The role that Gorbachev is credited with in ending the Cold War calls for a little revisionism. Those who argue that the former Soviet premier deserves equal credit to what is given Ronald Reagan are deluded to call Gorbachev a peacemaker.
Much of such people’s evidence seems to come from what Gorbachev himself says. To wit, a Washington Post article that appeared shortly after Reagan’s funeral:
By Gorbachev’s account, it was his early successes on the world stage that convinced the Americans that they had to deal with him and to match his fervor for arms control and other agreements that could reduce East-West tensions…The changes he wrought in the Soviet Union, from ending much of the official censorship to sweeping political and economic reforms, were undertaken not because of any foreign pressure or concern, Gorbachev said, but because Russia was dying under the weight of the Stalinist system.
“The country was being stifled by the lack of freedom,” he said. “We were increasingly behind the West, which . . . was achieving a new technological era, a new kind of productivity. . . . And I was ashamed for my country…All that talk that somehow Reagan’s arms race forced Gorbachev to look for some arms reductions, etc., that’s not serious. The Soviet Union could have withstood any arms race. The Soviet Union could have actually decided not to build more weapons, because the weapons we had were more than enough.”
Gorbachev also told The Post that Reagan was “‘an extraordinary political leader’ who decided ‘to be a peacemaker’ at just the right moment — the moment when Gorbachev had come to power in Moscow. He, too, wanted to be a peacemaker, so ‘our interests coincided.’”
But the truth is that Gorbachev was put out there by the Party as the face of Russia, to make the Russians appear more moderate and more “progressive.” Not because the Party wanted to appear thus, but because it was getting around that the Soviet Union was evil, and Reagan was putting pressure on the Europeans to not trade with it.
So the Party picked Gorbachev, but he didn’t do anything the Party didn’t allow him to do. If he’d stepped out of line, or truly had a mind of his own, he would have been reined in. And if Gorbachev had been truly special, he would have suffered the fate of late former Chinese Communist Party leader Zhao Ziyang, who was placed under house arrest after his last public appearance on May 19, 1989, “when he pleaded tearfully with protesters to leave the square. The government declared martial law the next day. Zhao was placed under house arrest shortly before the army crushed the student-led demonstrations on June 3-4, 1989,” as USA Today reported.
Gorbachev’s comments on current events in recent years confirm all the more that he was not and is not the man who so much of the world touts him as being:
“In comments that were among the harshest he has made about the United States, Gorbachev compared U.S. foreign policy to one of the deadliest diseases on the planet — AIDS,” read an October Reuters report. When the U.S. finally acted on the UN’s threat of military force by invading Iraq in 2003, Gorbachev wagged his finger: ‘’The United States seems to believe this military action shows its world leadership. But that is its misconception. Real world leadership is to take initiatives in promoting the Kyoto Protocol, nuclear disarmament, and arms control, and solving environmental issues.'’
AIDS, Kyoto, environmental issues…who knew Reagan was dealing with the Russian Bill Clinton? In 2004, Gorbachev called for a New World Order “based on strong adherence to international law,” CNSNews.com reported. “The new world order he advocates should adhere to international law, rely heavily on the United Nations and not seek to impose the views of one country or a group of countries on others. Gorbachev reportedly said the new world order would be more stable, more just and more humane. It supposedly would recognize the cultural and ethnic diversity in the world as well as environmental challenges.”
Promoting an internationalism that undercuts the example America has set for the world in getting things right systemically, and to undercut America’s independence — plus harping on AIDS and the environment — are the ubiquitous refuges of clueless leaders.
Gorbachev went so far as to pull a Bill Gates when he “said leaders of industrial nations should not reject those who protest globalization: Any attempt at building the new world order will not succeed ‘if we ignore poverty in the world.’” (At a WTO meeting a few years ago, Gates had suggested inviting the protesters in.)
Meanwhile, this was Gorbachev’s take on the first elections in the new Iraq, which he called “fake”: “I don’t think these elections will be of any use. They may even have a negative impact on the country. Democracy cannot be imposed or strengthened with guns and tanks.”
Gorbachev has shown a consistent tendency to provide ridiculous interpretations of current events and to condemn those who earnestly mean be today’s peacemakers. It is likely the irrelevant former apparatchik's attempt to hone his place as a "historic figure"--difficult, since he lives in the shadow of a genuine one.
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