How Clinton And Company And The Bankers Plundered Russia In The ’90s
Note: In the half-year since The Wanderer (September 30, 1999) publicized journalist Anne Williamson’s testimony to the House Banking Committee on how the Clinton regime and its friends in the banking community plundered the Russian economy and looted billions of taxpayers’ dollars funneled through the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other major U.S. banks, and the Harvard Institute for International Development, and mentioned her forthcoming book, Contagion: The Betrayal of Liberty — Russia and the United States in the 1990s, many Wanderer readers have been wondering when, if ever, the book would appear.
Last week, Miss Williamson provided this reporter with a copy of the now-completed and edited manuscript, along with an interview in which the distinguished reporter recounts the enormous controversy — and fear, in some circles — surrounding the manuscript, which, if not published soon, will be self-published and posted on the Internet.
In an ordinary election year, Anne Williamson’s Contagion would be political dynamite, a bombshell, a block-buster, a regime breaker.
If America were a free and democratic country, with a free press and independent publishing houses (and assuming, of course, that Americans were a literate people), Williamson’s book would topple the Clinton regime, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the rest of the criminal cabal that inhabits the world of modern corporate statism faster than you could say “Jonathan Hay.”
Hay, for those who need an introduction to the international financial buccaneers who control our lives, was the general director of the Harvard Institute of International Development (HIID) in Moscow (1992-1997), who facilitated the crippling of the Russian economy and the plundering of its industrial and manufacturing infrastructure with a strategy concocted by Larry Summers, Andre Schliefer (HIID’s Cambridge-based manager), Jeffrey Sachs and his Swedish sidekick Anders Aslund, and a host of private players from banks and investment houses in Boston and New York — a plan approved and assisted by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
Contagion can be read on many different levels.
At its simplest, it is a breezy, slightly cynical, highly entertaining narrative of Russian history from the last months of Gorbachev’s rule to April 2000 — a period which saw Russia transformed from a decaying socialist economy (which despite its shortcomings, provided a modest standard of living to its citizens) to a “managed economy” where home-grown gangsters and socialist theoreticians from the West, like Hay and his fellow Harvardian Jeffrey Sachs, delivered 2,500 percent inflation and indescribable poverty, and transferred the ownership of Russian industry to Western financiers.
Williamson was an eyewitness who lived on and off in Russia for more than ten years, where she reported on all things Russian for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and a host of other equally reputable publications. She knew and interviewed just about everybody involved in this gargantuan plundering scheme: Russian politicians and businessmen, the new “gangster” capitalists and their American sponsors from the IMF, the World Bank, USAID, Credit Suisse First Boston, the CIA, the KGB — all in all, hundreds of sources who spoke candidly, often ruthlessly, of their parts in this terrible human drama.
Her account is filled with quotations from interviews with top aides of Yeltsin and Clinton, all down through the ranks of the two hierarchical societies to the proliferating mass of Russian destitute, pornographers, pimps, drug dealers, and prostitutes. Some of the principal characters, of course, refused to talk to Williamson, such as Bill Clinton’s longtime friend from Oxford, Strobe Talbott, now a deputy secretary of state and, Williamson suspects, a onetime KGB operative whose claim to fame is a deceitful translation of the Khrushchev Memoirs. (A KGB colonel refused to confirm or deny to Williamson that Clinton and Talbott visited North Vietnam together in 1971 — though he did confirm their contacts with the KGB for their protests against the U.S. war in Vietnam in Moscow. See especially footnote 1, page 210.)
The 546-page book (the best part of which is the footnotes) gives a nearly day-by-day report on what happened to Russia; left unstated, but implied on every page, is the assumption that those in the United States who think what happened in Russia “can’t happen here” better realize it can happen here.
Once the Clinton regime and its lapdogs in the media defined Russian thug Boris Yeltsin as a “democrat,” the wholesale looting of Russia began. According to the socialist theoreticians at Harvard, Russia needed to be brought into the New World Order in a hurry; and what better way to do it than Sachs’ “shock therapy” — a plan that empowered the degenerate, third-generation descendants of the original Bolsheviks by assigning them the deeds of Russia’s mightiest state-owned industries — including the giant gas, oil, electrical, and telecommunications industries, the world’s largest paper, iron, and steel factories, the world’s richest gold, silver, diamond, and platinum mines, automobile and airplane factories, etc. — who, in turn, sold some of their shares of the properties to Westerners for a song, and pocketed the cash, while retaining control of the companies.
These third-generation Bolsheviks — led by former Pravda hack Yegor Gaidar, grandson of a Bolshevik who achieved prominence as the teenage mass murderer of White Army officers, now heads the Moscow-based Institute for Economies in Transition — became instant millionaires (or billionaires) and left the Russian workers virtual slaves of them and their new foreign investors.
When Russian members of the Supreme Soviet openly criticized the looting of the national patrimony by these new gangsters early in the U.S.-driven “reform” program, in 1993, before all Soviet institutions were destroyed, Yeltsin bombed Parliament.
Ironically, when Harvard’s Sachs and Hay started identifying Russians they could work with, they ignored — or shunned — the most capable talent at hand: those numerous Russian economists who for 20 years had been studying the Swiss economist Wilhelm von Roepke and his disciple, Ludwig Erhard, father of Germany’s “economic miracle” in anticipation of the day when Communism would collapse.
Somewhat sardonically, Williamson notes that one, probably unintended, benefit of Gorbachev’s perestroika was the recruitment of these Russian economists by top U.S. universities.
In the new, emerging global economy, it’s clear that Russia is the designated center for heavy manufacturing — just as Asia is for clothing and computers — with its nearly unlimited supply of hydroelectric power, iron and steel, timber, gold and other precious metals.
This helps explain why America’s political elites don’t give a fig about the closing down of American industries and mines. As Williamson observes, Russia is viewed as some kind of “closet.”
What is important for Western readers to understand — as Williamson reports — is that when Western banks and corporations bought these companies at bargain basement prices, they bought more than just industrial equipment. In the Soviet model, every unit of industrial production included workers’ housing, churches, opera houses, schools, hospitals, supermarkets, etc., and the whole kit-and-caboodle was included in the selling price. By buying large shares of these companies, Western corporations became, ipso facto, town managers.
On another level, Contagion is about the workings of international finance, the consolidation of capital into fewer and fewer hands, and the ruthless, death-dealing policies it inflicts on its target countries through currency manipulation, inflation, depression, taxation and war — with emphasis on Russia but with attention also given to Mexico, Thailand, Indonesia, the Balkans, and other countries, and how it uses its control over money to produce social chaos.
Those who read Williamson’s book will find particularly interesting her treatment of the Federal Reserve, and how this “bank” was designed to plunder the wealth of America through war, debt, and taxation, in order to maintain what is nothing more nor less than a giant pyramid scheme that depends on domination of the earth and its resources.
Williamson is of that small but noble school of economics writers who believe that the academic field of economics is not some esoteric science that can only be comprehended by those with IQs in four digits, and she — drawing on such writers as Hayek and von Mises, Roepke and the late American Murray Rothbard — explains in layman’s vocabulary the nuts and bolts of sound economic principles and the real-world effects of the Fed’s policies on hapless Americans.
Contagion also serves up a severe indictment of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the other international “lending” agencies spawned by the Council on Foreign Relations and similar “councils” and “commissions” which are fronts for the big banks run by the Houses of Rockefeller, Morgan, Warburg, et al.
The policies inflicted on Russia by the banks were cruel to the Nth degree; but the policy implementers — Williamson employs the derogatory Russian word myakigolovy (“soft-headed ones”) applied to the Americans — were a foppish lot, streaming into Russia by the thousands (the IMF, alone, with 150 staffers) with their outrageous salaries and per diem allowances, renting out the finest dachas, bringing in their exotic consumer goods, driving up prices for goods and rents, spurring a boom in the drug and prostitution businesses, and then watching, cold-heartedly, the declining fortunes of their hosts as they lost everything — including the artistic heritage of the country.
Williamson describes brilliantly that heady atmosphere in Moscow in the early days of the IMF/USAID loan-scamming: a 24-hour party. There were bars like the Canadian-operated Hungry Duck, which lured Russian teenage girls into its bar with a male striptease and free drinks, “who, once thoroughly intoxicated, were then exposed to crowds of anxious young men the club admitted only late in the evening.”
At a third and more intriguing level, Contagion is about America’s criminal politics in the Clinton regime, and, inevitably, the reader will put Williamson’s book down with the sense that Al Gore will be the next occupier of the White House.
Gore, who was raised to be President, has impeccable Russian connections. His father, of course, was Lenin financier Armand Hammer’s pocket senator, and it was Hammer who paid for Al Jr.’s expensive St. Alban’s Prep schooling; and, as Williamson reports, Al Jr.’s daughter married Andrew Schiff, grandson of Jacob, who, as a member of Kuhn, Loeb & Co., underwrote anti-czarist political agitation for two decades before Lenin’s coup, and congratulated Lenin upon his successful revolution.
Williamson also documents Gore’s intimate involvement with powerful Wall Street financial houses, and his New York breakfast meeting with multi-billionaire George Soros (a key Russian player) just as the Russian collapse was underway.
Williamson tells an interesting story of Gore’s response to the IMF/World Bank/USAID plunder of U.S. taxpayers for the purpose of hobbling Russia.
By March 1999, Russia was now a financial basket case, and billions, if not tens of billions of U.S. taxpayer-backed loans had vanished into the secret bank accounts of both Russian and American gangster capitalists, and the news was starting to make little vibrations on Capitol Hill.
“The U.S. administration’s response to the debacle was repulsively similar to a typical Bill Clinton bimbo-eruption operation: Having ruined Russia by cosseting her in debt, meddling ignorantly in her internal affairs, and funding a drunken usurper, his agents denied all error and slandered (‘slimed’) her,” writes Williamson.
“Pundits and academics joined government officials in bemoaning Mother Russia’s thieving ways, her bottomless corruption and constant chaos, all the while wringing their soft hands with a schoolmarm’s exasperation. Russia’s self-appointed democracy coach Strobe Talbott (‘Pro-Consul Strobe’ to the Russians) would get it right. An equally sanctimonious Albert Gore — the same Al Gore who’d been so quick to return the CIA’s 1995 report detailing Viktor Chernomyrdin’s and Anatoly Chubais’ personal corruption with the single word ‘Bullshit’ scrawled across it — took the low road and sniffed that the Russians would just have to get their own economic house in order and cut their own deal with the IMF…”
The cost to the American taxpayers of Clinton regime bailouts in a three-and-a-half-year period, Williamson notes, is more than $180 billion! The “new financial architecture” Clinton has erected, she writes, “isn’t new at all, but rather something the international public lenders have been wanting for decades, i.e., an automatic bailout for their own bad practices.”
As the extent of the corruption of the Clinton-Yeltsin “reform” plan for Russia unfolded last year, with the attendant Bank of New York scandal, the mysterious death of super banker Edmond Safra in his Monte Carlo penthouse, the collapse of the Russian stock market, and the whiplash effect in Southeast Asia, Congress was pressed to hold hearings.
What resulted, as Williamson accurately narrates it, was just a smoke screen, show hearings that barely rose above the seriousness of a Gilbert and Sullivan farce — though they did result in proposed new domestic banking laws that, if passed, will effectively make banks another federal police force responsible for reporting to the U.S. government the most minute financial transactions of U.S. citizens.
In this regard, it is instructive to quote Williamson at length:
“If the FBI, [Manhattan District Attorney] Robert Morgenthau, or Congress were serious about getting to the bottom of the plundering of Russia’s assets and U.S. taxpayers’ resources, they would show far more professional interest in exactly what was said and agreed in the private meetings [U.S. Treasury secretary] Larry Summers, Strobe Talbott, and [former Treasury Secretary] Robert Rubin conducted with Anatoly Chubais [former Russian finance minister, who oversaw the distribution and sale of Russian industries], and Sergie Vasiliev [Yeltsin’s principal legal adviser, and a member of the Chubais clan], and later Chubais again in June and July of 1998.
“Instead of allowing Larry Summers to ramble casually in response to questions at a banking committee hearing, the Treasury secretary should be asked exactly who suckered him — his Russian friends, his own boss [former Harvard associate Robert Rubin, his boss at Treasury who was once co-chairman at Goldman Sachs], or private sector counterparts of the Working Committee on Financial Markets [a White House group whose membership is drawn from the country’s main financial and market institutions: the Fed, Treasury, SEC, and the Commodities & Trading Commission]… Or did he just bungle the entire matter on account of wishful thinking? Or was it gross incompetence?
“The FBI and Congress ought to be very interested in establishing for taxpayers the truth of any alleged ‘national security’ issues that justified allowing the Harvard Institute of International Development to privatize U.S. bilateral assistance. It too should be their brief to discover the relationship between the [Swedish wheeler-dealer and crony of Sachs, Anders] Aslund/Carnegie crowd and Treasury and exactly what influence that relationship may have had on the awarding of additional grants to Harvard without competition. On what basis did Team Clinton direct their financial donor, American International Group’s (AIG) Maurice Greenberg (a man nearly as ubiquitous as any Russian oligarch in sweetheart public-funding deals), to Brunswick Brokerage when sniffing out a $300 million OPIC guarantee for a Russian investment fund… And why did Michel Camdessus [who left the presidency of the IMF earlier this year] announce his sudden retirement so soon after Moscow newspapers reported that a $200,000 payment was made to him from a secret Kremlin bank account?…
“American and Russian citizens can never be allowed to learn what really happened to the billions lent to Yeltsin’s government; it would expose the unsavory and self-interested side of our political, financial, and media elites… Instead, the [House] Banking Committee hearings will use the smoke screen of policing foreign assistance flows to pass legislation that will effectively end U.S. citizens’ financial privacy while making them prisoners of their citizenship… The Banking Committee will use the opportunity the Russian dirty money scandal presents to reanimate the domestic ‘Know Your Customer’ program, which charges domestic banks with monitoring and reporting on the financial transactions in which middle-class Americans engage. This data is collected and used by various government agencies, including the IRS; meaning that if a citizen sells the family’s beat-up station wagon or their ‘starter’ home, the taxman is alerted immediately that the citizen’s filing should reflect the greater tax obligation in that year of the sale… Other data on citizens for which the government has long thirsted will also be collected by government’s newest police force, the banks…”
You see, as this book explains, the Clinton’s Russia policy did not just plunder Russians, leaving them destitute while creating a new and ruthless class of international capitalist gangsters at U.S. taxpayer expense; it had the double consequence of bringing all Americans deeper into the bankers’ New World Order by increasing their debt load, decreasing their privacy, and restricting their civil rights.
If only Americans cared.