Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Soviets Repent

Today is the birthday of Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev, the Soviet political leader born in 1931. In its January 29, 1990, issue, U.S. News & World Report printed this text of mine:
Some 130 years ago, Abraham Lincoln predicted that America could not endure permanently half slave and half free. It would have to, he said, become all the one thing or all the other. Today, that prophecy about one country has expanded to envelop the entire planet. It is to the credit of the U.S.S.R. and Eastern Europe that many of their leaders have come to understand this and have opted for freedom rather than the continued practice of their form of slavery.
The following year, I wrote the following in the European edition of the Wall Street Journal:
Apparently, Mikhail Gorbachev thinks that "uncovering the dark spots of Soviet history" means acknowleging past "mistakes" and letting it stand at that. This is a step in the right direction, of course, but an empty-hearted one if it only involves talk. It must also be necessary to make amends. In the case of the 1940 Katyn Forest massacre, it is not sufficient that the Soviet Union admit responsibility for the slaughter of Polish officers, it must also, at the very least, pay reparations to the the victims' families. As far as the annexation of the Baltic republics is concerned, admitting the illegality of the 1939 Ribbentrop-Molotov pact is not enough, it must also take the next logical step and let the Baltics recover their prewar independence.

Mr. Gorbachev has warned that unless he, i.e., the Kremlin, takes drastic measures, nationalistic-minded individuals will cause a major internal conflict. President Gorbachev, it is in your hands and not in those of your dissatisfied countrymen that lies the momentous issue of civil war. You can have no conflict without being yourself the aggressor. The people will not assail you. They only wish to be left in peace. They are but men and women who have faith that might makes right; who believe that what is decided by the ballot should not be reversed by the sword; and who fervently hope that the peoples in the U.S.S.R. shall have a new birth of freedom.

At their own initiative, and to my utter delight, the WSJ editors chose to publish the letter on February 12, 1991 — Lincoln's birthday…

No comments: