Home
In this issue
December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review April 27, 2007 / 9 Iyar, 5767

Boris the Liberator, RIP

By Charles Krauthammer


Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Credit for the fall of communism usually is given to two sets of actors. On the one side, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and John Paul II, whose relentless pressure caused a hollowed-out system to collapse. On the other side, conventional mythology credits Mikhail Gorbachev.


This is quite wrong. True, Gorbachev inadvertently caused the collapse of communism. But his intention was always to save it. To the very end, Gorbachev believed in it. His mission was to reform communism in order to make it work. To do that, the Soviet system had to become more human — i.e., more in tune with real human nature — and thus more humane. Gorbachev's problem was that humane communism is an oxymoron.


The man who brought down the Soviet Union from the inside was Boris Yeltsin. In the mid-1980s, he turned decisively against communism and, fully intending its destruction, performed one of history's great acts of liberation.


Yeltsin, who died this week, did this without turning to the guillotine. "For the first time in Russian history," notes Russian opposition leader Garry Kasparov, "the new ruler did not eliminate the losers to consolidate control." What distinguished Yeltsin "was something that he did not do when he took power" — "wipe out the other side."


Yeltsin had indeed been converted to democracy, free markets and a decent civil society, but he had no idea how to bring these about amid the wreckage of the Soviet Union. With no history of democracy, and only distant memories of a free economy, Russia was at sea.


As was Yeltsin. For all his good intentions, he could not find his way. Moreover, his final act, bequeathing a former KGB colonel to the country as his successor, has proved disastrous for the democratic enterprise. As Kasparov pointed out during a recent Washington visit, today's Russian state is unique. The world's other dictatorships are monarchical, clerical or military. Russia's is government of and by the secret police.


Yeltsin's mixed legacy could be seen at his funeral. On the one hand, he lay in state in a rebuilt Cathedral of Christ the Savior, reminding the world that he abolished not only communism but state-imposed atheism — another remarkable achievement. On the other hand, everything about the funeral — including the pulling of all entertainment programming on television — was decreed by Yeltsin's chosen successor, Vladimir Putin. These days, Putin decrees everything. The parliament, from whose free elections Yeltsin sprang to become president of Russia and its liberator, is now a rubber stamp. The press is overwhelmingly a mouthpiece of the state. Power of all kinds — even corruption — has been recentralized in the Kremlin.


Twenty years ago, Yeltsin made a strategic choice for democracy. Putin and his KGB regime have made a different strategic choice: the Chinese model. They watched two great powers take their exits from communism — Maoist China and Soviet Russia — and decided the Chinese got it right.


They saw Deng Xiaoping liberalize the economy while maintaining centralized power — and achieve astonishing economic success. Then they saw Gorbachev do precisely the opposite — loosening the political system while keeping an absurdly inefficient communist economy — and cause the collapse of the regime and the state.


Yeltsin's uncertain, undisciplined and corruption-ridden attempt to deregulate both the economy and the political system caused such chaos that during his tenure gross domestic product fell by half. So Putin decided to become Deng. And while Deng destroyed democratic hopes in one fell swoop at Tiananmen Square, Putin did so methodically and gradually. By the time his goons beat up opposition demonstrators in Moscow and St. Petersburg earlier this month, so little was left of Russian democracy that the world merely yawned.


Yeltsin is not the first great revolutionary to have failed at building something new. Nonetheless, it is worth remembering what he did achieve. He brought down not just a party, a regime and an empire, but an idea. Communism today survives only in the lunatic kingdom of North Korea, in Fidel Castro's personal satrapy and in the minds of such political imbeciles as Venezuela's Hugo Ch?vez, who can sustain his socialist airs only as long as he sits on $65 oil.


Outside of college English departments, no sane person takes Marxism seriously. Certainly not Putin and his KGB cronies. In the end, Yeltsin succeeded only in midwifing Russia's transition from totalitarianism to authoritarianism with the briefest of stops for democracy — a far more modest advance than he (and we) had hoped, but still significant. And for which the Russian people — and the rest of the world spared the depredations of a malevolent empire — should forever be grateful.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment on Charles Krauthammer's column by clicking by clicking here.

Archives

© 2006 WPWG

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles