From the failure of Khrushchev’s Virgin Lands program, to Brezhnev’s economic stagnation, to the final dissolution of the Soviet system, the organisation of central planning went though a slow death agony. When the former Minister of Agriculture, Mikhail Gorbachev, took over in 1985, the system seemed to have a certain spark left in it, though this was to prove to be illusory. Gorbachev announced that the Soviet state will not bail out failing enterprises, some limited market reform will be instituted and that limited press freedoms will be countenanced. Gorbachev did not satisfy anyone, including US policymakers.
Liberals such as Boris Yeltsin thought reforms needed to go farther, while hardliners like Boris Pugo thought Gorbachev was selling out the Great Experiment. While Gorbachev cannot be held responsible for the dissolution of the USSR, he did unleash forces that eventually led to its demise. First, admitting defeat in Afghanistan, he shook the confidence in Soviet military might, unleashing a storm of protest from the “mothers movement,” embarrassing the USSR worldwide. Second, by letting up on police pressure, the huge black marketeers came to the surface, with money and local influence.
Third, after Chernobyl, Ukrainian nationalism found new life in the RUKH movement, supported by a strong and large Ukrainian diaspora in America and Canada. Fourth, with the USSR clearly weakening, Islamic powers began to proselytize in the southern part of the USSR, such as in Azerbaijan and throughout the Caucuses. Fifth, the Baltics, sensing a weakening USSR, began to agitate for independence with substantial western–notably Swedish–help. Sixth, by retaining a hard line with Ronald Regan at the Iceland conference, the US began construction of a missile shield that forced the USSR to eventually backpedal on previous bellicose statements.
Seventh, Gorbachev made it clear, just as he was not going to bail out failing enterprises, he also was not going to bail out failed regimes in Europe, starting with Ernst Honecker’s East Germany . Eighth, by proclaiming some sort of limited market, foreign goods rushed into the country, and new local elites began to form. Ninth, the reign of glasnost’, or openness, permitted activists more and more access to Soviet files, proving corruption and mismanagement. The fall of the USSR, based on the above events (and much more), had substantial implications for European politics.
Firstly, the Swedes sought, successfully, to make economic colonies out of the Baltic states, especially Estonia. Their independence meant cheap and educated labor, and a new market for Swedish goods. Secondly, Germany was to be unified peacefully and without substantial protest. Again, this meant for Germany another economic colony of both cheap and educated labor, with a strong technical labor force. German investment eastward irritated France, seeing Germany ideally placed to take advantage of new Slavic investments in Poland, Russia and the newly formed Czech Republic (Czechia in Europe).
France, as a result, sought to enlarge both NATO and the European Community (at the time) by bringing in new eastern states, including Turkey so as to counterbalance German expansion. The American response was typical. George Bush waffled on major issues, providing statements both for and against the independence of the Baltics and Ukraine. War flared up between newly independent Armena and Azerbaijan, as Islamic fundamentalists and drugs from Central Asia flooded the Caucuses on their way to markets in Europe and America,.
Yugoslavia, a short time, later broke up along the same lines as the USSR under the incompetent leadership of Slobodan Milosevic, whose inability to control inflation led to the final destruction of that experimental state. US policymakers realized that they needed to move fast, while the USSR was prostrate, to begin monopolizing oil and gas resources throughout the country. The CIA began to step up its efforts in the Caucuses, making sure pro-American government were installed and properly trained.
George Soros was a strong supporter of this move, and became a major political player in the region. In the mind of the US elites of both major parties, the fall of the USSR meant a green light for unlimited intervention in the affairs of former Soviet clients such as Iraq and Syria, and the Soviet backed regimes of Angola and Ethiopia were themselves were soon to fall to pro-US forces. Because of this, the latter nation fell apart into, like Yugoslavia, its original component parts.
The New Left in the US, France and England scrambled to find another raison d’etre, and found it in diversity and multiculturalism. Great fear developed in the west when it became clear that Soviet (nuclear) scientists were not being paid, and were leasing out their considerable abilities to regimes opposed to US global rule such as Iran and Algeria. While all of this was happening, the US, and Harvard University, working with the World Bank, began implementing “shock therapy” to the liberated nations of eastern Europe.
The rapid privatization in nearly all former Soviet satellites (except Belarus, who has maintained a high standard of living precisely by ignoring such moves ), led to mass impoverishment, rigged auctions, the rise of a nearly all-powerful mafia (with strong ties to Israel, and hence, to the US), who then assisted in the development of Russian “political parties. ” Billions of dollars left the former USSR and its satellites, finding its was to Swiss banks and elsewhere, as wealthy organized crimes figures such as Symon Mogilevic began buying heavily into western economic life.
There seems to be two distinct forms of former satellites. Those with direct and motivated patrons had an easy time of adjustment, as they became a part of western economic life quickly. The Baltics (Sweden), Slovenia (Germany, from Yugoslavia) and, clearly, East Germany, fall into this category. With a stable and wealthy patron, substantial investment and currency support came quickly and easily by comparison with the remainder, such as Ukraine, Uzbekistan or Armenia, that struggled with poverty and disinvestment. Bulgaria fell under Mafia rule, while labor unrest struck Romania.
The influence of the fall of the USSR on Europe is incalculable. All the old rules of the game changed. What had once unified Europe now divided it, and old rivalries began to develop. While Russia has begin to function again on the global stage, the world will never quite recover from the end oft he cold war. Bibliography: “Man in the News: Skillful Party Climber Boris Pugo. ” New York Times. August 8, 1991. “Erich Honecker, ruler of East Germany for 18 of its Last Years, Dies at 81. ” New York Times. May 30, 1994. Bohdan Nahaylo. The Ukrainian Resurgence.
University of Toronto Press, 1999 “Moscow Looks with Concern at NATO, Eu Enlargement. ” Voice of America News. February, 17 2004. Matthew Raphael Johnson “A Look at the Judeo-Russian Mafia: From the GULAG to Brooklyn. ” The Barnes Review. (May, 2006. ) Ariel Cohen. “Schevardnadze’s Journey. ” Policy Review. No. 124. (April/May 2004). Stewart Parker. The Last Soviet Republic: Alexander Lukashenko’s Belarus. Trafford Publishing, 2007 US Department of State. “Romania. ” Country Reports on Human rights Practices,Washington D. C. 2/25/2004