A New Army for a New State

After the coup attempt, Soviet military forces have a mission to help build democracy and stability

For the past three years, I've met regularly with senior officers of the Soviet armed forces. Some of them have now been purged for sins of either commission or omission during last month's coup attempt. But the actions -- or, more to the point, the inaction -- of several commanders from Aug. 19 to 21 confirmed what I'd often been told: Soviet military officers are no men on horseback, forever overthrowing political authorities. To be sure, pluralism in the Soviet Union brought out the worst in the army. Senior officers grumbled publicly about reform, and some called for the use of...

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