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Randolph Ryan in a recent Viewpoints article, makes several valid observations regarding the breakup of the Soviet Union. He then proposes that decolonization would best be carried out by Gorbachev's "constitutional procedures."

The first question is whether the Soviet Constitution has any validity in Lithuania or any of the other captive nations. The only source of "legitimacy" for the "Soviet Constitution" is the Kremlin's ability to impose its will on the non-Russian republics.

On the question of minority rights guarantees, it is useful to understand that the primary reason 24 percent of the "Soviet" people live outside their home republic is forced resettlement and deportation by the state apparatus. Considering the track record of the Soviet state, even excluding Stalin, proposing that the Soviet government guarantee human rights is akin to asking terrorists to look after the best interests of their hostage.

The central point on the "human rights" issue is that "national rights" that are developed in a democratic framework are the best guarantee of human rights. This is the position of newly emerging political parties, such as the Ukrainian Republican Party. The United States would be better served to withdraw support for "the Communist center in Moscow" and truly support the "democratization of the Soviet Union." This would include direct communication with the republics, opening the long-overdue consulate in Kiev and in the capital cities of the other republics. The only caveat is that this support must not go through Moscow, through the Communist Party apparatus, or through those elements of Russian society that seek to maintain a Russian empire even after the collapse of communism.

If there is a place for "diplomacy" in the Soviet crisis, it is in answering the question: "How can we diplomatically assist in the dismantling of the Soviet Union?"


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