Shining moment for freedom

August 23, 1991|By Los Angeles Times

THE WORLD may have to wait for the courtroom confessions or eventual memoirs of the key plotters in this week's attempted coup in the Soviet Union to get clearer insights into what caused their conspiracy to fail -- and fail so ignominiously.

Several things went terribly wrong for the junta -- but wonderfully right for the supporters of democracy.

First, they found a rock-steady and audacious champion in Yeltsin. He must now, beyond any question, be recognized as his country's pre-eminent political figure.

Second, the Western allies promptly made clear their wish to see Gorbachev restored to office, and refused to recognize or do business with the plotters. Give President Bush high marks for saying and doing the right things in a firm, prudent and timely way.

Finally, credit the tens of thousands who took to the streets of Moscow, Leningrad and other cities, for forcefully demonstrating their commitment to representative government and the rule of law.

Even as the world celebrates with them, the Soviet people continue to face enormous, wrenching challenges. But this week promises to endure as a shining monument to the cause of freedom, thanks to the bold leaders and courageous ordinary people who united to defy those whose vision of the future encompasses little more than a return to the nightmares of the past.

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