The Journal of Cold War Studies

Journal of Cold War Studies
Volume 5, Number 4, Fall 2003
Special Issue: The Collapse of the Soviet Union


Contents

Articles

    Kramer, Mark.
  • The Collapse of the Soviet Union (Part 2): Introduction
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    Subject Headings:
    • Soviet Union -- Politics and government -- 1985-1991.
    • Soviet Union -- Social conditions -- 1970-1991.
    • Soviet Union -- Foreign relations -- 1985-1991.
    Connor, Walter D.
  • Soviet Society, Public Attitudes, and the Perils of Gorbachev's Reforms: The Social Context of the End of the USSR
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    Subject Headings:
    • Soviet Union -- Social conditions -- 1970-1991.
    • Soviet Union -- Foreign relations -- 1945-1991.
    • Gorbachev, Mikhail Sergeevich, 1931-
    • Soviet Union -- Economic policy -- 1986-1991.
    • Soviet Union -- Politics and government -- 1985-1991.
    Abstract:
      Soviet society underwent profound changes during the seven-and-a-half decades of Soviet rule. By the late 1970s and 1980s, adverse economic and demographic trends had led to widespread public cynicism, especially among younger people. Mikhail Gorbachev was aware of the discontent within Soviet society when he came to office in 1985, and he pursued a reform program that was intended to remedy the country's ills and rejuvenate the society. In the end he failed. Although Soviet society did not "revolt" en masse against Gorbachev's reforms and the hardships that ensued, the crucial thing by 1991 was that the society as a whole no longer had much of a stake in the survival of the USSR--a stake that might have induced people to mobilize in favor of preserving a union.
    Tuminez, Astrid S., 1964-
  • Nationalism, Ethnic Pressures, and the Breakup of the Soviet Union
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    Subject Headings:
    • Nationalism -- Soviet Union -- History.
    • Soviet Union -- Ethnic relations -- History.
    • Soviet Union -- Politics and government -- 1985-1991.
    Abstract:
      Nationalism and ethnic pressures contributed to the breakup of the Soviet Union, but they were not the primary cause. A qualified exception to this argument is Russian elite separatist nationalism, led by Boris Yeltsin, which had a direct impact on Soviet disintegration. This article provides an overview of Soviet policy vis-à-vis nationalities, discusses the surge of nationalism and ethnic pressures in the Soviet Union in 1988­1991, and shows how ethnic unrest and separatist movements weakened the Soviet state. It also emphasizes that the demise of the Soviet Union resulted mainly from three other key factors: 1) Mikhail Gorbachev's failure to establish a viable compact between center and periphery in the early years of his rule; 2) Gorbachev's general unwillingness to use decisive force to quell ethnic and nationalist challenges; and 3) the defection of a core group of Russian elites from the Soviet regime.
    Wallander, Celeste A.
  • Western Policy and the Demise of the Soviet Union
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    Subject Headings:
    • Soviet Union -- Foreign relations -- Western countries.
    • Western countries -- Foreign relations -- Soviet Union.
    • Soviet Union -- Foreign relations -- 1945-1991.
    • Soviet Union -- Economic policy -- 1986-1991.
    • Soviet Union -- Politics and government -- 1985-1991.
    Abstract:
      The role of Western governments in the disintegration of the Soviet Union was complex. The two most important factors that undermined the Soviet state were the deepening economic chaos under Mikhail Gorbachev and the rapid growth of internal political dissent. Western policies tended to magnify both of these factors. This is not to say, however, that Gorbachev's original decision to embark on an economic reform program was simply the result of pressure created by Western defense spending and military deployments. The Soviet economy was plagued by severe weaknesses, of which the misallocation of resources and excessive military expenditures were only a small part. Gorbachev's initial economic reforms were spurred by his awareness of the country's general economic problems. After the first round of reforms failed, he sensed that arms control and reductions in military spending would be helpful for the next stage. Even so, the belated cuts he made in military spending (beginning in 1989 and 1990) were of relatively little consequence. The West's refusal to pour money into the Soviet system without evidence of structural reform in the last years of the Soviet regime, and Western pressure on Gorbachev not to crack down on political dissent and separatism, did hasten the Soviet collapse. These policies denied the Soviet system resources that might have prolonged its survival, and they helped to deter Gorbachev from using decisive force against elements that were splitting the Soviet Union apart.
    Kramer, Mark.
  • The Collapse of East European Communism and the Repercussions within the Soviet Union (Part I)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Communism -- Europe, Eastern -- History -- 20th century.
    • Europe, Eastern -- Politics and government -- 1945-1989.
    • Soviet Union -- Foreign relations -- Europe, Eastern.
    • Europe, Eastern -- Foreign relations -- Soviet Union.
    • Soviet Union -- Foreign relations -- 1945-1991.
    • Europe, Eastern -- Foreign relations -- 1945-1989.
    Abstract:
      The largely peaceful collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe in 1989 reflected the profound changes that Mikhail Gorbachev had carried out in Soviet foreign policy. Successful though the process was in Eastern Europe, it had destabilizing repercussions within the Soviet Union. The effects were both direct and indirect. The first part of this two-part article looks at Gorbachev's policy toward Eastern Europe, the collapse of Communism in the region, and the direct "spillover" from Eastern Europe into the Soviet Union. The second part of the article, to be published in the next issue of the journal, discusses the indirect spillover into the Soviet Union and the fierce debate that emerged within the Soviet political elite about the "loss" of the Eastern bloc—a debate that helped spur the leaders of the attempted hardline coup d'état in August 1991.



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