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The Collapse of Communism: The Untold Story

Robert Gates
Administration was divided in its assessment in what was going on in the Soviet Union but unified in what we should be doing about it. I think itís fair to say that Secretary of Defense Cheney and the deputy Secretary of State Eagleburger, Condi Rice and I all felt that reforms were going to fail. That Gorbachev was presiding over the process he couldnít control. We also saw that much of what he has done was reversible had he been replaced by somebody else. And so we were more skeptical that his reforms would work. However we did not at all disagree with the approach the President and secretary Baker and Brent Scowcroft advocated, which was get a deal with them. And we had to interact with these folks and help manage this process from the West. There was no disagreement not manage the process of collapse but manage the relationship in a way that contributed the continuing change in the Soviet Union and that was no disagreement in the administration on that. I was very pessimistic from the very beginning that Gorbachevís economic reforms would work.

It was quite clear that Kryuchkov, who had embraced reforms that Gorbachev was undertaking in 1986 and 1987, by 1989 and 1990 had become quite hostile. That the pace of reforms he felt was going far to fast and it was danger to the system. And I told both the President Bush and secretary Baker after the third meeting that I think Gorbachev has now the enemy at his own house. And in fact it was Kryuchkov who would lead later the coup attempt.