The author is a senior Air Warrior and military and political analyst as well as being a graduate of the DSSC war college.
The death of Mikhail Gorbachev has gone uncelebrated in Russia. Rightly so as he is recognized as the man who broke the Soviet Union, more by accident than design. He can be bracketed with Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who was instrumental in the dismemberment of Pakistan and the creation of Bangladesh.
Russia is a formidable power in the world. However, It is not what it was when it was the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics. One man is a central figure in this scenario and he is Mikhail Gorbachev. He passed away at the age of 91 in Moscow, a few days back. He was the last president of the USSR and unfortunately the man at the helm of affairs when the Soviet state disintegrated.
This is something difficult to digest. There are very few people like Gorbachev who break up their country. Bhutto's name crops up immediately but he paid a terrible price as he was hanged like a common criminal for a crime he had not committed. Gorbachev was in the same class but he got away very lightly as nothing much happened to him.
The western press is saying that Gorbachev was a great man as he brought freedom. But it is a half-truth as in fact by his actions Gorbachev threw the towel for Anglo- Saxon supremacy over Europe. It is worth examining how the events unfolded.
Gorbachev was born in 1931during the time of Joseph Stalin. One thinks he would have inculcated some of the qualities of the great Soviet dictator. Unfortunately, he was a very soft man and he had a very weird vision of society and by a combination of factors became the president of the USSR. This was a very big blow to the Soviet Union because there was a man who came into power having some weird ideas.
When you rule a totalitarian state you can't bring democracy there. Russia was a totalitarian state, a dictatorship, a one-party rule country, where only the communist party ruled and one man called the shots whether Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev, or later Brezhnev.
The death of Brezhnev was a watershed in Soviet history as no worthwhile successor could take his place and by a combination of circumstances, Gorbachev became the president. I do not know what was in his mind, but he had something called Glasnost freedom in his brain. This was an alien concept to Russia, as even Tsarist Russia had conquered states in central Asia, as well as southern Asia and Europe, and ruled with an iron hand.
Stalin had consolidated the empire into the USSR which became a power on par with the united states and there was a time when the west was scared of the USSR. America was thinking how do we get rid of this ogre, this Russian bear?
The first step the Americans took was to break the monolith alliance of Russia and China. They began by cultivating China as a counterweight to Russia. All sorts of games are played starting from the surrender of Richard Nixon to appease China. He is known as 'Tricky Dick' but thinking about one can see he was a foolish person. The wheel has turned full circle and the Chinese have now caught the Americans by the tail
Gorbachev came into power at a time Reagan and thatcher the British prime minister had a one-point program for the breakup of the Soviet state and Gorbachev played into their hands.
He ushered in a policy of relative freedom for the occupied countries which have been part of the soviet or the Russian state for more than 125 years. he gave a sort of open invitation to countries like Ukraine Kazakhstan Tajikistan, Moldova, and others to have their own way. He forgot that in a dictatorship there is nothing like own way
Dictatorship means the central authority and that should have been consolidated by Gorbachev. But what did he do? He went ahead with his policy of glasnost. Some people were opposed to Gorbachev and in 1991, there was a military coup against him by people who wanted to keep the old soviet union together but things had changed in Russia and the coup collapsed within two days and Gorbachev would breathe in peace, and western powers were delighted.
Gorbachev presided over the liquidation of the soviet union and by 1992 it was all over bar the shouting. All the countries that had been part of Russia since Tsarist times had broken away from the motherland. Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and other nations went their own way.
Gorbachev tried desperately to set up what is known as the CIS, an organization of central Asian states and others that would be allied with Russia but Russia was not an economic power and there was nothing Russia could give to these countries so they were not very happy with Russia and ultimately all of them barring one or two broke away from the motherland and some countries like Ukraine as you know have become anti-Russia.
Gorbachev did something unforgivable by breaking the soviet union
His death has not marked any jubilation for anybody in Russia. The news has been just reported quietly. He was living in Moscow. but Russians must be wondering what went wrong that a man like Gorbachev should come into power and he should preside over the liquidation of the Russian empire
Glasnost brought in the concept of freedom. Gorbachev's idea was that all the states will be free but they'll remain together. This is a very idealistic and foolish way of thinking because there are so many inherent contradictions in Soviet society, ethnic problems, race problems, and religious problems. Stalin dealt with these problems with a firm hand but the moment Gorbachev came he showed he was an incompetent man. Ultimately Gorbachev had to resign and then another very foolish man came up and he was Boris Yeltsin. it's a sad commentary on Russian politics that they could not produce a man of any stature till Vladimir Putin came.
The monolith Russian state was broken and credit for that or discredit will go to Mikhail Gorbachev. He will remain an important figure in world history because he will go down as the man who brought about the downfall of the Soviet Union.
We do not know how history is going to treat him and now the genie has come out of the bottle, it can't go back. Russia cannot become the USSR again. It is a sad commentary that the legacy of Gorbachev is nothing but the destruction of the Soviet Union. He will be remembered for that and perhaps he may get a very good reference in the western newspapers and Western history books but overall people like me who have studied history know that Gorbachev has besmirched his name and will go down in history as the traitor.
Vladimir Putin is in charge now, I wonder if he can recreate the old Russia. It's not going to be easy and does look impossible.
© 2022 MG Singh