Americans have spent a lot of emotional capital over the past 30 years congratulating two U.S. presidents over their role in the demise of the Cold War and of the Soviet Union.
Yes, Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush deserve credit for their roles in ending the “original” Cold War.
However, I want to offer a tribute to a third world leader who today passed from the scene. Mikhail Gorbachev, the final premier of what we used to know as the Soviet Union, died at age 91.
He, at least as much as the two U.S. presidents, is responsible for ending the age of duck-and-cover drills and worries about nuclear-missile strikes from the Evil Empire.
Gorbachev surrendered his office when the Soviet Union evaporated. He turned it over the Boris Yeltsin, who then had the unenviable task of trying to turn an ironclad dictatorship into something that resembled a democratic society. It hasn’t worked out … yet!
The United States was able to win the Cold War of attrition by forcing the Soviets to build weapons they couldn’t afford. The Soviets bankrupted their economy by building nukes and all manner of military hardware they still like to put on parade in Red Square.
Gorbachev recognized what so many of his communist predecessors ignored.
So, when President Reagan stood at the Hindenberg Gate in Berlin and declared, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,” the Soviet leader well might have actually listened on that day.
The Berlin Wall came down in 1989, thanks to Gorbachev’s acknowledging he was on the wrong side of history. Two years after that? He said goodbye to the Soviet Union.
Hey, don’t misunderstand me. I stand with those who applaud Presidents Reagan and Bush for the strength they showed in waging the Cold War with the Soviet Union. I also want to applaud Gorbachev for acting on the realization that the communist experiment in his country was a monumental failure.
And I cannot pay tribute to Gorbachev’s wisdom without mentioning one of his descendants’ idiotic view that the Soviet demise was a “dark day” in the history of his country. Vladimir Putin is as wrong to want a return to that hideous system as he was wrong to presume that he could take over Ukraine in a matter of days.