241 CHRONICLESnNEITHER LAW NOR JUSTICE by Arnold BeichmannAfew weeks ago, I was listening to Radio Moscow’s JoenAdamov answering mail-in questions from his NorthnAmerican audience. One query came from somebody innNova Scotia: How important was Stalin to the Soviet victorynin World War II? Adamov’s answer went like this:nStalin’s contribution to the war effort had been nil. Beforenthe war, Stalin had executed some 50,000 officers for nonreason. In fact, when the Nazis invaded the USSR, therenwas such a dearth of general officers that captains were putnin command of whole divisions. There was no alternative.nBut Adamov neglected to say that, thanks to scholars likenRobert Conquest, the free world had known all this for atnleast a quarter century.nAccording to Conquest, Stalin in the late 1930’s hadnexecuted 14 of the 16 army commanders, 60 of the 67 corpsncommanders, and 136 of the 199 divisional commanders.nHalf the officer corps — about 35,000—were shot or sentnto labor camps. All 11 of the vice-commissars of defense andn75 out of 80 members of the Supreme Military Soviet went.nComparing Adamov’s figures with Conquest’s, it seems thatnthe British historian had erred on the side of scholarlyncaution.nAs I listened to Adamov’s rabid anti-Stalinism, I thoughtnof how, when the Party line mutates, things seem to changenin the USSR almost overnight. In 1986, I had asked annassembly of Soviet media representatives at the Hall ofnJournalists in Moscow how Stalin could have happenednwithout the complicity of the Soviet Communist Party. Thenanswer was a mumble about “the cult of personality” butnnot a word about Stalin. And here, just two years later, wasnan official Soviet mouthpiece telling the (English-speaking)nworld—and I quote Adamov, his voice trembling — “thenpeople won the war despite Stalin, not because of Stalin.”nMillions of Soviet citizens died needlessly because ofnStalin’s admitted military incompetence.nI thought of those in the West who had been consistentlynanti-Stalin even during World War II and who had beennberated for their unseemly red-baiting, for “aiding” thenNazis by deprecating rather than glorifying the heroicnStalin, for uttering the heresy that Stalin was the enemy ofneverything good and decent. And now here was ComradenAdamov confirming that Stalin was a villain, a monster, justnas the now-forgotten Khrushchev had claimed in his 1956nspeech, when he told his Party associates about how Stalinnhad almost lost the war. It took 22 Soviet years for the truthnfinally to surface.nI don’t mean to knock Joe Adamov. After all, he’s sayingna lot more about Stalin than Gorbachev has. For example,nliquidating a “social class,” as Stalin did the peasantry, is nonmore than a venial sin to Gorbachev since he has yet tondenounce the Great Terrorist with Khrushchevian candor.nAs President Nixon has written: “To a man [Stalin] whonkilled tens of millions of Soviet citizens Gorbachev gave anArnold Beichman, a Washington Times columnist, is anresearch fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is writing anbook on Soviet treaty diplomacy.nnnpat on the back and a slap on the wrist.” Gorbachev, saidnNixon, has also endorsed Stalin’s brutal collectivizationnprogram and praised—in Gorbachev’s own words—then”tremendous political will, purposefulness and persistence,nability to organize and discipline the people displayed in thenwar years by Joseph Stalin.” That’s like saying Hitlern”disciplined” the Jews.nMy thoughts wandered ofl^ to the extraordinary SovietnCommunist Party conference convened by MikhailnGorbachev in Moscow in May 1988. Some weeks beforenthe conference, the Soviet press published pages of “theses”n— agenda items for delegate discussion — prepared by thenParty’s Central Committee.nSection Eight of the theses dealt with the rule of law.nContained in the formulation was the implicit admissionnthat the rule of law had not played much of a role in thenSoviet political system. The “thesis” text is written inntypically clotted Communese:nA major legal reform must be implemented with anview to improving radically the work of all bodiesnwhich are obliged to strengthen legality and defendnthe democratic principles of state life and citizens’nrights and freedoms. The prioritynmeasures . . . include the radical enhancement ofnthe role of justice, and strict observance of thendemocratic principles of the legal process, thenadversarial nature and equality of both sides,nopenness, and the presumption of innocence.nThe rule of law as a popular issue has come to the forefrontnsince Gorbachev began his “glastroika” {glasnost +nperestroika) policies. In April, the chairman of the USSRnSupreme Court, Vladimir Terebilov, in an interview withnLiteraturnaya Gazeta, had called for amendments to thenSoviet Constitution to guarantee the independence of thenSoviet courts. Such a guarantee was essential to preventnstate or party officials from influencing the decisions of thencourts, he said. (Just like those untrustworthy Russiannemigre scholars had been saying all along!)nSadly, Supreme Court Chairman Terebilov’s moral positionnwas fast deteriorating. He himself was being accused ofnfiddling with court records. Just a few months earlier,nGlasnost, the dissident Russian journal, reported thatnTerebilov had ordered the destruction of Soviet legal filesndating from the bloody 1930’s to the 1950’s at the rate ofn5,000 dossiers a month! (Before he became chairman of thenSoviet Supreme Court, Terebilov had been Minister ofnJustice.)nFor decades, a school of Western specialists in Soviet lawn(or “Marxist-Leninist jurisprudence”) have been insistingnthat a definable rule of law operates in the Soviet Union.nOne of the early pioneers of this lie, along with hisncontemporaries Beatrice and Sidney Webb, was Harold J.nLaski, the British historian and Labour Party chairman inn1945. He described one of the most odious of Stalin’snhenchmen — Andrei Vishinsky, Stalin’s prosecutor duringnthe purges of the 1930’s — in these words:n