April 16, 2008

Glasnost comes to casino

Hard Rock gambles on Gorbachev

Mikhail Gorbachev, former head of the Soviet Union, will deliver a lecture on peace at an unusual venue: the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.Gorbachev is popular among top Seminole tribal leaders.

"As the former leader of the Soviet Union, he's been an enormous figure in the world. Mikhail Gorbachev is living history. Hosting him at the Seminole Hard Rock is quite an honor for us," said Seminole Tribal Council representative Max Osceola in an e-mail response to The Miami Herald.

Gorbachev's one-hour lecture will be held Wednesday night at Hard Rock Live! at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino near Hollywood, beginning at 7:30.

Ryan Rogers, spokesman for the Seminole Hard Rock, said the Seminole Tribe, owners of the casino, invited Gorbachev because his message of political reform, peace and environmentalism is popular among Seminole leaders. He wouldn't disclose his speaking fee.
Comment:  Whether this lecture sells out or not, it's a testament to the power of Indian gaming to transform the cultural milieu. How often did former world leaders visit Indian reservations before the advent of gaming...never?


dmarks said...

He might be one of the worst world leaders to visit Natives in North America since Cortez. His "glasnost" and "perestroika" were attempts to make Stalinism look a little better and work a little better. He resisted attempts to dismantle Stalinism.

He has a pretty good record of supporting dictators, imperial claims, and despots ever since (most recently supporting Serbia's ongoing aggression against Kosovo)

dmarks said...

I just now read that Gorbachev re-affirmed his support for Tibet's annexation to China (in a response to the Dalai Lama earlier this month). Even though it is rather common world view, it is not surprising that Gorbachev sides with the imperialists rather than the never-aggressive Tibetans.

Rob said...

I suspect Gorbachev's record of supporting dictators and despots is no worse than Reagan's or Bush's. Meanwhile, here are some of Gorby's accomplishments:


Gorbachev's attempts at reform—perestroika and glasnost—as well as summit conferences with United States President Ronald Reagan, contributed to the end of the Cold War, and also ended the political supremacy of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) and led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990.


The Law on Cooperatives, enacted in May 1988, was perhaps the most radical of the economic reforms during the early part of the Gorbachev regime. For the first time since Vladimir Lenin's New Economic Policy, the law permitted private ownership of businesses in the services, manufacturing, and foreign-trade sectors. The law initially imposed high taxes and employment restrictions, but it later revised these to avoid discouraging private-sector activity. Under this provision, cooperative restaurants, shops, and manufacturers became part of the Soviet scene.

dmarks said...

His record was much worse.

"Gorbachev's attempts at reform—perestroika and glasnost—as well as summit conferences with United States President Ronald Reagan, contributed to the end of the Cold War"

Yes. And this was because he bungled his attempt to make Stalinism look prettier and work a little better. Once the Russians and citizens of Soviet colonies got a little breath of freedom, they wanted more. And more and more. To his credit, Gorbachev did not purge hundreds of thousands of people in order to clamp down the reign of terror again (something any of his predecessors would have done without a thought).

Rob said...

Saying Gorbachev's record was worse doesn't make it so. Where's your evidence, friend?

In your rush to paint Gorbachev as a Stalinist lover of totalitarianism, you've ignored the bulk of his record. Are you even aware of what he did? Here are the facts for your edification:


The last great drama of the Cold War--the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe and the end of the four-decade-old East-West conflict--unfolded in three acts between 1989 and 1991. Even as the story began, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev already had made the largest opening to the outside world in Russian history. To convince the West, and above all the new administration in Washington, of his sincerity, Gorbachev had made major concessions on arms control, withdrawn Soviet troops from Afghanistan, pledged to reduce Soviet ground forces by half a million, and rejected class warfare in favor of "pan-human values" as the basis of Soviet foreign policy. Initially skeptical because of past disappointments with d├ętente, President George Bush and his foreign policy team gradually convinced themselves that Gorbachev was ready for dialogue and compromise. They set a high price for cooperation, however, and were gratefully surprised to find that the Soviets were willing to pay it.

The second act of the drama began in the fall of 1989 with peaceful revolutions in Eastern and Central Europe (except Romania) and the fall of the Soviet "outer empire." The de facto collapse of the Warsaw Pact (it would formally dissolve itself a year later) plus a new treaty that substantially reduced Soviet superiority in conventional forces in Europe resulted in a stronger Western alliance--so strong that the US could redeploy forces from Europe to the Persian Gulf for use against Iraq. East Germany, the USSR's main prize from World War II, was united with West Germany and integrated into NATO.

The third and final act closed with the 1991 dissolution of the USSR. The centrifugal forces in the "outer empire" stimulated and accelerated those in the "inner empire" as the Soviet republics sought sovereignty and then independence from Moscow. At the same time, Gorbachev's domestic reforms ran into serious trouble, and the economy went into a tailspin. Gorbachev's struggle with the old imperial elite in the communist party, the armed forces, and the military-industrial complex culminated in the August 1991 coup, which, when it failed, finished off the USSR--and Gorbachev himself. On Christmas Day 1991, at 7:35 p.m., the Soviet flag flying over the Kremlin was lowered and replaced by the new Russian banner. The USSR officially ceased to exist on 31 December. The Cold War was over.

Rob said...

Your opinion that Gorbachev was a closet Stalinist who didn't want all the reforms he initiated is contradicted by the facts. And if you don't think Gorbachev did as much as he could have, there's an explanation for that too. Read it and weep:


The Soviet Union was immersed in a profound domestic crisis that threatened both the political stability and the territorial integrity of the state. The Soviet economy was in a shambles. Discontent and pessimism were endemic. In Moscow, supporters and critics competed in making estimates of how many months Gorbachev still had left in which to deliver on perestroika's promise before a "revolution from below," a military coup or a hard-line conservative backlash swept both him and his program away, or compelled him to suspend demokratizatsia and glasnost.