Admittedly, "8" is a somewhat unusual title for a column.
But Federico Fellini established the precedent with his film "8½."
The number in the title of this column has double significance.
The event to which it refers took place on the 8th day of June,
1999. More importantly, the appearance of the number 8 in a certain
context signals a major change on the world stage.
In the middle of an address delivered on the South Lawn of America's
Executive Mansion, discussing developments in Kosovo, the president
of the United States made reference to agreements just concluded
among officials representing the G8 nations.
Now, for some time, we have gotten used to periodic meetings bringing
together leaders of the most affluent nations, commonly known as
the G7, to discuss the affairs of the world. While it may have been
unseemly for some to observe this huddle of the rich, it did make
sense for countries more or less living by the rule of law and exemplifying
the free enterprise system, to form their own club.
Ever since Russia has emerged from the ashes of the Soviet Union,
previously known simply as the Russian Empire, its leaders have
demanded a seat at the table of the G7. The reason? Russia's size,
former power, and continuing ownership of ICBM's. The purpose? To
have a say in the affairs of other nations. Where the Red Army and
the KGB had failed, they figured the suggestion that the Russians
themselves were victims of communism might carry the day.
For the time being, the attempt didn't go anywhere. Though the
victorious West decided to dispense with any semblance of calling
the Russian equivalents of German war criminals to account, it stopped
short of rewarding Russia with a seat among the nations whose destruction
it had openly sought for decades.
Why Germany was treated one way after World War II, and Russia
in another at the end of the Cold War, no one will ever know. Why
victims of German socialism have their memorial in Washington, D.C.,
while victims of Russian socialism are rarely mentioned, no one
will ever know.
But Russia was not about to give up. True, its economy has been
going from bad to worse, and the establishment of a legal framework
is not even considered a remote possibility. But Americans appear
to have money to burn. Why sweat, as long as America delivers the
Of course, Mr. Gorbachev is unhappy. Recently, he voiced his disappointment
with America because of the arrogance of wanting to have another
"American century," before even completing the first one.
It does not occur to him that such matters do not happen by proclamation,
but as the result of very hard work. In order to have a Russian
century, it might be nice to manufacture something - anything -
that people of other countries would be interested to purchase for
Well - all of the above notwithstanding, President Clinton spoke
the magic word, G8. Indeed, research reveals that Russia has joined
as a full partner last year in Birmingham, England. (That would
be the same time and place where President Clinton chose to sign
the infamous Executive Order 13083.) The Russians now sit at the
table where they can contribute precious little, but create mischief
in reverse proportion.
To the best of my knowledge, there was no public discussion, no
formal announcement, no genuine awareness in our land - only the
sudden reality that a vast country noted mostly for its inability
to run its own affairs now has a voice in ours.
Yet, that reality simply reflects a larger and more ominous reality.
When our leaders intend to make changes that, in their opinion,
would elicit serious resistance from Americans, they find ways to
make it happen bit by bit, almost unnoticeable if need be, in slices
so thin that they would not register on an ordinary scale.
It is known as "incrementalism."
And therein lie the seeds of our destruction.
Momentous changes occur day-by-day in our land. Vast alterations
are undertaken to the model established in blood and faith 223 years
ago, defended in blood ever since. Executive orders transfer control
of land and water from owners to commissars. Political crime has
been ushered in under the pseudonym "hate crime." Marx's
prescription of uniting education with industrial production proceeds
at breakneck pace. The appointment of high officials without advice
and consent by the U.S. Senate has become routine. The cataloguing
and monitoring of citizens under a variety of guises, from immunization
to banking, concentrates ever more power in the hands of the executive
Yes, the awesome lesson of the secret health care commission of
1994 has been learned in the White House. Why commissions, even
in secret? Let's just do it, then say it. Or let's say it and see
if anyone dares to oppose it?
Is all this the doing of a couple of cunning politicians? Do not
kid yourselves, members of Congress, whatever your party affiliation.
The voters may be forgiving, uninformed, or otherwise engaged.
But history will record the names of everyone who countenances
the abandonment of our constitutional order and sits in waiting
for someone else to sound the trumpet.