Principalities & Powers

Disintegrating

In the space of a few months in 1989, the Soviet imperium in Eastern Europe began to disintegrate like a soda cracker in salt water, and even within the U.S.S.R. itself, long dormant national, ethnic, and religious passions began to sputter and whine. The Beriin Wall was turned into a collection of pet rocks, and Americans suddenly began hearing of peoples unknown to their ears since the days when the pope had divisions: Moldavians and Wallachians, Armenians and Azeris, Croats and Slovaks, Lithuanians and Ukrainians, Turks and Tadzhiks, Bulgarians and Byelorussians. One almost expected the Gepids and the Ostrogoths to set up their pennants and apply for membership in the United Nations.

Yet even as Mikhail Gorbachev, to the thunderous cheers of the West, restructured the Soviet Communist Party last winter, Soviet military advisers were helping Angola's Marxists polish off Jonas Savimbi's anticommunist guerrillas. Moreover, two days after what must have been the 357th emendation of the Soviet constitution since 1917, Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, commander for rapid deployment forces in the Middle East, testified to Congress that the Soviets are still pulverizing Afghanistan and pulling the wires of their puppet regime in Kabul, with more military aid than they forked over when they occupied the place. Communism may have been chucked out of the economic and intellectual ring, but it still throws a good punch, and the vision entertained...

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