Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev reviews Cold War in speech at Westminster College

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev reviews Cold War in speech at Westminster College

In an event steeped in symbolism, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev reviews the Cold War in a speech at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri—the site of Winston Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech 46 years before. Gorbachev mixed praise for the end of the Cold War with some pointed criticisms of U.S. policy.

In 1946, Winston Churchill, former prime minister of Britain, spoke at Westminster College and issued what many historians have come to consider the opening volley of the Cold War. Declaring that an “iron curtain” had fallen across Eastern Europe, Churchill challenged both Great Britain and the United States to contain Soviet aggression. Forty-six years later, the Soviet Union had collapsed and Mikhail Gorbachev, who had resigned as president of the Soviet Union in December 1991, stood on the very same campus and reflected on the Cold War.

Gorbachev declared that the end of the Cold War was the “shattering of the vicious circle into which we had driven ourselves” and a “victory for common sense, reason, democracy, and common human values.” In addressing the issue of who began the Cold War, Gorbachev admitted that the Soviet Union had made some serious mistakes, but also suggested that the United States and Great Britain shouldered part of the blame. He decried the resulting nuclear arms race, though he made clear that he believed the United States had been the “initiator” of this folly. With the Cold War over, he cautioned the United States to realize the “intellectual, and consequently political error, of interpreting victory in the cold war narrowly as a victory for oneself.”

Gorbachev’s speech, and particularly the location at which he delivered it, offered a fitting closure to the Cold War, and demonstrated that scholarly debate about those years would continue though the animosity had come to an end.

READ MORE: Cold War: Summary, Combatants & Timeline

The Trail

In an event steeped in symbolism, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev reviews the Cold War in a speech at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri-the site of Winston Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech 46 years before. Gorbachev mixed praise for the end of the Cold War with some pointed criticisms of U.S. policy.

In 1946, Winston Churchill, former prime minister of Britain, spoke at Westminster College and issued what many historians have come to consider the opening volley of the Cold War. Declaring that an “iron curtain” had fallen across Eastern Europe, Churchill challenged both Great Britain and the United States to contain Soviet aggression. Forty-six years later, the Soviet Union had collapsed and Mikhail Gorbachev, who had resigned as president of the Soviet Union in December 1991, stood on the very same campus and reflected on the Cold War.

Gorbachev declared that the end of the Cold War was the “shattering of the vicious circle into which we had driven ourselves” and a “victory for common sense, reason, democracy, and common human values.” In addressing the issue of who began the Cold War, Gorbachev admitted that the Soviet Union had made some serious mistakes, but also suggested that the United States and Great Britain shouldered part of the blame. He decried the resulting nuclear arms race, though he made clear that he believed the United States had been the “initiator” of this folly. With the Cold War over, he cautioned the United States to realize the “intellectual, and consequently political error, of interpreting victory in the cold war narrowly as a victory for oneself.”

Gorbachev’s speech, and particularly the location at which he delivered it, offered a fitting closure to the Cold War, and demonstrated that scholarly debate about those years would continue though the animosity had come to an end.

1527 – German troops began sacking Rome, bringing about the end of the Renaissance.

1851 – The mechanical refrigerator was patented by Dr. John Gorrie.

1851 – Linus Yale patented the clock-type lock.

1861 – Arkansas became the ninth state to secede from the Union.

1877 – Chief Crazy Horse surrendered to U.S. troops in Nebraska.

1882 – The U.S. Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act. The act barred Chinese immigrants from the U.S. for 10 years.

1941 – Bob Hope gave his first USO show at California’s March Field.

1942 – During World War II, the Japanese seized control of the Philippines. About 15,000 Americans and Filipinos on Corregidor surrendered to the Japanese.

1945 – Axis Sally made her final propaganda broadcast to Allied troops.

1954 – British runner Roger Banister broke the four minute mile.

1957 – U.S. Senator John Fitzgerald Kennedy was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his book “Profiles in Courage”.

1959 – The Pablo Picasso painting of a Dutch girl was sold for $154,000 in London. It was the highest price paid (at the time) for a painting by a living artist.

1962 – The first nuclear warhead was fired from the Polaris submarine.

1994 – The Chunnel officially opened. The tunnel under the English Channel links England and France.

1997 – Four health-care companies agreed to a settlement of $600 million to hemophiliacs who had contracted AIDS from tainted blood between 1978-1985.

1999 – A parole board in New York voted to release Amy Fisher. She had been in jail for 7 years for shooting her lover’s wife, Mary Jo Buttafuoco, in the face.

2001 – Chandra Levy’s parents reported her missing to police in Washington, DC. Levy’s body was found on May 22, 2002 in Rock Creek Park.

William Franklin warns Dartmouth of repercussions from Lexington and Concord

In a candid report to William Legge, 2nd earl of Dartmouth and the British secretary of state for the colonies, on this day in 1775, Benjamin Franklin’s illegitimate son, New Jersey Royal Governor William Franklin, writes that the violence at Lexington and Concord greatly diminishes the chances of reconciliation between Britain and her North American colonies.

Reconciliation between Britain and America was not the only relationship at stake for Franklin. He would never repair the damage done to his relationship with his father, famed Patriot Benjamin Franklin, when he decided to remain loyal to the crown.

“William Franklin warns Dartmouth of repercussions from Lexington and Concord.” 2008. The History Channel website. 6 May 2008, 11:36

The Hindenburg disaster

The airship Hindenburg, the largest dirigible ever built and the pride of Nazi Germany, bursts into flames upon touching its mooring mast in Lakehurst, New Jersey, killing 36 passengers and crewmembers.

John Steinbeck wins a Pulitzer for The Grapes of Wrath

On this day in 1940, John Steinbeck is awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his novel The Grapes of Wrath.


Mikhail Gorbachev, speaking from the same podium where Sir Winston Churchill first warned of the Iron Curtain, proclaimed Wednesday that humanity has entered a new era of history and needs a democratic world government to guide it.

Like Churchill 46 years ago, the former Soviet president sought to turn his Fulton speech into a cry that could awaken the world.

But the significance of his speech lay less in his words, as sweeping as they were, than in the historical resonance of the day.

In a symbolic sense, the Cold War began here. Churchill, speaking at Fulton`s Westminster College as a favor to President Harry Truman, shattered the post-war facade of Allied unity with his statement that, ''From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended'' across Europe, and with his call to the English-speaking nations to unite to withstand Soviet aggression.

With the Soviet Union now shattered, largely through his leadership, Gorbachev came to Fulton to put a symbolic end to the Cold War. He spoke in front of a sculpture called ''Breakthrough,'' fashioned by Edwina Sandys, Churchill`s granddaughter, from eight sections of the Berlin Wall. He literally walked through the Berlin Wall to get to the stage.

''This is the closing of the circle,'' said William Hamilton, 70, a retired postal worker who heard Churchill here. ''Churchill started it and Gorbachev is ending it. He has come to say that the Cold War is no more.''

The former Soviet leader also came to get publicity for his cross-America tour to raise $2 million for his new foundation in Moscow. Westminster College gave him its usual fee for big-name speakers-$3,000-but his symbolic bracketing with Churchill at the Fulton forum guaranteed maximum attention for his appearances elsewhere, including his speech in Chicago Wednesday night.

In 1946, the former Soviet president said, the U.S. and his country had a chance to cooperate but didn`t, creating a situation that brought humans to the edge of an abyss. He said the world should not make the same mistake now. The Gorbachev Foundation hopes to clear $100,000 from the Chicago visit alone.

Earlier in the day, Gorbachev toured a food processing plant in Decatur, Ill., the heart of corn and soybean country. He praised farmers as ''the most important people in the world.''

Now out of a job in Moscow, Gorbachev made it clear that he has taken the world as his venue.

''We live today in a watershed era,'' he told an adoring crowd in this small, almost quintessentially American college town. ''Humanity is at a major turning point.''

With the end of the Cold War, Gorbachev said, previously invisible changes ''now enter their decisive, watershed phase, when all spheres of human activity-production, economics, finance, the market, politics, science, culture and the like-become integrated on a worldwide scale.''

An integrated world can no longer seek its solution through antagonistic nations, Gorbachev said. Nor can the U.S. provide sole leadership.

All this, he said, ''compels governments to adopt a world perspective. . . . An awareness of the need for some kind of global government is gaining ground, one in which all members of the world community would take part.''

This government, based on a reformed United Nations, should have teeth, Gorbachev said.

It should have powers, he said, to punish nations that disseminate nuclear and chemical weapons, should build a world consortium to fix or replace ''highly risky nuclear power stations'' like the Chernobyl type in Russia, should have the right to intervene to halt regional conflicts like the Yugoslav civil war and should ''use compulsion'' to force respect for human rights.''

Gorbachev twice deviated from his written text, both times with a dig at the U.S.

Sanctions should be imposed for human rights violations, he said,

''particularly where the rights of minority groups are being violated''-an apparent reference to the Los Angeles riots.

A moment later, he urged the Rio de Janeiro summit on the environment to adopt ecological protections through ''an international mechanism with extraterritorial rights and powers''-far beyond the limited program the Bush administration has supported.

Ironies of history swathed the sunny scene.

Gorbachev flew in to nearby Columbia on a private plane loaned him by the family of the late publisher Malcolm Forbes. The plane`s name: Capitalist Tool.

American flags waved all over town and an army band from Ft. Leonard Wood played the Star-Spangled Banner. But there was no Soviet anthem and the only Soviet flag in sight hung from a balcony at the Delta Tau Delta fraternity house across the street. Politically, Gorbachev is a man without a country.

To run his foundation, Gorbachev has recruited old colleagues from the failed leadership of the Soviet Communist Party. But to fund it, he is relying on the largess of rich capitalists like Forbes or the Chicagoans who paid $125 per plate for the dinner, sponsored by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations and the Mid-America Committee.

In an apparent nod to these benefactors, Gorbachev said that ''business is becoming more humane'' and must join in bringing the new world order to pass.

Gorbachev admitted his thoughts on a world government might ''appear somewhat unrealistic.'' But Churchill also was talking against the postwar tide in 1946 and it took two years before Soviet advances led to the alliance he sought-not just between Britain and America but between America and Western Europe.

The face that Fulton turned to the former head of the Soviet Communist Party was almost pure Americana.

Fifteen thousand persons-three times as many as turned out to hear former President Ronald Reagan here last year-spread blankets on the green college lawn and turned the occasion into a picnic. Fraternity boys drank beer and children sipped colas from styrofoam coolers.

Libertarians and Ross Perot supporters passed petitions, trying to get their candidates on the Missouri ballot.

John Birch Society members distributed fliers insisting on the Communist menace. A local entrepreneur sold T-shirts, at $10 each, hailing ''The Rappin` Reformer doin` his show in Fulton.''

A few in the crowd had camped out all night to see Gorbachev. Others, like 19 7th graders from Freeburg, Ill., got up at 5 a.m. to ride to Fulton.

Virtually everyone, young and old, asked why they went to all this trouble to hear an out-of-work politician, said they knew that history was being made.

''He symbolizes change,'' said Andy Longstreth, 17, from Kansas City, Mo. ''It`s kind of neat. We are at a young age and we can live now through a changing time.''

A high school swing band played ''Wimoweh,'' the Kiwanis Club sold hot dogs and a local Christian community peddled strawberry sundaes that melted fast in the spring sunlight.

Signs in Russian, all friendly, dotted the crowd. A big banner opposite the podium wished Gorbachev ''welcome'' in Russian. It was put up by the Westminster College Republicans.

Fulton Journal History Balanced by Iron Curtain Call

The landmark at Westminster College is a church designed by Christopher Wren. It was shipped here, stone by stone, from London and restored as a monument commemorating the 1946 speech in which Winston Churchill first used the term "iron curtain" to describe cold war tensions.

Of the many notable speakers whose words have since echoed through Westminster, none have caused as much excitement and anxiety as next month's guest, the former Soviet president, Mikhail Gorbachev.

On May 6, near the spot where Churchill spoke, Mr. Gorbachev is expected to stand before a sculpture fashioned from sections of the Berlin Wall and declare the Cold War over.

"Historic symmetry" is the term some scholars are using to describe the accident of fate that brought Churchill to Fulton in 1946 and Mr. Gorbachev 46 years later. But the Fulton where Churchill spoke is not the same place Mr. Gorbachev will visit. Like America itself, the college and the city have changed.

Churchill's visit to Fulton, six months after losing the office of prime minister to Clement R. Attlee, was the idea of Westminster's president, Franc L. McCluer. The notion struck many as preposterous, but Mr. McCluer persevered with the help of an alumnus, Major General Harry H. Vaughan, President Harry S. Truman's chief military aide. President Truman wrote a postscript to Churchill on Mr. McCluer's letter of invitation: "This is a wonderful college in my home state. Hope you can do it. I will introduce you."

Churchill and Truman traveled by train to Jefferson City and by motorcade into Fulton, where 30,000 people lined the streets.

In his speech, Mr. Churchill proclaimed, "From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent . . ."

The words startled America out of its post-war complacency, and set the tone for the next four decades of Anglo-American and Soviet relations.

The prophetic nature of Churchill's speech became increasingly apparent as the Soviet Union smothered revolts in one occupied Eastern European nation after another, and the "iron curtain" metaphor found a concrete manifestation in the Berlin Wall erected by East Germany in 1961.

After the wall came down on November 9, 1989, amid upheaval and reform in the Soviet empire, Westminster College extended an invitation to Mr. Gorbachev, then the Soviet Union's president, to speak. Mr. Gorbachev declined, but after he resigned on December 25, the Gorbachev Foundation selected Westminster as one of the stops on a Gorbachev fund-raising visit to the United States. According to Westminster officials, however, the visit to Fulton is not a fund-raising event, like his stops at Harvard University, Stanford University and Emory University. Westminster is the first site at which Mr. Gorbachev is expected to make a major address.

But the visit has been a mixed blessing.

Westminster's president, J. Harvey Saunders, said the speech has prompted a deluge of angry letters over ticket allocations. Although the standing-room crowd for the speech could exceed 12,000, only 1,500 seats are available in the street in front of the sculpture, and they will go first to students, faculty, alumni and groups credited with helping to bring Mr. Gorbachev to Fulton.

"Perhaps we're making more enemies than friends," said Mr. Saunders, who sees the speech as an image-building event for Westminster.

Locked in a war with public institutions for a dwindling pool of qualified entering freshmen, private Westminster has had to concentrate on building its image.

"With the multicultural nonsense now sweeping the country," Mr. Saunders suggested, "why don't we take a stand for Western civilization, for Anglo-American ideals, and sell the hell out of it!"

Battles over ethnic curricula are not the only differences between the campus of 1946 and that of 1992. Photos from the 1930's and 1940's depict a student body that was all-male, all-white, conventionally attired and apparently seized by a dose of Midwestern earnestness.

Now the student body is 38 percent female, and although it is still homogenous in many respects -- less than two percent of the students are black, for instance -- the look on campus is often casual and idiosyncratic. Many Westminster students listen to the Grateful Dead and other rock groups from the 1960's, and they report frequent use of marijuana and hallucinogenic psilocybin mushrooms at off-campus parties.And, despite awareness of AIDS, the students describe a generally casual attitude toward sex.

The changes on campus are also reflected in the city. Fulton prides itself on its low crime rate, its tidy neighborhoods and its colorful history. The area was first settled by slave-holding Southerners, and residents insist Callaway County actually seceded from the Union and never rejoined. Promotional brochures still refer to the county as the Kingdom of Callaway. But Callawegians, as the residents refer to themselves, have not escaped America entirely.

Patrick B. Wood, 34, a former Cleveland, Ohio, policeman and now proprietor of The Spot Cafe in downtown Fulton, said he witnesses drug dealing on Friday and Saturday nights in the parking lot across the street from the police station.

Fulton police chief Mick Herbert said he was not aware of the dealing in the parking lot. But there have been arrests for dealing crack cocaine in the town's public housing units, where the police suspect that at least one death this year was caused by a drug overdose.

So when history again visits Fulton on May 6, it will find a town touched and perplexed by relatively recent American social problems -- AIDS, homelessness, crack addiction, and racial tension. Some were caused by the nation's changing demographics, others by a rejection of the Western values that Churchill in his famous speech urged Britain and America to preserve.

Some Callawegians say the end of the cold war is already old news. In order to truly make history on May 6, they say, Mr. Gorbachev, like Churchill before him, will have to give them a metaphor for the new tensions that divide their world.

“The River of Time and the Imperative of Action” Mikhail Gorbachev, 6 May 1992

When Mikhail Gorbachev arrived at Westminster College, he spoke outdoors before a crowd of 20,000—nearly ten times the size of the audience gathered to hear Churchill speak in the Westminster gymnasium. Standing at the same lectern used by Churchill nearly a half century earlier, the former Soviet leader delivered the 46th John Findley Green Foundation Lecture. He spoke in Russian with simultaneous translation into English by US State Department interpreter Harris Coulter. Behind Gorbachev stood the most poignant symbol of the Cold War—the Berlin Wall—the concrete manifestation of the iron curtain as sculpted by artist and Churchill granddaughter, Edwina Sandys.

Gorbachev delivers his speech in Fulton attended by 20,000 people, 1992

On Churchill’s Speech

“More than forty-six years ago Winston Churchill spoke in Fulton, and in my country this speech was interpreted as the formal declaration of the ‘Cold War.’ This was indeed the first time the words, ‘Iron Curtain,’ were pronounced, and the whole Western world was challenged to close ranks against the threat of tyranny in the form of the Soviet Union and Communist expansion. Everything else in this speech, including Churchill’s analysis of the postwar situation in the world, his thoughts about the possibility of preventing a third world war, the prospects for progress, and methods of reconstructing the postwar world, remained unknown to the Soviet people.

“Today, in paying tribute to this eminent statesman, we can evaluate more quietly and objectively both the merits of his speech and the limitations of the analysis which it included, his ideas and predictions, and his strategic principles.”

The World since 1946

“Since that time the world in which we live has undergone tremendous changes. Even so, however paradoxical it may sound, there is a certain similarity between the situation then and today. Then, the prewar structure of international relations had virtually collapsed, a new pattern of forces had emerged along with a new set of interests and claims.

“Different trends in world development could be discerned, but their prospects were not clearly outlined. New possibilities for progress had appeared. Answers had to be found to the challenges posed by new subjects of international law. The atmosphere was heavy—not only with hope, but also with suspicion, lack of understanding, unpredictability.

“In other words, a situation had emerged in which a decision with universal implications had to be taken. Churchill’s greatness is seen in the fact that he was the first among prominent political figures to understand that.”

Soviet Errors

“If the United States and the Soviet Union had been capable of understanding their responsibility and sensibly correlating their national interests and strivings with the rights and interests of other states and peoples, the planet today would be a much more suitable and favorable place for human life. I have more than once criticized the foreign policy of the Stalinist leadership in those years. Not only was it incapable of reevaluating the historical logic of the interwar period, taking into account the experience and results of the war, and following a course which corresponded to the changed reality, it committed a major error in equating the victory of democracy over fascism with the victory of socialism and aiming to spread socialism throughout the world.”

American Errors

“But the West, and the United States in particular, also committed an error. Its conclusion about the probability of open Soviet military aggression was unrealistic and dangerous. This could never have happened, not only because Stalin, as in 1939–1941, was afraid of war, did not want war, and never would have engaged in a major war. But primarily because the country was exhausted and destroyed it had lost tens of millions of people, and the public hated war. Having won a victory, the army and the soldiers were dying to get home and back to a normal life.”

Lack of Strategic Vision

“So I would be so bold as to affirm that the governing circles of the victorious powers lacked an adequate strategic vision of the possibilities for world development as they emerged after the war—and, consequently, a true understanding of their own countries’ national interests. Hiding behind slogans of ‘striving for peace’ and defense of their people’s interests on both sides, decisions were taken which split asunder the world which had just succeeded in overcoming fascism because it was united.

“And on both sides this was justified ideologically. The conflict was presented as the inevitable opposition between good and evil—all the evil, of course, being attributed to the opponent. This continued for decades until it became evident that we were approaching the abyss. I am stating this because the world community has paid dearly for the errors committed at this turning-point in world history.”

Victory for the World

“In the major centers of world politics the choice, it would seem, has today been made in favor of peace, cooperation, interaction, and common security. And in pushing forward to a new civilization we should under no circumstances again make the intellectual, and consequently political, error of interpreting victory in the ‘Cold War’ narrowly as a victory for oneself, one’s own way of life, for one’s own values and merits. This was a victory over a scheme for the development of humanity which was becoming slowly congealed and leading us to destruction. It was a shattering of the vicious circle into which we had driven ourselves. This was altogether a victory for common sense, reason, democracy, and common human values.”

Paradigm Shift for the World

“Churchill urged us to think ‘super strategically,’ meaning by this the capacity to rise above the petty problems and particularities of current realities, focusing on the major trends and being guided by them.

“What are the characteristics of the world situation today? In thinking over the processes, which we ourselves have witnessed, we are forced to conclude that humanity is at a major turning-point. Not only the peoples of the former USSR, but the whole world is living through this watershed situation. This is not just some ordinary stage of development, like many others in world history. This is a turning-point on a historic and worldwide scale and signifies the incipient substitution of one paradigm of civilization by another.”

Global Security, but Not Through Arms

“First and foremost, it signifies the possibility of creating a global international security system, thus preventing large-scale military conflicts like the world wars of the twentieth century and facilitating a radical reduction in levels of armaments and reducing the burden of military expenditures. This signifies that the attention, and the resources, of the world community can be focused on solving problems in non-military areas: population, environment, food production, energy sources, and the like. This means new opportunities for economic progress, ensuring normal conditions of life for the Earth’s growing population and improved living conditions.

“We have, in fact, already started moving in that direction. But the significance of these changes, while a great source of hope, should not blind us to the dangers—some of which we have already encountered. It would be a supreme tragedy if the world, having overcome the ‘1946 model,’ were to find itself once again in a ‘1914 model’ world. A major international effort will be needed to render irreversible the shift in favor of a democratic world— and democratic for the whole of humanity, not just for half of it.”

The United Nations

“All of these problems demand an enhanced level of organization of the international community. However, even now, at a time of sharply increased interdependence in the world, many countries are morbidly jealous of their sovereignty, and many peoples of their national independence and identity. This is one of the newest global contradictions, one which must be overcome by joint effort. That it can, in principle, be overcome can be seen from the experience of the European communities and, although still to only a slight degree, from the European process as a whole.

“Here the decisive role may and must be played by the United Nations. Of course, it must be restructured, together with its component bodies, in order to be capable of confronting the new tasks. These ideas have long been under discussion, and many proposals have been put forward. I myself have no plan of my own for reorganizing the United Nations. I will just address the basic parameters of the changes, which are ready for solution.

“The United Nations, which emerged from the results and the lessons of the Second World War, is still marked by the period of its creation. This is true both with respect to the makeup of its subsidiary bodies and auxiliary institutions and with respect to its functioning. Nothing, for instance, other than the division into victors and vanquished, explains why such countries as Germany and Japan do not figure among the permanent members of the Security Council.

“In general, I feel Article 53 on ‘enemy states’ should be immediately deleted from the UN Charter. Also, the criterion of possession of nuclear weapons would be archaic in the new era before us. The great country of India should be represented in the Security Council. The authority and potential of the Council would also be enhanced by incorporation on a permanent basis of Italy, Indonesia, Canada, Poland, Brazil, Mexico, and Egypt, even if initially they do not possess the veto.

“The Security Council will require better support, more effective and more numerous peace-keeping forces. Under certain circumstances it will be desirable to put certain national armed forces at the disposal of the Security Council, making them subordinate to the United Nations military command.

“The proposal, which I accept, has already been made that a global system be established for monitoring emergencies. The United Nations Secretary-General should be authorized to put it into action even before a conflict becomes violent. Closer coordination of UN organs with regional structures would only enhance its capacity to settle disputes in the world.

“Of course, the UN’s contemporary role, and, first and foremost, an expanded and strengthened Security Council, will require substantial funding. The method adopted for financing at the founding of the United Nations revealed its weaknesses just as soon as, some years later, it became more active and came closer to actually carrying out the tasks assigned by its founders. This method must be supplemented by some mechanism tying the UN to the world economy.”

Peace and Progress for All

“In concluding I would like to return to my starting-point. From this tribune Churchill appealed to the United Nations to rescue peace and progress, but he appealed primarily to Anglo-Saxon unity as the nucleus to which others could adhere. In the achievement of this goal the decisive role, in his view, was to be played by force, above all, by armed force. He even entitled his speech ‘The Sinews of Peace.’

“The goal today has not changed: peace and progress for all. But now we have the capacity to approach it without paying the heavy price we have been paying these past fifty years or so, without having to resort to means which put the very goal itself in doubt, which even constitute a threat to civilization. And while continuing to recognize the outstanding role of the United States of America, and today of other rich and highly developed countries, we must not limit our appeal to the elect, but call upon the whole world community.

“In a qualitatively new and different world situation the overwhelming majority of the United Nations will, I hope, be capable of organizing themselves and acting in concert on the principles of democracy, equality of rights, balance of interests, common sense, freedom of choice, and willingness to cooperate. Made wise by bitter experience, they will, I think, be capable of dispensing, when necessary, with egoistic considerations in order to arrive at the exalted goal which is man’s destiny on earth.”

Timothy Riley is the Sandra L. and Monroe E. Trout Director and Chief Curator and Churchill Fellow of America’s National Churchill Museum at Westminster College in Fulton, MO.

The Cold War Is Over

The cold war of poisonous Soviet-American feelings, of domestic political hysteria, of events enlarged and distorted by East-West confrontation, of almost perpetual diplomatic deadlock is over.

The we-they world that emerged after 1945 is giving way to the more traditional struggles of great powers. That contest is more manageable. It permits serious negotiations. It creates new possibilities - for cooperation in combating terrorism, the spread of chemical weapons and common threats to the environment, and for shaping a less violent world.

True, Europe remains torn in two but the place where four decades of hostility began is mending and changing in complicated patterns. True, two enormous military machines still face each other around the world but both sides are searching for ways to reduce the burdens and risks. Values continue to clash, but less profoundly as Soviet citizens start to partake in freedoms.

The experts who contributed to a two-month series on the Op-Ed page called ''Is the Cold War Over?'' agreed, with variations in emphasis and definition, that Soviet-American relations are entering a new era. They differed over whether Mikhail Gorbachev can last and whether his policies can outlast him, and over how much the West can or should do to help him and what to ask in return. But these questions are the stuff of genuine policy debate, not grist for old ideological diatribes.

In his four years of power, what has Mikhail Gorbachev done to bring about this reconsideration of the cold war?

A great deal, as Jeremy Stone of the Federation of American Scientists rightly pointed out. Mr. Gorbachev has pushed Yasir Arafat toward renouncing terrorism and accepting Israel, supported political settlements in Angola and Cambodia, pulled out Soviet troops from Afghanistan, agreed to vastly disproportionate cuts in medium-range missiles and pledged significant unilateral reductions in Soviet forces in Central Europe.

At home, Mr. Stone said properly, the Soviet leader is introducing economic decentralization, allowing Soviet nationalities to assert their separate identities, encouraging free speech and experimenting with elections. These measures give hope for a more open Soviet society and Government. And, as Graham Allison of Harvard's Kennedy School pointed out, this has been the very goal of America's containment policy.

But what if Mr. Gorbachev is ousted? Couldn't his successors readily reverse his actions?

Frank Carlucci argued that it's too early to foretell Mr. Gorbachev's fate or judge whether he or his successors might not simply change policies. The former Defense Secretary argued that Soviet policy is in a transitional phase.

Dimitri Simes of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, on the other hand, convincingly made the case that the changes occurring in the Soviet Union are of a more fundamental nature. Whoever leads the Soviet Union, he argued, would have little choice but to respond to Moscow's current economic and political weaknesses and follow the Gorbachev path.

Mr. Simes rightly argued that the debate in the Soviet Union revolves around the scope and pace of change, not the need for change. And there is little evidence that Mr. Gorbachev's foreign and military policies are under attack. Moscow simply does not have the resources for costly global challenges.

If the Soviet Union is in such bad shape, why not squeeze hard for concessions?

William Luers, a former U.S. diplomat, offered one reason. He warned against humiliating Mr. Gorbachev in ways that would unite a proud nation against the West. Ed Hewitt of the Brookings Institution provided another: Soviet leaders still have sufficient economic strength and foreign policy options to make life easier or harder for the West.

These cautions have to be kept in mind. But the West should not shy away from driving hard bargains. That can be done, as Ronald Reagan demonstrated, without destroying relations.

What should Western policy be?

Zbigniew Brzezinski correctly argued that the West needs a strategy to deal with ''the gravity of the challenge and the magnitude of the opportunity.'' But the West would tie itself in knots if it followed his advice to ''insist that any substantial assistance be reciprocated by reforms that institutionalize economic and political pluralism.''

On the contrary, the West cannot manage Soviet reforms any more than it can ''save'' Mr. Gorbachev. It can reinforce and encourage reforms when Western interests are also at stake - by providing credits and technology on a modest and safe scale and by easing restrictions on trade. The point is for the West to rid itself of self-made restraints on expanding economic relations so that decisions can be made on a case-by-case basis.

The prospect of such economic openings and the diminishing Soviet threat are likely to give freer play to conflicts among Western industrialized powers, according to Edward Luttwak of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He was exactly right in urging Western leaders to '➬t now to construct a new system of economic cooperation that would stand on its own and not lean on the imperatives of resisting'' Moscow.

No one seems to have a good answer about the division of Europe, always the most dangerous East-West question. Michael Mandelbaum of the Council on Foreign Relations offered as good a prescription as anyone. He looked toward superpower talks to bring about sovereign nations in Eastern Europe and special arrangements for the two Germanys.

The Bush Administration seems less attentive to these issues and more preoccupied with Mr. Gorbachev's seizing headlines worldwide. It would do better to think of him as part of the solution, not the problem, as Richard Ullman of Princeton University counseled. ''Who takes the initiative,'' he wrote, ''matters less than the result.''

The Administration now nears the completion of its East-West policy review. Hints dribble out about senior officials worrying that Mr. Reagan was too friendly with Mr. Gorbachev and too eager for arms control. That's self-defeating talk. The treaty eliminating medium-range missiles in Europe represents a substantial victory for the West. Similarly, Mr. Bush and the country would gain by early completion of a treaty to cut intercontinental-range missiles and bombers.

None of the contributors recommended cosmic disarmament agreements, and Mr. Bush would be right to avoid them. But he would be flat wrong not to exploit Moscow's willingness to compromise on cutting troops in Europe and otherwise reduce the costs and risks of security.

‘Tear Down This Wall’: The Power of Reagan’s 1987 Speech Endures

President Ronald Reagan delivers his Berlin Wall speech, June 12, 1987. (National Archives)

I n 2021 the United States is emerging from four traumas: a pandemic a recession associated with the pandemic social divisions laid bare by George Floyd’s killing and the protests and violence that followed and vitriolic partisanship surrounding a presidential election in which leaders of both political parties, including the defeated candidate for reelection, disparaged democratic processes and government institutions to score political points. Recovering from those traumas and restoring confidence will require introspection, but American leaders would be mistaken to neglect foreign affairs. The pandemic catalyzed rather than arrested geostrategic competitions, especially the free world’s competition with an increasingly aggressive Chinese Communist Party. While analogies between the 21st-century competition with the CCP and the 20th-century competition with the Soviet Union are imperfect, America’s experience during the Cold War demonstrated that prevailing in competitions abroad requires confidence in democratic principles and institutions at home.

President Ronald Reagan’s speech in June 1987, delivered in the shadow of the Berlin Wall, is immortalized because of the exhortation, “Mr. Gobachev, tear down this wall.” Those words and that speech are often credited with accelerating the collapse of the Soviet Union and the West’s triumph over communist totalitarianism because they invoked confidence that freedom would triumph over tyranny. The Berlin Wall is an apt, albeit inexact, analogy for the Great Firewall of China, the combination of laws and technologies designed to isolate the realm of the Chinese Communist Party from outside influences. One was meant to keep people in, and the other is designed to stifle freedom and prevent unsupervised personal interactions that might spark opposition to authoritarian regimes. To understand how to compete effectively with today’s most powerful authoritarian regime, leaders across the free world might reflect on how Reagan’s speech at the Brandenburg Gate clarified the nature of the competition with the Soviet Union, drew a strong contrast between democracy and autocracy, provided a positive vision for the future, and spoke directly to the people on the other side of the wall.

President Reagan’s speech made clear what was at stake, not only for those living under communist oppression, but for all peoples. “As long as this gate is closed, as long as this scar of a wall is permitted to stand, it is not the German question alone that remains open, but the question of freedom for all mankind.” Today, as the CCP perfects its technologically enabled police state, much of the world turns a blind eye to egregious violations of human rights. That is because China co-opts countries, international corporations, and elites through false promises of impending liberalization, insincere pledges to work on global issues such as climate change, and the lure of short-term profits associated with access to Chinese consumers, investments, and loans. The CCP portrays its crimes, such as the taking of hostages and political prisoners or the forcing of millions into reeducation and labor camps, as normal practice. Co-option incentivizes elites, corporations, and countries to go along with the charade while rendering them vulnerable to coercion. The Party uses its coercive power to force acquiescence or support for efforts to extinguish human freedom internally, extend its influence internationally, and reshape the global order in a way that favors China and its authoritarian, mercantilist model. Within international organizations such as the World Health Organization and the United Nations Human Rights Council, the CCP uses co-option and coercion to turn those organizations against their purpose and provide cover for the CCP’s most egregious acts. As Reagan pointed out in Berlin, the policies and actions of an aggressive authoritarian power present a challenge not only for the United States, but for all humanity.

The Berlin speech is remembered because it exposed, with a direct challenge, the nature of the free world’s competition with the Soviet Union: “There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Today, leaders across the free world have an opportunity to clarify, with a similar exhortation to Chairman Xi Jinping, what is at stake in the competition with the CCP: Tear down the Great Firewall and the many walls behind which the CCP interns its political prisoners, forced laborers, and oppressed minorities.

Reagan used the physical wall to illuminate the stark contrast between two systems, leaving little room for moral equivalence. He described the wall and the border complex that comprised the Iron Curtain as an “instrument to impose upon ordinary men and women the will of a totalitarian state” and observed that the “news photo and the television screen have imprinted this brutal division of a continent upon the mind of the world.” He made that barrier and the oppression it represented important to all people. “Standing before the Brandenburg Gate, every man is a German, separated from his fellow men. Every man is a Berliner, forced to look upon a scar.” Sadly, after Berliners tore down the wall in November 1989, man-made barriers that divide free and oppressed peoples persisted, such as the fences, minefields, and guard towers that run along the 38th parallel and separate South Korea’s thriving democracy from the Kim family’s destitute dictatorship.

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But it is the 180-kilometer-long strait that connects the East China Sea and the South China Sea that marks the most consequential political obstacle between peoples who share a common culture — much as the Berlin Wall did during the Cold War. Taiwanese appear as today’s West Berliners because Taiwan’s successful democracy exposes the CCP’s lie that the Chinese people are culturally predisposed toward not wanting a say in how they are governed. Reagan expressed respect for Berliners in 1987, noting “the feeling of history in this city, more than 500 years older than our own nation.” Leaders across the free world today might show respect for the Taiwanese and all Chinese people by acknowledging that China’s recent history — from the Republican Revolution of 1911 to the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989 to the Hong Kong protests of 2020 — reveals the CCP’s Leninist system as unnatural and sustainable only through oppression. Like West Berlin during the Cold War, Taiwan’s vibrancy and openness can provide hope to those who, from Xinjiang to Hong Kong to Tibet to Beijing, might otherwise despair. The Taiwanese people need, as West Berliners did during the Cold War, the support of the free world to counter the CCP’s aggression and deter conflict at a dangerous flashpoint that could lead to a devastating war.

Reagan delivered a confident, positive message. It has been largely forgotten that many in the West extolled the relative strengths of Soviet communism up to the moment that the system collapsed. Reagan, however, saw the competitive advantages of America and the free world. He declared that “there stands before the entire world one great and inescapable conclusion: Freedom leads to prosperity. Freedom replaces the ancient hatreds among the nations with comity and peace. Freedom is the victor.” Across the world’s democracies, in today’s season of self-doubt brought on by the aforementioned traumas, Reagan’s speech provides a reminder that self-respect is foundational to the competition with the CCP. The free world has a competitive advantage in unalienable rights: freedom of expression, of assembly, and of the press freedom of religion and freedom from persecution based on religion, race, gender, or sexual orientation the freedom to prosper in our free-market economic system rule of law and the protections it affords to life and liberty and democratic governance that recognizes that government serves the people rather than the other way around. While the free world’s democratic governments and free-market economic systems are imperfect and require constant nurturing, those who extol the relative strengths of China’s system and argue that the best that democracies can do is to manage their relative decline may one day find themselves as surprised as Soviet advocates and apologists were in 1989.

Some today argue that leaders should forgo criticism of the CCP’s egregious human-rights violations lest CCP leaders feel insulted and withdraw from collective action in areas such as climate change. But Reagan’s clear description of what was at stake in the competition between democracy and autocracy did not foreclose on cooperation with the Soviet Union. Even as he challenged Mr. Gorbachev to tear down the wall, he also called for “not merely limiting the growth of arms, but of eliminating, for the first time, an entire class of nuclear weapons from the face of the earth.” Six months later, at the Washington Summit, Reagan and Gorbachev signed the unprecedented Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which eliminated a whole class of nuclear weapons. Confidence and transparent competition might provide the best path toward cooperation on issues of mutual interest.

Reagan also spoke directly to the people of Eastern Europe: “To those listening throughout Eastern Europe, I extend my warmest greetings and the good will of the American people. To those listening in East Berlin, a special word: Although I cannot be with you, I address my remarks to you just as surely as to those standing here before me. For I join you, as I join your fellow countrymen in the West, in this firm, this unalterable belief: Es gibt nur ein Berlin. [There is only one Berlin.]” Rioting erupted in East Berlin as police began arresting young people who were listening to the speech. Reagan emphasized the importance of positive personal interactions across that artificial barrier, stating that “there is no better way to establish hope for the future than to enlighten young minds, and we would be honored to sponsor summer youth exchanges, cultural events, and other programs for young Berliners from the East. Our French and British friends, I’m certain, will do the same. And it’s my hope that an authority can be found in East Berlin to sponsor visits from young people of the Western sectors.” Just as Reagan advocated for the free movement of young people across a physical barrier, the United States and other free and open societies today should work to surmount the Great Firewall and reach the Chinese people.

Although some might consider expanded immigration from a rival authoritarian state risky, the United States and other free and open societies should issue more visas as part of an effort to maximize positive interactions with Chinese people and entities disconnected from CCP efforts to stifle freedom, conduct espionage, or export China’s authoritarian mercantilist model. Sadly, the CCP is reducing the space and opportunities for those interactions. As the CCP intensifies the oppression of its own people, the United States and other democracies should grant asylum or parole to those who are subject to the CCP’s brutality. Following the Tiananmen Square massacre, President George H. W. Bush issued an executive order that granted Chinese students in the United States the right to stay and work. In the following decade, more than three quarters of the students stayed after graduation. Many became U.S. citizens and went on to make tremendous contributions to American society.

Even if leaders across the free world adopt the essential elements of President Ronald Reagan’s speech at the Brandenburg Gate, clarify the nature of the competition with the CCP, highlight the stark contrast between democracy and authoritarianism, communicate a positive vision of democratic governance and the rule of law, and speak directly to the Chinese people, Xi Jinping and Party leaders are likely to tighten their exclusive grip on power and promote their authoritarian, mercantilist model. That is because Xi and the CCP princelings of his generation are driven by fear and ambition: fear of the chaos that could follow their loss of control, and the ambition to achieve “national rejuvenation.” The COVID-19 pandemic convinced Party leaders that they have a fleeting window of strategic opportunity to strengthen their rule and revise the international order in their favor — before the economy sours before the population grows old before other nations realize that the Party is pursuing national rejuvenation at their expense. Moreover, CCP leaders learned one fundamental lesson from the collapse of the Soviet Union’s communist empire just two years after Reagan’s speech: Never compromise or grant the Chinese people a say in how the Party governs. CCP leaders blame Mikhail Gorbachev, who visited Beijing amid the Tiananmen Square protests to celebrate the 40th anniversary of relations between the Soviet Union and Communist China, for losing faith in the primacy of the Soviet-party elites. In his speech Reagan welcomed Gorbachev’s policies of “change and openness,” expressing his belief “that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace.” But Xi and his cohort see Gorbachev’s effort to make the Communist Party of the Soviet Union a “party of the whole people” as misguided and the principal cause of the Soviet Union’s demise. For Xi and the CCP, freedom is a source of existential angst.

Perhaps the greatest lesson of Reagan’s remarks on East–West relations is the importance of moral clarity and unambiguous language. Peter Robinson, then a 30-year-old speechwriter who is now a fellow at the Hoover Institution, drafted the speech. He and his colleague Anthony Dolan advocated strong language generally and especially for the four words that constituted that historic and prophetic challenge: “Tear down this wall.” To prepare for the speech, Robinson visited Berlin, where West Berlin government officials encouraged mild rhetoric. Some stated that Berliners had gotten used to the wall. Chancellor Helmut Kohl wrote a memo in which he observed that a large number of Germans believed that progress in the relationship with the Soviet Union was possible only if the United States avoided direct condemnation. Secretary of State George Schultz and national-security adviser Colin Powell believed that strong rhetoric would undermine Gorbachev’s glasnost and perestroika efforts and set back the fragile relationship Reagan was building with Gorbachev. State Department officials and National Security Council staff submitted seven drafts of the speech, all of which excluded the four words. But Tom Griscom, Reagan’s director of communications, had given President Reagan the draft speech before it went out for staffing. Griscom also persuaded the new White House chief of staff, Howard Baker, not to intervene or try to block the speech. Ultimately, Reagan retained the tone of the speech and those four momentous words.

The Berlin speech and other Reagan speeches that addressed the Cold War competition with the Soviet Union, such as the Westminster Address of June 1982 and the “Evil Empire” speech given at the annual convention of the National Association of Evangelicals in Orlando, Fla., in March 1983, explained what was at stake, for the United States and humanity, in the competition with the Soviet Union. In the latter speech, he lamented the “historical reluctance to see totalitarian powers for what they are.” That reluctance abides, as some argue that, in the competition with the Chinese Communist Party, the United States faces a binary choice between accommodation and a disastrous war. Others prioritize profits over principles as they surrender to the Party’s coercive power. Some rationalize their silence over heinous human-rights abuses with tortured arguments of moral equivalence. President Ronald Reagan’s Berlin speech demonstrated that direct language is itself an essential element of effective competition. The speech retains its importance because it demonstrates the need for an unambiguous understanding of the nature of today’s competition with the CCP, reveals how that understanding can help restore confidence in and gratitude for democratic governance, and encourages a renewed international commitment to the unalienable rights to which all peoples are entitled.

This piece is a part of the Ronald Reagan Institute’s Presidential Principles & Beliefs Essay series. The entire collection is available here.


Since assuming power as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1985, Gorbachev had embarked on an ambitious program of reform, embodied in the twin concepts of perestroika and glasnost, meaning economic/political restructuring and openness, respectively. [12] These moves prompted resistance and suspicion on the part of hardline members of the nomenklatura. The reforms also unleashed some forces and movements that Gorbachev did not expect. [ citation needed ] Specifically, nationalist agitation on the part of the Soviet Union's non-Russian minorities grew, and there were fears that some or all of the union republics might secede. In 1991, the Soviet Union was in a severe economic and political crisis. Scarcity of food, medicine, and other consumables was widespread, [13] people had to stand in long lines to buy even essential goods, [14] fuel stocks were up to 50% less than the estimated need for the approaching winter, and inflation was over 300% per year, with factories lacking in cash needed to pay salaries. [15] In 1990, Estonia, [16] Latvia, [17] Lithuania [18] and Armenia [19] had already declared the restoration of their independence from the Soviet Union. In January 1991, there was an attempt to return Lithuania to the Soviet Union by force. About a week later, there was a similar attempt by local pro-Soviet forces to overthrow the Latvian authorities. There were continuing armed ethnic conflicts in Nagorno Karabakh and South Ossetia. [ citation needed ]

Russia declared its sovereignty on 12 June 1990 and thereafter limited the application of Soviet laws, in particular the laws concerning finance and the economy, on Russian territory. The Supreme Soviet of the Russian SFSR adopted laws which contradicted Soviet laws (the so-called War of Laws). [ citation needed ]

In the unionwide referendum on 17 March 1991, boycotted by the Baltic states, Armenia, Georgia, and Moldova, the supermajority of the residents of the rest of the republics expressed the desire to retain the renewed Soviet Union, with 77.85% voting in favor. Following negotiations, eight of the nine republics (except Ukraine) approved the New Union Treaty with some conditions. The treaty would make the Soviet Union a federation of independent republics called the Union of Soviet Sovereign Republics with a common president, foreign policy, and military. Russia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan were to sign the Treaty in Moscow on 20 August 1991. [20] [21]

According to British historian Dan Stone:

The coup was the last gasp of those who were astonished at and felt betrayed by the precipitous collapse of the Soviet Union's empire in Eastern Europe and the swift destruction of the Warsaw Pact and Comecon that followed. Many feared the consequences of Gorbachev's German policies above all, not just for leaving officers unemployed but for sacrificing gains achieved in the Great Patriotic War to German revanchism and irredentism - after all this had been the Kremlin's greatest fear since the end of the war. [22]

The KGB began to consider attempting a coup in September 1990, while Alexander Yakovlev began warning Gorbachev about the possibility of one after the 28th Party Congress in June 1990. [23] On 11 December 1990, KGB Chairman Vladimir Kryuchkov, made a "call for order" over the Moscow Programme. [24] That day, he asked two KGB officers [25] to prepare a plan of measures that could be taken in case a state of emergency was declared in the USSR. Later, Kryuchkov brought Soviet Defense Minister Dmitry Yazov, Internal Affairs Minister Boris Pugo, Premier Valentin Pavlov, Vice-President Gennady Yanayev, Soviet Defense Council deputy chief Oleg Baklanov, Gorbachev secretariat head Valery Boldin [ru] , and CPSU Central Committee Secretary Oleg Shenin into the conspiracy. [26] [27]

Beginning with the January Events in Lithuania, members of Gorbachev's Cabinet hoped that he could be persuaded to declare the state of emergency and to "restore order," and formed the State Committee on the State of Emergency (GKChP). [28]

On June 17, 1991 Pavlov requested extraordinary powers from the Supreme Soviet, although Gorbachev condemned the move. Several days later, Moscow Mayor Gavriil Popov informed U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union Jack F. Matlock Jr. that a coup against Gorbachev was being planned. When Matlock tried to warn him, Gorbachev falsely assumed that his own Cabinet was not involved and underestimated the risk of a coup. [28]

On 23 July 1991, a number of party functionaries and literati published in the hardline newspaper Sovetskaya Rossiya a piece entitled "A Word to the People" which called for decisive action to prevent calamity. [ citation needed ]

Six days later, on July 29, Gorbachev, Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev discussed the possibility of replacing such hardliners as Pavlov, Yazov, Kryuchkov and Pugo with more liberal figures, with Nazarbayev as Prime Minister (In Pavlov's place). Kryuchkov, who had placed Gorbachev under close surveillance as Subject 110 several months earlier, eventually got wind of the conversation from an electronic bug planted by Gorbachev's bodyguard Vladimir Medvedev. [23] [29] [30] [31] Yeltsin also prepared for a coup by establishing a secret defense committee ordering military and KGB commands to side with RSFSR authorities and by establishing a "reserve government" in Sverdlovsk under Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Lobov.

On 4 August, Gorbachev went on holiday to his dacha in Foros, Crimea. He planned to return to Moscow in time for the New Union Treaty signing on 20 August. On 17 August, the members of the GKChP met at a KGB guesthouse in Moscow and studied the treaty document. They believed the pact would pave the way to the Soviet Union's breakup, and decided that it was time to act. The next day, Baklanov, Boldin, Shenin, and USSR Deputy Defense Minister General Valentin Varennikov flew to Crimea for a meeting with Gorbachev. Yazov ordered General Pavel Grachev, the commander of the Soviet Airborne Forces, to begin coordinating with KGB Deputy Chairmen Viktor Grushko and Genii Ageev to implement martial law. [23]

At 4:32 pm on 18 August, the GKChP cut communications to Gorbachev's dacha, including telephone landlines and the nuclear command and control system. Eight minutes later, Lieutenant General Yuri Plekhanov of the Ninth Chief Directorate allowed them into Gorbachev's dacha. Gorbachev realized what was happening after discovering the telephone outages. They demanded that Gorbachev either declare a state of emergency or resign and name Yanayev as acting president to allow the members of the GKChP "to restore order" in the country. [27] [32] [33] [28]

Gorbachev has always claimed that he refused point blank to accept the ultimatum. [32] [34] Varennikov has insisted that Gorbachev said: "Damn you. Do what you want. But report my opinion!" [35] However, those present at the dacha at the time testified that Baklanov, Boldin, Shenin, and Varennikov had been clearly disappointed and nervous after the meeting with Gorbachev. [32] Gorbachev is also said to have insulted Varennikov by pretending to forget his name, and told his former trusted advisor Boldin "Shut up, you prick! How dare you give me lectures about the situation in the country!" [28] With Gorbachev's refusal, the conspirators ordered that he remain confined to the Foros dacha at the same time the dacha's communication lines (which were controlled by the KGB) were shut down. Additional KGB security guards were placed at the dacha gates with orders to stop anybody from leaving. [ citation needed ]

The members of the GKChP ordered 250,000 pairs of handcuffs from a factory in Pskov to be sent to Moscow [36] and 300,000 arrest forms. Kryuchkov doubled the pay of all KGB personnel, called them back from holiday, and placed them on alert. The Lefortovo Prison was emptied to receive prisoners. [30]

The members of the GKChP met in the Kremlin after Baklanov, Boldin, Shenin and Varennikov returned from Crimea. Yanayev (who had only just been persuaded to join the plot), Pavlov and Baklanov signed the so-called "Declaration of the Soviet Leadership" in which they declared the state of emergency in all of the USSR and announced that the State Committee on the State of Emergency (Государственный Комитет по Чрезвычайному Положению, ГКЧП, or Gosudarstvenniy Komitet po Chrezvichaynomu Polozheniyu, GKChP) had been created "to manage the country and to effectively maintain the regime of the state of emergency". The GKChP included the following members:

    , Vice President , Prime Minister , Head of the KGB , Minister of Defence , Minister of Interior , Member of the CPSU Central Committee , Chairman of the Peasant Union [ru] , President of the Association of the State Enterprises and Objects of Industry, Transport, and Communications [33][37]

Yanayev signed the decree naming himself as acting USSR president on the pretext of Gorbachev's inability to perform presidential duties due to "illness". [37] However, Russian investigators later identified Kryuchkov as the key planner of the coup. [23] These eight collectively became known as the "Gang of Eight".

The GKChP banned all newspapers in Moscow, except for nine Party-controlled newspapers. [37] The GKChP also issued a populist declaration which stated that "the honour and dignity of the Soviet man must be restored." [37]

19 August Edit

All of the State Committee on the State of Emergency (GKChP) documents were broadcast over the state radio and television starting from 7 a.m. The KGB immediately issued an arrest list including Russians SFSR President Boris Yeltsin, his allies, and the leaders of the umbrella activist group Democratic Russia. [23] The Russian SFSR-controlled Radio Rossii and Televidenie Rossii, plus "Ekho Moskvy", the only independent political radio station, were cut off the air. However, the station later resumed transmitting and became a source of information during the coup, and the BBC World Service and Voice of America were also able to provide continuous coverage. Gorbachev and his family heard the news from a BBC bulletin on a small Sony transistor radio that had not been taken away. For the next several days he refused to take food from outside his dacha to avoid being poisoned and took long outdoor strolls to dispute reports of his ill health. [38] [28]

Armour units of the Tamanskaya Division and the Kantemirovskaya tank division rolled into Moscow along with paratroops. Around 4000 soldiers, 350 tanks, 300 armoured personnel carriers and 420 trucks were mobilised to Moscow. Four Russian SFSR people's deputies (who were considered the most "dangerous") were detained by the KGB at an army base near Moscow. [26] However, almost no other arrests were made by the KGB during the coup. Ulysse Gosset and Vladimir Federovski later alleged that the KGB was planning to carry out a much larger wave of arrests two weeks after the coup, after which it would have abolished almost all legislative and local administrative structures under a highly centralized Council of Ministers. [23] Yanayev instructed Foreign Minister Alexander Bessmertnykh to make a statement requesting formal diplomatic recognition from foreign governments and the United Nations. [23]

The conspirators considered detaining Yeltsin upon his arrival from a visit to Kazakhstan on 17 August, but failed when Yeltsin redirected his flight from Chkalovsky Air Base to Moscow Vnukovo Airport. After that, they considered catching him when he was at his dacha near Moscow. The KGB Alpha Group surrounded Yeltsin's dacha with Spetsnaz, but for an undisclosed reason did not apprehend him. The commanding officer Viktor Karpukhin later alleged that he had received an order from Kryuchkov to arrest Yeltsin but disobeyed it, although his account has been questioned. [23] The failure to arrest Yeltsin proved fatal to their plans. [26] [39] [40] After the announcement of the coup at 7 am Yeltsin began inviting prominent Russian officials to his dacha, including Leningrad Mayor Anatoly Sobchak, Moscow Deputy Mayor Yury Luzhkov, Colonel-General Konstantin Kobets, RSFSR Prime Minister Ivan Silayev, Vice President Alexander Rutskoy, and RSFSR Supreme Soviet Chairman Ruslan Khasbulatov. [23]

Yeltsin initially wanted to remain at the dacha and organize a rival government, but Kobtets advised them to travel to the White House, Russia's parliament building, in order to maintain communications with opponents of the coup. They arrived and occupied the White House at 9 am. Together with Silayev and Khasbulatov, Yeltsin issued a declaration "To the Citizens of Russia" that condemned the GkChP's actions as a reactionary anti-constitutional coup. The military was urged not to take part in the coup, and local authorities were asked to follow laws from the RSFSR President rather than the GKChP. Although he initially avoided this step to avoid beginning a civil war, Yeltsin also took command of all Soviet military and security forces in the RSFSR. [23] The declaration called for a general strike with the demand to let Gorbachev address the people. [41] This declaration was distributed around Moscow in the form of flyers, and was disseminated nationwide through medium wave radio and on Usenet newsgroups via the RELCOM computer network. [42] Workers at Izvestia threatened to go on strike unless Yeltsin's proclamation was printed in the newspaper. [43]

The GKChP relied on regional and local soviets, which were still mostly dominated by the Communist Party, to support the coup by forming emergency committees to repress dissidence. The CPSU Secretariat under Boldin sent coded telegrams to local party committees to assist the coup. Yeltsin's authorities later discovered that nearly 70 percent of them either backed it or attempted to remain neutral. Within the RSFSR the oblasts of Samara, Lipetsk, Tambov, Saratov, Orenburg, Irkutsk, and Tomsk and the krai of Altai and Krasnodar all supported the coup and pressured raikom to do so as well, while only three oblasts aside from Moscow and Leningrad opposed it. However, some of the soviets faced internal resistance against emergency rule. The Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republics of Tatarstan, Kabardino-Balkaria, Checheno-Ingushetia, Buryatiya, and North Ossetia all sided with the GKChP. [23]

The Soviet public was divided on the coup. A poll in the RSFSR by Mnenie on the morning of 19 April showed that only one-fifth of Russians believed it would, that 23.6 percent of Russians believed the GKChP could improve living standards, while 41.9 percent had no opinion. However separate polls by Interfax showed that many Russians, including 71 percent of residents of Leningrad, feared the return of mass repressions. The GKChP also enjoyed strong support in the Russian-majority regions of Estonia and Transnistria, while Yeltsin enjoyed strong support in Sverdlovsk and Nizhny Novgorod. [23]

At 10 am Rutskoy, Silayev, and Khasbulatov delivered a letter to Soviet Supreme Soviet Chairman Anatoly Lukyanov demanding a medical exam of Gorbachev by the World Health Organization and a meeting between themselves, Yeltsin, Gorbachev, and Yanayev within 24 hours. Rutskoy later visited Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow, the spiritual leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, and convinced him to declare support for Yeltsin. Meanwhile, in Leningrad, Military District Commander Viktor Samsonov ordered the formation of an emergency committee for the city chaired by Leningrad First Secretary Boris Gidaspov in order to circumvent Sobchak's democratically elected municipal government. Samsonov's troops were ultimately blocked by hundreds of thousands of demonstrators supported by the police, which forced Leningrad Television to broadcast a statement by Sobchak. Workers at the Kirov Plant went on strike in support of Yeltsin. Moscow First Secretary Yuri Prokofev attempted to do the same but was rebuffed when Boris Nikolskii refused to accept the office of Mayor of Moscow. [23] At 11 am, RSFSR Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev held a press conference for foreign journalists and diplomats and gained the support of most of the West for Yeltsin. [23]

In the afternoon, the citizens of Moscow began to gather around the White House and to erect barricades around it. [41] In response, Gennady Yanayev declared the state of emergency in Moscow at 16:00. [33] [37] Yanayev declared at the press conference at 17:00 that Gorbachev was "resting". He said: "Over these years he has got very tired and needs some time to get his health back." Yanayev's shaking hands led some people to think he was drunk, and his trembling voice, and weak posture made his words unconvincing. Victoria E. Bonnell and Gregory Frieden noted that the press conference had allowed spontaneous questioning from journalists who openly accused the GKChP of carrying out a coup and a news crew that did not censor Yanayev's erratic motions in the same way it had with past leaders such as Leonid Brezhnev, making them appear even more inept and incompetent to Soviet audiences. [44] Gorbachev's security detail managed to create a makeshift television antenna so he and his family could watch the press conference. [33] After viewing the conference Gorbachev expressed confidence that Yeltsin would be able to stop the coup. That night his family smuggled out a videotape of Gorbachev condemning the coup.

Yanayev and the rest of the State Committee ordered the Cabinet of Ministers to alter the then current five year plan to relieve the housing shortage. All city dwellers were given one third of an acre each to combat winter shortages by growing fruit and vegetables. In connection with the illness of Valentin Pavlov, the duties of the head of the government of the USSR were entrusted to First Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Doguzhiyev. [45] [29]

Meanwhile, Major Evdokimov, chief of staff of a tank battalion of the Tamanskaya Division guarding the White House, declared his loyalty to the leadership of the Russian SFSR. [41] [46] Yeltsin climbed one of the tanks and addressed the crowd. Unexpectedly, this episode was included in the state media's evening news. [47]

20 August Edit

At 8 am, the Soviet General Staff ordered the Cheget controlling Soviet nuclear weapons to be returned to Moscow. Although he discovered that the GKChP's actions had cut off communications with the nuclear duty officers, the Cheget was returned to Moscow by 2 pm. However, Soviet Air Force Commander-in-Chief Yevgeny Shaposhnikov opposed the coup and claimed in his memoirs that he and the commanders of the Soviet Navy and the Strategic Rocket Forces told Yazov that they would not follow orders for a nuclear launch. After the coup, Gorbachev refused to admit that he had lost control of the nuclear weapons. [28]

At noon, Moscow military district commander General Nikolai Kalinin, whom Yanayev appointed as military commandant of Moscow, declared a curfew in Moscow from 23:00 to 5:00, effective from 20 August. [27] [38] [41] This was understood as the sign that the attack on the White House was imminent.

The defenders of the White House prepared themselves, most of them being unarmed. Evdokimov's tanks were moved from the White House in the evening. [33] [48] The makeshift White House defense headquarters was headed by General Kobets, a Russian SFSR people's deputy. [48] [49] [50] Outside Eduard Shevardnadze, Mstislav Rostropovich, and Yelena Bonner delivered speeches in support of Yeltsin. [23]

In the afternoon, Kryuchkov, Yazov and Pugo finally decided to attack the White House. This decision was supported by other GKChP members (minus Pavlov, who had been sent to his dacha and his wife due to drunkenness). Kryuchkov and Yazov's deputies, KGB general Ageyev and Army general Vladislav Achalov, respectively, planned the assault, codenamed "Operation Grom" (Thunder), which would gather elements of the Alpha Group and Vympel elite special forces units, with the support of paratroopers, Moscow OMON, the Internal Troops of the ODON, three tank companies and a helicopter squadron. Alpha Group commander General Viktor Karpukhin and other senior officers of the unit together with Airborne Troops deputy commander Gen. Alexander Lebed mingled with the crowds near the White House and assessed the possibility of such an operation. After that, Karpukhin and Vympel commander Colonel Beskov tried to convince Ageyev that the operation would result in bloodshed and should be cancelled. [26] [27] [29] [51] Lebed, with the consent his superior Grachev, returned to the White House and secretly informed the defense headquarters that the attack would begin at 2:00. [29] [51]

While the events were unfolding in the capital, Estonia's Supreme Council declared at 23:03 the full reinstatement of the independent status of the Republic of Estonia after 51 years.

State-controlled TASS dispatches from this day emphasize a hardline approach against crime, especially economic crimes and the Russian mafia, which the GKChP blamed on increasing trade with the West. Draft decrees were later discovered which would have allowed military and police patrols to shoot "hooligans," including pro-democracy demonstrators. [23]

21 August Edit

At about 1:00, not far from the White House, trolleybuses and street cleaning machines were used to barricade a tunnel against oncoming Taman Guards infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs). Three men were killed in the incident, Dmitry Komar, Vladimir Usov, and Ilya Krichevsky, while several others were wounded. Komar, a 22-year-old Soviet-Afghan War veteran, was shot and crushed trying to cover a moving IFV's observation slit. Usov, a 37-year-old economist, was killed by a stray bullet whilst coming to Komar's aid. The crowd set fire to an IFV and Krichevsky, a 28-year-old architect, was shot dead as the troops escaped. [33] [49] [52] [53] According to Sergey Parkhomenko, a journalist and democracy campaigner who was in the crowd defending the White House, "Those deaths played a crucial role: Both sides were so horrified that it brought a halt to everything." [54] Alpha Group and Vympel did not move to the White House as had been planned and Yazov ordered the troops to pull out from Moscow. Reports also surfaced that Gorbachev had been placed under house arrest in Crimea. [55] [56] During the final day of her family's exile Raisa Gorbacheva suffered a minor stroke. [28]

The troops began to move from Moscow at 8:00. The GKChP members met in the Defence Ministry and, not knowing what to do, decided to send Kryuchkov, Yazov, Baklanov, Tizyakov, Anatoly Lukyanov, and Deputy CPSU General Secretary Vladimir Ivashko to Crimea to meet Gorbachev, who refused to meet them when they arrived. With the dacha's communications to Moscow restored, Gorbachev declared all the GKChP's decisions void and dismissed its members from their state offices. The USSR General Prosecutors Office started the investigation of the coup. [29] [41]

During that period, the Supreme Council of the Republic of Latvia declared its sovereignty officially completed with a law passed by its deputies, confirming the independence restoration act of 4 May as an official act. [57] In Tallinn, just a day after the restitution of independence, the Tallinn TV Tower was taken over by the Airborne Troops, while the television broadcast was cut off for a while, the radio signal was strong as a handful of Estonian Defence League (the unified paramilitary armed forces of Estonia) members barricaded the entry into signal rooms. [58] In the evening, as news of the failure of the coup reached the republic, the paratroopers departed from the tower and left the capital.

22 August Edit

Gorbachev and the GKChP delegation flew to Vnukovo International Airport, where Kryuchkov, Yazov, and Tizyakov were arrested upon arrival in the early hours. Pugo committed suicide along with his wife the next day. Pavlov, Vasily Starodubtsev, Baklanov, Boldin, and Shenin were taken into custody within the next 48 hours. [29]

Since several heads of the regional executive committees supported the GKChP, on 21 August the Supreme Soviet of the Russian SFSR adopted Decision No. 1626-1, which authorized Russian President Boris Yeltsin to appoint heads of regional administrations, although the Russian Constitution did not empower the president with such authority. [59] It passed another decision the next day which declared the old imperial colors as Russia's national flag. [59] It eventually replaced the Russian SFSR flag two months later.

On the night of 24 August, the Felix Dzerzhinsky statue in front of the KGB building at Dzerzhinskiy Square (Lubianka) was dismantled, while thousands of Moscow citizens took part in the funeral of Dmitry Komar, Vladimir Usov and Ilya Krichevsky, the three citizens who died in the tunnel incident. Gorbachev posthumously awarded them with the title of Hero of the Soviet Union. Yeltsin asked their relatives to forgive him for not being able to prevent their deaths. [29]

End of the CPSU Edit

Gorbachev initially tried to defend the CPSU, proclaiming at a 22 August press conference that it still represented a "progressive force" despite its leaders' participation in the coup. [28] Gorbachev resigned as CPSU General Secretary on 24 August. [60] [29] Vladimir Ivashko replaced him as acting General Secretary but resigned on 29 August [ citation needed ] when the Supreme Soviet of the USSR suspended the activities of the party throughout the country. [61] Around the same time, Yeltsin decreed the transfer of the CPSU archives to the state archive authorities, as well as nationalizing all CPSU assets in the Russian SFSR (which included not only the headquarters of party committees but also educational institutions, hotels, etc.). [ citation needed ] The Central Committee headquarters were handed over to the Government of Moscow. [28] On November 6, Yeltsin issued a decree banning the party in Russia. [62]

Dissolution of the Soviet Union Edit

On 24 August, Mikhail Gorbachev created the so-called "Committee for the Operational Management of the Soviet Economy" (Комитет по оперативному управлению народным хозяйством СССР), to replace the USSR Cabinet of Ministers [63] headed by Valentin Pavlov, a GKChP member. Russian Prime Minister Ivan Silayev headed this committee. On the same day the Verkhovna Rada adopted the Act of Independence of Ukraine and called for a referendum on support of the Act of Independence.

On August 28, the Supreme Soviet of the USSR dismissed Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov [66] and entrusted the functions of the government of the USSR to Committee for the Operational Management of the Soviet Economy. [67] The next day, Supreme Soviet Chairman Anatoly Lukyanov was arrested. [29]

On 5 September, the Congress of People's Deputies of the Soviet Union adopted Soviet Law No. 2392-1 "On the Authorities of the Soviet Union in the Transitional Period" under which the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union had replaced Congress of People's Deputies and was reformed. Two new legislative chambers—the Soviet of the Union (Совет Союза) and the Soviet of Republics (Совет Республик)—replaced the Soviet of the Union and the Soviet of Nationalities (both elected by the USSR Congress of Peoples Deputies). The Soviet of the Union was to be formed by the popularly elected USSR people's deputies, and would consider only issues concerning civil rights and freedoms and other issues which didn't fall under the jurisdiction of the Soviet of Republics. It decisions would have to be reviewed by the Soviet of Republics. The Soviet of Republics was to include 20 deputies from each union republic plus one deputy to represent each autonomous region of each union republic (both USSR people's deputies and republican people's deputies) delegated by the legislatures of the union republic. Russia was an exception with 52 deputies. However, the delegation of each union republic was to have only one vote in the Soviet of Republics. The laws were to be first adopted by the Soviet of the Union and then by the Soviet of Republics, which would set procedures for the central government, approve the appointment of central ministers and consider inter-republican agreements. [68]

Also created was the Soviet State Council (Государственный совет СССР), which included the Soviet President and the presidents of union republics. The "Committee for the Operational Management of the Soviet Economy" was replaced by the USSR Inter-republican Economic Committee (Межреспубликанский экономический комитет СССР), [68] also headed by Ivan Silayev.

On 27 August, Supreme Soviet of Moldova declared the independence of Moldova from the Soviet Union. The Supreme Soviets of Azerbaijan and Kyrgyzstan did the same on 30 and 31 August, respectively. Afterwards, on 6 September the newly created Soviet State Council recognized the independence of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. [69] Estonia had declared re-independence on 20 August, Latvia on the following day, while Lithuania had done so already on 11 March 1990. Three days later, on 9 September the Supreme Soviet of Tajikistan declared the independence of Tajikistan from the Soviet Union. Furthermore, in September over 99% percent of voters in Armenia voted for a referendum approving the Republic's commitment to independence. The immediate aftermath of that vote was the Armenian Supreme Soviet's declaration of independence, issued on 21 September. By 27 October the Supreme Soviet of Turkmenistan declared the independence of Turkmenistan from the Soviet Union. On 1 December Ukraine held a referendum, in which more than 90% of residents supported the Act of Independence of Ukraine.

By November, the only Soviet Republics that had not declared independence were Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. That same month, seven republics (Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan) agreed to a new union treaty that would form a confederation called the Union of Sovereign States. However, this confederation never materialized.

On 8 December Boris Yeltsin, Leonid Kravchuk and Stanislav Shushkevich—respectively, leaders of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus (which adopted that name in August 1991)—as well as the prime ministers of the republics met in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, where they signed the Belovezha Accords. This document declared that the Soviet Union had ceased to exist "as a subject of international law and geopolitical reality." It repudiated the 1922 union treaty that established the Soviet Union, and established the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in the Union's place. On 12 December, the Supreme Soviet of the Russian SFSR ratified the accords and recalled the Russian deputies from the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. Although this has been interpreted as the moment that Russia seceded from the Union, in fact Russia took the line that it was not possible to secede from a state that no longer existed. The lower chamber of the Supreme Soviet, the Council of the Union, was forced to halt its operations, as the departure of the Russian deputies left it without a quorum.

Doubts remained about the legitimacy of the signing that took place on 8 December, since only three republics took part. Thus, on 21 December in Alma-Ata on 21 December, the Alma-Ata Protocol expanded the CIS to include Armenia, Azerbaijan and the five republics of Central Asia. They also pre-emptively accepted Gorbachev's resignation. With 11 of the 12 remaining republics (all except Georgia) having agreed that the Union no longer existed, Gorbachev bowed to the inevitable and said he would resign as soon as the CIS became a reality (Georgia joined the CIS in 1993, only to withdraw in 2008 after conflict between Georgia and Russia the three Baltic states never joined, instead going on to join the European Union and NATO in 2004.)

On 24 December 1991, the Russian SFSR—now renamed the Russian Federation—with the concurrence of the other republics of the Commonwealth of Independent States, informed the United Nations that it would inherit the Soviet Union's membership in the UN—including the Soviet Union's permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. [70] No member state of the UN formally objected to this step. The legitimacy of this act has been questioned by some legal scholars as the Soviet Union itself was not constitutionally succeeded by the Russian Federation, but merely dissolved. Others argued that the international community had already established the precedent of recognizing the Soviet Union as the legal successor of the Russian Empire, and so recognizing the Russian Federation as the Soviet Union's successor state was valid.

On 25 December 1991, Gorbachev announced his resignation as President of the Soviet Union. The red hammer and sickle flag of the Soviet Union was lowered from the Senate building in the Kremlin and replaced with the tricolor flag of Russia. The next day, 26 December 1991, the Council of Republics, the upper chamber of the Supreme Soviet, formally voted the Soviet Union out of existence (the lower chamber, the Council of the Union, had been left without a quorum after the Russian deputies withdrew), thus ending the life of the world's first and oldest socialist state. All former Soviet embassies became Russian embassies while Russia received the nuclear weapons from the other former republics by 1996. A constitutional crisis occurred in 1993 had been escalated into violence and the new constitution finally abolished the last vestiges of the Soviet political system.

Beginning of radical economic reforms in Russia Edit

On 1 November 1991, the RSFSR Congress of People's Deputies issued Decision No. 1831-1 On the Legal Support of the Economic Reform whereby the Russian president (Boris Yeltsin) was granted the right to issue decrees required for the economic reform even if they contravened the laws. Such decrees entered into force if they were not repealed within 7 days by the Supreme Soviet of the Russian SFSR or its Presidium. [59] Five days later, Boris Yeltsin, in addition to the duties of the President, assumed the duties of the prime minister. Yegor Gaidar became deputy prime minister and simultaneously economic and finance minister. On 15 November 1991, Boris Yeltsin issued Decree No. 213 On the Liberalization of Foreign Economic Activity on the Territory of the RSFSR whereby all Russian companies were allowed to import and to export goods and to acquire foreign currency (previously all foreign trade had been tightly controlled by the state). [59] Following the issuing of Decree No. 213, on 3 December 1991 Boris Yeltsin issued Decree No. 297 On the Measures to Liberalize Prices whereby from 2 January 1992 most previously existing price controls were abolished. [59]

Trial of the members of the GKChP Edit

The GKChP members and their accomplices were charged with treason in the form of a conspiracy aimed at capturing power. However, by January 1993, they had all been released from custody pending trial. [71] [72] The trial in the Military Chamber of the Russian Supreme Court began on 14 April 1993. [73] On 23 February 1994, the State Duma declared amnesty for all GKChP members and their accomplices, along with the participants of the October 1993 crisis. [59] They all accepted the amnesty, except for General Varennikov, who demanded the continuation of the trial and was finally acquitted on 11 August 1994. [29] The Russian Procuracy also wanted to charge former Deputy Defense Minister Vladislav Achalov, but the Russian Supreme Soviet refused to lift his immunity. [23] Additionally, the Procuracy refrained from charging numerous other individuals alleged of complicity in the coup, including Army Chief of Staff .

Commemoration of the civilians killed Edit

Thousands of people attended the funeral of Dmitry Komar, Ilya Krichevsky, and Vladimir Usov on 24 August 1991. Gorbachev made the three men posthumous Heroes of the Soviet Union, for their bravery "blocking the way to those who wanted to strangle democracy.". [74]

Parliamentary commission Edit

In 1991, the Parliamentary Commission for Investigating Causes and Reasons of the coup attempt was established under Lev Ponomaryov, but in 1992, it was dissolved at Ruslan Khasbulatov's insistence.

United States Edit

During his vacation in Walker's Point Estate in Kennebunkport, Maine, the President of the United States, George H. W. Bush made a blunt demand for Gorbachev's restoration to power and said the United States did not accept the legitimacy of the self-proclaimed new Soviet Government. He returned to the White House after rushing from his vacation home, receiving a letter from Kozyrev aboard Air Force One. Bush then issued a strongly-worded statement that followed a day of consultations with other leaders of the Western alliance and a concerted effort to squeeze the new Soviet leadership by freezing economic aid programs. He decried the coup as a "misguided and illegitimate effort" that "bypasses both Soviet law and the will of the Soviet peoples." President Bush called the overthrow "very disturbing," and he put a hold on U.S. aid to the Soviet Union until the coup was ended. [6] [75]

The Bush statement, drafted after a series of meetings with top aides at the White House, was much more forceful than the President's initial reaction that morning in Maine. It was in keeping with a unified Western effort to apply both diplomatic and economic pressure to the group of Soviet officials seeking to gain control of the country.

Former President Ronald Reagan had said:

"I can't believe that the Soviet people will allow a reversal in the progress that they have recently made toward economic and political freedom. Based on my extensive meetings and conversations with him, I am convinced that President Gorbachev had the best interest of the Soviet people in mind. I have always felt that his opposition came from the communist bureaucracy, and I can only hope that enough progress was made that a movement toward democracy will be unstoppable." [6]

On 2 September 1991, the United States re-recognized the independence of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania when Bush delivered the press conference in Kennebunkport. [76] The coup also led several members of Congress such as Sam Nunn, Les Aspin, and Richard Lugar to become concerned about the security of Soviet weapons of mass destruction and the potential for nuclear proliferation in the unstable conditions. Despite public opposition to further aid to the Soviet Union and ambivalence from the Bush administration, they oversaw the ratification of the Soviet Nuclear Threat Reduction Act of 1991 authorizing the Nunn–Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program providing funding to post-Soviet states for the decommissioning of WMD stockpiles. [28]

United Kingdom Edit

The British Prime Minister John Major had expressed feelings in a 1991 interview on behalf of the UK about the coup and said "I think there are many reasons why it failed and a great deal of time and trouble will be spent on analysing that later. There were, I think, a number of things that were significant. I don't think it was terribly well-handled from the point of view of those organising the coup. I think the enormous and unanimous condemnation of the rest of the world publicly of the coup was of immense encouragement to the people resisting it. That is not just my view that is the view that has been expressed to me by Mr. Shevardnadze, Mr. Yakovlev, President Yeltsin and many others as well to whom I have spoken to the last 48 hours. The moral pressure from the West and the fact that we were prepared to state unequivocally that the coup was illegal and that we wanted the legal government restored, was of immense help in the Soviet Union. I think that did play a part." [77]

Major met with his cabinet that same day on 19 August to deal with the crisis. He added, "There seems little doubt that President Gorbachev has been removed from power by an unconstitutional seizure of power. There are constitutional ways of removing the president of the Soviet Union they have not been used. I believe that the whole world has a very serious stake in the events currently taking place in the Soviet Union. The reform process there is of vital importance to the world and of most vital importance of course to the Soviet people themselves and I hope that is fully clear. There is a great deal of information we don't yet have, but I would like to make clear above all that we would expect the Soviet Union to respect and honor all the commitments that President Gorbachev has made on its behalf, he said, echoing sentiments from a litany of other Western leaders." [6]

However, the British Government had frozen $80 million in economic aid to Moscow, and the European Community scheduled an emergency meeting in which it was expected to suspend a $1.5 billion aid program. [75]

Other sovereign states Edit

  • Australia: Prime Minister of AustraliaBob Hawke said "The developments in the Soviet Union . raise the question as to whether the purpose is to reverse the political and economic reforms which have been taking place. Australia does not want to see repression, persecution or vindictive actions against Gorbachev or those associated with him." [6]
  • Bulgaria: President Zhelyu Zhelev has stated "Such anti-democratic methods can never lead to anything good neither for the Soviet Union, nor for Eastern Europe, nor for the democratic developments in the world." [6]
  • Canada: Several reactions to coup quickly happened such as the Prime Minister of Canada, Brian Mulroney had huddled with his top advisers discussed the toppling of Mikhail Gorbachev, but his officials said the Prime Minister will likely react cautiously to the stunning development. Mulroney condemned the coup and suspended food aid and other assurances with the Soviet Union. [78] External Affairs Minister Barbara McDougall suggested on 20 August 1991 that "Canada could work with any Soviet junta that promises to carry on Gorbachev's legacy, Lloyd Axworthy and Liberal Leader Jean Chretien said Canada must join with other Western governments to back Russian President Boris Yeltsin, former Soviet foreign minister and Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze and others fighting for Soviet democracy." McDougall met with the chargé d'affaires of the Soviet embassy, Vasily Sredin. [79]
  • China: The Chinese government appeared tacitly to support the coup when it issued a statement saying the move was an internal affair of the Soviet Union and the Communist Party of China released no immediate comment. Confidential Chinese documents have indicated that China's hardline leaders strongly disapprove of Gorbachev's program of political liberalization, blaming him for "the loss of Eastern Europe to capitalism." The GKChP was also interested in resolving the Sino-Soviet split and improving diplomatic relations, dispatching Vice Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Belonogov to Beijing for discussions with the Chinese government. [23] Several Chinese people said that a key difference between the Soviet coup leaders' failed attempts to use tanks to crush dissent in Moscow and the hard-line Chinese leaders' successful use of tank-led forces during the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre was that the Soviet people had a powerful leader like Russian President Boris Yeltsin to rally around, whereas the Chinese protesters did not. The Soviet coup collapsed in three days without any major violence by the Soviet Army against civilians in June 1989, the People's Liberation Army killed hundreds of people to crush the democracy movement. [6][80]
  • Czechoslovakia: Vaclav Havel, the Czechoslovak president, warned his nation could face a possible "wave of refugees" crossing its border with the Ukrainian SSR. However, Havel said "It is not possible to reverse the changes that have already happened in the Soviet Union. We believe democracy will eventually prevail in the Soviet Union." [6] Interior Ministry spokesman Martin Fendrych said an unspecified number of additional troops had been moved to reinforce the Czechoslovak border with the Soviet Union. [6]
  • Denmark: Foreign Minister Uffe Ellemann-Jensen said the process of change in the Soviet Union could not be reversed. In a statement he said, "So much has happened and so many people have been involved in the changes in Soviet Union that I cannot see a total reversal." [6]
  • France: PresidentFrançois Mitterrand called on the new rulers of the Soviet Union to guarantee the life and liberty of Gorbachev and Russian President Boris Yeltsin, who was "Gorbachev's rival in the changing Soviet Union." Mitterrand added, "France attaches a high price to the life and liberty of Messrs. Gorbachev and Yeltsin being guaranteed by the new Moscow leaders. These will be judged by their acts, especially on the fashion in which the two high personalities in question will be treated." [6]
  • Germany: ChancellorHelmut Kohl cut his vacation short in Austria and returned to Bonn for an emergency meeting. Kohl had said he was sure Moscow would withdraw its remaining 272,000 troops from the former East Germany on schedule. [81]Björn Engholm, leader of Germany's opposition Social Democratic Party, urged member states of the European Community "to speak with one voice" on the situation and said "the West should not exclude the possibility of imposing economic and political sanctions on the Soviet Union to avoid a jolt to the right, in Moscow." [6]
  • Greece: Greece described the situation in the Soviet Union as "alarming". The Communist-led Alliance of the Left and former Socialist Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou both issued statements condemning the coup. [6]
  • Hungary: Deputy Speaker of Parliament Mátyás Szűrös said the coup increased the risk of a civil war in the Soviet Union. "Undoubtedly, the Soviet economy has collapsed but this has not been the result of Gorbachev's policy but of the paralyzing influence of conservatives" Szűrös said. "Suddenly, the likelihood of a civil war in the Soviet Union has increased." [6]
  • Iraq: Saddam Hussein's Iraq was a close ally of the Soviet Union until Gorbachev had denounced the invasion of Kuwait during the Gulf War. One Iraqi spokesman quoted by the official Iraqi News Agency: "It is natural that we welcome such change like the states and people who were affected by the policies of the former regime." [6]
  • Israel: Israeli officials said they hoped Gorbachev's attempted removal had not derailed the conference held in Madrid or a slower Soviet Jewish immigration. The quasi-governmental Jewish Agency, which has coordinated the massive flow of Jews arriving from the Soviet Union, called an emergency meeting to assess how the coup would affect Jewish immigration. "We are closely following what is happening in the Soviet Union with concern," Foreign Minister David Levy said. "One might say that this is an internal issue of the Soviet Union, but in the Soviet Union . everything internal has an influence for the entire world." [6]
  • Italy: Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti released a statement and said "I'm surprised, embittered and worried. We all know the difficulties that Gorbachev encountered. But I don't know how a new president, who, at least for now, doesn't have (Gorbachev's) prestige and international connections, can overcome the obstacles." Achille Occhetto, the head of the Democratic Party of the Left, direct heir of the Italian Communist Party, called the ouster of Gorbachev "a most dramatic event of world proportions (which) will have immense repercussions on international life. I am personally and strongly struck, not only for the incalculable burden of this event, but also for the fate of comrade Gorbachev." [6]
  • Japan: Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu ordered the Foreign Ministry to analyze the developments. "I strongly hope that the leadership change will not influence the positive policies of perestroika and new thinking diplomacy." said Chief Cabinet Secretary Misoji Sakamoto. [6] In addition, Soviet aid and technical loans from Japan was frozen. [8]
  • South Korea: PresidentRoh Tae-woo welcomed the coup's collapse as a symbolic victory for the Soviet people. He quoted "It was a triumph of the courage and resolve of the Soviet citizens towards freedom and democracy." [8]
  • Philippines: Philippine President Corazon Aquino expressed "grave concern" and said "We hope that the progress toward world peace. achieved under the leadership of President Gorbachev will continue to be preserved and enhanced further." [6]
  • Poland: In a statement released by the PresidentLech Wałęsa, whose Solidarity union helped prompt the collapse of communist regimes in Eastern Europe, appealed for calm. "May unity and responsibility for our state gain the upper hand." Wałęsa said in a statement read on Polish radio by spokesman Andrzej Drzycimski, "The situation in the USSR is significant for our country, It can affect our bilateral relations. We want then to be friendly." But he emphasized Poland kept its hard-won sovereignty while it pursued its economic and political reforms. [6]
  • South Africa: Foreign Minister Pik Botha said: "I very much hope that (developments in the Soviet Union) will neither give rise to large-scale turbulence within the Soviet Union itself or more widely in Europe, nor jeopardize the era of hard-won international cooperation upon which the world has embarked." [6]

Supranational bodies and organizations Edit

  • NATO: The alliance held an emergency meeting in Brussels condemning the Soviet coup. "If indeed this coup did fail, it will be a great victory for the courageous Soviet people who have tasted freedom and who are not prepared to have it taken away from them." the United States Secretary of State James A. Baker III said "It will also, to some extent, be a victory, too, for the international community and for all those governments who reacted strongly to these events." NATO Secretary General Manfred Wörner also said, "We should see how the situation in the Soviet Union develops. Our own plans will take into account what happens there." [6][82]
  • Palestine Liberation Organization – The Palestinian Liberation Organization was satisfied with the coup. Yasser Abed Rabbo, who was a member of the PLO Executive Committee, said he hoped the putsch "will permit resolution in the best interests of the Palestinians of the problem of Soviet Jews in Israel." [6]
    , amnesty of the Russian State Duma of 1994, headed the Department of History and International Relations for the Russian International Academy of Tourism, [83] died in 2010 , amnesty of the Russian State Duma of 1994 (financial expert for several banks and other financial institutions, chairman of Free Economic Society), [84] died in 2003 , amnesty of the Russian State Duma of 1994, died in 2007 , amnesty of the Russian State Duma of 1994 (adviser to Ministry of Defense and the Academy of General Staff) [85] died in 2020 , committed suicide on 22 August 1991 [86] , amnesty of the Russian State Duma of 1994 (chairman of board of directors for "Rosobshchemash") [citation needed] , freed from arrest in 1992 due to health complications (deputy to the Federation Council of Russia 1993–95, governor of Tula Oblast 1997–2005, member of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation since 2007), [87] died in 2011. [ru] , amnesty of the Russian State Duma of 1994 (member of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, founder of series of enterprises such as "Antal" (machine manufacturing), "Severnaya kazna" (insurance company), "Vidikon" (production of electric arc furnace), "Fidelity" (production of fast-moving consumer goods)), [88] died in 2019.

Yeltsin: Three Days in August (Ельцин. Три дня в августе) is a 2011 Russian film dramatized the coup.

Washington D.C., December 7, 2018 - The U.S. and NATO allies worried about losing control of the public narrative of the Cold War in December 1988 after Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s offer of an arms race in reverse in his famous United Nations speech, according to declassified documents published today by the National Security Archive. Senior Italian officials, for example, complained to U.S. envoy Paul Nitze that the public’s sense of a diminishing Soviet threat would undercut their ability to maintain defense spending – even as the Soviet leader was announcing unilateral troop withdrawals from Eastern Europe.

Today’s posting marks the 30th anniversary of Gorbachev’s groundbreaking U.N. speech. In addition to detailed State Department cables reporting on Nitze’s discussions with the Italian prime minister and other top officials, new materials in the compilation describe the U.S. debrief to allies about the Soviet leader’s subsequent short summit with President Ronald Reagan and President-elect George H.W. Bush at Governors Island in New York harbor. A declassified discussion with the Pakistani ambassador shows deep suspicion on the part of a senior State Department official about Soviet intentions and reveals that the U.S. had no strategy for Afghanistan beyond lubricating the Soviet withdrawal.

The new documents add to the extensive body of evidence previously published by the Archive, both on the Web in 2008 and in the award-winning book, The Last Superpower Summits: Gorbachev, Reagan, and Bush: Conversations that Ended the Cold War (CEU Press, 2016).

Internal Soviet documentation shows that Gorbachev was prepared for rapid arms control progress leading towards nuclear abolition at the time of that last official meeting with President Reagan, at Governors Island in December 1988 but President-elect Bush, who also attended the meeting, said "he would need a little time to review the issues" and lost at least a year of dramatic arms reductions that were possible had there been a more forthcoming U.S. position.

The documentation posted and re-posted today includes highest-level memos from Gorbachev advisors leading up to Gorbachev's speech at the United Nations during the New York visit, notes of Politburo discussions before and after the speech and the Reagan-Bush meeting, CIA estimates before and after the speech showing how surprised American officials had been and how reluctant the incoming Bush administration was to meet Gorbachev even half-way, and the declassified U.S. transcript of the private meeting between Reagan, Bush and Gorbachev on December 7, 1988, 30 years ago.

(The following text is from the original Web posting of December 8, 2008. New document additions as of 2018 are marked accordingly.)

The Governors Island Summit, December 1988

The last official meeting between President Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev – after four spectacular summits that commanded worldwide attention at Geneva 1985, Reykjavik 1986, Washington 1987 and Moscow 1988 – took place on an island in New York harbor on December 7, 1988 during the Soviet leader's trip to deliver his now-famous United Nations speech announcing unilateral arms cuts and – to many observers – the ideological end of the Cold War.

Adding particular interest to this abbreviated summit was the participation of then-President-elect George H.W. Bush, who was at that moment constructing a national security team of aides who were distinctly more skeptical of Gorbachev's motives than President Reagan or his top officials were. In fact, the transition from the Reagan to the Bush administrations at the end of 1988 and beginning of 1989 might be described as a transition from doves to hawks. (One of the leading hawks was Bush's deputy national security adviser Robert Gates, now serving as Secretary of Defense for President George W. Bush and President-elect Barack Obama.)

According to evidence from the Soviet side – much of it published here for the first time anywhere – Gorbachev explicitly prepared the U.N. speech as a means to speed up arms reductions, engage the new American leader, and end the Cold War. After the successful signing of the INF Treaty at the Washington summit in 1987 eliminated that entire class of nuclear weapons, the Soviet leadership was prepared for a very quick progress on the strategic offensive weapons treaty START. Building on the personal understanding and chemistry between President Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev, the Soviets were counting on signing the treaty with Reagan, before the U.S. presidential election of 1988.

Having made substantial concessions on verification and shorter-range missiles for the INF Treaty, Gorbachev was signaling Reagan throughout the spring of 1988 trying to push for faster progress on START. But Reagan's conventionally-minded advisers – particularly Frank Carlucci at the Defense Department and Colin Powell at the White House – undercut Secretary of State George Shultz with their go-slow approach, even though Shultz saw the opportunities for radical arms reductions. Opposition from the U.S. Navy over submarine-launched cruise missiles also stalled progress, even though the withdrawal of such missiles was manifestly in the U.S. national security interest. [1] Then result was that the Americans were not ready to agree on START in time for the Moscow summit in May-June 1988. Even after the summit, Gorbachev still kept hope alive for signing the treaty but there was no progress, at least in part because then Vice-President Bush – in the middle of a presidential campaign where securing the conservative base of the Republican Party was key to his strategy – was not eager to move any arms control forward. [2]

During the summer of 1988, gradually, the documents show that the Soviet leadership realized that the treaty would have to wait until the new administration came to power in Washington, and therefore, the most important priority for Soviet foreign policy now was not to lose the momentum and to hit the ground running with the new administration. Georgy Arbatov in his June 1988 memo to Gorbachev [Document 1] emphasized the importance of being prepared for the new administration – not slowing down the pace of negotiations, keeping the initiative, and building a base of support in Europe – thus keeping the pressure for comprehensive cuts in conventional arms, including elimination of asymmetries and reductions of Soviet forces by 500,000. However, in the summer of 1988, the Soviet side still saw this plan as part of mutual reductions in Europe.

Globalist Gorbachev Defends Putin USSR Role in EU Revisited

Buried deep within an article by Agence France-Presse about former Soviet dictator Mikhail Gorbachev standing up for Russian strongman Vladimir Putin is an absolutely astounding admission: Former top diplomats for the Soviet Union told the French news agency that “the reunification of Germany was allowed on the condition that the USSR would participate in the new European order.”

The revelation is especially explosive considering Gorbachev’s past celebrations of what he publicly called the “new European soviet” — also known as the European Union — as well as the fact that the EU’s leadership is literally packed with “former” communists, many of them from the former Soviet Union. In light of the predictions and arguments made by Soviet defectors and more recent developments surrounding Russia and Europe, the claims make perfect sense, too.

The AFP article focuses primarily on Gorbachev, who regularly promotes what he and other globalists on both sides of the “East-West” divide refer to as the “New World Order.” The former Soviet dictator’s vocal defense of ex-KGB boss and current Russian President Putin — currently embroiled in high-profile spats with Western governments about Ukraine — also takes center stage. Essentially, Gorbachev plans to use celebrations marking the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, to defend Russia’s new ruler from growing international attacks. Despite Gorbachev’s close ties to the Western establishment which — on the “global stage,” at least — is publicly at odds with Putin, the former Soviet ruler declared that the new Russian ruler is the best man for the job.

“Russia agreed to new relations, (and) created new cooperation structures, and everything would be great but not everyone in the United States liked it,” Gorbachev said in an interview this week with the Interfax news agency before heading to Berlin to meet with German leaders. The U.S. government, he said, has “different plans, they need a different situation, one that would allow them to meddle everywhere. Whether it will be good or bad, they don’t care.” The ex-Soviet leader also said the ongoing crisis in Ukraine offered an “excuse” for the United States to pick on Russia, according to news reports. “I am absolutely convinced that Putin protects Russia’s interests better than anyone else,” Gorbachev said, adding that he would use his upcoming meetings with EU bosses to stand up for Russia and Putin.

Then comes the bombshell in the French news agency’s report. “Former top Soviet diplomats have told AFP that the reunification of Germany was allowed on the condition that the USSR would participate in the new European order,” explained AFP reporter Anna Smolchenko. It was not clear which diplomats she may have interviewed or what precisely that “participation” in the “new European order” was meant to look like. However, despite denials from Western leaders of that period that there was ever any such deals with the Kremlin, a great deal of evidence has existed for decades suggesting that the Soviet participation in Europe’s order was, in fact, even more pronounced than those unnamed diplomats suggest.

According to arguably the most important Soviet defector to the West amid the Cold War, former KGB disinformation specialist Anatoliy Golitsyn, the entire apparent “collapse” of the USSR and the “liberalization” of Eastern Europe was actually a giant fraud. In his book The Perestroika Deception, Golitsyn, whose track record of predictions has been virtually flawless, also argued that the alleged “Sino-Soviet split” used by Western leaders to alternatively offer assistance to both regimes under the guise of fighting the other was entirely fabricated for public consumption via communist disinformation operations. “When the right moment comes the mask will be dropped and the Russians with Chinese help will seek to impose their system on the West on their own terms as the culmination of a ‘Second October Socialist Revolution,’” Golitsyn explained.

In a report this week by The New American’s Christian Gomez, another book by Golitsyn, New Lies For Old, is cited in discussing German reunification, Russian-EU convergence, and the apparent collapse of communist regimes in Eastern Europe. “A broader-scale ‘liberalization’ in the Soviet Union and elsewhere would have an even more profound effect,” explained Golitsyn. “Eurocommunism could be revived. The pressure for united fronts between communist and socialist parties and trade unions at national and international level would be intensified.… The bulk of Europe might well turn to left-wing socialism, leaving only a few pockets of conservative resistance. Pressure could well grow for a solution of the German problem in which some form of confederation between East and West Germany would be combined with neutralization of the whole and a treaty of friendship with the Soviet Union.” That was published in 1984, five years before the Berlin Wall officially came down.

As is well known today, much of the former Soviet empire in Eastern Europe has already been absorbed into the EU, which Gorbachev approvingly referred to as the “new European soviet” during a visit to London. When the communist regimes crumbled, though, unlike the National Socialists in Germany, communist criminals who had engaged in torture, mass-murder, and oppression on a vast scale were never prosecuted or punished. Instead, many re-branded themselves as “ex”-communists and became politicians or bureaucrats. Today, many of those same figures serve in senior posts at the EU or within EU governments. Outside of Eastern Europe, “former” communists who supported the Soviet regime similarly burrowed their way into the fast-expanding super-state that now rules Europe. Until last week, for example, the hybrid executive-legislative branch of the EU, known as the European Commission, was run by “former” Maoist revolutionary Jose Manuel Barroso.

Gorbachev, too, never faded from the global stage or from power after the USSR supposedly collapsed. Instead, his links with Western globalists came out into the open. And even today’s establishment crop of Western anti-Putin crusaders is well-connected with Gorbachev, pushing the same ends — though sometimes using different means. In 1995, fellow globalist and ex-National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, architect of David Rockefeller’s infamous Trilateral Commission, spoke at the 1995 “State of the World Forum” that was convened by Gorbachev and backed by the Rockefellers and other establishment forces in the West. “We do not have a New World Order.… We cannot leap into world government in one quick step,” Brzezinski explained. “In brief, the precondition for eventual globalization — genuine globalization — is progressive regionalization, because thereby we move toward larger, more stable, more cooperative units.”

Despite the alleged conflict between Putin and the West, both sides are following the script precisely, with the EU crushing national sovereignty in Europe as Putin builds his “Eurasian Union.” Late last month, Putin was touting the strategy, praising “integration associations” and “interaction of regional structures.” Eventually, perhaps after some more conflict and drama to grease the skids, “convergence” is the goal. “We would also welcome the start of a meaningful dialogue between the Eurasian Economic Union and the European Union,” Putin said on October 24, pushing for a “common space of economic and humanitarian cooperation from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.” In Africa, the African Union is marching along. In South America, the Union of South American States is too. In fact, all over the world, the process of integration and regionalization on the road to world order is accelerating.

Gorbachev has admitted the end goals, too. Speaking at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania in late 2011, the former Soviet boss was again pushing what he called a “New World Order” and global government. “We have crises: we are facing problems of the environment, of backwardness and poverty, of food shortages,” he told the crowd. “All of these problems are because we do not have a system of global governance.” Global governance, of course, is simply a more palatable term for global government employed by globalists to avoid sparking too much alarm. As Gorbachev and his associates have made clear, though, they are in fact working to empower the United Nations to control virtually everything — including “regulate human interaction,” as Jim Garrison, the executive director of the Gorbachev Foundation, USA, put it in a 1995 interview with San Francisco Weekly.

William F. Jasper, senior editor for this magazine, offered a brief summary of some of Gorbachev’s more heinous crimes that are virtually never addressed by the establishment press: “That he was raised to the apex of power in the Soviet Union by his predecessor and bloody-handed mentor, Yuri Andropov, former head of the KGB, and that he continued to use the KGB in its traditional role as the terrible hammer of Communist rule That he presided over the Soviet occupation of, and genocide against, Afghanistan That he ordered the murderous assault of Soviet troops on unarmed civilians at Vilnius’ television station, Lithuania’s equivalent of the Tiananmen Square massacre That he hid the documents showing Soviet responsibility for the Katyn Woods massacre of 15,000 Polish military officers. He supported Ethiopian Communist dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam’s torture, genocide, and forced famine That he was one of the top Politburo officials who signed the orders for the 1981 assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II, carried out by Mehmet Ali Agca through Moscow’s ‘subcontractors,’ Communist Bulgaria’s intelligence service.” As Jasper put it, the list “barely scratches the surface of the catalog of crimes attributable to Gorbachev.”


When Yuri Andropov succeeded Leonid Brezhnev as leader of the Soviet Union in November 1982, the mainstream Western newspapers and magazines ran numerous front-page photographs and articles about him. Most coverage was negative and tended to give a perception of a new threat to the stability of the Western world. Andropov had been the Soviet Ambassador to Hungary during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and the Chairman of the KGB from 1967 to 1982 during his tenure, he was known in the West for crushing the Prague Spring and the brutal suppression of dissidents, such as Andrei Sakharov and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. He began his tenure as Soviet leader by strengthening the powers of the KGB, and by suppressing dissidents. [3] According to Vasili Mitrokhin, Andropov saw the struggle for human rights as a part of a wide-ranging imperialist plot to undermine the foundation of the Soviet state. [4] Much international tension surrounded both Soviet and American efforts to develop weapons capable of being launched from satellites in orbit. Both governments had extensive research and development programs to develop such technology. However, both nations were coming under increasing pressure to disband the project. In America, President Ronald Reagan came under pressure from a lobby of U.S. scientists and arms experts, while in the Soviet Union the government issued a statement that read, "To prevent the militarization of space is one of the most urgent tasks facing mankind". [5]

During this period, large anti-nuclear protests were taking place across both Europe and North America, while the November 20, 1983, screening of ABC's post-nuclear war dramatization The Day After became one of the most anticipated media events of the decade. [6]

The two superpowers had by this point abandoned their strategy of détente and in response to the Soviet deployment of SS-20s, Reagan moved to deploy cruise and Pershing II missiles to Europe. The Soviet Union's involvement in a war in Afghanistan was in its third year, a matter which was also contributing to international tension. In this atmosphere, on November 22, 1982, Time magazine published an issue with Andropov on the cover. When Smith viewed the edition, she asked her mother: "If people are so afraid of him, why doesn't someone write a letter asking whether he wants to have a war or not?" Her mother replied, "Why don't you?" [7]

Samantha Smith was born on June 29, 1972, in the small town of Houlton, Maine, on the Canada–United States border, to Jane Goshorn [8] and Arthur Smith. At the age of five, she wrote a letter to Queen Elizabeth II in order to express her admiration to the monarch. When Smith had finished second grade in the spring of 1980, the family settled in Manchester, Maine, where she attended Manchester Elementary School. Her father served as an instructor at Ricker College in Houlton [9] before teaching literature and writing at the University of Maine at Augusta [5] while her mother worked as a social worker with the Maine Department of Human Services.

In November 1982, when Smith was 10 years old, she wrote to Soviet leader Yuri Andropov, seeking to understand why the relations between the Soviet Union and the United States were so tense:

Dear Mr. Andropov,

My name is Samantha Smith. I am 10 years old. Congratulations on your new job. I have been worrying about Russia and the United States getting into a nuclear war. Are you going to vote to have a war or not? If you aren't please tell me how you are going to help to not have a war. This question you do not have to answer, but I would like it if you would. Why do you want to conquer the world or at least our country? God made the world for us to share and take care of. Not to fight over or have one group of people own it all. Please lets do what he wanted and have everybody be happy too.

Samantha Smith [10]

Her letter was published in the Soviet newspaper Pravda. [11] Smith was happy to discover that her letter had been published however, she had not received a reply. She then sent a letter to the Soviet Union's Ambassador to the United States asking if Andropov intended to respond. [12] On April 26, 1983, she received a response from Andropov:

Dear Samantha,

I received your letter, which is like many others that have reached me recently from your country and from other countries around the world.

It seems to me – I can tell by your letter – that you are a courageous and honest girl, resembling Becky, the friend of Tom Sawyer in the famous book of your compatriot Mark Twain. This book is well known and loved in our country by all boys and girls.

You write that you are anxious about whether there will be a nuclear war between our two countries. And you ask are we doing anything so that war will not break out.

Your question is the most important of those that every thinking man can pose. I will reply to you seriously and honestly.

Yes, Samantha, we in the Soviet Union are trying to do everything so that there will not be war on Earth. This is what every Soviet man wants. This is what the great founder of our state, Vladimir Lenin, taught us.

Soviet people well know what a terrible thing war is. Forty-two years ago, Nazi Germany, which strove for supremacy over the whole world, attacked our country, burned and destroyed many thousands of our towns and villages, killed millions of Soviet men, women and children.

In that war, which ended with our victory, we were in alliance with the United States: together we fought for the liberation of many people from the Nazi invaders. I hope that you know about this from your history lessons in school. And today we want very much to live in peace, to trade and cooperate with all our neighbors on this earth — with those far away and those near by. And certainly with such a great country as the United States of America.

In America and in our country there are nuclear weapons — terrible weapons that can kill millions of people in an instant. But we do not want them to be ever used. That's precisely why the Soviet Union solemnly declared throughout the entire world that never will it use nuclear weapons first against any country. In general we propose to discontinue further production of them and to proceed to the abolition of all the stockpiles on Earth.

It seems to me that this is a sufficient answer to your second question: 'Why do you want to wage war against the whole world or at least the United States?' We want nothing of the kind. No one in our country–neither workers, peasants, writers nor doctors, neither grown-ups nor children, nor members of the government–want either a big or 'little' war.

We want peace — there is something that we are occupied with: growing wheat, building and inventing, writing books and flying into space. We want peace for ourselves and for all peoples of the planet. For our children and for you, Samantha.

I invite you, if your parents will let you, to come to our country, the best time being this summer. You will find out about our country, meet with your contemporaries, visit an international children's camp – Artek – on the sea. And see for yourself: in the Soviet Union, everyone is for peace and friendship among peoples.

Thank you for your letter. I wish you all the best in your young life.

Y. Andropov [13] [14]

A media circus ensued, with Smith being interviewed by Ted Koppel [15] and Johnny Carson, among others, and with nightly reports by the major American networks. On July 7, 1983, she flew to Moscow with her parents, and spent two weeks as Andropov's guest. During the trip she visited Moscow and Leningrad and spent time in Artek, the main Soviet pioneer camp, in the town of Gurzuf on the Crimean Peninsula. Smith wrote in her book that in Leningrad she and her parents were amazed by the friendliness of the people and by the presents many people made for them. Speaking at a Moscow press conference, she declared that the Russians were "just like us". [16] In Artek, Smith chose to stay with the Soviet children rather than accept the privileged accommodations offered to her. For ease of communication, teachers and children who spoke fluent English were chosen to stay in the building where she was lodged. Smith shared a dormitory with nine other girls, and spent her time there swimming, talking and learning Russian songs and dances. While there, she made many friends, including Natasha Kashirina from Leningrad, a fluent English speaker.

Andropov, however, was unable to meet with her during her visit, [17] although they did speak by telephone. It was later discovered that Andropov had become seriously ill and had withdrawn from the public eye during this time. [18] Smith also received a phone call from Russian cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman to orbit the Earth. However, not realizing with whom she was speaking, Samantha mistakenly hung up after only a brief conversation. [19] Media followed her every step — photographs and articles about her were published by the main Soviet newspapers and magazines throughout her trip and after it. Smith became widely known to Soviet citizens and was well regarded by many of them. In the United States, the event drew suspicion and some regarded it as an "American-style public relations stunt". [20]

Smith's return to the U.S. on July 22, 1983, was celebrated by the people of Maine with roses, a red carpet, and a limousine [21] and her popularity continued to grow in her native country. Some critics at the time remained skeptical, believing Smith was unwittingly serving as an instrument of Soviet propaganda. [21] [22] In December 1983, continuing in her role as "America's Youngest Ambassador", she was invited to Japan, [23] where she met with the Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone and attended the Children's International Symposium in Kobe. In her speech at the symposium, she suggested that Soviet and American leaders exchange granddaughters for two weeks every year, arguing that a president "wouldn't want to send a bomb to a country his granddaughter would be visiting". [24] Her trip inspired other exchanges of child goodwill ambassadors, [25] including a visit by the eleven-year-old Soviet child Katya Lycheva to the United States. [26] Later, Smith wrote a book called Journey to the Soviet Union [27] whose cover shows her at Artek, [28] her favorite part of the Soviet trip. [29]

Smith pursued her role as a media celebrity when in 1984, billed as a "Special Correspondent", she hosted a children's special for the Disney Channel entitled Samantha Smith Goes To Washington. Campaign '84. [30] [31] The show covered politics, where Smith interviewed several candidates for the 1984 presidential election, including George McGovern, John Glenn and Jesse Jackson. That same year, she guest starred in Charles in Charge as Kim, alongside another celebrity guest star, Julianne McNamara. Her fame resulted in Smith becoming the subject of stalker Robert John Bardo, the man who would later go on to stalk and ultimately murder My Sister Sam actress Rebecca Schaeffer. Bardo traveled to Maine in an attempt to meet Smith, but was stopped by police and returned home. [32]

In 1985, she played the co-starring role of the elder daughter to Robert Wagner's character in the television series, Lime Street. [33] [34]

On August 25, 1985, Smith and her father were returning home aboard Bar Harbor Airlines Flight 1808 after filming a segment for Lime Street. While attempting to land at Lewiston-Auburn Regional Airport in Auburn, Maine, the Beechcraft 99 commuter plane struck some trees 4,007 feet (1,221 m) short of the runway and crashed, killing all six passengers and two crew on board. [35] Much speculation regarding the cause of the accident circulated afterwards. Accusations of foul play circulated widely in the Soviet Union. [36] [37] An investigation was undertaken in the United States and the official report — which did not show evidence of foul play — was made public. As stated in the report, the accident occurred at about 22:05 EDT, the ground impact point located one mile (1.6 km) south-west of the airport, at 44°02′22″N 70°17′30″W  /  44.03944°N 70.29167°W  / 44.03944 -70.29167 . The report goes on to say, "The relatively steep flight path angle and the attitude (the orientation of the aircraft relative to the horizon, direction of motion etc.) and speed of the airplane at ground impact precluded the occupants from surviving the accident." [38] The main point of the report was that it was a rainy night, [39] that the pilots operating the aircraft were inexperienced, and an accidental, but not uncommon and not usually critical, ground radar failure occurred.

Samantha Smith was mourned by about 1,000 people at her funeral in Augusta, Maine, and was eulogized in Moscow as a champion of peace. Attendees included Robert Wagner and Vladimir Kulagin of the Soviet Embassy in Washington, D.C., who read a personal message of condolence from Mikhail Gorbachev. [40]

Everyone in the Soviet Union who has known Samantha Smith will forever remember the image of the American girl who, like millions of Soviet young men and women, dreamt about peace, and about friendship between the peoples of the United States and the Soviet Union. [41]

President Ronald Reagan sent his condolences to Smith's mother, in writing,

Perhaps you can take some measure of comfort in the knowledge that millions of Americans, indeed millions of people, share the burdens of your grief. They also will cherish and remember Samantha, her smile, her idealism and unaffected sweetness of spirit. [42]

The remains of Samantha and her father were cremated, [43] and their ashes were buried at Estabrook Cemetery, Amity, Maine. [ citation needed ]

Smith's contributions have been honored with a number of tributes by Russians and by the people of her home state of Maine. A monument to her was built in Moscow "Samantha Smith Alley" in the Artek Young Pioneer camp was named after her in 1986. [44] The monument built to Smith was stolen by metal thieves in 2003 following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. In 2003, Voronezh retiree Valentin Vaulin built a monument to her without any support from the government. [45] The Soviet Union issued a commemorative stamp with her likeness. In 1986 Soviet astronomer Lyudmila Chernykh discovered asteroid 3147, which she named 3147 Samantha. [46] [47] Danish composer Per Nørgård wrote his 1985 viola concerto "Remembering Child" in memory of Smith. [48] A diamond found in Siberia, [49] a mountain in the former Soviet Union, [50] a cultivar of tulips and of dahlias, and an ocean vessel have been named in Smith's honor. [2] In 1985, a peace garden was established in Michigan along the St. Clair River to commemorate her achievements. [51] In Maine, the first Monday in June of each year is officially designated as Samantha Smith Day by state law. [52] There is a bronze statue of Smith near the Maine State Museum in Augusta, which portrays Smith releasing a dove with a bear cub resting at her feet. [53] The bear cub represents both Maine and Russia. Elementary schools in Sammamish, Washington, [54] and in Jamaica, Queens, New York City, [55] have been named after Samantha. In October 1985, Smith's mother founded The Samantha Smith Foundation, [56] which fostered student exchanges between the United States and the Soviet Union (and, after December 1991, the ex-Soviet successor states) until it became dormant in the mid-1990s. [22] The Foundation was formally dissolved in 2014 after two decades of dormancy. [57]

A 1987 episode of the U.S. sitcom The Golden Girls entitled "Letter to Gorbachev" draws inspiration from Smith's story. In addition, the 1987 film Superman IV: The Quest for Peace included a scene where a boy writes Superman a letter to control the nuclear arms race according to Christopher Reeve, this scene was also inspired by Smith's story. [58]

In the mid-1980s, after Smith's death, a script was written for a television movie titled The Samantha Smith Story with Robert Wagner as producer. [59] Columbia Pictures Television and R.J. Wagner Productions were reported to have agreed to produce the film for NBC, with Soviet company Sovin Film interested in co-producing it. [60] Ultimately, Columbia Pictures Television decided not to film it due to lack of interest from any network. [61]

Speculation as to what a surviving Samantha might have done in adulthood was dismissed by her mother Jane as unanswerable in 2003, given Samantha was only thirteen when she died and her ambitions had varied from a veterinarian working with animals to a tutu-and-tights-clad ballerina. [62] The notion, which had been put to Samantha herself in the eighties, that she could be President of the United States in adulthood, was dismissed by her in the Disney Channel special that she hosted, with the words "being President is not a job I would like to have". [63]

In 2008, Smith posthumously received the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award for "helping to bring about better understanding between the peoples of the [USA and the USSR], and as a result, reduce the tension between the superpowers that were poised to engage in nuclear war". [64] The Peace Abbey has also proposed The Peace Literature Project in Honor of Samantha Smith "to educate students about peace and promote peace literature for school-age children in 50 selected pilot schools across the United States" [28]

Elliott Holt's 2013 novel You Are One of Them, uses the story of Smith as inspiration for a fictional character, Jennifer Jones. [65]

On the 30th anniversary of the plane crash in 2015, the Maine State Museum opened a new exhibit of materials related to Smith, including photographs of her time at the Artek camp, traditional Russian clothing she was given, and an issue of Soviet Life magazine with her on the cover. [66]