DP: Is there a risk of Gorbachev becoming a dictator, another Stalin? Schlesinger: I don't think he'll ever become another Stalin. I think he's in a tough situation, the dread of disorder and chaos. I think he feels very pressured to stop the dissent and chaos. There are only three nationwide instrumentalities in the Soviet Union -- the party, army and KGB. The question is, who will end up using whom? DP: You were in the White House when Khruschev was in power in the Soviet Union. He returned to the Kremlin one day and the locks on all the doors had been changed. Do you see that happening to Gorbachev? And if you do, do you think the greater threat is from the right or from the Yeltsin left? Schlesinger: The greater threat in terms of any kind of coup is from the right. The greater threat in terms of a peaceful change is from the left. There's no alternative from the right, and I don't see anyone in their right senses would want Gorbachev's job. DP: Should we still be backing Gorbachev, or should we be looking to someone like Yeltsin to back? Schlesinger: I think we ought to continue our current policies. I think the administration has been handling this rather well. Gorbachev has done great things and I think we should continue supporting him and we should not close the door. This is a decision citizens in the Soviet Union have to make. I think we should keep contact with Yeltsin and not be in a position to choose between them, but as long as Gorbachev is head man, go along with him. DP: Is there anything we can do now that would help strengthen Gorbachev's position? Schlesinger: Well, I suppose anything which reminds the people of the Soviet Union how indispensable a figure from their viewpoint Gorbachev is. People in the Soviet Union today don't give a damn about the outside world. It's like America during the Depression. All they care about is trying to save their own country from this downward spiral. DP: Do you think the recent cancellation of the Bush-Gorbachev summit was truly, as Baker said, because of the Gulf crisis, or do you think there are some fears in the White House about what's going on in the Soviet Union now? Do you think the cancellation was motivated because of the situation in the Baltics? Schlesinger: I think the pretext was the Gulf. Probably the real reason was that Bush was haunted by an exaggerated fear of the right wing of the Republican party, and was afraid to meet with Gorbachev and be assailed by the right. I think the concerns of the political reprecussions from the loony right probably was the real reason. DP: Looking at the end of the Cold War in a broader sense, in Eastern Europe. Without the choke of communism, a lot of the countries are experiencing widespread ethnic strife, especially in Yugoslavia. Where will this lead? Schlesinger: In retrospect, the Soviet Empire is sort of the de facto equivalent of the old Austrio-Hungarian Empire which, after the First World War, released all of those ancient ethnic national antagonisms. So the same thing is happening with the breakup of the Soviet Union, and how far that will go is hard to say. Ethnic loyalties are more powerful than anything else. DP: Domestically, how will the end of the Cold War affect the United States? Will there be a peace dividend? Schlesinger: The peace dividend is being expended in the sands of Arabia. DP: Will the promise of a new world order after the Gulf war allow us to focus on domestic issues? Schlesinger: I hope so. There will be alot of pressure from the Pentagon. Because of this war, the Pentagon will have new hope of swollen defense budgets and they will predict the emergence of Sadaam Husseins everywhere that they have to prepare against. So I think its going to be a real fight to bring the defense budget down. DP: By opposing the war, have some of the Democrats sold themselves out of a chance of winning the White House in 1992? Schlesinger: I think again it all depends on how long the war is and how long the recession is. If the war is over quickly, the American people, who have a limited attention span, won't remember it in 1992. If the war drags on for a long while, this will vindicate the positions of people who didn't want to get into it.Comments powered by Disqus
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