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The lessons of Chernobyl: It’s the West that now needs Glasnost

The lessons of Chernobyl: It’s the West that now needs Glasnost

The much-acclaimed series ‘Chernobyl’ tells the story of the 1986 nuclear disaster and the authorities’ attempts to play it down. Ironically, 33 years on, it’s Western leaders who need to learn how to be honest and transparent.

It was the accident which some think led directly to the fall of communism. “Reformers in the Soviet Union, and Mikhail Gorbachev himself, used Chernobyl as an argument for more accountability and greater frankness, because the initial reaction of the Soviet authorities was anything but transparent. It became a symbol of what was wrong with the Soviet system,” says Professor Archie Brown, author of ‘The Rise and Fall of Communism’, as cited in yesterday’s Sunday Express newspaper.

Just three-and-a-half years after Chernobyl, the Berlin Wall came down, and in 1991, the USSR itself ceased to exist.

Western ideologues were quick to gloat, saying that a system which kept telling people lies and trying to cover things up was always doomed to fail, but in terms of openness and telling the truth, are we really much better than the Soviet Union of the 1980s?

Consider the way a succession of illegal wars has been sold to the public. We were told in 2003 that Iraq had ‘weapons of mass destruction’ which could be assembled and launched within 45 minutes. It was false, patently so, yet the Chilcot Report was only published 13 years later, and even now, no one has been prosecuted in relation to a war which led to the deaths of one million and the rise of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS).

In 2011, we went to war again, against Libya. Once more, our politicians were less than honest with us. We were told that we had to bomb because Colonel Gaddafi was going to massacre the inhabitants of Benghazi. Only five-and-a-half years later were we allowed to know the truth.

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