By Stephen Fox, Managing Editor, Santa Fe Sun News
Stephen Fox, alternative newspaper managing editor and gallery owner of Santa Fe, this afternoon in Santa Fe asked former USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev if, after November, he would please be so kind as to lead and advise the next USA President as to how to get out of our quagmire. This is most of what he replied in Russian, through a translator:
“The Middle East is what the entire world is watching. If things go badly for the USA, things go badly for all of us. America must not abuse the trust it has from its allies, much of which has virtually stopped.
I am glad to see in this election a resurgence of interest in international affairs. As I will say in my talk tonight, judging from the USA’s military budget, your nation seems to be at war with the world, and I sense that the American people don’t like this at all.
The size of your weapons budget is larger than it was at the peak of the Cold War, and larger all of the rest of the nuclear nations put together. Why do you continue to build these weapons? This is amazing to me!
I think that [former Secretary of States] George Schultz and Henry Kissinger, [former US Senator] Sam Nunn, and [former Secretary of Defense] William Perry have put together recently a very interesting plan in this regard, and I appreciate their initiative.
With a background of conflict, military budgets in the USA continue to grow, and you produce more weapons. The next president must show courage and responsibility to resist increasing your arms expenditures. Most serious nations in the European Union are studying the proposal by Schultz and Kissinger, and the USA should heed this proposal.
You must bear in mind, that many nations find it difficult to trust America if it insists on maintaining its weapon superiority.
After January 1, 1986, when I proposed an abolition of Nuclear Weapons, there was an immediate reaction, that many didn’t trust me, because of the USSR’s massive ground forces and conventional weapons. I responded by making some large cuts in spending for conventional weapons, and eventually we signed a treaty in this context in Paris.
So I would put the same question to America and to Americans!
At the beginning of today’s Press Conference in Santa Fe, Gorbachev defended Putin’s concern over USA building extensive missile defense systems in Eastern Europe, but said that it was good that Bush and Putin took the time to recently meet one more time before Bush leaves office.
He also stated that the USA needs to “elect a President who gets along with the world, and doesn’t brandish a big stick and make threats.”
This is “up to the American people to persuade its leaders, and this burden can’t be shouldered by others.” After 15 years of “pushing” since leaving office in 1992, Gorbachev now believes that most world leaders and heads of state are “lagging,”
Gorbachev is encouraged by the progress in Russia of the political party he started, the Union of Social Democrats, given that more than 100 nations have the same kind of party: the Social Democrats. He said the history of the USSR was a 70 year experiment with Communism in its extreme Bolshevik form, and that Russia had “paid the price” for doing so.
Gorbachev reminisced on Yeltsin being pressured by the International Monetary Fund and a few US Think Tanks which came to impose on Russia a free market approach, which did a lot of good. He called it the “Washington consensus” that was really the opposite ideology and effect of Bolshevism.
I have met several Nobel Peace Laureates and several others I thought should have won that honorable prize. The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to 95 individuals and 20 organizations since 1901.
The Nobel Peace Laureates with whom I have exchanged extensive correspondence include: His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, and Kofi Annan. I have talked at great length with Jody Williams, Founder of the effort and author of the international treaty to ban landmines. When he came to lecture in Santa Fe, I asked Oscar Arias Sanchez, now President of Costa Rica, to help create a branch in Santa Fe of the United Nations University for Peace.
In the two year effort to establish that pacifist precept school, Dag Hammarskjold’
As an organization making a huge difference in the world, Doctors without Borders is among my highest inspirations daily in my work to get the neurotoxic artificial sweetener aspartame off the market by rescinding its approval to be sold.
Mairead Corrigan of Ireland was the first Nobel Peace Laureate I talked with, for several hours at the Second United Nations Special Session on Disarmament in 1978.
Yet, somehow, to me , former President Mikhail Gorbachev is the most compelling of them all!
I do believe that because I was asking for tens of millions of Americans and several billions people in hundreds of nations, Mr. Gorbachev really will help to advise and guide the next USA President to bring the USA out of the Middle East, and to end the war in Iraq. What choice is there?