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Unformatted text preview: Journal Part Twelve: Contemporary Global Issues 1. Perestroika 2. Free Trade and the Decline of Democracy 3. The Revolution that Failed Women 4. Declaration of Jihad Against Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Mosques Osama Bin Laden 5. The Last Night Mohamed Atta _______________________________________________________________________ _ 1. Perestroika Mikhail Gorbachev Background to the Document The collapse of the Soviet Empire, which began in 1989 and culminated in 1991, caught most scholars and policy analysts somewhat by surprise. Many had been predicting its collapse for so long that they failed to notice the rapid unraveling of the system, while others were so ideologically committed to the sot experiment that they were just as blind to the unraveling. Such an event did not take place overnight, although the accession to power of Mikhail Gorbachev (b.1931) and his reformist program was certainly the catalyst. There were, however, longterm trends that, in hindsight, were visibly straining the Soviet system: urbanization, higher levels of education and aspirations among the professional classes, economic strains resulting from the Cold War arms race, and resistance to Soviet rule throughout the Soviet bloc. When Gorbachev came to power in 1985, the economy was in disastrous shape as the Soviet Union had become engaged in another furious round of the arms race prompted by the Reagan administration's military buildup. In addition, Soviet society was wracked with various ills ranging from rampant alcoholism to absenteeism at the workplace. Gorbachev, rejecting the hard-line policies of his predecessors, ushered in an era of reform that included a new openness with the West (glasnost), as well as domestic economic and political changes (perestroika). It seems clear that Gorbachev was not out to destroy the sot society of the Soviet Union but to correct what he saw as the problems afflicting it. In the end his reforms were too successful for his own good. In 1991, the Soviet Union, of which he was the president, ceased to exist; he now makes a living as a consultant and is very popular on the public lecture circuit. In this selection, excerpted from his Perestroika: New Thinking for Our Country and the World (published in the United States in 1987), itself an example of glasnost, Gorbachev discusses the need for, and goals of, perestroika....
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