“If Perestrioka Fails…”: The Last Summer of the Cold War – June-July 1991.   1 comment

President Gorbachev had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990, but gave his acceptance speech in Oslo on 5 June 1991, twenty-five years ago. In it he warned that, if perestroika fails, the prospect of entering a new peaceful period of history will vanish, at least for the foreseeable future. The message was received, but not acted upon.  Gorbachev had embarked on perestroika; it was up to him and his ministers to see that it did not fail. Outside the Soviet Union, his Peace Prize was acclaimed, and the consequences of his constructive actions were apparent everywhere. In June 1991 Soviet troops completed their withdrawal from Hungary and Czechoslovakia. The Czechs and Hungarians cheered as the last Soviet tanks left. At the same time, both Comecon, the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance and the Warsaw Pact were formally dissolved.

Two sets of arms negotiations remained as unfinished business between Presidents Bush and Gorbachev: START (Strategic Arms Reduction Talks) and CFE (Conventional Forces in Europe). The CFE agreement set limits to the number of conventional arms – tanks, artillery, aircraft – allowed between the Atlantic and the Urals. It effectively ended the military division of the continent. It had been signed in Paris the previous November, 1990, but the following summer some CFE points of interpretation were still giving trouble. The Soviets sought to exclude naval units from the count, insisting that they might need them for internal purposes in the Baltic and Black seas. The United States argued that everything should be counted, and it was not until June 1991 in Vienna that the final text was installed, the culmination of two years of negotiation. Below are some of the thousands of tanks which were put up for sale as the CFE agreement came into force. These armaments had helped keep the peace, but in the end only the junkyard awaited them.

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START’s broad objective was also quite clear: the reduction of long-range strategic weapons. Achieving this was complicated. Should the two sides reduce the number of warheads or the number of missile types carrying the warheads? The Soviets had two new missile types in development, so they wanted to download warheads instead. The US was against this, and the Soviets were negotiating against a clock that was ticking away the continued existence of the USSR. Eventually, just minutes before Bush and Gorbachev were due to meet in London, on 17 July, minor concessions  produced a text acceptable to both sides of the table. A fortnight later, on 31 July, the two presidents signed START 1 in Moscow. The two superpowers had agreed to reduce their nuclear warheads and bombs to below nine thousand, including 1,500 delivery vehicles. Thus began a new sequence of strategic arms reduction agreements.

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Meanwhile, within the new Russian Republic, Boris Yeltsin had become its President on 12 June, elected by a landslide. He received 57% of the eighty million voted cast, becoming Russia’s first ever democratically elected leader. However, the Soviet Union, including Russia, was desperate to receive American economic aid; it was no longer its strength as a nuclear superpower which posed a threat to world peace, but its economic weakness. Gorbachev calculated that the US would recognise this and, in a ‘Grand Bargain’ offer massive dollar aid – say, twenty billion a year over five years – to do for the Soviet Union what the Marshall Plan had done for Western Europe after the Second World War. A group of Soviet and American academics tried to sell this plan to the two governments. Some of Gorbachev’s colleagues denounced this ‘Grand Bargain’ as a Western conspiracy, but, in any case the US was not interested – the USSR was a poor credit risk and President Bush had no backing in Washington for bailing out the rival system.

The climax of Gorbachev’s attempts to get American aid in propping up the ruble and in stocking Soviet shelves with consumer goods came in London on 17 July at the Group of Seven (G7) meeting, the world’s financial top table. His problem remained that of convincing the US that he was serious about moving directly to a free market economy, as Boris Yeltsin had sought to do when he had proclaimed himself a free marketeer on a visit to Washington. At the G7 meeting, Gorbachev was unconvincing, and left empty-handed.

After the START 1 summit in Moscow on 31 July, George Bush kept his promise to visit Ukraine, and went on to Kiev. The Ukrainians were looking for US support in their attempt to break away from Moscow and declare independence. Bush perceived how perilous Gorbachev’s position really was. In June the ‘old guard’ Communists had been foiled in their attempt to oust him by passing resolutions in the Congress of People’s Deputies, the so-called ‘constitutional coup’. The CIA was now warning of a hard-line coup to dislodge him from power, this time using force. The warning was passed on to Gorbachev, who ignored it. Bush didn’t want to do anything to make matters worse. In Kiev he denounced the grim consequences of “suicidal nationalism.” Croatia and Slovenia, having left the Yugoslav federation, were already at war. The Ukrainians were disappointed. Bush’s speech went down even less well in the United States, where the president’s own right-wing critics picked up a journalist’s verdict and damned it as Bush’s “Chicken Kiev” speech.

 

Andrew James

Source: Jeremy Isaacs & Taylor Downing (1998), The Cold War. London: Bantham Press.

 

Enchanted Quakerism (Part I)   Leave a comment

The Armchair Theologian

Enchantment and Quaker Identity

Image resultSince Max Weber’s groundbreaking study, TheProtestant Ethic and Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905:1930) it has become something of a scholarly trope to treat the rise of secular modernity and the formation of Quakerism as going effortlessly together. As one of the numerous puritan sects (framed by the milieu of Calvinism), Quakers transmitted and reinforced what would become dominant technical values of work, asceticism and productiveness which sustained the post-feudal economy. Here Quakers are depicted as resolutely ‘modern’ because they exemplify the moral habitus upon which early capitalist expansion and accumulation ultimately depended on.  While pre-modern religion was sustained by a magical connection between symbolic and concrete realities, Weber argued that early Quaker exemplified a rational and disenchanted vision of the world. This is certainly a powerful story modern British Friends tell about how ourselves. In this connection, we sometimes call ourselves a ‘Liberal…

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Posted August 25, 2016 by TeamBritanniaHu in Uncategorized

AUDREY HEPBURN   Leave a comment

THE HISTORICAL DIARIES: LOOKING INTO OUR PAST

Audrey Hepburn is well known as one of the most famous Hollywood actresses starring in movie roles such as ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ and ‘Sabrina’. She was a beautiful, talented, intelligent, and graceful woman. She was the definition of elegance.

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Posted August 25, 2016 by TeamBritanniaHu in Uncategorized

7 Buildings to Mark the Brontë Bicentenary   Leave a comment

Heritage Calling

From the buildings that inspired her first novel Jane Eyre, to the house where she contracted a fatal illness, Historic England has relisted 

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Posted August 23, 2016 by TeamBritanniaHu in Uncategorized

The People’s Challenge to the Government – why it’s different.   Leave a comment

Say Yes 2 Europe - Remain in the EU

Over the past few weeks some people have asked why our People’s Challenge is different to the handful of other challenges to Theresa May’s intention to usurp the UK’s Sovereign Parliament.

Here are the answers to these Frequently Asked Questions:

  • How is what you are doing different to the Gina Miller challenge represented by Mishcon de Reya?

The case being brought by Gina Miller is challenging whether Royal Prerogative can override or undo Acts of Parliament.

Unlike the People’s Challenge, Gina Miller’s challenge does not say who else is party to her challenge or who is funding it.

In addition to the principle of Parliamentary Sovereignty our People’s Challenge is very clearly focused on the importance of UK Citizen’s individual rights, in this case those rights granted by the UK’s Parliament to UK Citizens in relation to the UK’s membership of the EU.

  • What about the Fair Deal for Expats…

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Posted August 23, 2016 by TeamBritanniaHu in Uncategorized

Selling Empire: India in the Making of Britain and America   Leave a comment

Imperial & Global Forum

Adam Nadeau
University of New Brunswick

Review of Jonathan Eacott, Selling Empire: India in the Making of Britain and America, 1600–1830. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2016. $45.00 (Cloth).

JacketJonathan Eacott’s Selling Empire: India in the Making of Britain and America, 1600– 1830 (2016) reinforces two important historiographical points. One is that, contrary to David Armitage’s insistence that ‘the emergence of the concept of the “British Empire” . . . was long drawn out, and only achieved by the late seventeenth century at the earliest’,[1] the English polity that later incorporated the kingdoms of Scotland and Ireland was consciously imperial as early as the late sixteenth century. The second is that Britain’s imperial efforts were, from the start, transoceanic in nature. On the latter point, Selling Empire breaks with the older historiographical trend of distinguishing between a ‘first’ and ‘second’ British Empire delineated by a late eighteenth-century…

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Posted August 22, 2016 by TeamBritanniaHu in Uncategorized

Loyalty and loyalties   Leave a comment

Nick Baines's Blog

This is the script of this morning’s Thought for the Day on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks, hasn’t it? I never thought I’d be interested in people riding bikes around a track, but I got drawn into the Rio velodrome. There is a massive upsurge in pride in the flag the athletes carry, even if some of the national anthems do go on a bit.

Maybe it was while the world’s attention was on Rio that a North Korean diplomat chose to shine a different light on national pride by defecting to South Korea last week. Later described as “human scum” by his old regime, Thae Young Ho had managed to escape with his family from the North Korean embassy in Watford before his defection had been noticed by his erstwhile masters.

This is interesting stuff. At the same time I saw this…

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Posted August 22, 2016 by TeamBritanniaHu in Uncategorized

Brexit — the most important constitutional case of a generation.   Leave a comment

Say Yes 2 Europe - Remain in the EU

Or why the Government should not be allowed “to use the rusty toolbox of medieval powers known as the Royal Prerogative” to trigger Article 50.

A group of concerned UK citizens has embarked on a legal challenge to the Government’s plans to use Royal Prerogative powers to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to exit the EU. The challenge, which will be funded through the Crowd Justice website, will be considered this October alongside those of investment manager Gina Miller and hairdresser Dier Dos Santos.

The group is headed by Grahame Pigney, a UK citizen living in France, who ran the Say Yes 2 Europe grassroots campaign.  Others involved also campaigned in the run-up to the Referendum. They include Rob Pigney, Paul Cartwright, a Gibraltarian national who runs Brex-IN, Christopher Formaggia, who lives in Wales, Tahmid Chowdhury, a London student and Fergal McFerran who lives in Northern Ireland

At last…

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Posted August 21, 2016 by TeamBritanniaHu in Uncategorized

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