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A Moment that Revealed the Modern Strangeness of the Russian Conundrum

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

Why didn’t a new politic emerge towards Russia when the Soviet Union dissolved into individual capitalist nations at the end of the cold war?

On a trip to Moscow in 1986 under the auspices of Mark Gerzon’s Mediators Foundation, we got no further than Moscow’s Shermetyevo Airport terminal when we encountered Daniel Ellsberg, headed toward an outbound flight after consulting with the government of Mikhail Gorbachev. Attempting to reform the Soviet System, Gorbachev had invited Ellsberg and other advocates of nuclear disarmament to Moscow in the hopes of getting better ideas for dealing with the Reagan administration’s stand on the Strategic Defense Initiative and the deployment of Intermediate Nuclear Forces. In a conversation with Gerzon, Ellsberg related how he had advised his host to simply call Washington’s bluff and give them what they had asked for even though it was not in Moscow’s interest. Taking Ellsberg’s advice shortly thereafter, Gorbachev offered to remove all of Russia’s Euro missiles, exposing the American negotiating position as a fraud and infuriating Margaret Thatcher, Henry Kissinger and Republican leaders Bob Dole and Jesse Helms. An exasperated Kissinger went so far as to condemn the Soviet disarmament move as unfair, complaining publicly that Gorbachev must have known the U.S. position was only a bluff.

For more information regarding Gorbachev’s bluff-calling see, The Power of Protest by Lawrence S. Wittner Sept. 16, 2004 on Znet


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