Visions 2000


Anthony F. O'Reilly


The biggest opportunity facing us in the West is the most immediate one, that is assisting the restructuring of what was Soviet Union, and what is now a loose confederation of Republics, the greatest of which is mother Russia herself. And we've got to help in every way. First, the situation this winter is very, very serious. Famine in the Soviet Union would become the enemy of democracy and the friend of every militarist. Famine is a very real likelihood because of their bureaucratic farming failures. Moreover, it is the distribution system as much as the production. It's pretty frightening when you see how hard it is to get product to market in a place like Moscow, and the extraordinary paucity of product available. Shopping is a daily humiliation for the Russian housewife.

Secondly, we have the opportunity to use American management know-how and organizational savvy to give the republics a banking and accounting system, which they desperately need, and to assist rapidly in the provision of everything from a bill of rights to a proper jurisprudential structure that gives them courts they can trust. We can help them understand the definition of the separation of powers, so essential to democratic process. So I think there is ten years work there, and if we got to the year 2000 with a confederation that is an extension of Western Democracy, we would have probably performed the most significant feat, allowing for the two wars, in the whole of the 20th century.

In a wider sense, the opportunity of the next ten years is to capitalize on the growing awareness that we all have of the futility of war, and of the prosperity that could be born of peace. So I would feel that all our people, the successful businessman, the young student, our athletes, artists, our teachers, should be considering how they can best display the mantle of democracy to that most important part of the worldwide its 290 million people, and its history both of isolation and autocracy.

Nothing less than a massive Western assistance effort will respond to this opportunity. I think we have been avery pusillanimous so far, and I would like to feel there is going to be mobilized the sort of action that George Marshall fronted after World War Two. I wrote to Deputy Secretary of State, Larry Eagleburger, and I quoted the British Treasury Secretary, Trevelyan, whose response to the question of assisting the Irish in 1845 at the onslaught of the potato famine, was that we should not rob the people of their pride by giving them food. So as a result, two million people died, and two million people emigrated, and the course of Anglo-Irish relationships was never the same again. So I suggested to Mr. Eagleburger that it was possible to make a miscalculation of the scale of Secretary Trevelyan if nothing was done to help the Russians this winter.

Perhaps it's hard for Americans to feel that yet again it is the U.S. that has to lead. Why not the European Community? After all, Europe is more proximate, and just as rich. However, the net result may be a vacuum in leadership, both here and in Europe,and we'll all pay the price of inaction.

It should be recommended that Chancellor Kohl has shown strong leadership in relation to Eastern Germany. Although the Germans will have funding problems for the next five years, in ten years time Kohl will be revered for his leadership and foresight. Right now unity is causing the German people a lot of problems, and they are paying with dearer money and higher taxes for the mistake they made in setting the exchange rate too high for East Germany. However, broadly speaking, the Germans will get it right, and they will have a very powerful country by the year 2000-with up to 80 million people. This is a country that can play the key leadership role in Europe, and a world leadership role almost independently of its European role.

But I return to my thesis that America has to provide world leadership because it is so technically proficient, and because almost every political, social, and economic experiment you want to conduct has been conducted here. We know what furthers democracy and stability in a vast geographical area: a pluralist constitution, separation of powers, a single currency, central policing, and a common culture. It is only when you see what America has achieved with such disparate cultures that you realize how far many other countries have to go. If we don't respond, the world could conceivably, although one rather doubts this, break into three blocks: A teutonically-dominated European block, a Japanese-led Asian block, and a U.S.-led Americas block. Then we would begin to think in terms of competing spheres of power, rather than as citizens of the world. But I don't think that is going to come to pass, because I hope we will implement the necessary measures including generous aid programs to the poorer regions, and global trade liberalization to create a new community of nations that will begin an unprecedented era of peace and prosperity.

  • This document was created from the article, "Visions 2000" written by an unknown author for the November/December 1991 edition of "Chief Executive." The original article is located in MS134.003.027.00017.
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