The Soviet System: From Crisis to Collapse

By Alexander Dallin; Gail W. Lapidus | Go to book overview

Tsypkin, Mikhail, "Karem Rash: An Ideologist of Military Power," Radio Liberty Report on the USSR, 2, 31:8-11, August 1990a.

Tsypkin, Mikhail, "A Split in the KGB?" Radio Liberty Report on the USSR, 2, 39:6-9, September 1990b.

Vyzov, L. and G. Gurevich, "O doverii soyuznogo rukovodstvu (On Trusting All-Union Leadership)," Argumenty i fakty, 42:1, October 1990.


15 Gorbachev's Endgame

JERRY F. HOUGH

For most of the first two years of the Bush administration, liberals and moderates criticized the president for failing to support Mikhail Gorbachev and his reform efforts more vigorously. Gorbachev, these critics argued, faced a serious threat from the Soviet right. Conservatives, bureaucrats, Russian nationalists, the military, Yegor Ligachev—these had all purportedly forced Gorbachev to sacrifice his closest ally, Boris Yeltsin, in November 1987, and were continuing to threaten the general secretary and especially his program of perestroika. How could we not help him?

The liberal position was naturally criticized by the American right, still too wary of the Soviet Union to countenance active support of Gorbachev. But the proposed program of support for Gorbachev's reforms had a more fundamental problem: the liberals' definition of perestroika was quite vague. Originally perestroika had been part of a trio of concepts Gorbachev introduced—along with demokratizatsiia and glasnost—and referred fairly specifically to economic reform. But Westerners, following the lead of Moscow radicals—who were assumed to be Gorbachev's leading supporters—gradually began to equate perestroika with democratization.

This image of Gorbachev involved a good deal of deception or self-deception. However democratic his pretensions, Gorbachev was engaged in a very methodical and ruthless consolidation of power. And his only serious opposition came from the left (those who favored more radical reforms) rather than the right (those who resisted such reforms). The radicals, who in their more honest moments acknowledged a dictatorial side to Gorbachev, publicly identified the general secretary with their own program for tactical reasons. It served the short‐ term interests of American liberals, too, to say that the United States could support Gorbachev and democratization at the same time. In practice, however, this

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