Was coup a trap for hard-liners?

With all of the ponderous analyses of the Soviet non-coup, why has no one suggested the obvious: namely that Gorbachev and Yeltsin baited the trap and the Communist Party fell into it?Gorbachev became party general secretary and pressed for reform immediately; obviously he would have been removed instantly had he not paid lip service to the party. Reform momentum was increased as rapidly as possible. Liberals either left the party or arranged for expulsion. But Gorbachev stayed as party head of an increasingly reactionary Central Committee. Meanwhile he cultivated and consolidated support from the West, especially the promise of economic aid. With the liberals gone and the threat of impending massive political changes, Gorbachev and family go away on vacation, leaving the hard-liners to mind the store. They take the bait. An outrage such as a failed reactionary coup is really the only way Gorbachev could attack the party and win. D.R.V. Golding, Honolulu

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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