America's Destabilizing Influence on the Soviet Union

The article "Soviet Budget Crisis, Strike Wave Reveal Limits of Gorbachev's Power," April 12, states that Mikhail Gorbachev is looking increasingly like an emperor without an empire. While most Americans rightly deplore the repressive measures to which Gorbachev has been driven to avoid chaos in his country, few seem to realize the extent to which our own government's policies have undermined his efforts to achieve an orderly transition to democracy.

During the Stalin years and the repressive regimes which followed, our government (through official and quasi-private agencies) carried out a number of programs aimed at destabilizing the Soviet Union.

The Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, and other, more covert activities were certainly justifiable at the time, but should have been halted when Gorbachev launched his reform movement five years ago.

Anyone who has used a pressure cooker knows that you can't take off the lid too soon after turning off the heat or the contents will blow up and splatter the ceiling. It is an apt analogy. Gorbachev wanted to make his country a better place to live, but he knew that change would have to be carefully paced or the result would be chaos.

He removed Boris Yeltsin from the Politburo several years ago because he recognized that Yeltsin lacked the wisdom and farsightedness to understand this.

Yet we invited Yeltsin to the United States, lionized him, invited him to address Congress, and sent him back to the Soviet Union a charismatic hero whose glib promises of pie in the sky won him so strong a following as to jeopardize Gorbachev's very survival.

If our objective was to create chaos in the Soviet Union, we may have achieved it.

One wonders what advantage that goal represents for our country?

Eleanor M. Allen, Montclair, N.J.

University cost dilemmas The editorial "University Charges for Research," April 18, is very kind and understanding.

After all, how can we taxpayers expect these prestigious centers of higher education to properly understand and itemize these indirect costs of items such as flowers, yacht depreciation, and furnishings for the president's residence?

The relationships between primary research costs, directly related overhead costs, and indirectly related costs, however, do not appear all that difficult to some of us.

Maybe the universities should have "no garbage in - no garbage out" computer-accounting systems, or maybe we noncollege-educated taxpayers need sensitivity and politically correct abilities training, to understand these higher learning centers' accounting dilemmas.

Albert Basko, Des Plaines, Ill.

Overcrowded innovation Regarding the article "School Districts Across US Face Lean Times," April 18: After the listing of all the cuts schools will be facing, I see the all-too-familiar contention that "the new austerity may spur more creative management of schools and innovative ideas in the classroom."

What is creative about no longer having art or music in the elementary school curriculum, or no longer having the opportunity to take field trips to art museums or musical performances?

What is innovative about having 35 children in a classroom designed for 25? Every innovation such as hands-on science or math, small group discussions, and individual teacher attention goes out the window when there is no room to move.

B. A. Robinson, Grand Rapids, Mich.

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