Boris Goes Bonkers
In Beijing - What's
Going On?
Boris Yeltsin flaunts Russia's nuclear arsenal while visiting Communist China's rulers in Beijing. What's really going on? The answers range from sobering to downright scary.
The picture being carried out of Beijing by international television coverage shows a seemingly out-of-control Russian president.
One moment he is displayed barely being able to stagger, stand or sit.
The next, he is furiously brandishing his nation's still-mighty nuclear weapons at the United States.
"Clinton permitted himself to put pressure on Russia," Yeltsin stormed on Thursday.
"He has forgotten Russia has a full arsenal of nuclear weapons. He has forgotten about that. Therefore he decided to play with his muscles, as they say."
From Washington, Clinton tried to one-up him: "I haven't forgotten that. You know, I didn't think he'd forgotten America was a great power when he disagreed with what I did in Kosovo."
In a remark that got lost in the crossfire, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin tried to calm the rough water of discourse, saying he felt sure neither president wanted to harm ties.
That's on the surface. What's going on beneath is even more disturbing:
Yeltsin is outraged that President Clinton would have the temerity to lecture him, as he indeed did this week, about waging war against Islamic rebels in Chechnya.
That's Russia's internal business and none of Clinton's, Yeltsin bristles, and he seems to have the military and much of his own people with him on that.
Clinton's admonitions about Chechnya and his own military intervention via NATO in the civil war in Yugoslavia are, to Yeltsin, all part of a menacing new United States policy of involvement beyond its own traditional spheres of legitimate interest.
Russia's war in Chechnya is drawing increasing criticism in the international community. That presents major problems for Yeltsin and he resents it deeply.
Already, the European Union is talking of imposing sanctions on Russia, which needs every scrap of trade to keep its foundering economy from sinking.
Resentment about Chechnya is prompting pressure within Congress to cut off U.S. financial assistance to Russia, another crusher for Yeltsin.
There are growing concerns among Yeltsin's political opponents that he may have sown the dragon's teeth in Chechnya that will produce a monster problem for Russia among the millions of resentful Muslims within its borders and in neighboring states.
Agence France Presse reports that a possible presidential candidate challenging the Yeltsin faction in next year's election, Konstantin Titov, warned: "Will we not then get from the Chechen people a new messiah like Iran once got Ayatollah Khomeini, a spiritual leader in exile." Khomeini returned from exile and installed an Islamic republic in that Persian Gulf state.
Against that background, Yeltsin went to Beijing, the one world capital where he knew he would find a warm welcome.
Communist China is the only major nation to support Yeltsin's war in Chechnya, and he got it again, on the record, as soon as he arrived in Beijing.
China's President Jiang "completely understood and fully supported Russia's actions in combating terrorism and extremism in Chechnya," Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said.
With that kind of support, Yeltsin felt free to rattle his nuclear missiles at the U.S., but that raised the question of just how battle-ready they are.
Colonel-General Vladimir Yakovlev, who commands Russia's nuclear forces, said his atomic weapons are fully Y2K-ready. He "guaranteed " no accidental launches because its command system is "impregnable for any kind of intrusion."
But a Russian magazine announced it had purchased top-secret documents that indicate just the opposite - a "horrifying" danger that Russia's Strategic Missile Troops will experience a millennium computer failure.
The Chinese don't seem to have any doubts about their ability to wage, or withstand, nuclear war. They've been on a roll.
In recent weeks, they have staked out two new bases along their coast for enough new-model missiles to take out Taiwan.
They are building a new type of submarine capable of launching missiles to land in any city within the U.S.
China's latest missiles are equipped with warheads and guidance systems based on top-secret technology stolen from the U.S. - and aimed right back at it.
The Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis says China already has 300 nuclear warheads and expects 1,000 to 1,500 by 2025, roughly the number the U.S. and Russia would have.
The Chinese People's Liberation Army boasts its strategic-missiles corps is now able to hit targets with 100-percent precision at any time, under all climatic conditions.
This is no accident. Through purchases of the latest high-performance computers from the U.S., China is able to guide even its intercontinental ballistic missiles with pinpoint accuracy.
At the same time, China has been perfecting its ability to endure a nuclear attack on its own military and civilian targets.
According to the American Foreign Policy Council's China Reform Monitor, the PLA General Staff announced major breakthroughs in building elaborate defensive shelters - an underground "Great Wall" to enable China to survive a nuclear exchange just as its ancient above-ground Great Wall saved it from invading Mongol armies.
There is increasing evidence of joint Chinese-Russian military operations and little doubt both countries will use Yeltsin's visit to Beijing to forge even closer military ties.
The upshot of all that is what the world saw on television was far more than an ailing, failing, doddering old man venting his spleen.
Those grim developments off camera are the real story behind "Boris Yeltsin Goes to Beijing."
They call up somber memories of a time when Communist China and the Soviet Union were allied militarily against the Free World, and it had good reason to be scared stiff.

This Site Served by TheHostPros