Soviet General Secretary of the Communist Party Mikhail Gorbachev is the left’s darling. For years, those loath to credit Ronald Reagan with ending the Cold War have labeled Gorbachev the ultimate reformer. In 1988, Time magazine made him its Man of the Year. In 1990, Gorbachev won the Nobel Peace Prize. Radical leftist and former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, architect of the disastrous Oslo Peace Accords, states, "The revolution Gorbachev initiated and headed is, in my opinion, one of the three greatest revolutions of the XX century." Former United Nations Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali pants, "The name Mikhail Gorbachev speaks volumes about hope, change and freedom."
There’s only one problem: This week, Gorbachev, the supposed luminary so committed to openness and reform that he was willing to destroy the Soviet Union to achieve them, stated that he should have acted like current Russian President and former KGB agent Vladimir Putin. "I have reviewed my values and made conclusions," Gorbachev reportedly stated. "[Political enemy Boris] Yeltsin should have been sent away to a diplomatic post," said the great leader. "Separatists should have been hit — I mean confronted with criminal responsibility rather than attacked with machine guns."
Gorbachev will no doubt continue to travel around the United States picking up plaudits and honorary doctorates; after all, even Che Guevara is a huge hit on college campuses. From now on, however, it will be more difficult for his lap dogs to claim that Gorby ended the Cold War out of the goodness of his heart. Gorbachev was a Soviet thug, like other Soviet thugs before him — he just had the good fortune to run the USSR while it collapsed from within. Gorbachev is living proof that, as Reagan put it, "Politics is not a bad profession. If you succeed there are many rewards; if you disgrace yourself you can always write a book."
Of course, we cannot expect the left to stop listening to Gorbachev’s sanctimonious naysaying with regard to American foreign policy just because it turns out that — surprise, surprise — he is a bleeding-heart Red. Even though Gorbachev’s latest statements prove that it was the valor of John Paul II, the intestinal fortitude of Margaret Thatcher and the iron will of President Reagan that forced Gorbachev’s early retirement, liberals will continue to cite Gorbachev as a moral authority.
And Gorbachev remains a dangerous voice. He may enjoy hanging out with Ted Turner the same way Stalin enjoyed hobnobbing with Walter Duranty, but Gorbachev is still a mouthpiece for an ideology making a stealthy comeback in Russia. "I think the United States is sick," Gorbachev recently stated. "It suffers from the sickness, the disease of being the victor, and it needs to cure itself from this disease." The cure would presumably involve allowing Iran to gain nuclear weapons, pulling out of Iraq and worrying a lot less about the rise of a thinly concealed fascistic tendency in Russia.
Gorbachev’s recent bout of honesty should remind us that we cannot rely on the kindness of our enemies to protect us from danger. The world has grown more dangerous since the fall of the Soviet Union, not less. The Soviets attempted to assassinate Pope John Paul II for his support of Poland’s Solidarity movement during the Cold War. Today, Muslims destroy churches, kill nuns and call for the beheading of Pope Benedict XVI after he quotes a 14th-century Byzantine emperor. The Soviets built an enormous nuclear arsenal, but could be deterred. Iran cannot be trusted to act rationally with weapons of such power.
There are those who urge us to wait for the Muslim Gorbachev. We hear constantly that if we simply wait long enough — and work hard not to offend Muslims — the moderate Muslim majority will take back Islam from its radicals. Leaving aside the question of whether such a moderate majority actually exists, we must recognize that no such Muslim Gorbachev is in sight; we must recognize that even Gorbachev was not a Gorbachev. Our enemies lose because we force them to fail, not because they choose to lose.
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