« ÎnapoiContinuă »
fected by their knowledge of the world in terms of what it is they have experienced.
Even their parents now, as a result of the passage of time, are unable to pass to them a sense of what the world was like in Russia prior to the Bolshevik revolution. It is also important to recognize that Russia, prior to the Bolshevik revolution, was not one of the garden spots of freedom.
Therefore, these are people who are not coming from a culture which has had very much experience with freedom before or after 1917.
Now, the defector has a problem that is different from and greater than the emigres. He has not only been deformed by his life in a totalitarian society, but also his views of the world, his views of the way governments and societies work have been similarly deformed. When he makes the decision to defect, if he is given asylum, he does not come to a community of people like himself.
As a matter of fact, he comes to a community of Russians now living in the United States, emigres, who are suspicious of him. In addition he has his own sense of guilt which was referred to several times earlier. He also is now entering a community which is suspicious of him because of his association with the Soviet Union's apparatus in one form or another.
The emigres benefits to a certain extent by the fact that in some cases there are family members already here. In all cases, there is a community of Soviet emigres, which is here and which can provide a certain amount of emotional support and guidance in this absolutely bewildering society. It is impossible for us to understand what a shock a credit card means to a Soviet emigre.
Now, on arrival in the United States, the emigre does, in fact, count on a certain amount of help from those like him who have preceded him. The defector cannot count on any help. Among other things, he doesn't share in a certain amount of luster that flows from the fact that they have been refuseniks, dissidents, of whom they are very proud. The defector is not of that community and cannot feel that same sense of pride.
Now, it is tempting to approach the real or perceived problems that these hearings are dealing with by emphasizing their financial aspects, and some references were made to money yesterday. To seek solutions by seeking more money, public or private, or both. Social issues, to be sure, have their cash nexus, and refugees and related problems are no exception.
For reasons briefly touched on, defectors coming into our midst require more attention, often a great deal more attention, more services, more and longer support than the average refugee, and all of this costs money. The $650 the government provides for the resettlement of refugees on a per capita basis covers just a small part of the cost that their resettlement entails.
Still, money is not the nub of the problem, and I think that it would be a mistake to leave that mistaken judgment, especially at this time when there is an understandable concentration on the fact that we are in such horrendous debt.
No person can be considered successfully resettled unless he is employed. That is true for financial, but even more for psychological reasons. Employed in a position for which he or she derives a
modicum of satisfaction and enough income to pay the rent, and to cover daily needs.
Public assistance is definitely not the answer. One of the acute problems that confronts the Soviet emigre, defector or refugee is to sustain a sense of self-worth. A mixture of guilt, nostalgic concern for having left the homeland, family abroad, various efforts which the KGB and other Soviet entities apply to exacerbate his guilt in an effort to secure his return to the Soviet Union, all of these whittle away at what is already very feeble, and that is a sense of selfworth.
Entering this society, for a Russian, is not exactly the recommended treatment to improve one's ego. Therefore, public assistance further complicates the problem. At times, it is indispensable, but it is not the answer.
Senator COHEN. May I ask a question right here, Mr. Chairman? Senator NUNN. Certainly.
Senator COHEN. If the defector or emigre comes from a society in which he is on a form of public assistance, why is another form of public assistance so degrading?
Mr. CHERNE. Because his shock of leaving the Soviet Union, his guilt about leaving. Bear in mind the defector has committed a crime in doing what he did. He now comes here to an altogether foreign environment.
In the Soviet Union, he has been accustomed to fighting with authority for everything he ever got. This carries over. It takes him a long time to learn that you do not advance in the United States by fighting with authority.
Often, he will be a "pain in the neck" to the International Rescue Committee or the other voluntary agencies taking care of him. It is difficult for him at first to understand that we are not part of the United States Government.
It is not unusual for a Russian defector, for example, who, with considerable effort, is placed in a comfortable apartment in Brighton Beach, New York, which happens to be the enclave of the Soviet emigres in New York City, to say: "Why did you send me to Brighton Beach? I understand the apartments are better in Queens."
This is part of his continuous Soviet learned struggle with authority. In addition to which, he comes to a society which, in the first months or years of his being here, exacerbates his sense of deficiency-his deficiency in language, the great difficulty, in many cases, of finding employment appropriate to his past employment, let alone equal to it, but appropriate to it.
These are very destructive, particularly in periods of depression, and they all go through periods of depression. These are destructive to his sense of self-worth. There is a complaint among even the highest level defectors that the United States is not making adequate use of them. There was one quick reference to this in the testimony yesterday.
It is unfortunately true, I have learned, that high level national security defectors will, in fact, provide very valuable information to the United States Government, but when they have completed doing so, there is not an adequate effort to continue in the years
that follow to get his unique insight of the way the Soviet system works.
We tend to drop things. One of the worst things that can happen to a refugee is to be prominent enough to receive press and television attention. In some cases, with which I have had experience, they have even received invitations to speak before business groups, other groups, social groups, women's groups. This is extremely flattering and, in fact, it does provide that sense of utility, but then, all of a sudden, he is nobody, because this comes to an end. It never comes to an end gradually, it comes to an end abruptly.
Senator COHEN. Politicians suffer the same fate.
Mr. CHERNE. I know that. I admire the courage which leads you to do what you are doing.
Now understandably, the focus of this subcommittee, and it is an essential focus, what is it that the government can do?
What I have been trying to convey is not the idea of the government's becoming an employer of last resourt. That, in my opinion, would not be useful. This is not a governmental function. One hopes, however, that the government can learn the means or create the mechanism by which to stimulate and support the planned creation of opportunities in academic teaching, research and production facilities which will offer employment to qualified scientists, artists, professionals, and some of less learned skills.
I do know that the International Rescue Committee has an employment service which we ourselves administer. We do it in cooperation with the business community. It is very heartening to realize that a concerted effort in this direction does, in fact, produce jobs. It is even more heartening to see how, within a period of a very few years, these people do advance. However out of place it would seem their first job is, they finally do wind up very significant citizens in the American economy.
Let me digress at this point and put forth, and I should have said so upfront, what may be a bizarre view, I thought the Bork Hearings, whatever one thinks of Judge Bork, were the most appropriate celebration of the 200th Anniversary of the Constitution.
I do not think that the events, desirable as they were, which took place in Washington and Philadelphia, did a fraction of what those hearings did to make of that document a living instrument, and illustrate, in fact, what that document does. I have the same feeling about these hearings. You could not, in my opinion, have timed them more appropriately.
I regard it as virtually certain that there will be an arms agreement. I see many evidences, and I am sure you see many more, of the speed with which segments of the American community, given the glimmer of Glasnost and Peristroiko, and especially with the Soviet Union, believes peace has come. We have traditionally jumped at every meager sign of absent hostility to persuade ourselves that this is it, the long struggle is over, the costs are coming to an end.
I know one very ugly antidote. One must recall that in the midst of Glasnost, the Soviet Union is conducting an active propaganda campaign, within the Soviet Union and throughout Africa, to per
suade both populations that AIDS is a chemical warfare contribution the United States Government has made to the world.
Therefore, I have a lingering suspicion that we are not at the dawn of peace. We may be achieving a very desirable result, but the contest and the struggle remains.
For that reason, this subcommittee, in two ways, first of all, by focusing on a persistent reality, the reality of this urgent need of people who love their homeland, but nevertheless leave family behind, as many do, leave careers behind, rip up their roots and come to the United States, does at a minimum suggest that something is wrong. There aren't too many Americans fleeing to the Soviet Union.
Secondly, it is my hope that as a result of these hearings, there will be an increased concern with and attention paid to this community, because this community is urgently needed in the United States in order to correct our shortcomings of simply not having the vaguest idea of what the Soviet Union is like, let alone what the Russian culture is like.
We have a very regrettable tendency-it is not limited to the United States, but I think we are the leading specialist in it-when we wish to understand the foreign policy of another nation, or what the foreign policy propects may be in our relationships with other nations, to look in the mirror. We are quick to see everybody in that mirror.
I had a conversation some years ago with Golda Meir, after the Yom Kippur War. It was a purely accidental one, we were both flying on a plane to the coast. I asked her how was it possible, with the exceptional intelligence which the United States has, especially intelligence which is able to photograph objects from space, and the unusual intelligence which Israel has and so closely, how could we have missed it?
You don't prepare a landing across the Suez in one night or surreptitiously.
She said: "I absolutely agree with you, we should not have missed it."
I said: "How do you explain the fact that we missed it?"
She said: "I am afraid that we mirror imaged the problem." Interestingly enough, she used that phrase. I said: "What do you
We could not imagine that they would be stupid enough to do it. We wouldn't be if we were in their shoes. She reflected this tendency of which I talk.
I was a very unlikely acting chairman of the United States Advisory Commission on International Education and Agricultural Affairs, serving that bureau in the State Department. I say, unlikely, because I simply could not persuade myself that if two people get to know each other better, the chances of peace are greater. Nor was I able to persuade myself with that older notion that Tom Watson Sr., advanced, "world trade is world peace," because if either of those propositions were true, then the two friendliest nations on the face of the earth should have been France and Germany.
Believe me, they knew each other thoroughly. They did not require conferences to enlarge their knowledge. Yet, they were, with
greater frequency than other nations on the Continent of Europe, at each other's throats.
The antidote to these misconceptions is to have people within our own community give us a sense of the reality that is their life. The average American does not know how meager is the size of a room in which an entire family lives in the Soviet Union. It comes as a great shock when they learn it.
Unfortunately, those who do have the opportunity to go overseas seem, more often than not, to check their critical capacity back home before they leave, and entirely unconsciously, they regard it as their function to be as friendly, as uncritical, as unabrasive as possible.
I can assure you that the groups who come here from the Soviet Union are not similarly oriented and do not do that. I rather suspect that some in those groups who come to the United States are, as a matter of fact, trained for the purpose of their coming to the United States. This is not true of those who come from this country.
One of the urgent things that the government must do in relation to the Soviet emigre, defector, refugee, whatever you wish to call him, is to speed the process by which he is given an opportunity to enter the United States, an opportunity to apply for citizenship, with the availability of the services that are accorded to other refugees. This is not the case with those who come from the Soviet Bloc.
[At this point, Senator Sasser entered the hearing room.]
Mr. CHERNE. Let me not suggest that there is some kind of a special disadvantage that the Soviet emigre suffers. No, it is shared, oddly enough, by some other Communist groups, most notably, I would say, the one group that suffers the most is the Cuban group.
On the one hand, we have the most active hostility toward Cuba, made all the larger by events in Nicaragua. On the other hand, we could not possibly throw more stones in the path of those few Cubans who might come to the United States, or who are resident temporarily in some South American country.
We have a provision which permits refugees in South America to seek resettlement in the United States. Oddly enough that regulation has only one exeption-Cubans. I would be hard put to give you an explanation for that fact.
A similar fact. About three years ago, the President of the United States indicated that we would be eager to provide asylum for all of the Cuban political prisoners, a fact which reflects the best in our tradition. Here we are dealing with a group of people who could convey a reality on any level that is otherwise not available.
As a result of the break down of the Mariel Agreement, somewhere in the State Department, that presidential commitment was altered. As it now reads, we will provide asylum for Cuban political prisoners providing that they have spent at least ten years in a political prison.
If one simply visualizes, and the best way I can describe it is the Bridge on the River Kwai, solitary confinement, which is a regular part of the treatment of political prisoners in Cuba, what that hotbox is in the climate of Cuba, it is incredible to me that the