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BELOW THE SURFACE - BEYOND THE HORIZON: DÉTENTE OR SUBTERFUGE?

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The principle of no involvement was made the basis of international politics in 1945 by the Yalta and Potsdam agreements. These two international treaties divided the world into spheres of interest, the Western powers to exercise their influence on Western Europe and Japan, while the Soviet Union to become supreme in Eastern Europe, the Balkans, Poland and what we now call Eastern Germany. Indeed, defeated Germany was divided then into four occupation zones-U.S., British, French and Soviet. The three Western powers construed the Potsdam agreement to the effect that eventually the four zones would be reunited into a peace-loving, democratic state, following free elections.

The interpretation of the Soviet Union was a different one. Everywhere in its sphere of interest, police states were created, politics was brought under control of Communist dominated coalitions and later under the Communist party, while a program of Sovietization was carried out. The Western powers were not supposed to interfere in accordance with the principle of no involvement. The peoples of Poland, the Soviet Occupation Zone of Germany, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Rumania, were entrapped within the walls of Communism.

No involvement is mandatory only for the Western world; within the Communist-dominated sphere, involvement is very much the rule. When the workers of Berlin or the Hungarians revolted against the barbaric treatment of the authorities, or against anyone who even by far could be suspected of not being sympathetic to Communism, when the Czechoslovak nation wished to give a more human face to the regime, the Soviet leaders involved themselves with tanks, machine guns and by every means at their disposal to put down these attempts at freedom.

Historian Arnold Toynbee, in an article published in The Los Angeles Times ( June 24, 1973 ), stated that religion was "society's rock bottom basis." During my stay in Rumania after the war and ever since, I had ample opportunity to convince myself that religion was discouraged in Soviet dominated territories. I, as a rabbi, of course share Toynbee's judgment on the importance of religion for the survival of a free society; but even those who are not religious or who are agnostic, can persuade themselves of the deceit admitted as a means of international policy by the Communist rulers everywhere. Examples of such deceitful intentions abound. In Cuba, Krushchev was sending missiles capable of destroying American cities, while his ambassador went out of his way to assure President Kennedy of his country's peaceful intentions toward the United States.

Let us go back to what happened during the Hungarian uprising. When the Hungarians, under Premier Nagy, tried to free themselves from Russian occupation and forced the Russian army out of Hungary, the Hungarian chief of staff and his associates were called by the Russian army leaders on the pretext of negotiating a "peaceful settlement." The "peaceful negotiations" turned into imprisonment; the chief of staff and his associates were jailed and the Russian march into Budapest began. There was no leadership left to oppose organized resistance against the Russians.

To illustrate the sedation method copied from the Nazis by the Russians (or vice versa), I cite another example. Not too long ago Czechoslovakia was occupied by the Russians, and it came under their complete domination. Prior to the entry of Communist troops into that unhappy country, Russia made overtures of friendship to Premier Dubchek, head of the new movement of "socialism with a human face." The Russians agreed to send their representatives to meet with Dubchek on Czechoslovak territory at a small border town, named Cierna. The purpose of this visit was to convince the Czech people that the Russians had nothing but peaceful intentions toward them. To emphasize these intentions they asked for a second meeting to be held in the Slovak city of Bratislava. All these friendly gestures were aimed at lulling the Czechoslovak people into a sense of security; then, one day, the Russians mobilized the troops of their satellite countries, to give the occupation a semblance of common ideological action, and the small nation was invaded without encountering any resistance.

Now that Brezhnev is diligently working at dismantling the cold war and bringing about new relationships with the United States, I cannot help thinking of the ways by which they have circumvented all previous agreements to consolidate Communism worldwide. Not being a politician but a religious man, it is as such that I fear for this nation under God, bent upon trusting the given word even of a former adversary. Brezhnev served his apprenticeship in the same slaughterhouse as did Lenin, Stalin, Krushchev and Kosygin, and wields the same cleaver of tyranny handed down by his predecessors. Americans and Soviets interpreted the agreements concluded after the war in very different ways; for the former, they were to prepare for a free world, for the freedom of individuals and nations, while for the Communists they meant freedom from the interference by the Western powers, freedom to achieve their goals. These goals, there can be no doubt about it, are the abolition of the free choice of peoples to elect their leaders, the establishment of an anthill type of society worldwide. The present détente is, in my opinion, based on my life experience, but a subterfuge to get from the American people the technical help they urgently need; when the time is ripe, when Russia has received sufficient technological and economic assistance from us, when the Soviets no longer fear any danger to the Soviet Union, thanks to their overwhelming military superiority, then they will show their true face again. I shudder to think what that face will be.

Ancient history offers some analogies to the present world situation. The Talmud recorded a dialog between two great scholars who lived at the height of Greek influence in the Mediterranean and on the seacoast of Africa. Rabbis Eliezer and Joshua, two famous Jewish scholars of the time, once traveled together across the sea. Rabbi Eliezer found nothing interesting to see during their journey and he closed his eyes ever so often; Rabbi Joshua however, remained alert, reacting to every minute occurrence.

Suddenly Rabbi Joshua uttered a cry. Startled, Rabbi Eliezer asked him, "What is it that you see?" Rabbi Joshua said, "I see a large light above the waters." Rabbi Eliezer smiled and said, "Look at it a little closer. You will discover that the light you see is nothing but the glimmer of the enormous, avid eyes of the Leviathan that is eager to swallow everything smaller in size than itself."

The story is an allegory of the dispute that separated the two scholars in regard to their view of the situation of the world of their time.

Rabbi Eliezer was acquainted with the leaders of the important Greek states; he realized that under the guise of spreading Greek culture, they were bent upon conquering the smaller Greek colonies. He reflected bitterly and sarcastically upon the fact that even eminent men such as Rabbi Joshua could be so easily misled. The latter had seen the light on the surface but not what hid underneath. That light, the Hellenistic movement of the time, was indeed, admirable; but the ferocious appetite for conquest which it concealed caused bloody wars among the Greeks and was responsible for their ultimate defeat by the Romans.

That parable applies to the world situation today. Many exclaim enthusiastically, "What a wonderful light of international understanding rises on the horizon!" But Pravda, the official organ of the Russian Communist Party, comments, "Coexistence does not mean a discontinuation of the class struggle, only the renunciation of military methods."

Krushchev's boast, "We shall bury you!" still animates the leaders of the Soviet Union. The latter is basically hostile to the United States. It would like to see a weakening of American power and influence all over the world. The light on the horizon, optimistically called "détente," the meetings between American and Russian leaders, Brezhnev's visit to the United States, did not prevent Russia from pursuing a dangerous policy in the Middle East, one which once more brought the world to the brink of World War III. She poured, and is still pouring billions of dollars worth of armaments into the Arab states, not because of any love for the cause of the Arabs, but in order to realize her long-time aim, to acquire bases in the Mediterranean and to set foot in the Indian Ocean. Had the Arabs defeated Israel, had they succeeded in erasing the Jewish state, the Russians would be in a position to lay their hands on the world's oil resources and to dictate to Europe. They would have at the same time, secured their flanks and occupied an impregnable position in Asia. The stakes were high; the expected results justified the heavy expenses. While they thus armed the Arabs, they were speaking of detente and of peaceful coexistence. At a time when Bergen was posing for the photographers together with American leaders, the most sophisticated Russian arms were being delivered to Egypt and Syria, in order to enable the Russians to fight by proxy, by the pawns and puppets they were moving, for their ambitious interests.

The Soviet Union tried to deal a big blow to the United States by building up the Arabs and encouraging them to use their oil as a weapon. This too, happened while it preached detente and peaceful coexistence; one must wonder what would be its attitude toward us if the hawks in the Kremlin regained the upper hand they once had among the true rulers of the Soviet Union. At any rate, one cannot trust their reassurance of good intentions for there are signs that radical changes are being prepared in Soviet military and political leadership. The veteran chief of staff, Marshall V. Zakharov, formerly a figure of immense power and authority, was first retired and then died. His successor, General V. Kulikov, is a very able professional soldier. He is relatively young, in his early fifties, and he has surrounded himself by new military leaders as young or younger than himself.

The changing of the guard has been brought about by pressure exerted on the leadership by the hawks in the Kremlin. Just as Krushchev was unexpectedly removed soon after he had to give in to the ultimatum of President Kennedy during the Cuban crisis, so could Brezhnev and his supporters be removed overnight, and a new period of cold war could begin. The recent shaking up of Soviet military leadership does not augur well for the peaceful coexistence promised by the Soviet Union.

It was not a Westerner but Andrei Sakharov, a celebrated Soviet scientist, three times cited as Hero of Socialist Labor, a member of the prestigious Soviet Academy of Sciences, who issued the loudest warning to the West not to give technological assistance to the Soviet Union without forcing a change of the police system now prevailing in that country. At a press conference that has become of historical importance in the chronicles of the fight for human rights, Sakharov made the following statement:

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Sakharov added that the development of the industrial potential of a police state would not further the creation of a better world and the cause of international peace; on the contrary, it would threaten these aims. "It is strange," he said, "how long it takes people to realize that one values moral principles above material things. For a long time, the [Soviet] authorities evidently thought I was up in arms simply because of career dissatisfaction or living conditions."

Sakharov does not consider himself unpatriotic. On the contrary, he is imbued with a deep love of his country. For twenty years he worked on nuclear weapons because he believed that by making the Soviet Union stronger he would promote world peace. The warning uttered by him, quoted above, shows that his opinion has changed in this regard. He is now convinced that, as the Soviet Union acquires more powerful weapons, it will use them to foster not freedom but tyranny at home as well as abroad. Indeed the cause of freedom is indivisible: a regime based on the suppression of the human rights of its own citizens cannot be but a menace to the freedom of all peoples everywhere.

Andrei Sakharov is the foremost physicist of Russia; nevertheless, he has been vilified by public attacks on his person, harassed by the Secret Police. He has lost his position of President of the Academy of Sciences and was reduced to the rank of a simple research scientist which carries a salary assuring him bare survival. Sakharov has been invited to teach for a year at Princeton University; this prospect excites his imagination yet he does not dare to accept the offer. He is convinced that if he asked for, and were given permission to go to the United States, he would never get back to Moscow. He was told by the police that he would get his passport, but that his wife would have to remain. Sakharov refused. Sakharov's conviction regarding the fate he might expect once he has left his country is confirmed by what has happened to his friend and fellow-fighter, Alexander Solzhenitsyn. The latter's story and personality have become a legend in the Western world. He was a victim of Stalin, sent to concentration camps for many years, for having written in terms less than deferential of the Tyrant. Solzhenitsyn had cancer and was cured of it. He had come back from the deepest depth of misery; he cannot be intimidated anymore. His first novel, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch was published in Russia, in the euphoria created by the anti-Stalinist atmosphere that followed Krushchev's speech at the Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party; but his subsequent works, The First Circle and Cancer Ward, were no longer allowed to see the light of the day in his country. Indeed the new rulers of Russia realized that the situation he castigated in his writings continued to be prevalent under them, as it had been under Stalin. They feared and hated Solzhenitsyn, yet did not dare to imprison him or confine him in an insane asylum as they had done with other dissidents, for the Western world was alerted and they could not afford to flaunt world opinion at a time when they needed an era of a so-called détente to pursue their intricate and obscure schemes in their foreign policy. The last straw that put an end to their inaction concerning Solzhenitsyn was the latter's publication abroad of his latest book, The Gulag Archipelago, a documentary of Soviet crimes since the establishment of the Communist Empire in Europe. This documentary encompasses the mass murders committed by the Communists in Russia as well as their wanton killings and deprivation of the liberties of millions of human beings at home and abroad. The Gulag Archipelago confirms and supplements Sakharov's warnings on the connection between an increase of Soviet power and the menace of greater tyranny everywhere.

After the publication of this last of his books, Solzhenitsyn, as well known, was thrown out of his country and was deprived of his citizenship. This latest arbitrary act of the Soviet government actually pays homage to Solzhenitsyn, because it proves that the Soviet leaders know how unhappy Solzhenitsyn will be in exile, no matter how great his fame. Moreover, the leaders of the Soviet Union might have believed that by exiling him, Solzhenitsyn's voice will not reach the masses in his country, a foolish belief, I am convinced of it.

Americans might heed the words of these two courageous Russians. They know more than anyone else what it means to live in an unfree country. Sakharov and Solzhenitsyn constitute the latest spearhead of dissidents, victims of the society, intolerant of intellectual dissent, fearful of new ideas, suspicious of all that fails to conform with rigid, Communist Party dogma enforced by the power and the mentality of the secret police. The list of these dissidents is already long, though not well-known outside, and even inside the Soviet Union. Where is Andrei Amalrik, the brilliant young historian, author of Will the Soviet Union Survive Until 1984, a book translated into English, and widely circulated in the United States thanks to its diffusion by the Book-of-the-Month Club? Where are Grigorenko, Bukovsky, Ysenin-Volpin, and many others? Sakharov gave Western correspondents the names of several dissidents and of a half a dozen hospitals, which, he said, were used to punish people on criminal trial. He charged that doctors use a depressant drug, Halopyridol, to affect their minds.

"They can make insane people out of normal people," added Mrs. Sakharov, herself a physician, also present at the news conference.

"Let the presence of the Red Cross lead to the removal of the inhuman bars over the windows of Soviet prisons and stay the criminal hands that are injecting Halopyridol into Leonid Plyushch [a friend] in the hell of Dnepropetrovsk prison mental hospital," Sakharov said.

The scientist further charged that the mental diagnoses of many dissidents as insane are false and urged Western psychiatrists, who had gathered in Moscow for a convention, to investigate specific cases. If the Soviet government claims the dissidents are sick, they should be moved to Western hospitals for treatment, Sakharov declared.

One Western correspondent succeeded in obtaining a recording of the voices of Daniel and Sinyavski, sentenced to hard labor in an isolated camp somewhere in Siberia. The voices said that the two writers were ill and not receiving medical attention; in fact, they were dying.

Two of the dissidents, Pyotr Yakir, age fifty, a historian, and Viktor Krasin, forty-four, an economist, recently appeared on the brightly lighted stage of Moscow's journalists' Club to meet with Western newsmen. These two men had previously turned state's evidence at their secret trial, and were sentenced to three years in prison, to be followed by three years of enforced residence in a remote part of the country. (Such internal exile after the purging of his sentence by a condemned man is a Russian tradition continued since Czarist times.)

At that press conference, arranged by Soviet officials, Yakir, who once said that if he ever confessed to the secret police "it would not be the real me speaking," declared, in the presence of the first deputy prosecutor of the state, that "our activities were illegal because we knew we were breaking the law." Krasin said of their former struggle for civil rights, "We simply changed our minds."

That press conference was obviously held to warn Soviet citizens against unauthorized contacts with Western newsmen and to warn other prominent dissidents of their ultimate fate if they persisted in criticizing Soviet repression.

The trial and "confessions" of Yakir and Krasin signal a momentary triumph for the Kremlin's forces of conservative orthodoxy. However, Solzhenitsyn remained undaunted. He added an ugly postscript the next day to the public abasement of the two men. He revealed that an unpublished book he had written on Soviet labor camps had been recently seized by the secret police, who forced a woman to disclose its location through five days of uninterrupted interrogation. She subsequently hanged herself. In spite of the efforts of the secret police to suppress the book, it reached the West.

"Never in the history of any land," the author contends, "has any people suffered so much at the hands of the government as under the Soviet system."

As stated the "Gulag Archipelago" symbolizes the network of political prison camps scattered like islands across the Soviet Union. The book details the horrors of the prisons, including torture by the secret police, now known as the Committee for State Security, or KGB. The volume covers the first forty years of Soviet rule, from 1918 to 1958.

It points out that Lenin, worshipped in the Soviet Union like a saint, actually was a tyrant advocating unprecedented terror against political adversaries. The author accuses Stalin of planning a mass program against Jews in Moscow, to be followed by their mass exile to Siberia, except for those to be hanged in Red Square, a form of execution unknown since Czarist times.

Solzhenitsyn in fact estimates that Soviet repression was ten to a thousand times greater than Czarist repression, depending on whether one is talking about arrest, exile or execution. His figures for specifics are much higher than those previously cited in the West, like a suggestion that six hundred thousand people were arrested after the assassination of Sergei Kirov in 1934. He suggests also that the Russians had more victims than the Nazis.

Rousseau's Social Contract begins with these words: "Man was born free, yet so many men are in chains." We could modify this, speaking of the Soviet Union: "They preached liberation and they have enslaved their people: "

In fifty-five years of Soviet rule they have not learned that man's impulse to be free will not forever be stifled. The voice of Andrei Sakharov, founder of the unofficial Committee on Human Rights, is heard not only in the West but through the hard grapevine that keeps things going in all closed societies. Virtually every intellectual and most university students have read the works of Solzhenitsyn that have been banned from publication in his own land. They have also read all or part of the historic protest manifesto published abroad by Sakharov, who has openly expressed his growing disillusionment with a system that denies scientific as well as other cultural and intellectual freedoms.

And if he is not jailed or sent into exile, Sakharov will once again head the small group of dissidents who silently protest the repression of the Kremlin by gathering each December on a small, pleasant square near the heart of Moscow, named for the great poet Pushkin, whose larger than life statue looks out on one of the city's principal avenues, named after the great writer Gorky. It is a symbolic convergence of history's dissidents against tyranny.

Sakharov's warning that technological advance is harmful unless it goes hand in hand with democratization and the right to choose the country where one wishes to live, has been dramatically justified with the emergence of the question of the emigration of Soviet Jews to Israel. The facts are known. The Jews who applied for a passport with a view of emigrating were to pay an exit tax, the amount of which varied according to the degree of education they had and the job they held. In every case it was calculated so high that the future emigrant was to leave almost completely destitute. Whether the passport was granted to him or not, he was from the moment of his application, thrown out of his employment, often out of his lodging, ostracized by neighbors and friends, branded a traitor to the Soviet Union. The U.S. Senate was alerted, and several of the senators, among them Senator Jackson, declared that the United States should not grant Russia the position of most favored nation" in the trade negotiations that had been initiated between the two countries, unless she revoked the decree about the exit tax. This time the indifference and apathy, expressed by the words "No Involvement" yielded to a feeling of solidarity with people deprived of their personal freedom. The American Senate rallied around the view expressed by Senator Jackson; the position coveted by the Soviets was temporarily abandoned. Thereupon it was announced that the Soviet authorities have taken off the exit tax on emigrants; yet when the American presidential election was over in November, 1872, they put the tax back on. Then they have removed it again, or so they say. Actually no one is certain what the attitude of the Soviet authorities in regard to the exit tax is; one only knows that, while they allow a certain number of people to leave, the favor of granting a passport seems to be done arbitrarily without any specific pattern or in keeping with any regulation. Actually, the tax is just a cover for a policy prohibiting thousands of people, Jews and Gentiles alike, from leaving. The example of Sakharov proves it.

The U.S. News & World Report published in its June 18, 1973 issue an interview with Senator Jackson on the question of personal freedom in the Soviet Union, and on the question of whether the United States should be concerned about it. Senator Jackson said, "My interest here is to use our economic power to extend human freedom just a little bit. I think the greatest crime committed by the Western world occurred during the 1930s, when we failed to listen to Winston Churchill. He alone cried out for action against Nazi Germany, and we stood idly by while millions of people were put in the ovens. We're on notice now that there are millions in Russia who want greater freedom. We know that many of them have been in concentration camps, and the things that are going on shock the conscience of people of good will everywhere. I'm disappointed with the President's position on all of this. I've been reading same statements that he made back in 1963. The United States, Richard Nixon said, should be willing to sell wheat to the satellite countries as a business deal provided that the government involved gives some greater degree of freedom to the people in these countries, in particular the freedom to emigrate. Well, T couldn't agree more. I'm just trying to implement his 1963 promise:'

In the Soviet Union those who warn against strengthening the Russian military and the Russian economy by giving them our technological know-how and bailing them out whenever they have a crap failure, are branded as enemies of international peace. Actually the opposite is true. Those who believe that international politics should disregard the question of human freedom, that international treaties should be concluded regardless of the type of government the parties have, ignore the fact that a totalitarian society has no control over its rulers, and that by the very nature of totalitarianism, such a government feels insecure and wishes to extend its power in order to find more security which constantly eludes it. True peace can exist only when nations sincerely wish to live in peace with each other, and when freedom of the individual prevails everywhere, when mutual respect is more than just a slogan among nations, and when treaties are interpreted the same way and honored equally by all. Unfortunately, experts in semantical warfare know that this is not the case. Terms of international diplomacy may have two meanings, the normal one, and a special ideo-political twist given them by the Communists. Agreements may therefore be interpreted one way by the Western powers and another way by the Soviets. The Yalta and Potsdam agreements constitute eloquent proof of this fact. While the West kept to the language of these treaties and saw to it that the zones occupied by the Western powers united into a peaceful and democratic Germany, the Soviets prevented the unification of the zone under their control with the rest of the country and transformed it into a Communist state. The Soviets do intend the reunification of both German states, but on their terms. They want both to become Communist. The same tactics prevail in Korea. North Korea speaks of reunification of both Koreas; that means for Pyongyang a united Communist Korea. In Vietnam the country was similarly divided into North and South; after five years of the most costly war and at a loss of more than fifty thousand lives the Americans concluded with the Communists an agreement that would divide South Vietnam into two zones, one Communist-dominated, the other under the control of Thieu. However, it is certain that such an agreement will not be honored and that Communists will never allow free elections in the zone under their control; on the contrary, they have been striving and will continue to strive to extend their domination over the entire Vietnam.

The euphoric "peaceful co-existence" in the name of which the Soviet Union now tries to obtain from the West the technology she has been unable to develop herself, has a Communist meaning too. In Russia there is the conviction that, in the long run, history is on the side of the Soviet Union. It is Brezhnev's and Kosygin's view that co-existence will have to be given a new turn whenever opportunities present themselves to obtain sudden and great advantages. This was already demonstrated in the recent crisis on the Middle East. History will be given a little nudge when there is the time to do so. In case we allow ourselves to be weakened, our economic and military power to be eclipsed by the Soviet Union, that nudge might become a shove.

Détente is desirable, but détente is not enough. For a lasting peace, freedom must reign everywhere. The people must be informed, made part of the decisions of their governments. Ideas and individuals must travel freely inside and across geographical borders. A utopian goal? Perhaps, but one that is made imperative by the atomic age when an arbitrary government, a clique of madmen or a tyrant thirsty for power can initiate atomic warfare which would spell the destruction of mankind.

From a slogan, from a vision, universal freedom has become a condition sine qua non of mankind's survival.



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MG 2005-05-25