The Foreign Service Journal, July-August 2022

14 JULY-AUGUST 2022 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL economic collapse could have been mitigated would have been if the West had mounted a program comparable to the Marshall Plan to Western Europe after World War II. It would have neces- sitated something of the magnitude of $30 billion a year for several years—10 times the peak annual flow of Western assistance to Russia. This was not going to happen. The only alternative was to help the Russian reformers put in place the new systems, policies and institutions required and support the implementation of those programs—such as the privatization of small and mid-sized businesses—to address the chaotic collapse of the Soviet system. As a related point, Loken’s comment on cooperatives—“We might get better outcomes by pushing for a more gradual move from Russian communism to American-style free-market capitalism, maybe using a middle step of coopera- tives. Every time I mentioned this idea, I was shut down immediately”—is particularly ill-founded. Cooperatives are not a midpoint between communism and capitalism. They are, in fact, more difficult to establish than a private sector. Loken also states: “Humanitar- ian assistance just to help the Rus- sian people get through the transition without starving to death would only be available as long as Russia complied with ‘shock therapy.’” This is at complete variance with any communication I had with Washington. There was never any suggestion that the continuation of U.S. assistance was dependent on Russia complying with any shock therapy. I have no idea what her comment— “We had our boot to their neck when they were down”—is based on. There were certainly no plans or actions asso- ciated with the U.S. assistance program that could be so characterized. She also states: “My experience dur- ing this time was that no one on the U.S. side was listening. We had won the Cold War, so there was no need to listen.” While I was in Moscow, we had a very collaborative working relationship with the Russian government, in general, and with the key Russian reformers, in particular. The Russians, in fact, were the ones initiating the reform efforts and sought our support in the areas in which they felt it would be most useful. We cer- tainly suggested areas where we might be helpful, but it was the Russians who were calling the shots. Loken further states: “What we did in Russia in the early 1990s was attempt to transplant neoliberal ideology, an ideal- ized version of American democracy and free-market economy, into Russia.” This is at great variance from reality. What we tried to do was help Rus- sian entities—whether political parties or committees in the Duma or apart- ment associations or municipal finance departments or journalists—understand how they might better accomplish their objectives. For example, we did not seek to guide political parties in regard to their objectives, but rather in how to go about organizing themselves and com- municating their programs. And, finally, her comment that “we were not supposed to be wandering around Moscow at all, and definitely not alone (although for a USAID person that didn’t seem to be enforced as effec- tively)” is a complete mystery to me. I never heard anyone in the embassy say such a thing. There was, of course, com- mon sense guidance to not be out alone at two in the morning, but the reality was that people were encouraged to interact with Russian society. n