Saturday, July 12, 2014

George H.W. Bush as a Sovietnik

 John Lloyd writes in FT:
Bush was the most curious Soviet-nik of all, since he was heir to an office that had, since the late 1940s, held the baton of leader of the free world, the title taking its meaning in opposition to the USSR. That he should seek to prolong its life was a historical oddity, one brought about by the very unpredictability of the forces that had been unleashed and by his own cautious nature...

[O]n January 28 1992, George Bush used his State of the Union address to announce that “the biggest thing that has happened in the world in my life, in our lives, is this: by the grace of God, America won the cold war”. What he did not mention was that he himself had struggled to save the Soviet Union, fearing a successful and violent putsch (a flaccid one had failed in summer 1991), a possible civil war and loss of control of the nuclear weaponry – all very sensible concerns.

So worried had he been, and so deeply invested in Gorbachev as the agent for change, that he made a speech, in August 1991, to the Ukrainian parliament – it became known as the “Chicken Kiev” speech, so named by the newspaper columnist and former Nixon aide William Safire – in which he praised the Soviet leader and said that “Americans will not support those who seek independence in order to replace a far-off tyranny with a local despotism”.

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