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THE FINAL CURTAIN : Reflections : 'The Legacy Is Frightful to Overcome'

December 31, 1991| Robert Conquest, author , scholar at Hoover Institution, Palo Alto, Calif. and

"The (Bolshevik) regime was a bunch of devotees of a pseudo-science, fanatics who came to power. When the whole thing wasn't working, early in the 1930s, it became a pretense. They had such pressure on everybody that nobody dared to say anything. They also managed to fool many in the West. They distorted their economic results, they concealed their demographic losses, everything was faked. It was a colossal aberration--a paranoid idea gone mad, with one of the most paranoid rulers in history, Stalin. . . . The (Communist) idea had long outlasted its reality. Once it cracked, there was nothing but a hollow shell.

"Internally, they've been ruined, the ecology has been destroyed, the infrastructure is a mess. Anything that wasn't flashy didn't get done. They've had more bloodshed than any other country in a thousand years. The legacy is frightful to overcome. . . .

"(The Soviet Union's demise) surely is favorable for the world. . . . The little Third World troublemakers are no longer in a position to say, 'I'll have my big brother Ivan beat you up.' Some of these semi-pirate states like Libya really depended on having any action against them sabotaged by their friends in Moscow.

"Nuclear war is no longer a serious danger, yet as recently as the Brezhnev regime, the head of the international department of the Communist Party said if necessary they would fight and win a nuclear war. The Brezhnev regime had two aspects: detente, talking nicely, while pursuing aggressive aims. Now we can have a real detente."

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