddam Hussein has been accomplished, but Washington didn’t count what further consequences, political and economic, the USA will face.
Is your opinion that both, Bush and Hussein, were wrong?
As for Saddam Hussein, he has been wrong for 30 years already since he came to power in Iraq and introduced tyranny that cost the country a lot. We know similar regimes from history. Slobodan Milosevic, whose politics resulted in the break up of a prosperous and influential country, is now at a trial in the Hague Tribunal. I think that Saddam Hussein is a leader of this kind. The past ten years of economic blockade is too high payment for Hussein's ambitions to create a great Arab state. As for George W. Bush, the war is a gross error. Ex-president of the USA Bill Clinton also said that the incumbent president committed a mistake. I know Clinton, he would have played this game quite differently.
What should Russia do on the international scene? Are we to be pragmatic with respect to the USA and the Arab world, or we should try to please both?
I support position of Russia President Vladimir Putin who says that foreign policy of the country must be based upon Russia's interests. In the Soviet era, the policy of the country was determined by ideology. At that, we caused ourselves a great political and economic damage. At present, the policy is to be based on the national interests of the Russian state. Everything that agrees with these interests is a right policy, everything that contradicts them is wrong, the rest is tactics.
Is it possible that the Iraqi war will give up for lost the idea of joint Europe creation and deliver a blow against Russia?
I think that the war may drag the process to some extent. But the deep changes that are going on in Europe are caused by the objective course of events, that is why such san episodes as the Iraqi war cannot break the tendencies. There is a number of problems that will make the incumbent and future governments of the USA get back to using common efforts for fighting terrorism. Some influential scientists say that if serious measures are not taken in the nearest time, mankind will die not because of a war, but because the environment will be liquidated. There are still disputes concerning the fate when it may happen, in decades or hundreds of years. It is impossible to prevent destruction of the environment with efforts of one country only. There are tens of problems that require joining of efforts. If we look on the problem on a global scale, we can say that the Iraqi war is a sad, but still an episode which may drag or weaken some processes, but won't influence the basic process.
Is it possible that a war may break out between the Moslem and the Christian worlds?
I think it's a fantasy. There is no single Moslem world. Now actions of the USA concern all Moslems. But it is not the extremist part of Moslems that is the most influential there. That is why it is an advantageous thesis of a PR-campaign to say that a war between the two civilizations may break out.
May the non-aligned states become a future counterbalance to the US hegemony in the world, or it is also unreal?
My opinion is that the term non-aligned countries is outdated, it belonged to the cold war era when opposition of two superpowers was meant. Some countries were on the US's side, some joined the USSR, and the third countries remained non-aligned. Nowadays, the situation is different, there are no non-aligned countries. The problem is that very influential powers in the world will resist Washington's unrealistic policy to act alone and at discretion. The Roman Empire times cannot be back. The world is multi-polar now. opinions of China, India, Europe and Russia must be taken into consideration.
What way-out do you suggest in this deadlock situation?
I cannot speak about any way-out as the war is going on. When Saddam Hussein is overthrown, other problems will arise, and the USA won't be able to settle the problems alone. The US war machine cannot be stopped now, I think. It is an outdated measure to appeal to the UN to stop the war. It supposes joint efforts of the world community after Americans face problems that are inevitable in this situation. The US economy is experiencing hard times: specialists say that war spending makes up $80 billion which is quite a burden even for the American economy. Ending of the war after Saddam is overthrown is going to be even more expensive. America sees it is a hard burden and will resume cooperation with other countries.
The interview was held by