THE Clinton administration was right to support Russian President Boris Yeltsin in his showdown with the parliament, says retired Gen. Brent Scowcroft, who was national security adviser under President Bush.
``The last expression of the Russian people was a referendum in April that did endorse both Yeltsin and his program of reform, so in that sense you can say: `Yes, Yeltsin was the one we should have supported,' '' General Scowcroft told reporters Oct. 5 at a Monitor breakfast.
``But the parliament was not simply a group of fascist, communist thugs,'' he continued. ``The extremists who led the group that was holed up in the parliament maybe [were], but the parliament had a lot of opposition parties, supporting parties, and so forth.''
Now that the crisis is over, the United States should quietly urge Mr. Yeltsin to lift the emergency decrees and ``reach out and try to heal rather than take advantage of the success he's had,'' Scowcroft says. ``Now that he doesn't have to negotiate under pressure, he has to think about moving a presidential election simultaneous with or closer to a parliamentary election, so the Russian people, having gone through this big confrontation, can register themselves on a course of action.''
On Somalia, where 12 US members of the United Nations peacekeeping force were killed Oct. 4, Scowcroft sees three options:
1. To prevent military leader Gen. Mohamed Farah Aideed ``from making too much trouble'' by cordoning him off in southern Mogadishu. Scowcroft isn't sure that's possible because of his ability from his stronghold in south Mogadishu to lob mortar shells into the port and airport.
2. If that's not possible, to ``take General Aideed out.''
3. To leave, which would be the equivalent of cutting and running. That would be a serious mistake, both for the US and for the United Nation's ability to go in anywhere on a mission, he says.
``The real problem,'' says Scowcroft, ``is the fact that the UN force, absent the United States, is not frankly adequate to [do] the job as it has developed.''