Essay on Soviet Union and Greater Soviet Openness

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Gorbachev was also strongly influenced by Secretary of State Shultz—a former Stanfordeconomics professor—who repeatedly went to Moscow to lecture Gorbachev and his topadvisors about the need for greater Soviet openness and Capitalist reforms, lest they completelyfall behind the curve economically and technologically.Gorbachev realized that Communism had to be moderated and blended with Capitalism tosucceed, but he was unwilling to make the same scale of changes that Deng Xiaopeng had.The state cannot influence efficient labor anywhere near as well as markets.In the late 1980’s, the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan and cancelled support for worldwideCommunist movements. In private, the Soviet leadership had also relinquished any real claim onEastern Europe and was unwilling to use military force against them, yet it preserved the façadeof domination, which the West believed.Gorbachev’s 1988 speech to the UN General Assembly that the Soviet forces in Eastern Europewould be cut by 500,000 men openly signaled the USSR’s concession of power over the region.Chapter 7: The Triumph of Hope1989-1991 saw the end of the Cold War.George Bush took office that year. His and Gorbachev’s administrations were very wary of eachother, and did not foresee the Cold War ending anytime soon.However, the events of the 1980’s had so weakened Communism that it would only take minutechanges from seemingly unimportant leaders and individuals to bring the entire Soviet systemdown.Hungary had always pursued independence from the USSR. By 1989, its economy was partiallyliberalized and was the most advanced in Eastern Europe.Hungarian Prime Minister Nemeth visited Moscow and discussed the 1956 uprising withGorbachev, who openly admitted that leaders should be accountable to their people and that theuprising had been a popular one.The Hungarians then initiated a public inquiry into the 1956 uprising and concluded that it had been a popular revolt against unfair rule, and its leaders were exonerated of crimes. Gorbachevdid not intervene. The Hungarians were elated and went a step further by dismantling their border fence with Austria on the grounds that it was obsolete and a health hazard. Though EastGermany protested, the USSR did nothing.In 1989, facing an economic crisis, the Polish prime minister allowed Solidarity to compete inelections. Everyone expected them to be rigged, but they were fair, and Solidarity actually wonthe majority of seats, turning control of Poland over to a non-Communist government.Gorbachev also allowed elections for the Soviet Congress of People’s Deputies.In the same year, the Tiananmen Square Massacre occurred as Chinese people inspired by eventsin Europe pressured Deng Xiaopeng to make democratic reforms. Part of what kept theCommunists in power after the Cold War was their willingness to use force against their own people, something the Eastern European regimes lost stomach for. [Capitalism and a historicalChinese fear of internal disorder’s consequences were also major factors]East Germany remained the most repressive Communist regime up until the end, and in 1989,hundreds of thousands of East Germans fled across the newly opened Austro-Hungarian border.Many thousands also requested asylum at West German embassies in Prague.East Germans secretly cheered on their countrymen who escaped.22 Gorbachev was popular in East Germany because of his reputation as a reformer, and during his1989 visit to commemorate the country’s 40 anniversary, protests broke out in the country in anattempt to attract his attention.Egon Krenz—leader of East Germany—authorized the easing of some travel restrictions intoWest Berlin. A subordinate instructed to deliver the news to the media misunderstood Krenz’message and instead announced that unfettered travel was authorized. Huge crowds of EastGermans gathered at the border posts immediately. The guards had not received instructions, andin the confusion, opened the gates. Krenz was stuck in…