The Union: A Long, Mighty Struggle

A historic -- and surprising -- election is the latest indication that, for all his troubles, Gorbachev's revolution is transforming his nation

Upon returning to Moscow in 1944 after a seven-year absence, the American diplomat George Kennan was struck by the enigma of an empire both yearning for its rightful place in the modern world and clinging to the enfeebling insularity of its past. "The Anglo-Saxon instinct is to attempt to smooth away contradictions," he wrote. "The Russian tends to deal only in extremes, and he is not particularly concerned to reconcile them. To him, contradiction is a familiar thing. It is the essence of Russia."

Contradiction has also become the essence of its second revolution, the radical crusade by Mikhail Gorbachev to...

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