February 7, 2012

"Americans are not yet prepared to live without an enemy"

A significant day in history, but one that was moving so fast we didn't appreciate it at the time.

On February 7, 1990 sweeping changes were taking place in the Soviet Union, almost hourly and predominating the news of the day. As Mikhail Gorbachev repealed Article 6 in the Communist Party platform, making way for a multi-party system and Democracy to replace the old Communist system of government. Everyone was in favor, except for one - Boris Yeltsin, regarded by most as a maverick politician. The news was greeted in the West with enthusiasm, although President Bush quickly rushed to claim at least partial credit for the changes. Ironically, he also called for increased spending of the Star Wars Defense system, which baffled everyone, including Central Committee Member Georgi Abatov who said:

"I think you are, you Americans, not yet prepared to live without an enemy. You just don't know what to do without an enemy".

True, that. And still true, some 20 years later.

In other news - Vaclav Havel was scheduled to arrive in Washington for a visit and address a joint session of Congress. Jesse Jackson was scheduled to arrive in Johannesburg South Africa, continuing his call for an end to Apartheid and the release of Nelson Mandela. Schools in Selma Alabama were closed on this day, as racial tensions rose and black marched in protest to the recent dismissal of black School Superintendent Norbert Rousseau by a mostly white Board of Education.

The State Department was up to its eyeballs in scandal as it suspended employee Felix Bloch on spy charges. Chicago was minus 20 organized crime figures as the DOJ did a sweep and handed out indictments like party favors.

And a study found the majority of high school students had no idea about geography or even where they were on the map. The good news was 87% could find Canada - but that was about it.

And we were now The Big Kids Left Standing.

And so went this particular day in history as reported by CBS Radio and The World Tonight along with Special Reports and a word or two from Dan Rather.

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