Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Boris Nikolaevich Yeltsin post-mortem(an ongoing debate...)

I've listened to a lot of valedictories on the career of Boris Nikolaevich Yeltsin, first President of Russia, and as good and contemporary as they all have been, I have to return to the bad old Soviet times to give my own summation of his career. Boris Nikolaevich was a WRECKER, as they termed people shot for spying back in the day. He was a wrecker, but a POSITIVE wrecker. Most things he destroyed were richly deserving of their fate, namely:

--The Communist Party, after the August l991 attempt to re-impose its most brutal incompetents on the Soviet people

--The Soviet Union, in December 1991, in cahoots with the presidents of Ukraine and Belorus. It WAS an evil empire, because the worst people in the country ran it, and few outside the Russian republic were sorry to see it go.

--Restrictions on the press and media. Boris Nikolaevich MADE Russia's free press, which was as freewheeling and hard-hitting as you could get about ten years ago. That was huge.

--Restrictions on travel. President Reagan urged President Gorbachev to "tear down this wall" and let people travel. Well, Gorbachev tore down the wall, or at least gave it a shove, but it was Yeltsin who empowered the Russian people to see the world.

The glaring failure, of course, for Yeltsin was his inability to BUILD anything--an infrastructure for a capitalist democracy, a coherent foreign policy that didn't depend on repression and coercion, a consensus on where the country needed to go. He utterly failed at all these things. He was not a good builder at all, but he was a VERY good wrecker, and history will judge him kindly for all the things he blasted and cleared away.


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