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The Vietnamese have created their cities. For example, if you travel to Los Angeles, I will show you cities where Vietnamese live in their own communities and they have businesses. The Japanese took over small businesses in southern California, and me coming from southern California, I know it. Other communities have their support systems, too.
So what we are talking about here, basically, there is a small number of individuals who come to this country illegally, according to the Soviets, legally according to the United States, who might not have that kind of support network.
The reasons for coming are numerous. The problems are similar for all. I don't care whether they are from the Soviet Union, Vietnam, Afghanistan, or anywhere else. America is a unique country, because America is based on individual freedoms, and very often the defector has a tendency to be mixed up with regard to individual freedoms, because individual freedom basically means that you can fail, you can go through bankruptcy, you can make it in business. It is those freedoms that they do not understand. I know that because I have talked to many of them. So there is a tendency to misunderstand what freedom means.
There is one other point, I found, as far as defectors are concerned, and I agree with most testimonies that I have heard. I have seen all the hearings on C-Span, and I greatly appreciated the testimony of Judge Webster. I know he knows that the Agency has some deficiencies in the defector resettlement program, and I am absolutely positive that he is personally going to look into it.
One of the problems I see is that defectors have a tendency to stay within their own community-I don't want to be criticized by defectors, really-to get together and cry to each other. “It was so nice in the Soviet Union.” “You had a good job there.” “Now, if I didn't defect, I would have been made an ambassador." And all that nonsense. I am following the career of Igor Andropov, with whom I went to school, and he was Ambassador to Greece. I said, goodness, gracious, I might have been Ambassador somewhere in the United States, maybe, who knows.
They talk to each other and by talking to each other, without communicating that to other Americans, they sort of go back to their old values. The value of a defector represents the value of the society he comes from, and the values of the Soviet Union are that it is, for example, illegal not to have a job.
It is illegal to be without a job for more than 45 days, actually, and then you have to get a job. Defectors insist absolutely that they must have a job in the United States. If he doesn't have a job, the defector feels like he is a criminal.
Another point has to do with a defector's "elitist syndrome.” Because defectors do come from higher echelons, or potentially higher echelons of the Soviet society, feels he must have a big job. He feels he must have a chair somewhere in the university, professor, or deputy director of some kind of think-tank. This is the defector's objective in life. Sometimes it doesn't work. In most cases, it doesn't work. However, to stoop down to menial jobs is supposed to be a traumatic experience.
I have been through the defector resettlement program in the Agency. I have been in that program for about 10 years. One of the greatest credits I give to the Agency, and I wish that would be applied to many other programs, is education. In fact, I was insisting to an organization—I don't want to name that organization, some testified from that organizaion-that when you resettle a defector, first of all, concentrate not on the amount of public speaking or book writing, or other things, concentrate first of all on providing or creating a possibility for a defector to have American academic credentials, because credentials from Moscow University, or credentials from the Moscow Institute of Transport Engineers, mean zip in the United States.
You have to have American graduate credentials in order to compete in the competitive American market. In this sense, I say that the Agency I am talking about, the CIA, did one marvellous thing in my case. They helped me get my Ph.D. from the University of Southern California. There were some bright people in the Agency who said: Let's do it. They did it.
It was hard at the same time because I did have to wash dishes. I had to wash cars near Santa Barbara. I did have to drive a cab in Los Angeles. But I knew that, at the same time, I was going to the University of Southern California, I knew that something was going to be good in my life.
Russians are basically pessimistic and fatalistic people. Whatever happens, happens. But Russians can live on hope. They have been hoping about Communism for so many years, and they will probably be hoping for a thousand more years. Russians are optimistic people in the sense that they have hope, and I had that hope, and that is very good.
Also I heard that defectors come here, supposedly they carry a message or they say: I have this message. I am going to fight the KGB. I want to fight the Soviet Union. I want to fight the Communist system. I want to fight. So they come to fight here.
To carry a message to an extreme is not necessarily true. In fact, there was an example when I went to Mexico City. There was one of the defectors who participated in a panel, and in Mexico City he said: I came to fight the KGB here. was next on the panel to go, and you don't say, in Mexico City, that you came to fight the KGB. I was next to him on the panel, and I said: I want to make sure that I am not on the same plane, truck, or ship going back to the United States with you. This was basically it.
To carry a mission is very good, but you cannot carry a mission without a substantial base, without employment, without having enough support. So it is very important to have a job first of all, and then you can carry the mission, if you want to.
I disagree also very strongly with previous statements that there is no room in American academia for defectors. There is plenty of room. There is a study by AAASS that was issued recently. It is very easy to get. The study said that by 1990, the majority of professors who teach Soviet affairs, East European affairs, will be of retirement age. There will be a great vacuum in American academia as far as teaching is concerned. There is no replacement for those professors.
In my opinion, and in my experience, for example, when I was teaching at the University of Arizona, usually positions that were supposed to be in Soviet affairs are substituted by computer sciences. The professor is gone, so let's get rid of the subject, let's put in computer sciences.
In my particular case, when I was teaching Middle-Eastern affairs to about 60 students, my subject was substituted by a subject called something like "Ethics of Abortion," which is, I suppose, very important, however, in my opinion, it is not as important as Soviet policy in the Middle East.
There is room in academia, but the defector has to be able to compete with American graduates to get into academia. I find that there is no bias in academia against defectors. I find there is bias in one very particular sense.
Very often, defectors try to prove themselves and they come to this country carrying the banner, carrying sort of a grudge on their shoulder, and they go overboard. They don't know the American political system. They are used, very often by ultra-right wing organizations, which I am not going to name. First of all, those ultraright wing organizations offer money, defectors are very often in need of money. On top of that, they offer some kind of recognition to those defectors who would speak at their meetings.
I would like to enter into the record my article that I wrote on the subject in the Chicago Tribune, “How Defectors Can Be Used For Political Reasons By Organizations Who Seek Political Causes." In this case, for example, my article deals with the fact that some defectors were being used to claim that Jesse Jackson is connected with Communists, and there was a panel of defectors gathered to do so. It is very important to educate defectors.
Before I end, the key to resettlement is not crying from defector to defector. It is not crying and complaining that I have to deliver pizza in the evening to make my ends meet. The key is, first of all, community involvement. A defector comes to the United States. He is no longer a Russian. Obviously, he left Russia for certain reasons, whether they are political or personal.
I was very fortunate, in my case, because I became American probably at the age of 14. Probably I became more Americanized than Americans, especially as far as my knowledge of American jazz and big bands is concerned.
The key is not to cry, but to integrate defectors into the American community. How do you do that?
Senator Nunn. Mr. Sakharov, I don't want to cut you off, because it is fascinating testimony.
Mr. SAKHAROV. I will finish in one second.
There is a need for involvement in community work in American communities by the defectors, coaching soccer, hockey, water polo, and so forth. The other need is marriage with an Americanization of defectors. An educational program, such as initial program for defectors on how to acclimatize themselves in the American community is essential.
The other important point is that no private organization, regardless of their heroic efforts can really fulfill this void of which I am talking about. What is important is to have a government liaison committee, not necessarily with the intelligence, or the military, but a liaison committee that will see to it that defectors are okay. I have elaborated on that in my testimony, which you have.
Thank you very much.
[Exhibits submitted by Mr. Sakharov were marked Exhibit Nos. 30-33. Exhibit No. 31 may be found on p. 950. Exhibit Nos. 30, 32, and 33 may be found in the files of the subcommittee.]
Senator Nunn. Thank you very much, and we will make all of those documents part of your testimony, without objection.
Our next witness is Mr. Mikheyev. We are delighted to have you here today. I have already given an introduction on each one, so we will just turn it over to you. TESTIMONY OF DMITRY MIKHEYEV, FORMER SOVIET
DISSIDENT 1 Mr. MIKHEYEV. I have set my clock for nine-and-a-half minutes.
I thank you very much for inviting me. It is very exciting. I think that very few people realize the importance of this hearing. It is not just a matter of several hundred people's fate. It is a matter of great importance, because defectors are someone who are caught between two cultures. Unless we understand their problems, unless we understand their thinking, the problems of defectors, we will not understand what Gorbachev is thinking and doing.
Effectively, the problem that we are considering now is a problem of Soviet versus American mentality. I had a pretty unique chance to look at this problem for 25 years from totally different angles. First, when I met Americans at Moscow University 25 years ago. Then, in prison, I met redefectors, those people who defected to the West, and then they couldn't make it in the West. They went back to the Soviet Union, and they went to prison.
I have lived in America for eight years now. I am an American citizen now. I live a typical American life, I suppose, so I can now look at this problem of defectors' problems and the mentality clash from yet another point of view. I can only give you a conclusion, in the couple of minutes I have, about what we are talking about.
Defectors have, of course, some facts, but the most important thing about defectors and people coming from the Soviet Union is the way they look at the world, the way they approach the problem, and it is totally different from the American way. This is where we really can learn from them and help them to help America.
I can give you examples about this difference in Soviet mentality, thinking, and American thinking, and it is really fascinating, I was involved for one year in research at the National Security Research Foundation, a think-tank here in Washington. We had been analyzing the way American specialists, American experts and Sovietologists were thinking, and Soviet defectors were thinking in exactly the same situations. It was staggering how different their thinking was.
An American expert might know all the nuts and bolts about the Soviet Union. Perhaps many of them know more information, more facts, data about the Soviet Union, but they think in the American way, and the Soviet defectors have a totally different approach. I will give you just one illustration of what I am talking about. It is not totally isoteric.
See p. 371 for Mr. Mikheyev's prepared statement.
Americans would identify the problem as primarily economic, primarily military, or primarily political problem. Once they identify the problem as such, then they look for the solution along the economic, or political, or military lines. So they will never consider solutions to an economic problem within the scope of political or military solutions. This is how they will look for the problem's solutions.
The Soviets will define a problem in all of its complexities, as a military, political, economic and so on. They will describe the whole complexities of this problem, and attack the problem from all directions.
Effectively, what might happen, the Soviets will find a political solution for an economic problem. Or they will find an economic solution for a military problem. Or they can find several solutions for the same problem. Americans will limit themselves to economic, if it is an economic problem, and they will look for economic solutions, that is all.
This is just one example. I have a whole set of these things. I would say that this is where the real value of helping defectors lies. We can really learn from them how to approach problems, how the Soviet leadership attacks problems.
We shouldn't go to negotiate with Soviets in Geneva without really trying to negotiate with defectors, with emigres. I have had the experience of simulated negotiations between an American team and a former Soviet team in the National Security Research. Their approach was very different. I ill give you one more example.
American thinking goes toward finding a compromise. This is how they negotiate. This is the American way, to strive for a compromise. Americans assume that both sides will make concessions, find common ground, and strike a deal. However, this approach is totally irrelevant in the case of the Soviet Union. The Soviets are not looking for compromise. A compromise is a derogatory word for them. Compromise means that they admit they are in trouble, they admit their weakness. Hence, they do everything to avoid a compromise.
Therefore, the Americans are working to find a compromise, and the Soviets are working at avoiding any kind of compromise. When Americans make a concession to the Soviet team, they think they demonstrate their goodwill, a strong position, and confidence. “Here, you can have this concession." They think they can afford it. The Soviets, however, perceive concessions as a manifestation of weakness. As a result, Americans want to manifest strength, and instead they manifest weakness to the Soviets.
We have to understand at least some fundamentals of this communication between Soviets and Americans, and it is not just a matter of raw facts or what platoon commanders know. This is almost irrelevant. We know almost all this information. The way of thinking of Soviets and Americans, which is dramatically different, this is what matters.
I guess my nine-and-a-half minutes have expired, but I would love to explore more on that during the question period, if you have time. I have my written testimony on the defectors' problem