Thursday, June 1


Walter Uehler, president of the Russian-American International Studies Association (RAISA), writes about a speech by and encounter with Mikhail Gorbachev, former General Secretary of the Communist Party and de facto ruler of the former U.S.S.R. He quotes from Gorbachev's keynote speech to RAISA a couple of weeks ago. Gorbachev responded to recent criticism of Russia by Dick Cheney.

"To the question of Americans about democracy, I answer: Do you consider us a talented people? Yes, you must consider us the most talented of all. For what it took you 200 years to build, you want us to create in 200 days?"

Mr. Gorbachev added that the ultimatums have no place in Russian-American relations and suggested that those American politicians who believe that "there are things more important than peace" have lost their minds. In that context, Mr. Gorbachev asserted: "Military action in Iraq gave birth to chaos and tensions throughout the Middle East." In his view, that war, along with American unilateralim, have made it enormously more difficult for the world to attend to the three urgent problems - security (terrorism and nuclear weapons), poverty and the ecological crisis - that make peace more necessary now than ever.

Mr. Gorbachev closed his speech by quoting from President Kennedy's June 10, 1963 Commencement Address at the American University in Washington: "The most important topic on earth is world peace. What kind of peace do I have in mind? Not a Pax America enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of a slave. I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and to build a better life for their children. Peace not only for Americans, but peace for all men and women. Peace not only in our time, but peace for all time."
Perhaps it was the intensity of the moment that caused most of his specific words about Peter and reform to escape my recollection. More likely, what he said next best explains my faulty recall. Not only was it out of character, when compared with his seminar speech, it was out of character with what he had just spoken to me.

For, just as he's about to leave, I hear:

Gorbachev: Cheney is a fool (Cheney "durak.").

Uelhler also quotes Vladimir Putin, the current Russian ruler, criticizing the U.S. invasion of Iraq and Bush administration values and actions by saying, "How quickly all the pathos of the need to fight for human rights and democracy is laid aside the moment the need to realize one's own interests comes to the fore. In the name of one's own interests, everything is possible, it turns out, and there are no limits."

Anyone disagree with either assessment?



Post a Comment

<< Home