- The Washington Times - Monday, October 4, 2004

Moscow rules failed

Even when he was learning communist economics, Grigory Marchenko remained skeptical about centrally planned economies.

He had seen the failure of communism in the Soviet Union, where shoppers stood in long lines outside shops with nearly empty shelves. Cynical consumers knew “Moscow rules”: You bought what you could find, even if you didn’t need it, because that item would not be there later.

Mr. Marchenko, now economic adviser to the president of the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan, said he learned about capitalist principles at Moscow’s Institute for Foreign Relations in the 1980s.

“We learned Western economic theory. Of course, we were supposed to criticize it,” he told editors and reporters at The Washington Times yesterday.

After graduating, he left for the West and worked for banks in Germany, returning to Kazakhstan after the collapse of communism to help rebuild his homeland in the 1990s.

Today, his country is making great strides with an economy growing at a 10 percent annual rate for the past 10 years, he said. Average income is about $212 a month, but unemployment remains high at 8.2 percent.

The oil industry, however, is booming, and the Kazakh government is placing high hopes on a new pipeline to China that is scheduled to open in December 2005.

The transition from a communist economy to a capitalist one was difficult.

“Everything was centralized in Moscow,” he said. “Sometimes, we don’t know how we did it.”

Mr. Marchenko, who visited Washington for the weekend meeting of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, said Karl Marx’s economic theories led to some reform in 19th-century Britain but were a disaster for the Soviet Union.

“Communists adopted his untested theories,” he said. “We were kind enough to other countries to try them out on ourselves.”

Mr. Marchenko candidly reviewed the progress his country has made and the problems it still faces.

“There is a corruption problem in Kazakhstan at the customs, tax-collection and court levels,” he said. “Fighting corruption is like slaying a dragon and his head keeps growing back.”

He said he thinks that each Kazakh citizen must serve as a personal example of honesty.

“You cannot expect someone else to fight corruption,” he said.

Danger, danger

The Committee on the Present Danger, a relic of the Cold War, has brought on some impressive talent in its new campaign against terrorism with the addition of former Czech President Vaclav Havel, former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar and former Secretary of State George Shultz.

“We are fortunate to have these leaders associated with us, for they represent the highest ideals of freedom and representative democracy and they understand the strategic challenge posed by secular and Islamist totalitarians and the terrorism they practice,” said R. James Woolsey, committee chairman and CIA director under President Clinton.

Mr. Havel, who led the fight against Soviet communism in the 1980s, and Mr. Aznar, whose support for President Bush in Iraq and a terrorist bombing in Madrid led to his party’s defeat this year, will serve as co-chairmen of the committee’s new international wing.

Sens. John Kyl, Arizona Republican, and Joe Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat, inaugurated the new bipartisan committee in July.

The original committee was formed in the 1950s to alert the nation to the “present danger” posed by the Soviet Union.

Weekly radio addresses on the Mutual Broadcasting System rallied public support for a strong U.S. defense budget and a policy to contain communism adopted by President Truman in 1951.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison @washingtontimes.com.

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