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More on Mikhail Gorbachev from Lahodynsky, Applebaum

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es Vienna, 09/08/22

Gorbachevs return from house-arrest in Crimea after 1999 coup

The last Soviet leader Mikhael Gochavev was comprehensively ignored after he was unceremoniously kicked out: here yesterday’s Puls 4 tv discussion with Hon AEJ President Otmar Lahodynsky (in DE) about what his life meant and what are the implications of his death.

At the time the star interviewer for  profil magazine, Otmar had also interviewed Gorbachev in Vienna in 2001. Original German. Here is the full translation into English:

In the profil news magazine interview Gorbachev spoke about the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan, the Middle East conflict, and about a new security order.

profil: Mr. Gorbachev, you recently warned in Madrid that the military mission in Afghanistan could soon escalate into a veritable war. How far away are we from that?

Gorbachev: We are on the brink of war. If this anti-terrorist operation now develops into a real war, it will have very serious consequences. I have said it many times: the war in Afghanistan can be won only on one condition, and that is by destroying the Afghans themselves. But this would be genocide, no sensible person would advocate that. Therefore, you have to take adequate measures against the terrorists’ infrastructure. Of course, one must also face the fact that the Taliban regime has acted in concert with the terrorists. Therefore, it is probably inevitable to bomb Taliban military objects.

profil: During your tenure, you pulled through the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan. What is your advice to the Americans now?

Gorbachev: I have only one wish, and this is the wish of someone who has experience, especially with Afghanistan: We have to get out of this military phase quickly. That does not mean that we can end this war tomorrow. The Taliban are provoking us, that is quite obvious. Nevertheless, we must find ways and means to end this military phase and move on to a political one. We must already prepare for this political phase, because Afghanistan is a multi-ethnic state. There are all kinds of tribes there, Pashtuns, Uzbeks, Tajiks and many others – and the decisive role is played by the leaders of the ethnic groups. This means that the future government must be a coalition government.

profil: That means that the Northern Alliance alone cannot be entrusted with the government?

Gorbachev: The role of the Northern Alliance will certainly be important, but the government must include representatives of all ethnic groups. This does not mean, however, that those who brought Afghanistan to the brink of the abyss and gave refuge to terrorists should be in the government.

Interviewer – AEJ honorary president Otmar Lahodynsky

profil: Should UN peacekeeping troops come to Afghanistan?

Gorbachev: This must be well thought out. In any case, I advocate that the UN Security Council remain involved, as it has been, thank God. All steps will be all the more convincing – whether they are anti-terrorist operations or political operations – if the UN Security Council is not just watching, but takes action itself. Otherwise, we could end up with a situation where these actions no longer have support in the world. When we withdrew our troops from Afghanistan, we made an international deal, with the cooperation of the United States as well as Iran, Pakistan, and with consultation with India. But it then occurred to someone to train the Taliban and let them become active there, and then to change the situation again, already after the withdrawal of Soviet troops.

profil: You mean the Americans.

Gorbachev: The Americans are now struggling with what they originally encouraged, and that should not have happened. You have to see the interests of Afghanistan on the front line-20 years of civil war and destruction. So you have to think not just about the gas and oil pipelines, but about the Afghan people. As soon as Afghanistan can revive, the gas and oil pipelines can also perform there again, otherwise they will blow up. Maybe it is interesting for someone to just turn Afghanistan into a desert and then pass the gas and oil pipelines through. That would be barbaric and also not the right response to terrorism. In fact, it would be worse than that terrorism. That’s why I now support the decisions of the UN Security Council, but also the actions of the American, Russian and other governments.

profil: Does Russia now have a free hand to act in Chechnya?

Gorbachev: There, too, we must distinguish between the civilian population and the rebels and achieve a political solution to the conflict.

profil: Regarding the Middle East conflict: Hasn’t the new U.S. administration done too little to continue the peace process?

Gorbachev: On the one hand, a lot has been done. But this problem has been monopolized. If the EU and Russia had also been more involved – I am one of the co-chairs of the Madrid Initiative – and also all the neighbouring Arab states, then this process might have been even more complicated, but much more solid, much more lasting. Simple solutions usually lead to major complications later. People on both sides are now tired of years of conflict, and we really need to help the peoples of Israel and Palestine here to complete this process, to resume negotiations. But without compromise from both sides, it will hardly succeed. There can be no winners in such conflicts, because the underdog will one day, sooner or later, raise its problem again.

profil: In Vienna, you spoke of the need for a new world order and criticized poverty in the Third World. What can be done about it? Should we introduce the Tobin Tax, a tax on foreign exchange transactions?

Gorbachev: In the framework of a seminar in which Mr. Tobin and other economists also participated, we discussed this problem just recently. I think we need such mechanisms. Resolutions and pledges of aid within the framework of the UN, there is already more than enough of that. There is no direct link between poverty and terrorism. But a new world order is needed.

On the basis of the Vienna Agreements, the Paris Charter, attempts have been made to build a new Europe. But after the collapse of the Soviet Union, many began to fish in the mud, this is not the right way. A few days ago, I attended a conference together with former President Bill Clinton. I was very impressed that Clinton explained that the fact that we live in a networked world forces us to behave in a completely new way. It’s a shame he’s so late in saying it, but it’s good that he’s saying it after all.

I was also very pleased that Clinton now wants to fight poverty in the world. It’s about making regional projects a reality, but it’s also about support for small businesses. I’ve already gotten myself into a lot of trouble because I’m always talking about this. The politicians who are active at the moment say, “Gorbachev has already retired, let him rest now.” But these projects are too close to my heart. I’m in talks with politicians, including ex-politicians, to establish an international forum, a kind of “political Davos,” because we all suffer from a lack of leaders and leadership.

profil: On security policy: What role will the new NATO play in Europe? It will expand next year.

Gorbachev: After September 11 we need to look again at all our security projects. We can’t have one for Russia and another for the USA. We need common security. The steps taken by the Russian president are very far-reaching. Putin raised the question of whether we need a new European and international security architecture at all. In any case, no mechanism that assigns Russia a secondary role can really succeed here. Russia, of course, must also take responsibility.

The Cold War in the minds of politicians and the military must finally come to an end. If Putin’s words are not heeded, then another opportunity will be lost. There is now a survey among Russian citizens about what relationship they want to have with the Americans: A partnership, friendly, long-term one, 68 percent favoured. That is a significant percentage.

profil: During your term in office, you called for a withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Gorbachev: I have only one wish, and this is the wish of someone who has experience, especially with Afghanistan: We have to get out of this military phase quickly. That does not mean that we can end this war tomorrow. The Taliban are provoking us, that is quite obvious. Nevertheless, we must find ways and means to end this military phase and move on to a political one. We must already prepare for this political phase, because Afghanistan is a multi-ethnic state. There are all kinds of tribes there, Pashtuns, Uzbeks, Tajiks and many others – and the decisive role is played by the leaders of the ethnic groups. This means that the future government must be a coalition government.

profil: That means that the Northern Alliance alone cannot be entrusted with the government?

Gorbachev: The role of the Northern Alliance will certainly be important, but the government must include representatives of all ethnic groups. This does not mean, however, that those who brought Afghanistan to the brink of the abyss and gave refuge to terrorists should be in the government.

profil: Should UN peacekeeping troops come to Afghanistan?

Gorbachev: This must be well thought out. In any case, I advocate that the UN Security Council remain involved, as it has been, thank God. All steps will be all the more convincing – whether they are anti-terrorist operations or political operations – if the UN Security Council is not just watching, but takes action itself. Otherwise, we could end up with a situation where these actions no longer have support in the world. When we withdrew our troops from Afghanistan, we made an international deal, with the cooperation of the United States as well as Iran, Pakistan, and with consultation with India. But it then occurred to someone to train the Taliban and let them become active there, and then to change the situation again, already after the withdrawal of Soviet troops.

profil: You mean the Americans.

Gorbachev: The Americans are now struggling with what they originally encouraged, and that should not have happened. You have to see the interests of Afghanistan in the front line – 20 years of civil war and destruction. So you have to think not just about the gas and oil pipelines, but about the Afghan people. As soon as Afghanistan can revive, the gas and oil pipelines can also perform there again, otherwise they will blow up. Maybe it is interesting for someone to just turn Afghanistan into a desert and then pass the gas and oil pipelines through. That would be barbaric and also not the right response to terrorism. In fact, it would be worse than that terrorism. That’s why I now support the decisions of the UN Security Council, but also the actions of the American, Russian and other governments.

profil: Does Russia now have a free hand to act in Chechnya?

Gorbachev: There, too, we must distinguish between the civilian population and the rebels and achieve a political solution to the conflict.

profil: On the Middle East conflict: Hasn’t the new U.S. administration done too little to continue the peace process?

Gorbachev: On the one hand, a lot has been done. But this problem has been monopolized. If the EU and Russia had also been more involved – I am one of the co-chairs of the Madrid Initiative – and also all the neighbouring Arab states, then this process might have been even more complicated, but much more solid, much more lasting.

Simple solutions usually lead to major complications later. People on both sides are now tired of years of conflict, and we really need to help the peoples of Israel and Palestine here to complete this process, to resume negotiations. But without compromise from both sides, it will hardly succeed. There can be no winners in such conflicts, because the underdog will one day, sooner or later, raise its problem again.

profil: In Vienna, you spoke of the need for a new world order and criticized poverty in the Third World. What can be done about it? Should we introduce the Tobin Tax, a tax on foreign exchange transactions?

Gorbachev: In the framework of a seminar in which Mr. Tobin and other economists also participated, we discussed this problem just recently. I think we need such mechanisms. Resolutions and pledges of aid within the framework of the UN, there is already more than enough of that.

There is no direct link between poverty and terrorism. But a new world order is needed. On the basis of the Vienna Agreements, the Paris Charter, attempts have been made to build a new Europe. But after the collapse of the Soviet Union, many began to fish in the mud- This is not the right way. A few days ago, I attended a conference together with former President Bill Clinton. I was very impressed that Clinton explained that the fact that we live in a networked world forces us to behave in a completely new way. It’s a shame he’s so late in saying it, but it’s good that he’s saying it after all.

I was also very pleased that Clinton now wants to fight poverty in the world. It’s about making regional projects a reality, but it’s also about support for small businesses. I’ve already gotten myself into a lot of trouble because I’m always talking about this. The politicians who are active at the moment say, “Gorbachev has already retired, let him rest now.” But these projects are too close to my heart. I’m in talks with politicians, including ex-politicians, to establish an international forum, a kind of “political Davos,” because we all suffer from a lack of leaders and leadership.

profil: On security policy: What role will the new NATO play in Europe? It will expand next year.

Gorbachev: After September 11, we must also reassess our security projects. There cannot be one security for Russia and another for the United States. We need joint security. The steps taken by the Russian president are very far-reaching. Putin raised the question of whether we don’t need a new European and international security architecture at all. In any case, no mechanism that assigns Russia a secondary role can really succeed here. Russia, of course, must also take responsibility. The cold war in the minds of politicians and the military must finally come to an end. If Putin’s words are not heeded, then another opportunity will be lost. There is now a survey among Russian citizens about what relationship they want to have with the Americans: A partnership, friendly, long-term one, 68 percent favoured That is a significant percentage.

profil: What sense do you still see in Austria’s neutrality, today and in the future new world order?

Gorbachev: Neutrality is something good, it should remain, but that is already your business. We have never made any claims or demands on Austria there.

“Gorbachev Never Realized What He Set in Motion”, argues Anne Applebaum in the Atlantic on August 31. The headline continues: “Almost nobody has ever had such a profound impact on an era, while understanding so little about it.”

One of the most serious analysts of Communism and its aftermath, Anne’s article begins:

The one time I saw Mikhail Gorbachev in public was on November 9, 2014. I can pin the day down because it was the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. We were in a very large, very crowded Berlin reception room, and he was sitting at a cocktail table, looking rather lost.

Gorbachev had been invited to this event as a trophy, a living, breathing souvenir of the 1980s. He was not expected to say much of interest. The fall of the Berlin Wall had happened by accident, after all; it was not something Gorbachev had ever planned. He had not set out to break up the Soviet Union, to end its tyranny, or to promote freedom. He presided over the end of a cruel and bloody empire, but without intending to do so. Almost nobody in history has ever had such a profound impact on his era, while at the same time understanding so little about it.

Gorbachev was born in Stalin’s Russia, but he began his career during the post-Stalin “thaw,” a moment when it became possible to acknowledge some truths out loud, but not too many. While he was still a student at Moscow State University, one of his closest friends was a Czechoslovak student named

1977 – Zdenek Mlynar, room-mate of Gorbachev as a student Fot. udostÍpni≥ Petr Pospichal

Zdeněk Mlynář. Both believed that communism could be reformed, if only the corruption and violence were removed. Mlynář’s convictions led him to become one of the leaders of the Prague Spring, a 1968 movement that started out by calling for “reformed communism” and “socialism with a human face.” That movement was crushed by Soviet soldiers, proving that corruption and violence were intrinsic to a system with no human face. Even cautious Czech reformers could not remove them so easily.

Still, the language of “reformed communism” continued to appeal to Gorbachev, who revived it when he became leader of the Soviet Communist Party in March 1985. But although he knew that Soviet society was stagnant and Soviet workers were unproductive, he had no idea why. In fact, his first instinct was not that the system needed democracy, or even free markets. Instead, he thought: Russians drink too much. Just two months after taking power, he restricted the sale of vodka, raised the drinking age, and started digging up vineyards. By some accounts, the resulting loss of tax income to the Soviet budget, plus the dramatic shortages—people were buying sugar and other products in bulk to make moonshine at home—were the tipping point that sent the Soviet economy into its final death spiral.

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