What Richard Nixon’s Letter to Bill Clinton Revealed about Them Both, and Also about Jeffrey Sachs
March 21, 1994
577 CHESTNUT RIDGE ROAD
WOODCLIFF LAKE, NEW JERSEY
Dear Mr. President,
[[That’s a] Handwritten greeting.]
I am sending this report to you directly, rather than through State Department channels, because I learned during my years in the White House that the best decisions I made, such as the ones to go to China in 1972, were made over the objections of or without the approval of most foreign service officers. If you have not already done so, you will find that foreign service officers are seldom ignorant, but almost always arrogant. When they see a report from an outsider, they invariably reply, “We knew that. There’s nothing new in it.” Or, at the other extreme, “This is interesting. We want to study it.” (. . . ) which they proceed to do until it is forgotten. I would urge you always to remember that foreign service officers get to the top by not getting into trouble. They are therefore more interested in covering their asses than in protecting yours. In that spirit, I therefore submit the following conclusions after my trip to Russia, Ukraine, Germany, and London.
First, the good news. Everyone I talked to in the four countries I visited spoke with great respect for you, and in Kohl’s case, with genuine affection. Not one mentioned Whitewater [a Republican-alleged scandal against the Clintons]. Some of the American media tried to get me to make a statement on it, but I turned them all off by stating that I never commented on domestic issues when I am travelling abroad. I went on to say that what was most important is that we not allow that issue or any other domestic issue to divert attention from our major foreign policy priority — the survival of political and economic freedom in Russia. I emphasized that on this issue there should still be continued strong bi-partisan support for the President’s leadership.
As one of Yeltsin’s first supporters in this country and as one who continues to admire him for his leadership in the past, I have reluctantly concluded that his situation has rapidly deteriorated since the elections in December, and that the days of his unquestioned leadership of Russia are numbered. Kohl is the only one I met who disagrees with this view. This speaks more for Kohl’s loyalty to an old friend than it does to his usually brilliant political judgment.
Since the December elections, Yeltsin is a changed man. His drinking bouts are longer and his periods of depression more frequent. Most troublesome, he can no longer deliver on his commitments to you and other Western leaders in an increasingly anti-American environment in the Duma and in the country. I expected this among opposition leaders like Zhirinovskiy, Rutskoi, and Zuganov. But I found the same attitude among middle-of-the-road and liberal supporters of Yeltsin’s economic and political reforms. He is still the elected head of our most important strategic partner. But those who rely on his commitments will soon find that he no longer has the political strength to deliver.
Even Pickering, who is one of our top-ranked ambassadors, underestimates the danger. He told me, for example, that John Major found that Yeltsin was in good shape when he saw him on his visit to Moscow. To paraphrase George Bush, this is not deep doo-doo, it is bullshit. Major was deeply concerned about Yeltsin’s conduct during their meetings. All of the British leaders that I talked to in London, from the Chancellor of the Exchequer on down, believe that Yeltsin has had it, and sharply disagreed with me when I gave my own more optimistic evaluation — insisting that I was looking through rose-tinted glasses.
A year ago, Kravchuk told me that Yeltsin was better for Ukrainian-Russian relations than any of his potential opponents. This is no longer true. I asked him bluntly whether Yeltsin could survive. He said categorically and quickly, “Nyet.” He predicted he would soon be out of power. I asked him, “How — by coup or by election?” He said, “Neither. The Russian power brokers will surround him and elevate him to a highly ceremonial post as the Tunisians did with Bourguiba.” I asked him when he had reached this conclusion. He replied, “Right after the December elections.” He said that he used to talk to Yeltsin on the phone a couple of times a week. He has been unable to reach him at all on the phone since the elections.
All this means not that you should discontinue the positive “Boris-Bill relationship,” which has been widely reported in the media, but that you should recognize that Yeltsin plays an increasingly weak hand and that it is necessary to reach out to others who have some power now and may have all of the power sooner than we might like.
Bush made a mistake in sticking too long to Gorbachev because of his close personal relationship. You must avoid making that same mistake in your very good personal relationship with Yeltsin.
Understandably, you might have reservations about any criticism of your Administration in the Wall Street Journal. However, the article on foreign aid to which you referred in our telephone conversation is unfortunately on target. The entire foreign aid program to Russia is a mess. This ranges from the IMF’s stubbornness and stupidity in continuing to treat Russia like Upper Volta (which no longer exists, incidentally). American and Russian businessmen are ripping off the aid programs shamelessly. In the past two years, Russians have sent over $ 25 billion to Switzerland and other safe havens. This money will not come back until there is a better climate for investment in Russia. The quick answer from those like Jeffrey Sachs that what is needed is an increase in government aid is irrelevant. Politically, the overreaction to the Ames case indicates Congress is looking for any excuse to vote against Russian aid. This will be doubly true during the election year. What is needed is better targeting and administering of those programs we already have an entirely new approach with regard to investment from abroad.
As you know, China has by far the highest growth rate of any major country in the world. This has been accomplished with hardly any government foreign aid whatsoever. We face the ironic fact that a communist capitalist country in China is more attractive for foreign investment than a democratic capitalist economy in Russia.
This brings me to a very painful recommendation. As I am sure you know, I share your respect and affection for Strobe Talbott. This goes back to the time when I totally supported his then controversial view about Israeli-Arab relations. He is an outstanding political officer. His strong suit, however, is not economics. What we need now is a new program, such as the one we had during the Marshall Plan, where aid is administered by a top-flight businessman reporting directly to the President. Strobe [Talbott] has to be big enough to accept this idea and not to insist that everything go through him and his staff.
It has been my experience that foreign service officers are good on political issues but economics is not their strong suit. Like most politicians, they know very little about economics and most of what they do know is wrong. I would suggest Dwayne Andreas, but he would be rejected because of conflict of interest. Another possibility might be Hank Greenberg, an enormously successful international businessman and financier who, incidentally, is not only very good on Russia but is outstanding on China. What you must avoid is a situation where some Congressional committees begin holding hearings on the Administration’s foreign aid program. They will bring out a lot of horror stories which will lead Congress to cut the already inadequate amounts being appropriated for aid. You should beat them to the punch by naming a new administrator with instructions to clean up the mess and to concentrate not primarily on government-to-government aid but on how Russia can — on a crash basis — develop the protections and incentives for private investments from abroad, similar to those which have led to the Chinese economic miracle.
As I am sure you agree after meeting with [the first president of Ukraine, serving from 5 December 1991 until 19 July 1994, Leonid] Kravchuk, the situation in Ukraine is highly explosive. If it is allowed to get out of control, it will make Bosnia look like a PTA garden party. Our emphasis has understandably been on the nuclear weapons issue. We should be concentrating more on what could lead to the use of arms rather than just controlling their numbers. Some increase in government aid, which you have already approved, will be helpful. But like Russia, the major challenge here is for the Ukrainian Parliament, which is even worse than the Russian Duma, to provide incentives for private investment. Ukraine is an enormously wealthy country and could take off. The probem is illustrated by the fact that with all of Russia’s difficulties, thirty-five to forty percent of the Russian economy has been privatized. Only two to five percent of Ukraine’s has been privatized.
The political situation is unpredictable. Kravchuk’s approval numbers are far lower than Yeltsin’s, but he should never be underestimated because he is probably the most skillful politician in all of the former Soviet Union. He is unusually honest for a politician! I do not refer to financial honesty but political honesty. When I asked him in 1991, when he was still a Gorbachev-supporting loyal communist, whether he could be elected president, he said categorically “Nyet.” He says the same thing now. But he still has no one in Ukraine who is even in his league.
Because of the importance of Ukraine, I reluctantly urge that you immediately strengthen our diplomatic representation in Kiev. I asked a top American businessman, who is strongly for Ukraine and pro-American, for his evaluation of our embassy. He said, “piss-poor.” With expletives deleted, I would say that based on conversations I have had with other businessmen that our representation is pathetic. The embassy is understaffed and inadequately led. One of the difficulties is that our foreign service types love to be sent to cushy posts like London or Paris or Rome where we have overstaffed embassies. We have to get more of them into combat zones like Ukraine, where even the brightest and best may fail but where we have to give it our best try.
You will be urged to scatter the available aid money all over the former Soviet Union. This would be a mistake. You have very limited funds. All the other nations in the near abroad are important. But Ukraine is in a different class — it is indispensable. [He doesn’t say why. Was he a neocon, even prior to Brzezinski’s 1998 The Grand Chessboard argued that winning Ukraine would be the key to conquering Russia? Nixon said Russia is “our most important strategic partner.” No neocon would say that. So, what did he mean by calling Ukraine “indispensable,” and why? Ukraine isn’t “indispensable” to U.S. national security, but it is to Russian national security.]
There is still no one who is in Yeltsin’s class as a potential leader in Russia. But several have the capability to be outstanding presidents or prime ministers. The Prime Minister – Chernomyrdin; Yavlinksi, who next to Yeltsin is the most popular politician in Russia; Shahrai, Minister of Nationalities; and Shokhin, the Economics Minister — all except for Chernomyrdin are in their early thirties or early forties, should be cultivated and others like them evaluated and discreetly encouraged.
Your instincts in approving my decision to see all the opposition leaders, including Zhirinovskiy and Rutskoi, proved the be right. Zhirinovskiy is a powerful political personality. I can best sum up his political astuteness by observing that while anti-Semitism for Hitler was a faith, for him it is a tactic. This may make him even more dangerous. However, when I asked Kravchuk whether he thought Zhirinovskiy could be elected President, he flatly said no. On the other hand, he said that “the Zhirinovsky phenomenon” could produce a credible candidate for President — one who did not have Zhirinovskiy’s baggage of being perceived as a total opportunist and sometimes even as a clown. Russians are serious people. One of the reasons Khrushchev was put on the shelf back in 1964 is that the proud Russians became ashamed of his antics at the U.N. and in other international forums.
This brings me to the tactic I would urge that we follow in dealing with Zhirinovskiy. Expose him rather than suppress him. Let people see what a fraud he is. And above all, divide his support rather than unite it. Letting Rutskoi out of prison actually helps Yeltsin and all the other responsible leaders. He will cut sharply into Zhirinovskiy’s support. This will be particularly true among the military, who Zhirinovskiy claims voted for him 90%. Rutskoi will get over 50% of them as well as many of Zhirinovskiy’s other supporters who want to restore the former Soviet empire. The third reactionary force is the communist-agrarian coalition. Zuganov is a tough-minded, able communist leader. He told me that he did not want to go back to communism — that “we cannot cross the same river twice.” That, of course, is only for public consumption. Communism has been completely discredited. If there is one thing I would bet on at the present time, it is that God is alive in Russia; communism is dead.
Our overall policy, therefore, should be to keep the bad guys — Zhirinovskiy, Rutskoi, and the communists — divided, and try to get the good guys — Chernomyrdin, Yavlinski, Shahrai, Travkin — to coalesce if possible in a united front for responsible reform.
I had not met [Helmut] Kohl, and was enormously impressed by him. I can see why you rate him as by far the best leader in Europe. From our media, I had the impression that he was a provincial clod. I found that he exudes political strength and charisma. Very few gave him a chance to win. I believe, however, if he is able to keep his party together and the opposition starts quarreling among themselves as they usually do, he has a shot. It is certainly in our interest that he survive.
In sum, political and economic freedom may survive in Russia, even with our help. It will certainly fail without our help. I wish you the very best as you continue to provide the leadership we need on the most important foreign policy issue the nation will face for the balance of this century.
RN [Handwritten initials.]
MY NOTES ON THIS:
Nixon wasn’t a psychopath but instead a true-believer in the orthodoxy of U.S. billionaires, which was that the only options were capitalism versus communism and that communism must be defeated, regardless of the methods that would be used to achieve this. In 1994, he was advising Clinton after communism, in its Soviet form, had already collapsed into failure. Nixon viewed Yeltsin as a charismatic great leader who, tragically, was an alcoholic. Nixon was not a neocon, an adherent to the plan that Cecil Rhodes came up with in 1877, because Nixon said in 1994, after Russia’s communism had ended, that Russia is “our most important strategic partner,” whereas Rhodes’s plan was for a UK | U.S. or “Special Relationship,” take-over of all nations, and this would mean that America’s only real “strategic partner” is the British empire, and that every other nation is their enemy (no “partner” at all) — and especially not the largest nation, which is Russia.
Yeltsin was likewise a true-believer in the orthodoxy of U.S. billionaires; and, so, to him, the U.S. was the ideal. Therefore, he requested and received guidance from the U.S. White House on how Russia could become like America.
Clinton was a Rhodesist, and therefore aimed for the U.S. to conquer Russia, but held off for as long as he could on his and G.H.W. Bush’s Rhodesist plan to expand America’s anti-Russian military alliance NATO right up to and surrounding Russia’s borders so as to become able then to strangle Russia into submission. (If he had revealed his hand to Yeltsin early on, then he wouldn’t have been able to get his wrecking-team invited into Russia and destroying Russia’s economy before lowering the boom on them.) Before Clinton lowered that boom against Russia (in 1999 by admitting into NATO Czechia, Hungary, and Poland — so that now they all became part of the U.S. alliance against Russia), he sent Harvard’s economics Department, which represented 100% the views of America’s billionaires, into the former Soviet Union in order to weaken, subjugate, and grab, Russia’s former allies, and to weaken and corrupt Russia, so much as to turn Russia into the U.S. Government’s biggest colony. Clinton was a true-believer in the orthodoxy of U.S. billionaires, but had campaigned in 1972 for the anti-Vietnam-War U.S. Presidential candidate George McGovern against Nixon because Clinton didn’t want to become drafted. In 1969 while on his Rhodes scholarship at Oxford, Clinton and his friend and fellow-Rhodes-scholar Strobe Talbott were both very opposed to that war, not yet recognizing that it had come about because of prior ‘public’ officials who were supporters of Rhodes’s views (UK/U.S. global imperialism). Both Clinton and Talbott were “third way” Rhodesists, which was supposed to be liberalism or everything between fascism and progressivism but which is actually the way of Democratic Party billionaires against Republican Party billionaires (who are overtly conservatives). What all Rhodesists have in common is what is commonly called “neoconservatism”: U.S. global supremacism, which means, as Barack Obama put it, “The United States is and remains the one indispensable nation. That has been true for the century passed and it will be true for the century to come.” In other words: all other countries are “dispensable.” That’s the U.S./UK Rhodesist view. Clinton appointed Talbott to the State Department in 1993, at the same time as Talbot’s Chief of Staff, Victoria Nuland, who later planned Obama’s 2014 coup in Ukraine, joined it. (She now runs Biden’s regime-change operations.) Later, as the head of the Democratic Party billionaires’ Brookings Institution, Talbott, in 2010, appointed her husband, Robert Kagan, who had previously been with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace for twelve years, and Kagan had helped (as did Brookings) propagandize for G.W. Bush’s 2003 invasion of Iraq. All of these individuals and institutions are Rhodesist. They all seek a world that’s controlled by the U.S. Government.
Sachs was, like both Nixon and Clinton, a true-believer in the orthodoxy of U.S. billionaires, and, like Clinton, he was on the Democratic Party’s side of it: liberal. Nixon’s statement that “The quick answer from those like Jeffrey Sachs that what is needed is an increase in government aid is irrelevant,” was saying that Sachs was seeking an increase in U.S. aid to Russia’s Government but that Nixon believed that instead, “What is needed is better targeting and administering of those programs.” However, Nixon’s letter also said that “Some increase in government aid, which you have already approved, will be helpful.” So, he was contradicting himself. This pertains to Nixon, not to Sachs, who, at that time was advocating for more aid to Russia. The U.S. Government was funding this operation, which benefitted U.S. and Russian billionaires, at the expense mainly of Russia’s, but also of America’s, public.
Sachs had been (along with Larry Summers and Andrei Shleifer) one of the leaders of the Harvard team that guided the privatizations in the former Soviet Union and which produced massive corruption there, which benefitted American billionaires but which vassalized the former Soviet nations (in accord with Rhodesism) and wrecked Russia’s economy during 1990-1998. (Putin’s coming into power at the turn of the Century ended that vassal-status.)
After the 2008 U.S.-and-global crash, Sachs, like all mainstream economists, refused to replace existing economic theory (which it had conclusively disproven) but instead doubled-down on the widespread views of Democratic Party billionaires and their economists condemning corruption, as-if corruption isn’t intrinsically a competitive advantage in a capitalist economy and thus intrinsically a prominent feature of any capitalism. At an 18 May 2012 think tank founded by the biggest donor to the Democratic Party, George Soros, Sachs said “We have a system of legalized corruption”, and he mentioned specifically Wall Street, arms contractors, private health insurerers, and big oil. “The positions that are coming out of Washington … are far to the right of the center of American public opinion” — as-if on some matters the U.S. Government isn’t far to the left of American public opinion. Then, at a 17 April 2013 nearly 7-hour-long conference sponsored by the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank, Sachs spoke for 20 minutes and he blamed not the lying economic theory (which Soros and other billionaires don’t allow to be publicly attacked and so needing to be replaced — not even after the crash) but only “the massive illegality that has been exposed in the system” as having caused the collapse. He said “The corruption, as far as I can see, is everywhere” — which is true but ignores the lying theory itself, which actually fosters that, and from which the billionaires and their economists all benefit at the public’s expense. Sachs, unlike so many others, never lies, but in order for him to have any public platforms at all, there are some important truths that he needs to leave out, so he does.
On 26 August 2023, The Duran headlined “US policy slowing down China’s economy w/ Jeffrey Sachs” and presented a brilliant discussion between Sachs and Alexander Mercouris about “Are China’s economic problems like Japan’s from the 1980s, and is the United States playing a role in bringing them about?” Sachs’s answer wasn’t just yes, but how, and I found it highly informative.
Nixon noted with pride that, “As you know, China has by far the highest growth rate of any major country in the world. This has been accomplished with hardly any government foreign aid whatsoever. We face the ironic fact that a communist capitalist country in China is more attractive for foreign investment than a democratic capitalist economy in Russia.” Not only Clinton but all U.S.-and-‘allied’ operatives just ignore that. Jeffrey Sachs explained why — why today’s American aristocracy is trying to flush Nixon’s only major positive achievement down history’s toilet. Nixon was bad but he wasn’t as bad as the Democratic and Republican Rhodesists who have controlled the U.S. Government virtually nonstop ever since 25 July 1945.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse’s new book, AMERICA’S EMPIRE OF EVIL: Hitler’s Posthumous Victory, and Why the Social Sciences Need to Change, is about how America took over the world after World War II in order to enslave it to U.S.-and-allied billionaires. Their cartels extract the world’s wealth by control of not only their ‘news’ media but the social ‘sciences’ — duping the public.
Eric Zuesse blogs at https://theduran.com/author/eric-zuesse/.