“If Perestroika 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.

Reminder: Call for Application GHRA 2017 open until December 31, 2016   Leave a comment

Imperial & Global Forum

Fabian Klose, Johannes Paulmann, and Andrew Thompson would like to remind that the Call for Applications for the third Global Humanitarianism Research Academy (GHRA) 2017 is still open, with a deadline of 31 December 2016.

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Global Humanitarianism | Research Academy

International Research Academy on the History of Global Humanitarianism

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Posted December 9, 2016 by TeamBritanniaHu in Uncategorized

Oh. My. God.   Leave a comment

Nick Baines's Blog

This is the script of this morning’s Pause for Thought on BBC Radio 2’s Chris Evans Show in the company of the Kaiser Chiefs, actors Michael Fassbender and Strictly judge Bruno Tonioli:

What I am about to tell you is seriously unlikely to change your life, and I don’t predict a riot.

90 years ago today – 9 December 1926 – the United States Golf Association legalised the use of steel-shaft golf clubs. I assume that before then only wood was used. Or maybe papier maché? My source wasn’t clear on the matter.

Now, the reason I mention this world changing event is simply because it illustrates how difficult it is to change. Apparently, there was considerable resistance in some quarters to any move to change the material used in golf clubs. But, before you wag your head in disbelief, just consider how difficult it is for most…

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Posted December 9, 2016 by TeamBritanniaHu in Uncategorized

Rewriting Dutch Colonial Histories   Leave a comment

Imperial & Global Forum

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Sadiah Boonstra and Caroline Drieënhuizen

Paul Doolan (Zürich International School / University of Konstanz) recently criticized Dutch historians for their failure to decolonize Dutch and colonial history, and suggested the contribution of what he calls ‘outsiders’ as a solution. In doing so, however, he overlooks the fact that there are and have been many initiatives to rewrite Dutch colonial history. We propose instead that approach, method, and the writing of multiple histories are of much greater importance in decolonizing Dutch history.

Critical research on colonial history in the Netherlands

Doolan’s main observation is the existence of what he calls a ‘Guild of Historians’, consisting of mainly white males based in Leiden, which has resulted in a neglect of attention for the dark sides of Dutch colonial history. He sees that the ‘guild’s power’ has started to wane only recently following historical work by ‘outsiders’ like Rémy Limpach, who…

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Posted December 9, 2016 by TeamBritanniaHu in Uncategorized

After 2016 trust native speakers less – by Wiktor Kostrzewski   Leave a comment

TEFL Equity Advocates

1. British English can no longer serve as an optimal, reasonable model of English language use. Not after the Brexit campaign, fuelled by lies, racism, culminating in deaths of a British MP and a Polish migrant. The Leave campaigns used British English to make false promises, mis-represent facts (to the point of possibly risking criminal litigation), and divide British people – and they won. The Remain campaign failed to engage on any level beyond fear – and it lost.

2. American English can no longer serve as an optimal, reasonable model of English language use. Not after Trump. His presidential campaign “took relentless aim at institutions and ideals”, presented a pessimistic, polarising vision of America, steered clear of facts, policies or rational arguments – and it won. The Clinton campaign failed to engage people whose momentum was felt in the Democratic Party with Sanders still in the running – and it lost.

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Posted December 8, 2016 by TeamBritanniaHu in Uncategorized

Representing the People’s Challenge today…   Leave a comment

Say Yes 2 Europe - Remain in the EU

The legal team has been working overnight on the submissions to be made to the Supreme Court today, so an update summarising yesterday’s and today’s hearing will follow tomorrow.

Our lead QC,  Helen Mountfield will speak from 12.00 noon for 45 minutes  can be watched live on line. Subject to responding to the Justices’ questions, her submissions will cover:

  • who the People’s Challenge group are and the  fact that they are crowd-supported;
  •  the importance of the legal principles which divide power between the limbs of the state, and in ensure that they do not illegitimately intrude onto one another’s territory;
  • the proper,  constitutional role of Judges;
  • why  the government argument for  “untrammelled”  and “unconstrained”  prerogative power begins at the wrong starting point –  conveniently bypassing the most significant legal hurdle the government has to jump over  which is to show that there is prerogative power to take away…

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Posted December 8, 2016 by TeamBritanniaHu in Uncategorized

People’s Challenge – Supreme Court report: Day 2   Leave a comment

Say Yes 2 Europe - Remain in the EU

As the video and transcripts of the Supreme Court hearing’s second day demonstrate, a packed court room is no guarantee of rapt attention in a case that involves dozens of technical points and bundle references as well as the most important constitutional principles.

But members of the public present and on line watchers who stayed with the hearing until 2.45PM were treated to a masterclass in advocacy by Lord Pannick QC, Gina Miller’s lead barrister.

Within minutes he had  broken the ‘silence of Parliament’ much relied upon by the Advocate General and MrEadie QC with  the barking of dangerous dogs, the clacking of lobster claws and the puttering of an 19th century steamboat engine.

The day began with further legal argument from James Eadie QC for the Government, however. As this is his client’s appeal, he will also be the last to speak on Thursday, replying to the arguments…

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Posted December 8, 2016 by TeamBritanniaHu in Uncategorized

Confronting Change: Globalization, Migration and Precarious Labour in the Age of Brexit   Leave a comment

Imperial & Global Forum

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Gareth Curless
University of Exeter

On Wednesday 11 January 2017, the University of Exeter and the TUC’s European Union and International Relations Department will host a public conference at Congress House, London. To register for this event please visit the Eventbrite page for the conference. The event is free to attend and all are welcome but space is limited.

The EU referendum has brought to the fore debates concerning the effects of globalization, migration and casual or ‘precarious’ labour in twenty-first century Britain. These issues are not limited to the U.K., however. Over the course of the past three decades the dominance of neo-liberal economics, and the associated processes of privatisation and de-regulation, have contributed to widening inequality and a decline in formal sector employment across the globe. For organised labour movements these pressures have brought ever greater challenges, as trade unions have fought to resist the erosion of…

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Posted December 8, 2016 by TeamBritanniaHu in Uncategorized

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