On this date in 1991, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics ceased to exist. As detailed by University of Hawaii political science professor R.J. Rummel on his website "Powerkills", the 20th century was humanity's worst century of genocide and democide (the latter including mass killings not based on religion, race, or ethnicity). By far the greatest perpetrators of genocide were Communist regimes. Although a few of the Communist genocide perpetrators eventually developed hostile relations with the U.S.S.R., none of the Communist regimes would ever have come to power without the support of the Evil Empire that arose in October 1917, and which began styling itself as the "U.S.S.R." in 1922.
Rummel's website provides excellent quantitative data on genocide/democide all over the world. You might also want to check out Rummel's fine weblog "Democratic Peace."
A retrospective article on the Heritage Foundation website reminds us how bitterly President Reagan was attacked for his magnificent speech at Westminster in 1982. Reagan was mocked as a deluded idealist by so-called "pragmatists" who thought they knew better. Yet Reagan was right when he declared:
It is the Soviet Union that runs against the tide of history by denying human freedom and human dignity to its citizens...The collapse of the Evil Empire came sooner than even Reagan had hoped. The Cuban efforts to impose new dictatorships on Nicaragua and El Salvador failed completely. Solidarity became the elected government of Poland, and later yielded power to another government following a free election. The Warsaw Pact is now nothing more than a scrap of paper, and all the countries which suffered under its jackboots are making their way--some faster than others--towards stable and democratic government.
...the march of freedom and democracy...will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash-heap of history...
Within the former U.S.S.R. itself, the Baltic Republics are making great progress, while Central Asia languishes under tyranny, and Russia itself is retrogressing into dictatorship. Dictators still oppress many hundreds of millions of people, and are still perpetrating genocide and promoting terrorism.
Today's anniversary, however, should remind us that the true pragmatists are those who recognize that totalitarianism is in constant danger of collapse because of its own internal contradictions, and that if free nations remain strong and resolute, they can bring down a superpower.