Meeting Mikhail Gorbachev

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Editor’s Note:
The situation in Ukraine remains extremely unstable with pro-Russian separatists still engaged in some street battles with the Ukraine army and the Kiev leadership holding “peace talks” with very limited participation from the pro-Russian sector. Meanwhile, the Western media continues to offer a wildly one-sided view of events, blaming Vladimir Putin and supposed Russian imperial ambitions for the crisis while forgetting that the Kiev government gained power through a coup that forced the duly elected Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych from office in February. Whatever one thinks of Yanukovych, there is substantial evidence that the coup that deposed him was supported by neo-conservative foreign policy hawks in the US and Western Europe, and that some of those who have now come to power in Kiev are right-wing nationalists with neo-Nazi ties. As I argued in my recent piece on Tikkun Daily “Another Way of Seeing the Ukraine,” the reason the Western media has been so one-sided in its coverage, ignoring how the steady incursion of NATO forces surrounding Russia appears to Putin and ignoring the undemocratic triggering event of the Kiev coup itself, is that the aspect of our collective psyche that is unconsciously pre-occupied by Fear of the Other actually wants to recreate the Cold War so as to reaffirm our egoic and defensive “national identity”–even at the cost of encouraging possible military conflict between countries with thousands of nuclear missiles pointed at each other.
Below, we publish Oliver Stone’s thoughtful account of his meeting two weeks ago with Mikail Gorbachev, which provides further insight into the circumstances that have led to the present crisis and the role paranoid cold-warrior mentality plays in turning opportunities for peace into occasions for the recreation of dangerous and irrational conflict. Stone and Gorbachev’s call for a diplomatic solution negotiated by Obama and Putin is a the best hope for a sane and healing path forward.
You may read the original here.
–Peter Gabel

(Oliver Stone and Mikhail Gorbachev)

Meeting Mikhail Gorbachev
May 8, 2014
By Oliver Stone
Still in Russia. Saw Mikhail Gorbachev today at his office. At 84 after three operations, he still looks and feels strong to me, but he says he’s much weaker and misses terribly his wife of many years, Raisa. He writes beautifully of her in his moving recent memoir, “Alone with Myself,” still unpublished in English.
I read it for “Untold History” (please see Ch. 8 & 9). Amazing revelations inside the workings of the politburo. Gorby, a Henry Wallace-type agriculture expert, made his way up to the top ranks, recognizing the corruption of the Communist system; he came to power as a protégé of Andropov, and then in a lightening coup of history, achieved profound change not only for the Russian people but for all of us.
If only the West had honored the opportunity he presented us in the 1980s, the world would be so different now. Sadly, the US turned its back on his offers of peace. And instead of demilitarizing the world beginning with Western Europe, Bush made the tragic choice to expand our footprint first in the Panama Invasion, and then most crucially, sent 500,000 American troops to the Middle East for the Kuwaiti War. From that fateful decision grew a trap we never extricated ourselves from.
Bush certainly could’ve propped up Gorby with financial aid, but instead pushed for Boris Yeltsin’s fateful breakup of the USSR into the Russian Federation. And the US-inspired financial disaster that followed. Under Clinton, Bush II, and Obama, the West continued to expand NATO to the borders of Russia. And played a significant role in the recent coup in Ukraine. Russia clearly has reason to fear US intentions in Ukraine and elsewhere.
The West forgets too easily that it was Putin, for better or for worse, who stepped in and helped save Russia at the turn of the century. This dangerous situation in the Ukraine today is a direct outgrowth of the US neocon desire to wholly dismantle Russia as a rival to the United States. This fact appears in a Defense planning memorandum written in 1992 right after the fall of Gorbachev. In other words, the US – and not the Soviet Union– never stopped seeking the ‘world domination’ it attributed to Communism after WWII.
Frankly this policy is insane and, judging from my trips to Russia since the early 1980s, would result only in a strong, unified Russian peoples’ resistance. Unlike most US population, they too vividly remember the Fascist invasion of WWII and will fight it to the death. May 9 will be their emotional Victory Day parade in Red Square.
100 years after WWI, I fear like many others that the situation will get out of hand now if the Neocons, joined by liberal cold warriors in our Government, have their way. Obama has made his point but now is the time, as Gorbachev said, for DIPLOMACY. It is up to Putin and Obama to pull these combatants in Ukraine apart. Because in the words of Gorby, “they will not be able to do it themselves.”