“Even had Soviets strangled all of their Jews in the gas chambers, it wouldn’t be a matter of any concern to us” — Henry Kissinger used to say in 1973.
The world is yet to realize the consequences of Wikileaks-bound scandal. Whatever is to come our way, international diplomacy would never be the same as before the Cablegate. No matter what will the further destiny of Julian Assange be, trust to the U.S. State Department representatives in the world has been undermined once and for all. It also doesn’t matter how hard would Washington and other world capitals try to put a good face on bad news, hardly any diplomat (and not just them) would have the courage to exchange confidences with American partners anymore. After the first wave of shock, connected with the Wikileaks publications, world is beginning to understand that Assange’s persecution doesn’t quit fit the liberal values that the United States worship so much — including the First Commandment to the U.S. Constitution, which secures the freedom of speech and free access to the information.
At the height of the scandal, banner that fell off Julian Assange hands (who was arrested in London) was taken up by the Richard Nixon’s Presidential Library and the State Museum of California. According to the American legislation, right by the expiration of classified period these respectable institutions have published the tape records, containing 256 hours of President Nixon’s (1969–1974) conversations with his employees right before he left his post due to the notorious Watergate scandal.
It is his conversations with Henry Kissinger in February of 1973 — right after the meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir — which are of peculiar interest to us. Israel then asked the USA to exert some pressure upon the USSR regarding the issue of allowing the Jewish immigration.
“American diplomacy has no particular interest in the exit of these people” — said Kissinger. “Even had Soviets strangled all of their Jews in the gas chambers, it wouldn’t be a matter of any concern to us. At most that would be a humanitarian catastrophe and that’s it”. This terrible approach found surprising understanding of American President: “We certainly cannot blow up an entire world because of that”. During another conversation Nixon speculated on “specific” Jewish features. At that, he divided Jews into two categories: Israeli Jews, whom he admired, and American Jews whom he liked much less:
“Jews are very bellicose and annoying. They’re simply disgusting. All of them suffer from the inferiority complex, which they try to compensate with their behavior. American Jews are cowards, they fled to Canada just not to be drafted by the military and avoid fighting in Vietnam. I didn’t notice any Jewish names in the lists of American soldiers, who died in Vietnam”.
Last year Nixon’s Library already published some of his reflections on the Jewish issue. In the beginning of 1973 American President enriched the anti-Semitic folklore with the words that Jews are only to blame themselves for being persecuted everywhere:
“This is sad but it has already happened in Spain, Germany and it would be just the same in America if these people don’t start behaving themselves properly”.
Today these publications seemingly have strictly historical — or at most, educational — value. After all, now it’s not that important whether Nixon was an anti-Semite or not. Alas, it is not that plain and simple.
It was exactly Richard Nixon’s presidentship (1974) when the U.S. Congress adopted the famous Jackson-Vanik amendment to the U.S. Law on Commerce — it imposed certain restrictions upon the trade with socialistic countries, preventing their citizens from immigration. In regards to the USSR this meant the decisive protest of American authorities against the limitations applied to the Jewish would-be-immigrants of the time. Jackson-Vanik amendment prohibited the most-favored trade treatment, issue of loans and loan guarantees for the countries, which violated or seriously restrained the immigration rights of their citizen. It also stipulated the discriminatory tariffs and fees for the goods, exported to the USA from the countries with a non-market economics. Nominally this regulation was adopted because of the Soviet immigration restrictions, but it was also applied to the other countries — PRC, Vietnam, Albania.
It’s true that in 1972 a certain regulation existed within the Soviet legislative framework — according to it, would-be-immigrants having a higher education were to compensate the state tuitions costs (Decree of the USSR Supreme Soviet Presidium dated the 3rd of August, 1972 — “Regarding the compensation of state tuition costs for the Soviet citizens willing to depart for the permanent residence of another country”). From the USSR Supreme Soviet register, 1972, issue #52, page 519.
For the MSU graduates compensation made up 12.200 rubles (mind that the average salary at that time was nearly 130-150 rubles a month). This decree was cancelled only on the 20th of May, 1991. This was a mean of plugging the “brain leak” — immigration of the intellectual elite (mostly Jewish) from the Soviet Union to the Western countries. This decision of Soviet authorities met a wave of rebuff in the West. 21 Nobel Prize winners stood up with the public speeches, accusing Soviet leadership of “massive human rights violations”. Soon enough the monetary fee was cancelled, but it was replaced with some additional restrictions, which in fact meant pretty much the same — ban on immigration, even for the sake of family reunion. Visas and Registration Departments (VRD) could have reviewed the immigration applications for years — the most common reason for rejection of exit visas issue to the so-called “refuseniks” was the “access to the state secrets”.
By now, Jackson-Vanik amendment has been cancelled for four ex-USSR countries:
2000 — Kyrghizstan. Due to its decision to join the 1998 American initiative on “Restoration of the Great Silk Way”, aimed at creation of the Eurasian transit corridor roundabout Russiam Iran and Iraq;
2000 — Georgia. Due to its «movement towards democracy» and decision to join the “Great Silk Way” project;
2004 — Armenia;
2005 — The Ukraine. Amendment was cancelled right after the victory of the “orange revolution”.
This “amnesty” however wasn’t applied to Russia, alhough today even Senator McCain wouldn’t have the heart to accuse the Russian Federation of interfering with the immigration rights for any of the 180 nations, inhabiting our country. Jackson-Vanik amendment still remains the pain spot of Russo-American relationship. All assurances of George Bush and Barack Obama to remove this discriminatory piece of American legislation are still unfulfilled. Last year, during the Russo-American business-forum that took place in Moscow, Sergey Lavrov — Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs stated the following:
“U.S. President Barack Obama admitted that this is a problem on their side. He told me that he understands the entire awkwardness of the situation and that cancellation of the amendment would be one of his administration priorities”.
Given the background of sensational Nixon’s Library publications, this awkwardness aggravates all the more.