Commentator Interview: Dr. Krakowski
With Campaign ‘80 coming to a close, Commentator’s special campaign issue features the following interview with Dr. Krakowski, a YC faculty member actively participating in this year's campaign.
Commentator: Why are you actively participating in this year’s Presidential campaign?
Dr. Krakowski: This is really the first time I have ever actively participated in a campaign. That is because in this election, we have a choice not between someone who is terrific and someone who isn’t — rather, the starting point is a negative one. If Jimmy Carter gets back into the White House, we will be faced with an extremely dangerous situation. That is both with regard to Israel and the overall foreign policy situation. Israel is really a litmus test for that overall foreign policy. At the moment, the world is moving even closer to a major conflagration due to Carter's lack of resolve and consistency. Even if you just glance at the press you will see foreign leaders — such as the West German Chancellor — who have the overall feeling that Carter is irresponsible and unreliable. The Russians are all over, initiating interventions, and they don’t think they will be stopped. And when Carter threatens to use force, they probably roll on the floor with laughter in the Kremlin.
Commentator: How do you feel President Carter has done in handling the Iranian situation?
Dr. Krakowski: If ever there was a case for intervention, this was it. But Carter didn't act early, and when he finally did act, it was a bungled, timid attempt. However, I wouldn't be surprised if Carter gets the hostages released very soon. Our President is the friend of those who use blackmail, extortion, and terrorism. I am speaking of third world countries such as Zimbabwe, and of course, Iran. The Iranians see Carter as their best ally. From someone like Carter they can get things. From someone like Reagan, maybe not. So Iran will say — “Let's release the hostages, that will get Carter re-elected.”
Commentator: What is your relationship with Zbigniew Brzezinski — the National Security Advisor?
Dr. Krakowski: Brzezinski was my Professor at Columbia. I would go so far as to say that I’m on good terms with him on a personal basis.
Commentator: What, in your opinion, is Brzezinski’s stand on the Middle East and Israel? Dr. Krakowski: Brzezinski participated in the Brookings Institute study — published, I believe, in 1975 by many periodicals. He and his advisor on the National Security Council — William Quant — were involved in the report which stated clearly that the solution to the Middle East conflict was the creation of a Palestinian state. That is not my opinion of him, that is a clear cut black and white fact.
Commentator: What are the major issues of the Presidential eampaign?
Dr. Krakowski: The overriding issue is Carter's incompetence. Other issues, such as economics, for example, are very secondary. No matter who wins, the difference will be extremely slight. The economy depends to a great extent also on Congress. I’m not saying it is an insignificant issue, but it will not be affected that phenomenally by who is elected. Certainly Carter has not done such a fantastic job on the economy. The man is simply not capable of following one set of advisors. I say sometimes jokingly that on Monday he follows Brzezinski, on Tuesday — Muskie, on Wednesday — his wife, and on every day — the polls.
Commentator: Would Ronald Reagan be an improvement?
Dr. Krakowski: Reagan has certain personal values that Carter doesn’t have. I see that a lot of his advisors have a good deal of common sense. And you do have to look at the ability of a man to follow his advisors. Reagan will make competent and consistent judgments. The man has what I call sometimes — old-fashioned, traditional values. His attitude toward not abandoning allies is very good. What Reagan has done and said on Taiwan should evoke a greater respect on the part of the Chinese for him than they have for Carter. Simply because they know he is a man who is trustworthy — and stands by commitments. From all these points of view, Reagan is a plus. But again, the main issue here is the negative. If Carter gets back in office, it would be a catastrophe. If anyone can be accused of being dangerous when it comes to war, it should be Carter. He is much more dangerous because he has no resolve and does not do anything. The fact that there has been no war under Carter means absolutely nothing. The question concerning war is frequently — do you fight now and save very many lives, or do you wait a few years and lose 10 million people? For instance, an intervention on a modest scale in Iran would have contributed to the stabilization of the situation. Instead, we have seen a deterioration of respect for international law, a deterioration in terms of the belief that the United States will react, and a possibility of crisis following crisis — after which at some point America will have to intervene. And if that intervention does not come at an advantageous time, we will have the recipe for major world war.
Commentator: Does the fact that Reagan is backed hy evangelical groups such as Moral Majority upset you?
Dr. Krakowski: Reagan does share some of the notions that those people have. His views coincide with theirs on issues such as abortion, prayer in the schools, and the Equal Rights Amendment. As for these views, in the case of someone else, I would be more worried. But again, I feel Reagan is a very decent person. If his stands on those points were the only criteria that stuck out in this election — everything else being equal — I would vote for the other candidate, But all the other things are not equal. So these issues are secondary in context.
Commentator: Who do you think will win on November 4th?
Dr. Krakowski: I am not a prophet. You know what is said in Judaism about people who claim to be prophets at the present time — they are either fools or children. I hope I am neither, so I will not try to be a prophet. All I can say is that it will be an extremely close race, and I hope Reagan wins.