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Do you swear that the testimony you will give before this subcommittee will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
General ODOM. I do.
Senator Nunn. General Odom, we are delighted to have you with us. I know you have very carefully prepared an opening statement, which I have had a chance to glance over, and I found it very, very interesting. I really think you hit some points here that commonly are not thought of. We would delighted to have you present it in whatever fashion you choose.
General ODOM. Mr. Chairman, I thought that I would not try to go down the whole statement—the talk is very lengthy-but encourage who are interested in detail to do that and merely to say that I think the sum or the bottom line of it is that first, the whole range of topics that you are dealing with, from the emigre to the defector, in the narrow sense that Director Webster defined it, is an extremely difficult and complex one.
Senator Nunn. Let me suggest to you, General Odem; I know we always run short of time. We always are looking for witnesses that can summarize, and this is no precedent, but if you would like to go through your statement, I think it is enormously important, and we welcome it. I think it will take 20 or 30 minutes, but what do you estimate?
General ODOM. I have 18 pages, sir, two minutes a page; ready to go.
Senator Nunn. It is a good statement. I think it is the heart of what we are talking about, and you put the focus on balancing in a unique way, because you have a unique background.
General ODOM. If you have the patience, I have the energy to do it.
Senator Nunn. We would like to hear from you.
TESTIMONY OF LT. GEN. WILLIAM E. ODOM, DIRECTOR,
NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY General ODOM. Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, while it is a pleasure to appear before you today, it is also a challenge of a most delicate sort. The subject of your interest, Soviet emigres, how they might better be used to support government and educational activities in the United States, is complex, fraught with ambiguities, permeated with emotional and political sensitivities, yet fascinating both for the potential which Soviet emigres bring and the difficulties they encounter in our use of it.
I would like to begin with some background observations and then turn to the practical problem you raise of how we can take better advantage of the new wave of Soviet emigration.
Emigres, particularly political emigres from the territory now controlled by the USSR, have been coming to the West for a very long time. Alexander Herzen and Mikhail Bakunin, two of the greatest Russian revolutionary writers of the last century, were emigres. Lenin and Trotsky, of course, were emigres, as well, two of the better known of a very large community of Russian intelligentsia that found it necessary to come to the West if they were going to carry on the intellectual and political activities they desired.
Let me clarify two technical points here. First, I will use the word Russian to label many emigres who are not Russian and who are adamant about the distinction between Russian and other nationalities within the old empire. Let me state clearly that if I use the term Russian when, in fact, the person or group covered are Ukrainian, Jewish, Latvian, Lithuanian, Estonian, Georgian, Armenian or some other ethnic identity, it is not because I favor Russification or Sovietization of these peoples. I do not, and if I were one of them, I, too, would insist on the distinction.
For the discussion today, however, matters might become too complicated if these ethnic facts were clarified in every detail. The best way to handle the issue, I would agree, is to acknowledge it now as the first problem in dealing with Soviet emigres, that they are not all Russians; that many of them do not accept the political legitimacy of either the Soviet Union or the Russian empire as the government of their nations.
Now, second, my comments this morning are on the broader problem of Soviet emigres and not limited to the issue of defectors alone. In my view, the latter group is a subset of the former, bearing the same potential and facing the same difficulties. We have already covered those with Director Webster.
The United States is more entangled in this problem than most of us realize. Both Woodrow Wilson and Lenin called for self-determination of all nations in 1919. Wilson's principle was seized by many groups to escape the re-establishment of the Russian, Hapsburg, German and Ottoman empires: Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Yugoslavia, Albania, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Albania, Georgia and Azerbaidzhan are examples.
While Lenin promised self-determination vis-a-vis the old empire, he opposed it within the fledgling socialist camp. During and after World War II, the USSR reincorporated several of these states into the Soviet Union and imposed a political and military hegemony over most of the others which remains more or less intact today.
We cannot deal effectively with the emigre problem without keen sensitivity to this nationality issue. While the Soviet Union has spoken abundantly about national liberation from imperialism, or more abundantly than the United States, the United States has done abundandly more to help the cause of national self-determination, not only in the creation of succession states in East Europe after World War I, but also in the decolonization on a global basis after World War II.
At the same time, the Soviet Union has expanded imperial rule over non-Russian and Russian peoples. That, in large part, explains why we have experienced three waves of immigration from the Soviet Union while the Soviet Union has not enjoyed a stream of immigration to its territories, except, of course, the forced repatriation after World War II.
This excursion into history is not academic. The fate of Soviet emigres in the United States is inextricably entwined with United States policy and Soviet policy on the nationality question. In those quarters in the West, both in government and the universities, where the Wilson's principle of self-determination is not welcome when applied to the last remaining large territorial empire-some would, of course, also include China, particularly for its actions in Tibet-emigre views are frequently unwelcome.
Many emigres remain interested in the decolonization of the USSR. Some of us in the West do not. Thus, the nationality issue, with all its historical baggage, permeates the topic you are addressing in this hearing.
In my own experience with emigres, I see today three general patterns of behavior among them. Bear in mind, though, that these patterns are enduring ones, also visible in preceding waves of Russian and Soviet emigration which span a century and a half.
First, there are those who, although forced to the West, do not ignore the West but adapt to become Americans and Europeans. They include illustrious names such as Joseph Conrad, Vladimir Nabakov and others. I hesitate to continue the list because I might overlook many who have so successfully adapted that you would not recognize them as emigres.
Most of this group are ordinary people. The large Jewish emigration to the United States after the turn of the century included many of this type of emigrant. Large numbers of Poles, Baltic peoples, Ukranians and Russians also fit the pattern.
Many of the more illustrious among them did not try to educate us on Russia or the Soviet Union because they perceived the gap between East and West as hopeless to bridge. Conrad, who left the Russian-ruled Poland to escape induction into the Russian army, refused to write about his native empire for many years.
At the turn of the century, however, he could no longer resist. He gave us a novel, “Under Western Eyes,” intended to bridge the gap of understanding, to try to let us grasp something of the divide between us and Russia in political, emotional and social terms. I commend it to you as just as valid today as it was at the time, particularly in light of the apparent winds of change blowing in the USSR. It will give you a sense of the climate that probably prevails within the emigre communities today, not precisely, but certainly a reference point for understanding the cross-pressures emigres experience. Overall, however, emigres in the first pattern shift their life focus and energy to the West, abandoning the political struggle for the future of Russia.
The second group comes to the West not because they want to become Americans, but because they want our freedom to pursue their own concerns about the future of the USSR. They adjust to the West only insofar as they must. They learn little or nothing about the West. Sometimes they scorn the West, reject it culturally and politically, while they focus their emigre energies on the USSR.
Herzen, Bakunin, Plekhanov, Lenin, Trotsky and most of the revolutionaires followed this pattern. Today, one only has to read the literature of the recent emigres to see their obsession with changing the USSR or predicting change there. Not surprisingly, they differ among themselves about the future they would like to see in the USSR. As they have more and more time to debate the complex question of "whither the USSR?" they will become more fragmented, more contentious in their assessment of Soviet affairs and given to factions and political struggle among themselves.
A third group, probably much smaller, follows a pattern not unlike that set up by Russian intellectuals in the 19th century who become wholly disillusioned with the West, convinced of Russia's moral superiority and then evolved into proponent of Russian imperialism. Dostoevsky, for example, began as a young radical, was arrested, sentenced to be hanged, given a reprieve, and later became very anti-Western and pro-Soviet autocracy.
You should not be surprised, therefore, to see occasional cases where individuals return to the USSR very disillusioned by the West. I mention these patterns in order that you better understand the heterogeneity of the emigre community. Those who have the most to contribute to the purpose you have in mind, naturally, are the ones most likely to fit into the second and third patterns.
Those in the first pattern find a new life and make their way as Americans. They are not likely to trade on their knowledge about the USSR, although they include many who are able to help us understand that society. Some of them, who choose an academic career, particularly in the social sciences, economics, political science, sociology, psychology and history, may eventually, after they "made it" in their disciplines, turn to the Soviet area for research. They will make great contributions. Their predecessors have done so. The "first wave" of emigrants after the Russian revolution gave us Karpovich and Florinsky, great historians. Kuznets and Leontiev come to mind in economics. There are many others.
It is important to dwell a bit more on the difficulties the new or third wave faces in adjusting to the United States. Language is the first problem. Men and women who climb to lofty positions in their chosen fields in the USSR and then arrive in the United States in mid-life are faced with being functional illiterate in English. Until they can speak, and, more importantly, write in English, their contributions are greatly restricted.
Yet they arrive without the funds and means to spend four or five years studying English. They arrive with a feeling that they know a great deal they could tell us, yet they are insufficiently articulate in English, either to offer their insights or, in some cases, to realize that their insights are not so new to us. In both cases, they are naturally put off, embittered with a feeling of being unappreciated.
Second, they come with a grounding in Marxism-Leninism and Soviet categories of analysis, modes of thought that turn out to be obstacles to understanding, both for us and for them. In economics, in law, and in history, the barriers are particularly strong. In academic circumstances, where there is strong expertise in these categories, they can be understood, but there are few jobs and professional opportunities there. In circles where such expertise does not reside, they are faced with becoming Americanized so that they can communicate about non-Soviet subject matter.
Third, there is the problem of adjusting to an internal new sociology of life: How to find an apartment; how to find a job; how to move about; how to deal with local government. In the Soviet Union, positions and connections are the currency for dealing with these problems.
In the United States, the currency is dollars. Money is of little concern for most Soviet intelligentsia. Friends, influence, connections, et cetera, count for everything. In the United States things seem upside down for them. They do not find reorientation easy as they face the burdens which American freedoms impose: choice and opportunity, coupled with responsibility for one's self. Their lot is not easy, and we will do well to empathize with it.
Perhaps equally complex and difficult in this matter are the differences among Americans in dealing with emigres. The first wave of emigrants, in the 1920s, does not seem to have made a big impression in American government circles. Most were anti-Soviet and pro-Tsarist, although some were merely anti-Bolshevik and others were pro-revolution but anti-Marxist. The lack of deep U.S. involvement in the affairs of Europe gave our government, academic and intelligence circles little sustained and disciplined interest in the USSR.
Therefore, the first wave was left to fend for itself. Those in the second wave, after World War II, had quite another experience. They were anti-Stalinist and largely out of touch with the several political aternatives that had inspired hope in 1917. They were welcomed for their views as well as their expertise.
They were, however, not as sophisticated as the third wave which followed. Of course, there were great expectations, but many were simply displaced persons with little education and those with education from Stalinist times knew their Marxist-Leninist catechism extremely well but not much more. While many did not necessarily favor a capitalist road for the USSR, they joined the consensus in the United States that the USSR was a major threat, politically and militarily.
This allowed the matter of alternatives for the future in the USSR to be glossed over in our dealings with them. That consensus is less strong today, particularly after Vietnam. And it has dissolved in our policy toward competition with the USSR in the Third World, even, to some degree, in our policy toward Europe.
This change in the political climate coincides with the arrival of the third wave of emigres, which includes very sophiticated and very well-educated people. They are not victims of war and upheaval, but people who have tried to change the USSR from within, people who have begun to rethink the basic and age-old questions facing their former country: What is Russia's purpose? Whither the USSR? Can a totalitarian regime evolve toward a liberal and human regime?
They have come to the West not merely to survive Stalin and the fate of the war, as did the second wave; they have come from relative privilege, in many cases, from positions of status, with keen and energetic minds. They have come with basically different aims and hopes and purposes than did their predecessor. They are more akin to their 19th century predecessors than to the first and second waves.
Can we take better advantage of the talents and knowledge they bring? The answer is yes, but the ways to do that are not easy to find.
I would like to cite one example of a very successful use of Soviet emigres. The U.S. Army's Russian Studies Institute or USARI, in Germany has traditionally been staffed almost wholly by Soviet emigres as the teaching faculty. The idea of the Institute originat