“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.

 

Reflections on the Goddess in the Meeting House   Leave a comment

The Armchair Theologian

Recently, I came across a wonderful post from Rhiannon’s blog Brigid, Fox, and Buddha  which spurred me on to indulge in, what felt like confessional writing. It all began with the following section quoted below. In an effort to capture her understanding of God, Rhiannon writes:

Goddess for me is within us, alongside us, dancing in the depths of all things. God for me is reaching out, helping hands, laughing, growing, sharing. Goddess for me is positively feminine and masculine and nongendered. God for me is found by imaginative contact with the inner world: lights, trees, seeds, ways. Goddess for me is a nonexistent undeniable impossible reality

This bundle of compelling images got me thinking about the language I use for God– where it comes from and the stories attached to it. This seems an important and very Quakerly exercise, since, as Rhiannon’s post implies, so much of religious life is about the…

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Posted July 23, 2016 by TeamBritanniaHu in Uncategorized

Growing up into a child   Leave a comment

Nick Baines's Blog

This is the script fo this morning’s Pause for Thought on BBC Radio 2’s Chris Evans Show in the company of Mo Farah, Tamsin Greig, Robert Winston and Jamie Lawson:

I have a theory about children’s books. It’s not original: children’s books are mainly read by adults. By adults, for adults. Remember when Harry Potter was just starting out on literary life and the publisher had to use two covers: one for kids and a different one for grown-ups … just so the latter wouldn’t get embarrassed on a train?

I think part of the reason for this might be that loads of adults are learning that imagination is not just for the little ones, and words open up new worlds of wonder.

I remember being accused of using simple language in one of my books. Accused, I think, because the reviewer thought I should posh up…

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Posted July 22, 2016 by TeamBritanniaHu in Uncategorized

Keeping the Lord’s Peace: Quaker/Catholic Dialogue (Part II)   Leave a comment

The Armchair Theologian

What’s the Point of Quakerism?

An indication of how far we’ve come in relation to Quaker-Catholic dialogue is vividly illustrated by G.K. Chesterton’s 1926 book Conversion and the Catholic Church. Ever the staunch apologist (and with characteristic bluntness) Chesterton observes:

It is not a question of comparing the merits and defects of the Quaker meeting–house, set beside the Catholic cathedral. It is the Quaker meeting–house that is inside the Catholic cathedral; it is the Catholic cathedral that covers everything like the vault of the Crystal Palace; and it is when we look up at the vast distant dome covering all the exhibits that we trace the Gothic roof and the pointed windows. In other words, Quakerism is but a temporary form of Quietism which has arisen technically outside the Church as the Quietism of Fenelon appeared technically inside the Church.[1]

Yet, the triumphalist world of Chesterton has now passed…

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Posted July 22, 2016 by TeamBritanniaHu in Uncategorized

IELTS Speaking Practice: Part 3 – What’s the word?   Leave a comment

Oxford University Press

shutterstock_323995139Louis Rogers is a freelance author and senior academic tutor at the University of Reading. He has worked in a number of countries and taught in various contexts ranging from young learners to Academic English. Louis is co-author of Oxford EAP B1+, Foundation IELTS Masterclass, Proficiency Masterclass and Intermediate and Upper Intermediate Skills for Business Studies. In the third and final installment of his IELTS series, he explores range of vocabulary and lexical resource in the IELTS speaking test. 

What’s the word?

This lesson helps students in any section of the speaking test by focusing on one element of the marking criteria in particular – lexical resource. Some of the key indicators used by markers in this category are the variety of words used, the adequacy and appropriacy of the words used and the ability to circumlocute (get round a vocabulary gap by using other words) with or…

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Posted July 22, 2016 by TeamBritanniaHu in Uncategorized

“Turbulent times”   Leave a comment

Nick Baines's Blog

The excellent Bishop of Hannover, Ralf Meister, delivered a brief ‘greeting’ on behalf of the Evangelischer Kirche in Deutschland (EKD) and ecumenical guests at the recent meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England in York. The bishop is also the newly-appointed German co-chair of the Meissen Commission, so I look forward hugely to working with him (as the English co-chair) in the next few years. The text of his address, coming in the light of the decision by the UK to leave the European Union, follows:

It is a great honour to attend this General Synod of the Church of England and to convey to you today the cordial greetings of the Evangelical Church in Germany.

I bring to you the greetings of the Council of the EKD, by the chairman of the council Bishop Professor Heinrich Bedford-Strohm,

the greetings of the plenary church conference and the…

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Posted July 22, 2016 by TeamBritanniaHu in Uncategorized

Nudity and nakedness   Leave a comment

Nick Baines's Blog

This is the text of the article I was asked to write for this week’s Radio Times. It was reported as a “lament”. It wasn’t. I just thought it was quite funny.

Well, would you Adam and Eve it? Recently 3000 people took their clothes off, painted themselves blue and lay around the not-so-tropical city of Hull in varieties of heaps. All, of course, in the name of art.

Actually, I thought it was quite funny. I saw it on my phone while enjoying two days at the General Synod talking about sex. So, it seemed both timely and amusing.

What is it with nakedness at the moment. You can hardly turn the telly on without finding someone wanting to take their clothes off. I thought Big Brother was embarrassing, but clearly that was just the appetiser for Love Island, Naked Attraction, and Life Stripped Bare. At least the new…

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Posted July 21, 2016 by TeamBritanniaHu in Uncategorized

Bosphorus bloodshed   Leave a comment

Marcus Ampe's Space

Nice is a very popular place by Belgians to go on holiday, but Istanbul is also a very great favourite.

The most populous city in Turkey and the country’s economic, cultural, and historic centre at the Bosporus, also spelled Bosphorus is one of the big attractions for Europeans. The Turkish İstanbul Boğazı or Karadenız Boğazı, strait (boğaz, “throat”) uniting the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara and separating parts of Asian Turkey (Anatolia) from European Turkey by the  world’s narrowest strait allowing cruise ships coming in this eastern world by extension via the Dardanelles, the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas. Also many tours by coaches do find this metropolitan city, of 17 million inhabitants, on the map.

The West was frightened on Thursday night the 14th of July with Nice. On Friday followed the bad news of a coup in Turkey

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Posted July 20, 2016 by TeamBritanniaHu in Uncategorized

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