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Boris Yeltsin and Crisis in Russia

April 05, 1993

The world would be a far safer place if American foreign policy were being designed by Alexander Cockburn and Susan Eisenhower.

His column and her essay on the same day (March 23) on your Commentary page point out Bill Clinton's blunder in expressing support for Boris Yeltsin as he wrestles for power with Russia's democratically elected Parliament. While Eisenhower and Cockburn both reason, accurately, that Yeltsin's opponents are at least as democratic as he and now represent a far larger constituency, Cockburn takes it a step further to nail down the principle that it's the people we should be supporting, not an individual leader, no matter how supportive he seems of our agenda.

It's sad that administrations from Eisenhower (Ike, not Susan) to Clinton have been so ready to proclaim support, or even "friendship," for this president, this dictator or that monarch. Despots around the globe have had our support for the price of signing on to our program.

In each case, we earned, at best, the disrespect and, at worst, the hatred of the people in whose political processes we had the arrogance and the bad judgment to intervene.

Our friends should always be the people of the country in question. And, when they are going through a process of sorting out who their leader will be, they don't need nor should we volunteer our recommendation.

DON BUSTANY

Los Angeles

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