Final Days: The Inside Story of the Collapse of the Soviet Union

By Andrei S. Grachev; Margo Milne | Go to book overview

The Mirage of a Confederal State

Gorbachevhad won the first round in the battle for a unified state, and he turned with redoubled effort to his preparations for the second: the approval of the treaty. He spent long hours with his political advisers, working out what he felt to be irrefutable arguments in favor of union, considering avenues of compromise. He worked without pause.

And this was unfortunate, because if he had lifted his attention from his work he probably would have felt the electric charge in the air that heralded the coming storm. The circumstances that had preceded the August coup were slowly but surely coalescing again. Absorbed in his efforts to win tactical victories, he failed to realize that these gains brought him ever closer to strategic defeat.

A memorable speech, a successful interview, favorable results of a poll, gave him a false sense of security and created the illusion that he was clearing all obstacles, like a runner leaping the hurdles, and was on the point of winning the race. Actually he was the only one on the track, since his opponents, realizing that they were unable to beat him in this event, had decided to play cards for the gold medal.

All the same, I feel that he would not have abandoned the race even if he had sensed that something was wrong, because he believed that it was possible--especially for a man like him--to emerge victorious despite all odds. He seemed to be guided by Kozma Prutkov's aphorism, "If you want to be happy, just be happy." He probably felt that all he had to do in order to become president of the new union was to act like the president. This was apparent in his work schedule and his agenda.

On November 5, the day after the meeting of the State Council, he received the assistant secretary of defense of the United States, Donald J. Atwood, who was in the USSR on a research mission to study ways of speeding up the conversion of the military-industrial complex to civilian applications. Gorbachev gave Atwood a cordial welcome and, as he so often did, raised the conversation to such a level of candor that his visitor felt compelled to respond in kind. "The Soviet economy is overburdened with military spending, probably much more so than the American economy," he said to Atwood. "If the only thing I could accomplish in my lifetime was to give these resources back to mankind, I would be completely satisfied."

-97-

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Final Days: The Inside Story of the Collapse of the Soviet Union
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword - ARCHIE BROWN ix
  • Preface xv
  • Mending the Breach 1
  • Reinforcements From The Second Front 13
  • On a Crumbling Verge 33
  • A President Without a Country 47
  • One Last Mission For the Union 59
  • On the Eve Of the Seventy-Fourth Anniversary Of the October Revolution 85
  • The Mirage Of a Confederal State 97
  • A Free Man With Nothing to Fear 113
  • A Cloud in Trousers 119
  • Fight to the Finish 127
  • Final Hours 145
  • Checking the Pulse 153
  • Last Rites 159
  • Burying a Time Capsule 169
  • Departure 175
  • Afterword: - A Mythical Kingdom Vanishes--Again 195
  • Appendix: Resignation Speech of Mikhail Gorbachev - Delivered at 7:00 P.M. on December 25, 1991 203
  • Notes 207
  • About the Book and Author 214
  • Index 215
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