Friday, April 27, 2007

How Yeltsin brought down the Soviet Union

A great codicil to the Yeltsin death and remembrance by Krauthammer...T

Credit for the fall of communism usually is given to two sets of actors. On the one side, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and John Paul II, whose relentless pressure caused a hollowed-out system to collapse. On the other side, conventional mythology credits Mikhail Gorbachev.

This is quite wrong. True, Gorbachev inadvertently caused the collapse of communism. But his intention was always to save it. To the very end, Gorbachev believed in it. His mission was to reform communism in order to make it work. To do that, the Soviet system had to become more human -- i.e., more in tune with real human nature -- and thus more humane. Gorbachev's problem was that humane communism is an oxymoron.

The man who brought down the Soviet Union from the inside was Boris Yeltsin. In the mid-1980s, he turned decisively against communism and, fully intending its destruction, performed one of history's great acts of liberation.

Yeltsin, who died this week, did this without turning to the guillotine. ``For the first time in Russian history,'' notes Russian opposition leader Garry Kasparov, ``the new ruler did not eliminate the losers to consolidate control.'' What distinguished Yeltsin ``was something that he did not do when he took power'' -- ``wipe out the other side.''...(continued)
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