Burly Boris Yeltsin bowled them over in Washington when he addressed congress. And no wonder. A master politician, studied his American audience, and he talked our language.
He seized the opportunity to speak the truth that only diehard right-wing anti-Communists dared to say for so many decades, namely, that Communism is based on lies. He admitted that Communism “spread everywhere social strife, animosity, and unparalleled. brutality, which instilled fear in humanity.” He confessed to its “political oppression,” and he brought U.S. Congressmen to their feet when he promised, “There will be no more lies — ever.”
It is instructive to compare Yeltsin’s personality, performance, and proposals with the speech delivered by his predecessor, Mikhail Gorbachev, on May 6 at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. That speech was billed by its sponsors and by the media as the modern equivalent of Winston Churchill’s famous “Iron Curtain” speech given in that same location 46 years before.
But to paraphrase a famous line of modern politics, Gorbachev is no Churchill, unless one wants to see a parallel in the way Gorbachev fought doggedly to the bitter end to preserve the system he headed. And Gorbachev is no Yeltsin, either.
Whereas Yeltsin is a leader, the kind who climbed upon a tank in one of history’s most dangerous and unforgettable moments, Gorbachev is the consummate Communist bureaucrat, sheltered from assassins by his bodyguards and from reality by his ideology, trying to hang onto his power and perks long after it was clear that he and his Communist system had been left in the dustbin of history.
Whereas Yeltsin reached out to touch Americans with respect for he had our customs and colloquialisms, Gorbachev was arrogant and out of touch with his audience.
Gorbachev attacked the United States for “unleashing a monstrous arms race,” even accusing us of being “the initiator.” He sanctimoniously lectured us that we “should under no circumstances make the intellectual, and consequently political, error of interpreting victory in the Cold Ear narrowly as a victory for oneself, one’s own way of 1ife, for one’s own values and merits.”
Why not, for Heaven’s sake? Of course, the victory in the Cold war was a victory for freedom and a defeat for the Communist colossus, which once stood astride a billion terrorized human beings!
Gorbachev gave his sermon standing in front of a section of the Berlin Wall, transplanted to the Churchill Memorial in Fulton, Missouri. All the world knows, even if Gorbachev tried to ignore it, that the Wall was built to keep people inside the Communist prison and to prevent them from escaping to freedom in the west.
After more tedious passages lecturing the United States on “human rights” (he didn’t mention the Gulag), on “the export of conventional weapons” (he didn’t remind us of his arms shipments to Afghanistan, Africa, and Cuba), and “ecological dangers” (he overlooked Chernobyl), Gorbachev finally got down to the meat of his speech, or as his defenders would say, his vision of the future.
Gorbachev wants world government! He calls it a “global structure,” and by this he said he means “not just a union of democratic states, but also a democratically organized world community.” That would mean putting the United States of America in some sort of a “one man, one vote” democracy along with all undemocratic, totalitarian fiefdoms around the world.
That would mean saying goodbye to our Constitution and Declaration of Independence. It’s hard to see how Gorbachev could think this would be palatable to Americans, yet he had the effrontery to say that “an awareness of the need for some kind of global government is gaining ground.”
Gorbachev proposes to move to the “new era” of his dreams by giving “a decisive role” to a “restructured” United Nations with “an expanded and strengthened Security Council.” “National armed forces” would be placed “at the disposal of the Security Council,” and the U. N. would enjoy a “measure of compulsion” with “rigid controls” over “nuclear and chemical weapons.”
Of course, this Gorbian global utopia, which he grandiosely calls a “new civilization,” would “require substantial funding” with “some mechanism tying the U.N. to the world economy.” Translated, that means a “mechanism” for draining the productivity and profits of the American private enterprise system into the hands of a world bureaucracy where has-been bureaucrats like Gorbachev would spend our money.
Gorbachev’s “new era” will never sell in the United States. It’s clear that Americans prefer the entirely different approach of Boris Yeltsin, who called for “partnership and friendship” and a future in which we “preserve our identity, our own image and history.”
Yeltsin concluded with the words “God bless America — and Russia.” Irving Berlin would never have written a song entitled “God bless the United Nations.”