- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 24, 2001

Hot on the heals of the highly successful campaign for delivering comeuppance to Swiss banks, Germany, and other beneficiaries of the Holocaust, a fresh opportunity with vast potential has fallen into our lap. Insisting that the ABM Treaty was valid, the Russian Federation has firmly declared itself legal successor to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
Who are we to say otherwise? Instead of jumping up and down with joy every time Vladimir Putin appears less threatening, we should respond with a resounding "yes."
Meanwhile, President George W. Bush can freely pursue his current policy no longer to recognize the ABM Treaty because the Russians go their own way in any case. We should not forget: just the other day they teamed up with the Chinese communists and issued instructions to the United States about the correct approach to its own defense. In the same vein, we can expect a joint communique any minute now by the Congo and Bangladesh, enlightening Americans about food production and distribution, followed by a Sudanese-Albanian treatise with the title, "Internet: The Next Level." But I digress.
In the best tradition of American largess, we might as well forget the bottomless pit of U.S. aid to the Soviet Union during World War II. Those who have been killed, maimed, robbed, and otherwise wronged under and by the Soviet Union will keep us and the Russians occupied for some time to come.
That is, if we resolve to be consistent, for a change.
As watchers of American television know, neither file footage nor Hollywood movies can be seen about the 74 years of Soviet terror. If such things exist, they are well hidden from view. Imagine if 74 years of Soviet socialist crimes would be accorded representation proportionate to the 12 years of German National Socialist ones. There would be no time for any other kind of programming on certain channels.
Perhaps the drive for restitution will dislodge some much-needed information as well.
No one can compete with the mechanical precision and speed with which the National Socialists of Germany implemented their program of extermination. But in terms of sheer numbers, the international Socialists hold the incontestable record.
Even in the absence of detail, the world knows about the tens of millions killed, the nations bulldozed into the ground, the historic crime of the Soviet Union in turning back the clock wherever its military forces buttressed a government of surrogates.
The greatest irony is that so many outside the Soviet Union — none too few of them in America — have spent their lives under the delusion the Soviet Union represented progress.
In practical terms, the demand for restitution should rely heavily upon organizations with a proven track record. Prominent among them would be Jewish organizations in the United States, at once for two reasons. First of these, of course, is the historic fact that a large proportion of Jewish families who have found security, prosperity and happiness in the United States had come here as a result of Russia's anti-Jewish pogroms during 1905. (Adolf Hitler was a mere 16, worrying about his poor grades.) The second reason is the record Jewish organizations have established in championing the cause of victims of all kinds, and with notable success.
A prominent place in this international organization ("Restitution Now" might be an appropriate name) ought to be given to NATO member Poland. The world keeps getting sidetracked by the constant repetition of Germany's attack on Sept. 1, 1939, that occurred in the Western half of Poland. A corresponding attack with even more murderous results was launched by the Soviet Union on the same day in the Eastern half.
Hungary, another new member of NATO, might contribute significantly to the effort not only because of the systematic destruction of its ability to recover from World War II, but specifically because of the tens of thousands killed in 1956, many of them unarmed schoolchildren.
A special fund must be established for individuals and families who somehow survived the German concentration camps and ghettos, only to be imprisoned or deported by the Soviet authorities a year or two later.
Lest readers think any of the foregoing is proposed tongue-in-cheek, here is an important point. Persons truly interested in a better future for Russia should realize that accepting responsibility for the past, and developing a better relationship to truth are indispensable for such a future. Getting a pass all the time has never helped a student; it will scarcely help a country.
So let us direct our demands for restitution, so prominent in the media of late, to the right place. The current fashion is to focus on the difficult proposition whereby persons now living would be given money because their skin tone is similar to entirely different persons wronged 100, 200, 300 years ago. Instead of such a tenuous scheme, all good people might combine efforts to establish justice for the living who themselves have suffered, or whose parents perished by the official act of an unspeakably bestial state.

Balint Vazsonyi, concert pianist and director of the Center for the American Founding, is a columnist for The Washington Times and is nationally syndicated.

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