called for “Gorby”) and in dozens of other Chinese cities in June 1989. For historically infallible and invincible totalitarian extremists there is little flexibility for dialogue or real reform. Their closed minds enforce a dialectic that is one of either/or and that is their fatal weakness, even today.
The Freedom Tide Continues - 1990–1991. In February 1990 mass protests in Bulgaria led in June 1990 to elections in which the leading anti-Communist party won seats in a multi-party parliament. Also in June 1990, Hungary withdrew from the Warsaw Pact and Soviet troops began to withdraw from Hungary in April 1991. In October 1990, new elections led to the peaceful unification of West and East Germany on a democratic basis, with the Western powers subsequently agreeing on a united Germany’s future membership in NATO. In February 1991, Soviet military crackdowns in Lithuania stirred outcries throughout the West as fractures intensified in the Soviet-dominated Warsaw Pact. In April 1991, Soviet troops began withdrawing from Poland and in July the Warsaw Pact alliance headquartered in Poland was dissolved at a conference in Prague, Czechoslovakia. And the unraveling continued.
Moscow Coups and Revolutionary Changem - 1991. As anti-Communist protests and steps to democ- racy and independence gained momentum Soviet walls and curtains were breached, Gorbachev overruled (except briefly in Lithuania) the Soviet and “Socialist Camp” military, secret police, and intelligence chiefs who wanted to use state terror to shoot and arrest the protestors and restore totalitarian Marxist-Leninist authority and power. In August 1991, Gorbachev faced a coup whose leadership included three of his own senior ap- pointees: the head of the KGB Vladimir Kryuchkov; the Minister of Defense Dmitri Yazov; and Boris Pugo, the Minister of Internal Affairs. In this process Gorbachev lost power to Boris Yeltsin who took the lead in the name of the Russian Republic and people in turning against the plotters and forces seeking to take over the Russian parliament and reassert totalitarian control. One Soviet republic after another, including the three in- dependent Baltic nations annexed by Stalin, declared national independence and Yeltsin formally dissolved the Soviet Union on Christmas Day December 1991. Reagan’s new strategy had ended U.S. unilateral ideological, defense, and diplomatic constraints, had spoken truth to Soviet power, and had applied a range of long-ne- glected U.S. hard and soft instruments of power. Major changes were forced on the totalitarians and toppled the entire Soviet enterprise to end the Cold War.
The George H. W. Bush Administration and Post-Cold War Threats. The G. H. W. Bush administra- tion (January 1989 to January 1993) was forward-looking in consolidating the West’s Cold War victory in support of key steps like German reunification and NATO membership over some Russians’ objections and in reaching agreement with Yeltsin on a robust U.S. national missile defense program (GPALS). But although Bush’s Iraq war of 1991 was cheered as a model of coalition warfare and realism in driving Saddam Hussein’s invading forces out of Kuwait, Saddam and his Republican Guard divisions were left in power without surren- dering and were treated as victors in the Middle East, especially when Saddam freely used Iraqi helicopters and chemical weapons against Kurds and Shiites. The new administration also softened Reagan’s arms reduction and verification criteria in its proposed strategic and chemical weapons arms control efforts, undertook deep post-Cold War cuts in U.S. defense forces, and did not develop sufficient interaction with the new Yeltsin government in moving toward a viable democracy and stable neighborhood.
The William Clinton Administrations (January 1993 to January 2001). saw a range of stops and starts in waging a humanitarian-motivated air war in the Balkans that ended with the dissolution of Yugoslavia and proved generally ineffective in dealing with Russia and East European post-Cold War transitions from Soviet control and from Communist totalitarianism to democracy and independence. U.S. policy failures notably included the Ukraine where nuclear weapons stationed on its now sovereign soil were turned over to Russia with little compensation and with U.S. promises for the future protection of Ukraine that were not kept. In the area of arms control, the administration’s chemical weapons agreement and nuclear test ban proposals, even after Russian recidivist actions, sharply eroded Reagan’s tough U.S. national security arms control criteria and therefore received considerable U.S. Senate opposition. On proliferation issues, the administration left major loopholes in its Agreed Nuclear Framework with North Korea in 1994 that led to the development of nuclear weapons there, and it did not foresee and barely reacted to Indian and Pakistani nuclear weapons tests in 1998. Clinton also ended U.S. national anti-missile defense programs and deeply cut U.S. defense and in- telligence capabilities. In retrospect, Clinton considers his failure to intervene to stop the genocide in Rwanda his worst mistake. But in addition to the others listed above, a particularly critical Clinton failure was to treat serious terror statements and attacks from extremist Islamist militants as essentially rhetorical exaggerations or criminal acts and sporadic strikes rather than core elements in a global war of terror that urgently required a