What Went Wrong with Perestroika

What Went Wrong with Perestroika

What Went Wrong with Perestroika

What Went Wrong with Perestroika

Excerpt

Mikhail Gorbachev's safe return from what he thought would be his usual uneventful vacation in the Crimea this week evoked a worldwide sigh of relief. On August 19 and 20 it looked as though a hardliner coup aimed at Gorbachev's ouster would succeed. Concerned about what they saw as the collapse of the Soviet economy and the disintegration of the Soviet Union as a political entity, eight of Gorbachev's closest advisors sought to usurp his power for themselves.

After all Gorbachev had done in the West, how could Gorbachev's associates turn on him? Those of us outside the Soviet Union saw him as the leader who brought an end to the Cold War and, with it, arms control, the opening of the Berlin Wall, and the end of communism in Eastern Europe. The Soviet people also appeared to be beneficiaries. Gorbachev had brought them perestroika and glasnost.

For the people inside the Soviet Union, however, the perception was different. From their point of view, Gorbachev had indeed made some important changes, but not all of them were for the better. In Soviet eyes Gorbachev was directly responsible for the deepening crisis in the Soviet economy. Gorbachev's indecisiveness and incompetence in economic reform had brought on a new form of economic chaos. The Soviet GNP in . . .

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