Two Soviet historians said the United States has taken the proper action by sending troops to Saudi Arabia, but that only a diplomatic solution would solve the current Middle East crisis.
Robert Ivanov, director of the Institute of General History at the Academy of Sciences in Moscow, and his wife, Nina Petrova, a professor at the same institution, made the remarks during an interview Friday.
"I was surprised at this (Iraqi) aggression in the Middle East for two reasons," Ivanov said.
"First, Iraq just finished a terrible war with Iran, in which millions of people were killed, and to start another war is just stupidness to me," he said.
"Secondly, Saddam Hussein didn't take into account that the Soviet Union and the United States have (good) relations, and he didn't take into account what the reaction would be."
Ivanov and Petrova are in Lawrence to help promote the Meeting for Peace, a Soviet and American citizen's conference that will he held here and in other Kansas cities Oct. 12-18.
THE TWO historians helped write three post-World War II volumes of a 13-volume edition of world history that were published in the Soviet Union in 1986.
"The situation in the Middle East is different for you (the U.S.) than it is for us," Petrova said in Russian. Ivanov translated.
"The crisis is very near our border and there are a lot of Soviet people who are worried about it," she said.
Ivanov compared Saddam Hussein to Hitler, saying, "The only thing an aggressor understands is force, and I believe it was the best decision to send (American) forces."
However, he added that the presence of foreign forces in any part of the world always complicates tense situations.
The crisis in the Middle East entered its third week on Friday. Iraq, after invading its small neighbor Kuwait, is still detaining an estimated 8,000 Soviets and 3,500 Americans in Kuwait.
IRAQ STATED that one of the reasons it invaded Kuwait was because Kuwait had historically been a part of Iraq before 1913, when the British administered the country.
Ivanov scoffed at that argument, saying, "It's real criminal" for one country to resort to force over disputed territory rather than diplomacy.
"This is a violation of all international laws," he said.
Petrova and Ivanov added that the unanimous vote by the United Nations Security Council condemning Iraq for its actions was very significant.
"I think it's important that the United States and the Soviet Union are standing on the same side," Ivanov said.
"But we shouldn't put the emphasis on just what the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. say," Petrova added. "Resolving the crisis must involve the whole world," she said.
THEY ALSO said that the United States and the Soviet Union should stop selling arms to Third World countries such as Iraq.
"We sold them weapons and you sold them weapons. Who knows, maybe if we had not sold the weapons there wouldn't be these events," Ivanov said.
Petrova said Soviet troops probably would not join American forces in the region because the Afghanistan war is fresh in the minds of many Soviets.
"We trust (President) Bush, we trust your policy," she said. "But of course, we are nervous because it is near our frontier, and there could be a new war there if we make the wrong decisions."