2022-08-30 Cheryl Rofer - thoughts on Gorbachev

Cheryl Rofer (@CherylRofer): My thoughts on Mikhail Gorbachev. I see some very bad takes - read some history! I won't respond to any of them directly, and I probably won't read most of the good ones.

He wanted a different Soviet Union and thought he could build it. He was too much a creature of the system to recognize that his reforms would break it.

His talks with President Ronald Reagan on nuclear disarmament were, and will continue to be for some time, unparalled. They almost agreed to outlaw nuclear weapons by the year 2000.

Fuck Richard Perle and Edward Teller for their faith in Star Wars.

When the satellites moved away from the USSR and the Soviet republics began to leave the Union, he chose not to use force. When Lithuania declared independence in March 1990, he called off the OMON attacks, and that was the pattern as the other republics peeled away.

I remember the nervous conversations in Los Alamos about how all that could go badly wrong and the nukes could start flying. It was hard to imagine that the Soviet Union could come apart peacefully. That was all on him.

George H. W. Bush, US President at that time, responded well and eliminated a great many of our nuclear weapons to signal to Gorbachev that the US would not take advantage of Russia's disarray.

Then came the coup attempt and Boris Yeltsin's eclipsing Gorbachev. And "help" from the US with shock therapy to bring Russia into the capitalist economy. I have reservations about what the US did there.

But we also worked with Russia to get its nuclear materials and weapons under control. That was enabled by Gorbachev's actions toward nuclear weapons, although it came after he was a private citizen.

Those of us who worked on that felt the idealism he and Reagan had once brought

Gorbachev will always be one of my heroes. Mistaken about Soviet reforms, unable to complete the arms control he began with Reagan, and ultimately displaced by very different people.

All of that, but he kept the peace through a very difficult time. /end

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