Prepared Statement by R. James Woolsey Before the House International Relations Committee Hearing: U.S. Policy Toward Russian and Russian Proliferation

March 25, 1999

Mr. Chairman, members of the Committee. It is an honor to be asked to testify before you today on this vital subject. In a five minute opening statement, explication is really impossible, but let me try at least to identify a few key issues that bear upon this important question.

First of all, an important part of the problem of Russian proliferation to rogue regimes, such as the deplorable assistance provided to Iran's missile program, stems, in my judgment, from concrete foreign policy decisions by the Russian government -- recently by my former counterpart, Mr. Primakov, now moved on to higher office. I believe it is quite clear that Mr. Primakov sees the strategic relationship between Russia and the United States as a zero- sum game and is interested in strengthening Russia's ties with such regimes as those in Iran and Iraq as a way of beginning to build a bloc of nations committed to weakening us and our influence in the world. As a remarkable example of the lengths to which this kind of thinking can go, we know from Jamestown Foundation publications that there has even been talk recently in the meetings of the Commonwealth of Independent States about Iran's joining that group. A fanciful prospect, most likely (and one is tempted to wish the CIS and Iran's mullahs on one another) -but indicative of a caste of mind that is, I fear, all too common in Russia today.

Second, as it has been said, the United States has a military- industrial complex, but the Soviet Union was a military-industrial complex. Much, but not all, of that complex is now for sale to the highest bidder. For example, a thorough set of articles in Izvestia some time back described how some of these institutes and firms provided training and assistance to the Japanese terrorist group Aum Shinrikyu. Military hardware and technology, together with a number of raw materials, are really all that Russia has to sell, and this means not only that much dangerous military technology is pushed to rogue states and groups by various parts of what is now Russia's military- industrial complex, but also that such sales are often tolerated and sometimes facilitated by the Russian government -- particularly by decision-makers such as Mr. Primakov who seek to curry favor with influential elements of their military-industrial complex and with the political "reds and browns" who both tend to support them and to be hostile to the United States.

Third, there has come to be an inter-penetration of Russia's security services, organized crime, and some Russian firms that could only be understood, in American terms, if one imagined that in 1929, instead of heading "The Untouchables", Elliot Ness had been a VicePresident of a major Chicago-based company, a senior official in the FBI, and on Al Capone's payroll. This inter-penetration makes assurances by Russia's Foreign Ministry (some parts of which are, occasionally, well- intentioned) about steps to halt proliferation, in the main, worthless. Indeed if you run into a suave Russian, wearing a$3,000 suit and Gucci loafers, in the restaurant of one of the expensive hotels along the shore of Lake Geneva, and he says that he is an executive in a major Russian firm engaged in the export of high technology, he may be what he says he is. Or he may be a Russian intelligence officer operating under commercial cover. Or he may be a senior member of some Russian organized crime group. But the really interesting point is that he may well be all three -- and that none of the three institutions he works for has any problem with that.

As bad as the situation is now in Russia with respect to tolerance for, and sometimes encouragement of, proliferation of dangerous weapons and technology to rogue regimes, it could become worse. If Russia either follows the path of Weimar Germany's collapse into fascism or breaks apart, our problems in this regard could be far more severe. At the heart of the matter is Russia's failure, in the aftermath of the fall of the Soviet Union, to establish a rule of law. Without the rule of law, democracy is a mob and capitalism is the Chicago wholesale liquor market of the 1920's. Most of this failure is correctly laid at the feet of Russia itself-- partly due to historical factors of long standing and partly due to the failure of its leaders during the 1990's. We are not, however, wholly without blame. By backing President Yeltsin uncritically -- even in such matters as his execrable war in Chechnya -- and by assuming that economic liberalization would trump all difficulties, we have come to be part of the problem. It is long past time to correct these tendencies and to make whatever decisions we must with open eyes and a willingness to call it straight.

We also need to take steps to protect ourselves, in my judgment, such as with ballistic missile defense. But that is clearly a subject for another day.