123C final - Jon Coleman 7/28/2011 History 123C Final The...

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Jon Coleman 7/28/2011 History 123C Final The fall of the Soviet Union and the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe was one of the most profound political phenomena of the 20 th Century. The division of Europe between East and West was thought to be a permanent feature in European life. Only through long and sustained fracture could the walls come down and Europe be reunited, or so people thought. The quick and sudden disintegration of the Soviet Union is a very important feature to understand when discussing the reunification of Europe for the two are inextricably linked. To begin, it is important to realize the limitations that ideology and bad leadership placed on the Eastern European states in question. Poland, Romania, and Hungary just to name a few were all plagued with stagnant economies throughout the decade of the 1980’s. Their leadership however was powerless to address this because of their inability and unwillingness to change the system. This rigidity helped to bring about their downfall. Second, it is important to include the effects that external pressure had on bringing down Communism. Strong personalities such as Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher saw the Cold War in the starkest of terms: good vs. evil. Their willingness to confront the Soviet Union in a variety of means both economically and militarily enhanced the internal weaknesses already apparent in the whole structure. Lastly, I will address the cult of personality which centered on the last Soviet Premier, Mr. Mikhail Gorbachev. Gorbachev as a leader was extremely abnormal in that his policies both foreign and domestic marked a striking change in Soviet policy. Ultimately, his insistence on broad-based reforms such as glasnost and perestroika led to the easing of tensions which allowed for the Cold War to end peacefully and without widespread chaos.
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Eastern European leaders were just plain old. Soviet leaders were so old they could not
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123C final - Jon Coleman 7/28/2011 History 123C Final The...

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