Monday, 6 July 2009

The wink that changed history

Michael Meyers writes a good piece in Slate today reflecting on events 20 years agp in Bucharest as the leaders of the Warsaw pact countries came together for what was to be a swansong meeting.

He writes that

This day, however, the hunted was one of their own: reformist Hungarian Prime Minister Miklos Nemeth, whose determination to bring democracy and free markets to his country threatened them all. And so, in the interests of self-preservation, the satraps of the Warsaw Pact marshaled their forces. The goal: a classically Commie "fraternal intervention" of the sort the world had seen before—Hungary in 1956 and Prague in 1968. Only one man stood between them and their quarry. His name: Mikhail Gorbachev.

and it was a simple gesture

As Ceausescu and the others ranted on, calling for armed intervention in Hungary, Nemeth glanced across at the Soviet leader. Their eyes met, and Gorbachev … winked.

Within six months the Warsaw pact was effectively dead and Ceausescu was syanding in front of a firing squad

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