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Memorandum on Russia :

Why and how the West can and should help
the nations of the former USSR

January 25, 1992 §1. The swift demise of Communism on the territory of the former USSR seems irreversible. The stunned world is faced with an absolutely new and not so easy discernible future. The change is at least as powerful, fateful, and liberating as were the capitulations of Germany and Japan forty six years ago. It can be even argued that the Communism³s threat to the very existence of our civilisation had run much deeper and was much longer, painful, and devastating than that of the German and Japan totalitarian regimes, - and now its fall in its very birthplace and without any visible external intervention is much more sudden and unexpected! In these days of almost universal shock and short-lived euphoria, do not forget dozens of millions (in fact, forty to sixty millions, in Russia alone) of direct and indirect victims of Communism (even the Fascism in Italy and Germany, as well as the deadly militarism in Japan, were to some extent by-products of the communist political reality); do not forget also that many people in and out the former USSR, whose lives spanned the last seventy three years, have had no idea why the damned system turned out to be so resilient, and how and when, if at all, would it be defeated. Still, many others, coerced or inspired, or both, believed in its eternal survival and total victory, and, being insiders, tried in earnest to live according to its mad laws, or, being outsiders, hoped one day to help the USSR, and later the ¼socialist camp½, to impose those laws on their compatriots. §2. The challenge to our civilisation explicit and implicit in this demise is much more complicated and formidable. To begin with, the seventy three years of the communist reign on the territory of the former Russia, and later, in Eastern Europe and Asia, have changed, and in many cases, against our will, the very nature of the Western civilisation. On the positive side, to prove its enemies (which, for less than a decade, included Nazi Germany, Japan, and other axis nations) wrong, the Western society has learned and achieved a great deal : - to work harder, - to invest in and develop sciences and technology, - to create new agriculture, - to cure old and new diseases, - to provide more social help to its citizen, - to be ahead of the enemies in military matters, - and most important, to cherish peace : do not forget that the monster of the Russian Communism was born in the senseless and deadly war which the civilised European countries waged for the long four years on their own and others soil! All these new-acquired, typically Western, attributes would be more than enough to conquer now the hearts and minds of the people of the ex-USSR, and to bring them peacefully back into the family of civilised nations... However, more than 85 years of violent military and political confrontations in Europe and all over the world took their terrible toll on our ability to act imaginatively and effectively in the new brave world of non-confrontational reality, deprived of its Cold War ¼clarity½. The West became used (in fact, addicted) and, as a rule, indifferent - to the violence on the state level, resulting in regular loss of human life in the world, in millions, with people either killed or starved to death by a state, or group of states, went amok; - to the loss of the Christian moral consensus in our societies, with the overreaching competition (and the resulting alienation) dominating all aspects of our existence; in short, we all became just self-centred, fiercely competing consumers, - to the economic, political, and social polarisation and dehumanisation of our concept of the world, as the result of our exclusive self-definition and self-promotion as free market society, - and, as the most immediate and visible logical outcome of the aforesaid evils, to human-made ecological disasters having the potential to destroy the very presence of man on the Earth. §3. Yet, the lightning which suddenly and miraculously brought down almost overnight the Communist regime in the East was, and still remains, a writing on the wall for the West, with the message of an utmost historic importance and urgency. The crucial part of the message is : we have now a unique opportunity (which even the most optimistic idealists of the post-WWII era have never even dreamed off) to directly influence, in the year to come, the future of the nations of the ex-USSR, in a peaceful, honest, decisive, and comprehensive way. A failure to resume our full responsibility at this wonderful juncture of the tragic, by and large, twentieth century, would be a mistake of historical proportions, possibly depriving us of the hope to settle finally on this small planet in peace, with dignity and prosperity for all humanity, - just look at what is going on now in Yugoslavia, multiply this by a factor of ten to twenty, and add all those thousands of nuclear warheads! §4. We all remember that the victorious nations of the Second World War have imposed on the losers a strictly controlled peace, which combined their demilitarisation and democratisation with the generous economic help, protection, and sensible leadership. The fact that both the Japan and Germany are now among the few most important economic, scientific, and technological pillars of the new world order, can be seen as a ¼happy end½ to the tragic story of WWII. Do not forget, however, that as wise and sensible as the post-war strategy of the victors seems now, it was motivated, forty five years ago, mostly by the fear of the new Soviet military power and the anticipation of an imminent, possibly, nuclear and apocalyptic, Third World War; the West needed strong and dedicated friends, it spared neither money, nor efforts to create them, - and this strategy has paid off brilliantly! The behaviour of almost the same club of Western nations after their recent victory over Iraq demonstrates no comparable responsibility, interest, or will, to help the defeated nation to throw away its past demons, to eradicate its errors, and to build a new, democratic, and prosperous society. The reason is, of course, that such a strategy would not fit the Western interests in the region, as these interests are now understood (one could, without doubt, strongly argue against such understanding). The second reason for the unique success of this ¼re-education½ lies in the fact that both the German and Japan nations were traditionally highly civilised (in a technical sense of the word), hard working, highly disciplined, and, prior to their defeat, very proud societies, which, in the aftermath of the war, were both ashamed of their past and determined not to squander the chance to correct themselves, to have peace, good living, clean conscience, self-respect, and, with some luck, to regain the respect of the world. §5. The case for a similar approach to the future of Russia, Ukraine, and other nations of the former Soviet Union is both much more difficult and much less clean-cut. First, there are formally no ¼victors½. Even most patriotic and arrogant among Western commentators, claiming the victory on behalf of the superior Western democracy, or superiority of capitalism, or whatever superiority, are never even hinting at the possibility that the ¼victors½ have special rights or formally stipulated advantages; of course, the free world is happy to be more close to peace than ever after the WWII, to forget its extreme nuclear fears, to relax the military build-up, to cool-down a dirty dozen of local conflicts, and to proclaim the advent of the new world order (Pax Americana?), - but all this has happened not because the adversary was defeated on the battle field, invaded, and then subjected to military occupation, as in the WWII : our former enemy in this war was self-defeated after forty five years of confrontation, and now is quietly disintegrating. Second, since there is no other comparable adversary left in the field, there is no immediate need to enlist former Soviet enemies as partners and help them straight-away to be new, and strong, pillars of the future world order. (Ironically enough, the wily M. Gorbachev has tried to ¼create½ such an adversary, displaying a political schizophrenia of sorts : the ¼enemy within½ his party and army, those famous hardliners, could endanger all the humanity by the nuclear threat, if the West would not help Gorbachev to achieve his ¼perestroyka½; the infamous putch, among many other its formidable achievements, has killed the bad guy of Gorbachev³s dreams; the second, presumably good one is quietly disappearing in the process of the national awakening). Of course, there are few other ample reasons not to let the people there to die of hunger and cold : (i) since the nuclear power of the defeated and disintegrating ex-enemy is still intact, we are still living in the danger of the nuclear holocaust which could be triggered by somebody out of political, social, and/or national despair, or just by a madman in a chain of command (and there are quite a few such reasons for despair, as well as chains and madmen there); (ii) or (a scenario suggested by a Russian official at a gathering of EC officials in Brussels) a hundred or so negligently abandoned or even sabotaged atomic power stations will do the trick; (iii) etc... (iv) the economic collapse and/or disasters à la Chernobyl would drive millions and millions of people from the former USSR to look for an asylum in the Eastern and Western Europe; the exodus of such proportions could easily trigger a full scale war in Europe. Third, if the West would finally opt (as it seems now plausible, in the light of the aforementioned threats) for some emergency help to the nations of the former USSR, the problem of an effective absorption of even this emergency aid, both on the global and local levels, seems almost unmanageable : there is (i) no national consensus on the distribution of the aid, (ii) no mutual confidence, either on the national, or personal levels, and (iii) neither infrastructure, nor personnel to do the job in a proper and fair manner (of course, there are more than enough honest and selfless people there, but not in many chains of command). How much more difficult is to imagine a successful implementation of a long term assistance programme, similar, say, to the Plan Marshall for Europe! The reasons are, of course, that, firstly, the life of the Soviet totalitarianism spanned seventy four years (and his final demise is even now very far from being a fait accompli), against, say, five to ten years for the Nazi regime in Germany, and, secondly, the Russian Empire, supplanted by the USSR, was itself a backward and corrupted totalitarian society, if even it never was (at least, the last two hundred years of its existence) so malicious as Communists have later claimed it was. - So, how on earth could WE help THEM ?! §6. This is not a case of a good guy urged to help a bad one: this is a story about two good, albeit imperfect, guys, - but the important difference is that the first one, as it goes, is the (historically) lucky one, and the other one fares exceptionally badly, - but their fates are inseparable, and they will either live (and, hopefully, prosper), or die together. And it is up to the lucky guy to take the initiative and responsibility, because the other one now fully understands his misfortune and will surely consent to almost anything it will be advised to do,- and precisely this makes both our chances and our responsibility so high. So, let us confront this problem as our last World War, the World War for Peace, WWP. Let us fight together, side by side! The enemy is their slavery, their poverty, their alienation; remember - those people were our brave and patient allies in the WWII, they helped us to save our lives, freedom, and prosperity from a powerful, effective, viciously optimistic, almost funny, Western type, tyranny, - Nazism. And here is an outline of a scenario for the WWP : we have to help them to colonize their immense country, because, outside a few of its European cities (and excluding such scientific-military oddities as ¼akademgorodok½, ¼town of academicians½, as, say, in Novosibirsk), it never really was properly colonized and civilised, and this (plus terrible calamities of this century, triggered by the WWI) is the key to understanding of their historical misfortune and their psychological traumas. Remember, they were really never exposed (excluding a tiny political, military, and scientific establishment) to simple realities of a peaceful, democratic, and civilised life; they can learn basic facts and skills of democracy and civilisation only if the West would ¼invade½ their country, if our workers, farmers, teachers, social workers (look for volunteers among our millions of unemployed), scientists, lawyers, and businessmen will come there en masse, to live and work, for decades to come, side by side with their Russian, Ukrainian, etc., colleagues. These people have to be financially supported by their Western countries. Their temporary (say, for ten, twenty, fifty years) stay there has to be protected by special, strictly controlled and carefully enforced, legislations and institutions. (If implemented, the plan would be an amplified and tremendously improved, - human, peaceful, and democratic, - rehearsal, three centuries later, of the strategy of Peter the Great, who, unfortunately, has chosen to westernise his people by force, through humiliations and, if necessary, tortures. For all his failures, he did succeed in creating a huge and modern military power, the forerunner of the USSR). All these developments have to be carried out on conditions of demilitarisation of the ex-Union army and abolishment of its nuclear ambitions. The West has to assume its full responsibility for security and territorial integrity of the ex-Union nations against all possible external threats (China, Iran, etc.). Meanwhile, we have to work hard to put in place global security arrangements, through UN, or otherwise This is a grandiose and risky scenario. But the scenarios which helped us to defeat our enemies in the WWII and Cold War were not less grandiose, and risky they were to a much greater extent! And yet, the most imaginative and rigorous implementations of both those scenarios have propelled us not only to our victories, but to new prosperity and better realisation of our potentials. The victory will be not only ours, it will be ours and theirs, our common victory. The terrible rift, threatening to destroy all the humanity, will be healed and forgotten. Our dwindling politics, cultures, economics, will found new horizons, new listeners, new markets. The political extremism all over the world will receive a deadly blow. Look : those are our realistic prospects! So, let us try to prove that our enlightened civilization is mature enough to meet our new destiny in this war with hope, courage, responsibility, and hard work. Dr. Edward G. BELAGA LSIIT (Laboratoire des Sciences de l'Image, d'Informatique et de Teledetection) CNRS, Universite Louis Pasteur 7, rue Rene Descartes, 67084 Strasbourg Cedex, FRANCE tel.: (33) 88.41.64.24, FAX: 88.60.26.54 / 88.61.90.69 Email belaga@dpt-info.u-strasbg.fr

Dr. Aleksey Pamyatliv (1) Un pèlerin russe au Québec (2) À tous les prêtres, religieux et religieuses du Québec qui ont gracieusement accueilli un pèlerin russe. J³ai acheté récemment dans une boutique de livres usagés un petit bouquin intitulé Joies et tristesses de la maison. Il y a plus de cinquante ans, l³auteur, un jésuite originaire d³une illustre famille québécoise le Père Albert Brossard (j³ai appris depuis qu³un de ses frère était juge à la Cour Suprême), avait prêché un Carême au Gesù. Le Gesù, rue de Bleury, est une belle église montréalaise dont j³abuse parfois de l³hospitalité, - moi, un étranger, seul dans un bureau perdu au n-ème étage d³un de ces monstrueux immeubles qui peuplent le centre de Montréal. Alors, de quoi parlait-il, ce jésuite, au printemps de 1942, en ce printemps terrible pour ma patrie russe meurtrie par la guerre ? «Nisi Dominus aedificaverit domum... Si ce n³est pas le Seigneur qui a édifié la maison, c³est en vain qu³on l³a construite. [Ps. 126]» Oui, on parlait à Montréal en 1942 de maison heureuse, c³est-à-dire, de la famille québécoise... Et ma famille? Ce printemps-là, que s³est-il passé dans ma famille ? ... Je suis né en Russie juste avant la guerre 1941-1945. La dernière photo de ma famille d³avant-guerre, la seule qui a été préservée, a été prise un mois avant le début des hostilités. On voit sur la photo quatre hommes (un officier, un pilote militaire, un ingénieur, un retraité), deux femmes et un bébé, moi; la guerre terminée, nous sommes restés trois, deux femmes et un gamin. Les hommes ont péri dans la fournaise de la guerre, avec les 20 millions autres de mes compatriotes, victimes d³un complot affreux du Malin. C³est au printemps 1942 que mon père a disparu sans laisser de trace, avec le bataillon d³infanterie sous son commandement ... Mais pourquoi lire ce vieux bouquin acheté pour le prix d³un numéro du Devoir? N³est-il pas plus important pour un étranger, en ce printemps de 1995, de se renseigner sur la façon dont on parle de la famille dans un quotidien québécois contemporain ? On peut lire, par exemple: «Qu³un ministre d³un gouvernement qui se prétend social-démocrate écrive au maire de Montréal pour s³opposer à l³ouverture d³une garderie devant sa résidence, la chose étonne. Que pour ce faire, le ministre utilise le papier à en-tête du gouvernement sur lequel on peut lire «1994, année de la famille», voilà qui devient ironique. Mais qu³en plus, l³administration municipale tombe dans le panneau et décide de jouer du règlement pour bloquer le projet, le cynisme s³installe à demeure.» [Le Devoir, 17 mai 1995] ... Je vous aime, le Québec. J³ai trouvé chez vous une droiture et une simplicité de comportement, la générosité d³un esprit ouvert et courageux, une hospitalité instinctive et aimable. Je vous aime, Québec, car votre histoire témoigne prodigieusement de la création en trois cents ans d³une nation belle et libre. Et moi, un scientifique russe exilé, à la fois sceptique, troublé et jaloux, ne peut qu³admirer ce miracle: ma pauvre patrie, dotée de toutes les richesses naturelles mais écrasée pendant quatre-vingt ans par des guerres et le pouvoir totalitaire marxiste, ne peut toujours pas retrouver son amour, son destin et sa liberté!.. Un tel amour, toujours exigeant, ne trouve pas son inspiration dans le discours politisé d³une démocratie anonyme (une histoire banale, bien que très triste, telle quelle est rapporté par Le Devoir ci-dessus, aurait pu arriver partout). Mais voici la vision qui inspirait l³illustre jésuite québécois d³autrefois, et qui parle à mon c ur, russe et blessé (deux mots qui sont presque synonymes !), avec la même force: «Après trois siècles d³inflexible résistance et de superbes fidélités, aurions-nous oublié la beauté religieuse de nos origines, toutes les leçons de notre histoire au point du trahir, en ces conjonctures si graves où tous nous sommes aujourd³hui engagés, notre passé de foi et d³amour, d³honneur et de courage? Le secret de ce passé - nous le savons bien - réside au c ur silencieux de cette vielle maison, pas toujours riche, plus souvent pauvre, mais dans les murs de laquelle brûlait, comme un sanctuaire, la ferveur des vertus familiales et des traditions chrétiennes, l³âme même de notre race: âme immuable de ces saints et de ces saintes du foyer, qui transmettaient à leurs enfants, plus que la vie, la splendeur de la grâce, la sérénité puissante de leur foi, l³amour du sacrifice, de l³effort et de la pureté, le respect intangible de toutes les lois divines, cet équilibre d³esprit et cette distinction du c ur, vivantes, éternelles pierres du foyer, où doivent s³appuyer toujours, pour rester fortes, pures, heureuses et fécondes, les races et les sociétés, qui ne veulent ni déchoir, ni mourir. ¼Nisi Dominus aedificaverit domum... Si ce n³est pas le Seigneur qui a édifié la maison, c³est en vain qu³on l³a construite.¼» [Albert Brossard, pp. 12-13] ... J³ai été exilé de ma patrie à l³âge de quarante ans, sans aucune expérience de la vie hors de la Russie soviétique, sans passeport, sans moyens, sans mes livres ... sans aucun espoir de retour. Bref, comme un cosmonaute anti-soviétique, j³ai été envoyé sur une autre planète, nu et à jamais! Comment vivre? «Vivre»? Ce mot, que signifie-t-il pour un exilé sans le droit de retour? Soyons honnêtes: vivre en exil signifie vivre en mendiant. On mendie une citoyenneté, un langage, un travail, une culture, une geste d³amitié, un amour ... pour soi-même, pour sa famille, pour ses compatriotes exilés, pour sa patrie en détresse. Et on reste à jamais un mendiant ingrat... Mais pas moi! Je ne sais par quelle grâce, moi, je suis devenu «stránnik» et «bogomólets» - un vagabond, un pèlerin de Dieu. Cette tradition profondément russe est la seule chose, admirable et réelle, que j³ai importée avec moi et que personne n³a pu m³arracher. Et voilà, comme Jean Paul II, je baise la terre de chaque pays où je me trouve pour mon travail ou pour un court pèlerinage, je cherche ses sanctuaires et ses reliques sacrés, je «bois» l³esprit de sa piété chrétienne et je «mange» ses sacrifices historiques... Je vous admire, le Québec catholique, et je vous aime de tout mon c ur: - C³est ici, chez vous, qu³il m³est arrivé d³être adopté dans la famille québécoise des miraculés de Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré. - C³est ici, chez vous, que Notre Dame du Cap-de-la-Madeleine m³ouvrait les yeux sur la beauté exceptionnelle et prodigieuse d³un destin librement chrétien dans un pays chrétiennement libre. - C³est ici, chez vous, que j³ai été confronté par une spiritualité catholique de vos grands prêtres et savants. Par l'éloquence et la finesse des homélies de vos pasteurs, par la gentillesse et la dignité royale de vos religieuses. Pour une telle nation petite et lointaine de tous les centres du monde, vous avez vécu et vu des merveilles dans votre maison!.. Mais je ne me fais pas d³illusion: aujourd³hui, vous êtes en majorité (en Russie on dit, «majorité écrasante», ce qui signifie «qui écrase la minorité», littéralement) les filles et les fils de votre révolution, comme mes compatriotes ont été autrefois les enfants de la nôtre. La différence est importante: notre révolution était sanglante à l³extrême, tandis que la vôtre a été tranquille. La nôtre nous a infligé des destructions jamais vues dans l³histoire du monde. Et la vôtre? Le Père Albert Brossard, dans sa perspicacité étonnante, n³a pas seulement pressenti le péril, mais aussi calculé les dates précises: «La gravité de ce conflit moral est telle que dans vingt ans, dans trente ans, le sort de notre famille authentiquement française et catholique, aura été joué pour notre bonheur ou pour notre malheur. Demain il sera tard pour réagir.» [p. 60] ... J³ai été élevé en marxiste et en athé, avec une âme sourde, muette et aveugle, - et pourtant honnête. Après la mort de Staline, le pouvoir n³a pas réussi à cacher la vérité des atrocités communistes. Je cherchais une issue pour mon âme. J'ai écouté des gens libérés des camps de concentration, je leur ai parlé, j³ai vu leurs plaies. J³avais la soif d³une Vérité, parmi ces innombrables petites vérités, commodes et à propos. Je L³ai trouvée dans le destin de nos martyrs chrétiens: jamais dans l³histoire du christianisme, même pendant les trois siècles de persécution romaine, un peuple n³a subit un tel martyre pour sa foi ! Nous, nous avions aussi nos «pères» clairvoyants. Voici comment un grand spirituel russe prophétisait juste avant sa mort prématurée en 1900 : «Je sens l³approche des temps où les chrétiens devront se réunir pour la prière dans les catacombes. Partout la foi sera persécutée, peut-être moins que dans les jours de Néron, mais plus finement et plus cruellement: par le mensonge, la duperie, la falsification.» Sans doute, Vladimir Soloviov sous-estimait le désastre russe à venir. Toutefois, sa prophétie demeure bonne et belle pour le Québec de nos jours, ainsi que pour la France, ou encore pour n³importe quel autre pays occidental (sauf, peut être, pour l³Irlande et pour le Portugal). Le vôtre est le martyre tranquille, le martyre du c ur de vos prêtres, religieuses et religieux: «... et toi-même, une épée te transpercera l'âme! - afin que se révèlent les pensées intimes de bien des c urs» [Luc 2:35]. Et pour terminer, voici comment mon admirable Père Brossard nous exhorte tous: «Et c³est par vous, mes Frères, que le sort de nos maisons et de notre race aura été joué. Par vous, pères et mères, âmes gardiennes et consciences de nos foyers d³aujourd³hui, par vous, jeunes gens et jeunes filles, âmes gardiennes et consciences de nos foyers de demain, la famille, votre famille sera, par les vertus fidèles de votre foi et de votre confiance en Dieu, une force dans une maison vivante, ou par vos égoïsmes, vos infidélités consenties, toutes les compromissions de votre conscience, par les neutralités religieuses de votre vie, elle sera une ruine morale dans une maison morte ou abandonnée.» ___________________ (1) Aleksey Pamyatliv est un nom de plume de l³auteur. «Pamyatliv» signifie en russe: «celui qui se souvient bien». (2) Publié dans Revue de Sainte Anne, Novembre 1995, pp. 452-453 (Basilique de Sainte Anne de Beaupré, Québec, Canada), ainsi que, légèrement abrégé, dans Stella Maris, Octobre 1995, pp. 23-24 (Éditions du Parvis, CH-1648 Hauteville, Suisse). (3) Vladimir Sergueyevitch Soloviov , 1853-1900. Dr. Edward G. BELAGA LSIIT (Laboratoire des Sciences de l'Image, d'Informatique et de Teledetection) CNRS, Universite Louis Pasteur 7, rue Rene Descartes, 67084 Strasbourg Cedex, FRANCE tel.: (33) 88.41.64.24, FAX: 88.60.26.54 / 88.61.90.69

Email belaga@dpt-info.u-strasbg.fr


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