Remember the USSR?

A fifth anniversary is only a blip on history's screen, but what a blip it can be this Dec. 8. That was the date in 1991 when the Soviet Union was signed out of existence in favor of a free association of most of its long-regimented republics in the new Commonwealth of Independent States.

Such a sea change is worth remembering when other repressive regimes, abuses of power, or even tough problems of daily life seem totally entrenched. It burnishes hope that Russia and its fellow states can get through the many challenges remaining on the path to freedom.

On the fifth anniversary of America's Declaration of Independence, the military battle against colonial rule was not over. Eight more years passed before the Constitution was ratified. Controversies over how to adhere to it continue two centuries later. Yet we're still here!

Let's go out on a limb and say the Commonwealth of Independent States - or at least its individual members, most now nominally democratic - just might make it.

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