Re: 1710 - Livonia
- From: The Black Monk <ch.mon@xxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Wed, 18 Aug 2010 21:02:50 -0700 (PDT)
On Aug 18, 11:37 pm, hol...@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx (Eugene Holman) wrote:
Black Monk <ch....@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
People quite close to me, worked closely with Gorbachev in the
1980's. The man was extremely vain and motivated by the desire to be
That holds true for most politicians, although it is an unusual and
unnecessary trait in one working within a dictatorship. To some degree
Khrushchev had it, Kosygin (who always looked like he had just eaten a
lemon), Brezhnev, Andropov, and Chernenko certainly lacked it.
He wanted the USSR to be respected, wanted to be adored by the
If he could succeed in getting the USSR that he inherited respected, he
would have pulled off a seemingly impossible task that would have been
worth the adoration of the people of his nation and the entire world. As
it was, his decision not to use the military at his disposal to prevent
the collapse of communism in eastern Europe as well as his ability to
constrain the hotheads champing at the bit to send in the tanks earned him
a well deserved Nobel Peace Prize.
He certainly did not intend to lose power nor for the
USSR to break up, and ultimately was willing to kill in order to
maintain power (he had no regrets whatsoever about the hundreds killed
in the Baltics and in the Caucuses) - but it was too late.
Here I disagree. I remember seeing him apologize after Vilnius, stating
categorically that the decision to shoot had been made by an unnamed
lower-échelon commander. He had, after all recently been awarded the Nobel
Peace Prize precisely for not condoning such policy. He asserted both then
and in his memoirs that violence was not the solution and that he would do
everything he could to prevent a reoccurrence.
People who worked with him closely at that time assert that privately
he had no qualms about the violence whatsoever. He had no problems
with hundreds killed. I don't know what his threshold of comfort was
- thousands probably, maybe even the low 10,000s. But it got to the
point that a serious civil war would have meant many more deaths, and
Gorby wouldn't go that far. So does he get credit for not being a
The events in Riga and
elsewhere showed that he was not able to keep his word, but the fact that
there were so few of them, with no repetitions in the same place, indicate
that he had as much of a handle on the situation as one could expect in
such conditions. It is neither an exaggeration nor a whitewash to state
that violent confrontation between the Soviet military and the population
was limited to a handful of isolated cases involving irresponsible,
trigger-happy, and probably frightened troops during the breakup of the
USSR during the course of 1991. I remember visiting Tallinn in May, 1991,
and seeing that the Estonians had surrounded Toompea, the seat of power,
with gigantic boulders the size of houses, just in case. Look at what was
happening in Yugoslavia for comparison.
He was willing to kill hundreds and most likely thousands of civilians
in order to correct what he later (too late) deemed to be a mistake
(perestroika), but not 100,000s. What a hero!
obviously was nothing like a Stalin-like genocidal monster (does one
get "credit" for not being Stalin?) but had he known about the
consequences of his actions Gorbie would have preferred to have ruled
like Brezhnev and Andropov.
When he realized what was happening he decided not to take that path. His
lack of will, incompetence you might call it, eventually resulted in
elements who thought they could better control things ousting him and
briefly seizing power. Luckily for the peoples of the Soviet Union and
this part of the world, they were even more incompetent.
Gorby supported those people and heavily favored them when the USSR
started comig out of his grip. His doing so reflected his actual
feelings in response to the events brought about by perestroika. He
knew very well what sort of people they were before their putsch
against him. In a personal conversation Yanaev was asked if he would
even support tanks running over women int he streets. He responded
that no decent woman would be in the streets during a protest
anyways. He was brought in by Gorbie, wasn't he? That's the kind of
person Gorby was supporting by the late 1980's.
What happened was Gorby tried to get back to a Brezhnev-like USSR when
he saw that the USSR was falling apart, but didn't have the stomach to
kill 100.000s or so people in order to do it. It's a typical pattern
seen in Nicholas II and the last shah - someone not quite brutal
enough to hold onto power but hardly a nice guy or real
The breakup of the USSR was a product of
Gorbie's vanity and incompetance (though not stupidity - he was a very
intelligent man), not Gorbie's humanitarianism. His self-serving
What you claim has an element of truth in it: the breakup of the USSR was
certainly not Gorbachev's original intention, and vanity was certainly a
primary force guiding his actions. Nevertheless his intelligence, as well
as a streak of humanitariansim, eventually forced him to conclude that
Soviet communism was not worth fighting or dying for. He suffered four
months of daily humiliation watching the size of his empire shrink from a
sixth of the world's landmass to the few dozen square meters of his office
in the Kremlin. Instead of locking himself and his cronies into a bunker
with a stock of ammunition, food, and cyanide capsules, awaiting the
inevitable, Gorbachev dutifully and responsibly spent his time as leader
of a terminally ill country with his political rivals laying the
foundations for a better society than the Soviet Union could ever have
Okay, so he wasn't another Hitler either. I don't think anyone was
arguing that he was.
Although the transition to the post-Soviet era was hardly a smooth
one, it was far less chaotic or violent than it had been in several former
communist countries, most notably Yugoslavia, like the USSR, a forced
union of people with different and conflicting national aspirations and
cultures, for this very reason.
Yakovlev was much more of a humanitarian than Gorbie.
Yes, he was. But for that very reason he was never in the position to make
the kinds of decisions that Gorbachev had to make.
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