Arbat, past the clubs and pizza parlors, which make it seem likernGreenwich Village in Antarctica, to the very end and cut over tornthe Novi Arbat.rnLebed’s office is a run-down building. In the conferencernroom, where we wait for the general, the blinds are broken andrntwisted. Standing outside the building, our student friend doesrna Lebed impersonation: “I will teach you to love Mother Russia.”rnIs this wise, I wonder, under the nose of the general’srnassistants—tough-looking, although not sinister by Russianrnstandards.rnThe American attempt torningratiate with a smilerndoes not go over even inrnpostcommunist Russia: theyrninterpret our grin either as a signrnof idiocy or a gesture ofrnpropitiation—they are probablyrnright on both counts.rnWe all (about half a dozen) stand when the general entersrnthe room. He walks around the conference table and formallyrnshakes the hand of each of us. He is less ugly than in the photographs,rnbut his face is hardly more animated. As he listensrnand as he speaks, his face registers no expression, but I noticernthat he plays incessantly with a little piece of metal wire. Lebedrnspeaks no English; neither does his translator, unfortunately,rnand the session threatens to break down into corrections and recriminations.rnFinally, we arrive at the solution. Lebed speaksrnin Russian, which one of his aides—a Balkans expert—translatesrninto Serbian, which Srdja Trifkovich translates, virtuallyrnsimultaneously, into English. The New World Order forrnmonoglots.rnOur opening statements are a bit long-winded, and Lebed—rnsmiling for the first time—answers: “You have raised all thernquestions, and supplied the answers as well,” but he offers tornwrap up the whole question of Russia and the Balkans in a neatrnlittle package. Over the past five years, he says, Russia has notrnhad an independent foreign policy. (Kozyrev was an unguidedrnmissile, acting on his own initiative.) The Dayton Accord wasrnthe result of American pressure: the Russians were not consulted.rnIn any event, Russian policy in the Balkans is immoral.rnRussia made two serious mistakes: first, in acquiescing in thernend of the arms embargo—weapons are not needed for peace.rnHe cites Chekhov’s famous theatrical dictum: if a rifle is hangingrnover the mantle in Act One, it will have to be fired in ActrnThree. The second mistake is over Sarajevo, in keeping it intact.rnThe precedent was already set at Mostar, which wasrndivided between Muslims and Croats, but in handing all ofrnSarajevo to Muslim control, they are abandoning 150,000 Serbsrnin the environs to their fate. Izetbegovic will not keep hisrnpromise to protect the Serb women and children, and this willrnlead to war.rnThis situation cannot be resolved peacefully, both becausernof Muslim aggression and the Serb national character: they willrndefend their neighborhoods to the last, and this will elicit morernNATO bombings. The Serbs, of course, have a long traditionrnof guerrilla warfare, and Bosnia is no flat desert. In the mountains,rnguerrillas can go on almost forever. If peace is reallyrndesired, it will not be achieved by backing this people into arncorner and giving them no way out.rnEarlier in this century, the Russians backed the Serbs, thernGermans backed the Croats, and no one could give practicalrnhelp to the Muslims. But now, the United States, because of itsrnproblems with the Islamic world—problems that arise chieflyrnfrom its support for Israel—has taken the Muslim side. At thernsame time, the Russians have abandoned their national interest.rnNot too long ago, the Prime Minister of Montenegro offeredrnBar as a harbor to the Russian navy; now it has been givenrnto the United States, which also has bases in Macedonia andrnAlbania. The Bosnian Serbs are being forced, against their will,rnto accept American patronage. The situation is exacerbated byrninternal tensions in Yugoslavia, and there is even talk of Montenegrornseceding. Kosovo may be transferred to Albanian protection,rnforcing Serbia itself to seek patronage from any greatrnpower willing to protect them. Once this path is embarkedrnupon, it will be followed to its logical conclusion. Serbia will berninvited to join NATO, and the isolation—and humiliation—rnof Russia will be complete. Still, peace will not have beenrnachieved.rnWhen asked if it is possible to change the situation, Lebedrnsays that there are no impossible tasks or lost causes. If Russia isrnto change the course of events, it will require the will to decide,rnbut the current Russian government has forgotten not only thernSerbs but also the 2 5 million Russians living in the former SovietrnUnion but outside the boundaries of the Russian Federation.rnHe does not share the enthusiasm for Primakov we foundrnin the policymaking establishment and objects even to thernmethod of selection, promoting the chief of intelligence—rnwithout any intermediate position—straight into the Ministryrnof Foreign Affairs. Perhaps one may envisage importantrnchanges in Russian policy, but only after the presidential electionsrn—if they are actually held—though merely shifting andrnreplacing parts in the administration will not achieve results.rnAsked how a President Lebed would change policies, he answersrnthat he is not inclined to futurology, but—he declaresrnemphatically—Russia will change and in a civilized manner.rnThis is a small planet, after all, and there are many reasonablernpeople everywhere, who can understand each other, regardlessrnof nationality, and they will work together to establish a lastingrnpeace. I wonder if there is a very faint threat under all this: ifrnwiser heads and civilized methods do not prevail, then what?rnI come away from the interview thoroughly impressed.rnThere is no doubt that, succeed or fail, General Lebed is one ofrnthose military men of destiny who comes along from time torntime to save (or destroy) their country. The real question isrnwhich type: a Washington, a Franco, or a Caesar? As a usefulrnidiot, I am predicting one of the first two, because from myrnbrief scrutiny I could detect no signs of pathology or megalo-rn10/CHRONICLESrnrnrn