24 April 2007

Boris Yeltsin

Many obituaries of Boris Yeltsin have appeared since his recent death; however, I think that this short posting highlights what is by far the most important point.

Whatever else one may say about the Russians, the fact remains: both at the end of the Warsaw Pact and at the breakup of the Soviet Union itself (under Yeltsin's leadership), they let their empire go without a fight. If they had tried to use military force to hold Poland, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and so on -- as the French, for example, did in Algeria and Vietnam -- the resulting bloodbath could have made the Yugoslavian wars look like a pillow fight by comparison. It's no wonder that Yeltsin, for all his flaws, is at least somewhat fondly remembered in the Baltic states.

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