Democrats have been charging that Vladmir Putin’s Russia got Donald Trump elected President of the United States. As this absurd charge plays out, Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev, now 85, has been blaming the United States and its allies for the downfall of the USSR and for current tensions in the world.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Gorbachev comes billed as one who “helped end the Cold War,” but the former Soviet president blames the United States and its allies for their failure to offer significant help, and says this wasted a chance for a safer world. Gorbachev further decried Western “triumphalism” over the outcome of the Cold War, and blasted a misguided policy toward Russia.
“They have been badgering Russia with accusations and blaming it for everything,” Gorbachev said. “And now, there is a backlash to that in Russia. Russia wants to have friendly ties with America, but it’s difficult to do that when Russia sees that it’s being cheated.” Gorbachev also praised outgoing U.S. President Obama and described Vladimir Putin as a “worthy president” of Russia. Unlike Donald Trump, Gorbachev knows Putin.
In a less publicized 2011 interview, Gorbachev made it clear that in the early 1990s he had been striving to keep the Soviet Union intact. “I fought the best I could, but I failed,” he said, adding, “Lenin, whom I respect, said don’t be afraid of chaos.” The USSR “could have existed longer today as the community of the sovereign states.” The 1990 Nobel laureate also shed light on the economic reforms known as perestroika.
“Perestroika didn’t fail, it was disrupted,” said Gorbachev. He contended that the United States needed its own perestroika policy and named Obama as “the man to carry it out.” Obama “got his health care bill approved and that was a good thing, but rich Republicans don’t like it,” Gorbachev said.
The views of old “Splotch Top,” as Fred Barnes used to call him, are bound to leave many confused. Millenials, in particular, won’t get much information from the old-line establishment media, whose reporters, as White House advisor Ben Rhodes said, “literally know nothing.”
Gorbachev charged that the USA and its allies failed to provide aid. The former Soviet boss didn’t mention that the vast Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, largest country in the world, was unable to feed itself and relied on grain sales and other aid from the United States and its allies. Given its claim to represent the future, the USSR must rank as the greatest failure in history. Even so, the failed Soviet system enjoyed much support from figures such as economist John Kenneth Galbraith, who in 1984 said that the Soviet system was superior because the communists made better use of “manpower.”
Gorbachev apparently forgot all that U.S. military aid during World War II, which the USSR began in an alliance with Adolph Hitler’s Nazi Germany under the Stalin-Hitler Pact of 1939. Both regimes then proceeded to invade Poland. After World War II, the USSR continued to occupy the nations of Eastern Europe, all Communist dictatorships with weak economies.
At the Brandenburg Gate in 1987, Ronald Reagan said “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” Gorbachev did not do so, but the Soviet system collapsed of its own weight. The former captives tore down the wall and the Soviet colonies broke free from domination by the “evil empire,” as Reagan accurately called it. More than thirty years later, Gorbachev is not entirely happy with this outcome, decrying American “triumphalism.”
The United States and its allies won the Cold War but did not celebrate with parades as after World War II. There was nothing resembling a Nuremberg trial for the apparatchiks who oppressed the people, maintained the vast Gulag system of prison camps, tossed dissidents into insane asylums, and other human rights violations.
After World War II, Stalin “summarily executed” some American prisoners, imprisoned many others, and forced many to renounce their U.S. citizenship. No subsequent Soviet or Russian regime has fully clarified this matter, and the United States has not pressed them to do so. That hardly amounts to “triumphalism.” By that Gorbachev means any acknowledgment that a free democratic republic with a market economy is better than a totalitarian Communist dictatorship with a command economy.
As it turns out, Gorbachev and the Democrats have a lot in common. Gorbachev blames the West for the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Democrats blame Russia for the loss of Hillary Clinton and the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States. Gorbachev and the Democrats both support Obamacare and both oppose any celebration when their opponents win the battle of ideas, win the Cold War, or win a presidential election.
On the other hand, maybe old Splotch Top was right that the United States needs some perestroika. After all, under the current administration, the nation has become a kind of Soviet Americastan. The Democrats and their allies in the old-line establishment media are rushing to the barricades to resist reform.