The collapse of Communism and the Post Cold War World 1980-2000

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Why did communism collapse?

Reagan and the renewal of the Cold War

  • When Ronald Reagan became President of the USA in 1981, there was a further deterioriation in the relationship betweeen the USSR and the USA.
  • Reagan had been a famous Hollywood actor and was know to hate communism
  • In March 1981 an attempt to assasinate him failed and his courage and humour in his recovery made him more popular
  • Reagan had promised a hard-line approach to Communism and this was partly the reason for his election as President. He promised the American people 'peace through strength'
  • In a speech to the British parliament in June 1982, he condemned Communism as evil and followed this up in March 1983 with a speech in the USA, often known as the 'Evil Empire' speech. He referred to Communism and the USSR as the focus of evil in the world.
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Why did communism collapse?

Reagan's measures

Reagan decided that the best way to deafeat the USSR was to get so far ahead of them that they had to give in and end the Cold War. Some of the meaures he took were designed to thereaten the USSR and otheres were designed to protect the USA, these were as follows:

  • Massive increase in military spending: $325 billion in 1980 to $456 billion in 1987
  • Re-started the development of the neutron bomb in 1981. This would kill armoured soldiers by radiation, but would not destory the buildings and contaminate the land like other nuclear bombs
  • Invested funds in the building of two new bombers
  • Speeded up the development of the Peacekeeper missiles, which were more accurate than those currently in production
  • Installed Cruise missiles in Europe in 1983. These would take 10 minutes to reach the USSR
  • Announced the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) in 1983. This was a defensive shield that used laser technology to intercept and destroy incoming missiles. The USSR was concerned that this would mean an end to Mutually Assured Destruction
  • Assisted the mujahidin in the fight in Afghanistan against the USSR by providing them with money and arms
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Why did communism collapse?

Solidarity in Poland

  • 'Solidarity' was Poland's first independant trade union that began in protest against the high prices for fuel and food and the poor standards of living
  • In 1970, a series of price increases led to strikes and marches that resulted in the deaths of ordinary workers. Further price rises and shortages of basic food such as bread caused more  dissatisfation with the Communist government in 1976
  • In 1978 Pope John Paul II, a Polish Cardinal, was elected Pope. A year later, he visited Poland. Communist governments normally tried to get rid of Christianity but this proved difficult in Poland because of the strength of the Roman Catholic faith there
  • Most of the people in Poland are Roman Catholic and the support of the Pope and Church for Solidarity encouraged them to challenge the ommunist government in an attempt to rise the standard of living of the people
  • The Polish population was becoming more and more aware that their standard of living was a long way behind that of workers in the West
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Why did communism collapse?

Solidarity in Poland

  • Oppostion showed itself in the Gdank shipyard in 1980. Two popular workers-one of whom was Lech Walesa, an outspoken electrician-had been dismissed by the authorities.
  • The government then raised the price of meat and allowed no wage increases. The workers in Gdansk refused to work and locked themselves into the shipyard in protest
  • Lech Walesa became their leader and they put forward 21 demands including the right to form independant trade unions, the end of censorship, more freedom for the Church and improvements in the national health system
  • News of the strike spread throughout Poland and strikes in other ports led to the shutdown of factories
  • In the Gdansk agreement, the government agreed to accept the 21 demands. Solidarity, under the leadership of Lech Walesa, was recognised by the Polish government. Its membership totalled over 9 million in 1981
  • People joined Solidarity because they trusted it to improve their lives in general
  • At first, working conditions improved as Solidarity's popularity increased, not only in Poland but also in the West. Lech Walesa was seen as a folk hero in Poland and became an international figure. However, divisions began to surface within the trade union
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Why did communism collapse?

Solidarity in Poland

  • Walesa had always been careful not to challenge the authority of the USSR. He saw Solidarity as an organisation to improve working and living conditions for its members, not a political movement
  • In 1981 there were food shortages in Poland. Groups within Solidarity thought that Walesa was not going far enough and the USSR began to fear that Solidarity was beginning to act as a political party
  • In December 1981, Soviet troops began to gather on the Polish border. This forced the Polish government to take action to prevent the break-up of Poland and a gap appearing in the Warsaw pact
  • The new Polish leader, General Jaruzelski, declared martial law in Poland. Overnight 5,000 members of Solidarity were arrested, including Walesa. Strikes were dealt with by the riot police, sometimes resulting in deaths
  • In 1982, Solidarity was declared illegal. It continued as an underground movement with its own secret radio station, supported by the West
  • Walesa was released in November 1982 and martial law was lifted in July 1983
  • Lech Walesa received the Nobel Peace Prize in July 1983, but he was not allowed to leave the country to receive it in person
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Why did communism collapse?

Soviet failure in Afghanistan

  • The war in Afghanistan, which Gorbachev had inherited, was another drain on the finances of the USSR. He realised that if his economic reforms were to succeed, he needed to reduce spending on arms and on the war in Afghanistan
  • The Soviet army was affected by disease and unable to cope with the guerrilla tactics of the mujahidin. The war remained unpopular abroad and Gorbachev wanted to give a better image of the USSR to the USA in particular
  • Soviet tactics changed in 1986. They became far more defensive and there were few major offensives. The USSR concentrated mainly on using the air, but the USA supplied the mujahidin with anti-aircraft weapons and these led to further Soviet losses of lives and equipment
  • Gorbachev announced that he was beginning the withdrawl of troops in 1986, but the first withdrawals were replaced. It was not until February 1988 that he annouced the full withdrawal of the USSR from Afghanistan
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Why did communism collapse?

The effects of the war in Afghanistan

  • Around 15,000 Soviet troops were killed, with over half a million casualties
  • The USSR lost much heavy equipment including planes, tanks and armoured vehicles
  • The enormous expense crippled the Soviet economy
  • The war proved that the Red Army was not invincible, so it could no longer be relied on to keep the Soviet Empire together
  • The effect on army and economy contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Empire in Eastern Europe
  • Over 1 million Afghans died, including children killed by Soviet mines. This increased the Aghan's hatred of foreigners
  • The Soviet withdrawl did not end the war: the civil war continued until 1992 when the mujahidin captured Kabul from the communist government
  • Afghanistan became a centre of terrorist activity
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Why did communism collapse?

Mikhail Gorbachev

  • In 1982, Premier Brezhnev died. The leadership fell next to two old men, Yuri Andropov-a former head of the KGB-and, soon after, Konstantin Chernenko
  • Both men were brought up through the Soviet Union's strict Stalin regime. They also shared a deep distrust and mistrust of America
  • In appearance, style and manner, Gorbachev was completely different to the stereotype of Soviet leaders. He was young, aged 54, energetic, brisk. charming, intelligent and smiling
  • Gorbachev had a reputation for opposing corruption and was more open to reform than previous Soviet leaders
  • Thorugh his friendliness and willingness to travel to the West to meet world leaders, Gorbachev created a favourable impression wherever he went; notably amongst the Americans when he met President Reagan in Geneva in informal talks in 1985
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Why did communism collapse?

Problems facing Gorbachev

  • High cost of arms race
  • High cost of controlling satellites in Eastern Europe
  • Cost of maintaing Afghanistan war-no victory in sight
  • People were losing faith in the government as it was often seen as corrupt and lacking ideas
  • Alcoholism became a major problem and this led to absenteeism from work and growing crime, contributing to a decline of the economy
  • Lack of food and shortages of goods
  • Trade and industry were still organised as in the day of Stalin, before the Second World War and, as a result, output was falling and the quality of goods was poor, particularly consumer goods as they often broke down
  • The USSR could not keep up with the West in the new technological industries
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Why did communism collapse?

Glasnost (openness)

The Soviet Union and its citizens should:

  • be more democratatic
  • have more freedom from Government control
  • have more freedom of speech
  • have more media freedom
  • have leaders who should listen to people's views and accept criticism

Perestroika (re-structuring)

The Soviet Union should be re-built:

  • to stamp out corruption
  • to provide goods people wanted at a proce they cost to make
  • to remove the central planning by the Government in economics
  • for everyone to do their jobs properly
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Why did communism collapse?

Gorbachev and Reagan

  • Gorbachev realised that the USSR could not keep up with the number of weapons being built by the USA and the cost of these weapons was a drain on the Soviet enonomy. Therefore, he announced that he would reduce Soviet spending on arms
  • It appeared to the Americans that there was a Soviet leader with a difference: one with whom they felt it would be possible to reach an agreement. Encouraged by Margaret Thatcher who had met Gorbachev and claimed 'I like Mr Gorbachev, we can do business together,' Reagan began to realise that Gorbachev was trying to change Soviet attitudes to the Cold War and started to change his own views
  • When he met Gorbachev in Geneva in 1985, Reagan tried to convince him that it was in the interest of both countries to negotiate and reach agreements
  • This first meeting was followed by others, which eventually produced a reduction in nuclear arms. Reagan met Gorbachev in Iceland in 1986, and in 1987 Gorbachev was given a warm reception by the American public when he visited the USA
  • On the USA visit, the two powers signed the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, in which all medium-range missiles were banned, and Reagan agreed to stop work on the 'Star Wars' project. 
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Why did communism collapse?

End of Soviet control in Eastern Europe

  • In Eastern Europe, poor living conditions and shortages of food led to criticism of the communist leaders. Gorbachev's changes in the USSR brought more demands from the people in the satellite states
  • The people in Eastern Europe wanted glasnost and perestroika to exist in their countries, and so did Gorbachev. However, the governments feared that reforms like perestroika and glasnost might lead to popular risings, which could threaten the government and their position of authority
  • Gorbachev realised that the Soviet economy could no longer support the governments of Eastern Europe. Moreover, a relaxation of control over Eastern Europe would help his aim, to improve relations with the USA
  • In 1986, Gorbachev announced that Soviet tanks would no longer appear to support any Communist governments facing trouble. Instead, he believed that people should be allowed to choose their own form of government and go their own way. This policy became known as the 'Sinatra Doctrine,' after the Frank Sinatra song 'My Way.'
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Why did communism collapse?

End of Soviet control in Poland

  • Although Solidarity had been illegal since 1981, it continued to oppose Jaruzelski's communist government thorughout the 1980s. Lech Walesa remained an international figure and organised strikes for better working conditions
  • Influenced by Gorbachev's reforms in the USSR and under pressure from strikes, the Polish government entered talks with Walesa in September 1988. This resulted in partially free elections
  • Walesa's party won all the seats that were open to them and the communists failed to win a majority. Jaruzelski tried to persuade Walesa to form a coaltion with the communists, but Walesa refuesd
  • At the end of 1989 the first non-communist government in the former Soviet satellite states was set up in Polans
  • In December 1990, Jaruzelski resigned and Lech Walesa became President of Poland
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Why did communism collapse?

End of Soviet control in Hungary

  • Hungary had been ruled by Kadar from 1956 to 1988, until he was forced to resign through ill health which led to his death in 1989. Kadar had gained some measure of independance for Hungary from the USSR, such as beginning trading with the West
  • However, Kadar remained a loyal supporter of the Warsaw Pact: the Hungarian army took part in putting down the Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia in 1968
  • After Kadar's resignation, measures similar to glasnost were introduced in Hungary.
  • The rising of 1956 began to be referred to as a 'popular uprising' and in June 1989 Nagy's body, which had been buried in an unmarked grave in 1956, was given a public re-burial in Budapest. Between 50,000 and 100,000 attended the re-burial
  • The first break in the Iron Curtain occured in August when Hungary opened its border with democratic Austria.
  • In October, the Communist Party allowed other parties to stand for election and in 1990 the Hungarian Republic was declared and free parliamentary elections held
  • The last Soviet troops left Hungary in 1991
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Why did communism collapse?

End of Soviet control in Czechoslovakia

  • After the Prague Spring in 1968, Czechoslovakia was ruled by Husak. Throughout his rule Czechoslovakia underwent some reforms, but the hated secret police still existed and threatened the freedom of the people
  • In March 1987 the communist government announced that it was commited to reforms, similar to those of Gorbachev in the USSR. Although stated publicly that he supported the changes, Husak was not fully commited to glasnost and perestroika.
  • Progress with these reforms was slow, which led to a series of demonstrations in the main city of Prague and Bratislava in 1988 and 1989. In November 1989, the police used violence to break up a demonstration in favour of democracy
  • The demand for reform and the violence of the police led to the formation of a group campaigning for change, led by Havel. Havel was a writer who had criticised the government since the Prague Spring in 1968
  • Havel was supported by Dubcek, the leader responsible for the Prague Spring.
  • The unpopularity of the government and the demands of the USSR for reform resulted in a speedy collapse of the communists in Czechoslovakia in what was know as the Velvet Revolution
  • Havel was elected President on 29 December 1989
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Why did communism collapse?

End of Soviet control in East Germany

  • The leader of East Germany, Honecker, refused to put Gorbachev's reforms into effect in East Germany. Thousands of East Germans took advantage of Hungary opening into borders with the West and fled to the West through Hungary
  • Gorbachev visited the country and urged the communist government to carry out reforms, but Honecker refused.
  • On 18 October Honecker was forced to step down as leader and was replaced by Krenz. This was an attempt by the government to get rid of opposition, but it failed. Rallies in favour of democracy were held and East Germans continued to move to West Germany thorugh Hungary and Czechoslovakia
  • The communist government resigned on 7 November and on 9 November the border with West Germany was opened
  • In Berlin, crowds marched to the Berlin Wall and began pulling it down. The Brandenburg Gate was opened on 22 December and free elections were held in East Germany on 18 March 1990
  • The old East Germany collapsed and on 3 October 1990 East and West Germany were once again reunited
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Why did communism collapse?

The collapse of the USSR

  • Gorbachev's reforms in the USSR and the movement to increase democracy in Eastern Europe did much to improve relations between the USA and the USSR. The collapse of the Berlin Wall meants the end of the Iron Curtain
  • Shortly after this, the leaders of the two superpowers met at a Summit Meeting held in Malta at the beginning of December 1989. It was the first Summit Meeting for the new American President, George H. W. Bush, who had been Reagan's Vice President and then replaced him as President in 1989.
  • Although no actual agreements were signed at the Summit, after the meeting Gorbachev and Bush made statements that are often regarded as the end of the Cold War
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Why did communism collapse?

Reasons for USSR collapse

  • Gorbachev's economic policies were failing because the old structure of the USSR acted agianst them.
  • Food shortages remained, resulting in rationing of some goods
  • Many communists thought Gorbachev had betrayed the movement and saw the end of Soviet influence in Eastern Europe as a disaster
  • Others who supported the reforms, such as Boris Yeltsin, thought that Gorbachev was moving too slowly. They wanted more political democracy and more power passed to the separate republics that made up the USSR
  • Gorbachev's policy of glasnost meants that criticism became public. The removal of censorship led to the media commenting on the weaknesses of the Soviet economy
  • For over half a century, the Soviet people had only been given positive news by the media; now the removal of communist control of the media meant that they were receiving negative reports. They began to lose all faith and trust in their political system
  • The war in Afghanistan weakened the USSR
  • President Reagan's policies of challenging the USSR led to the USSR spending too much on arms and not enough on its people
  • Oppostion to communism, Solidarity, weakened the USSR
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Problems facing USA and UN Post Cold War

UN Case Study: Kosovo

  • In the late 1980s, the government of Serbia started to try and increase their control over Kosovo. Kosovo was an are of Serbia where mainly ethnic Albanians lived.
  • The ethnic Albanians in Kosovo fought back against Serbian rule. They formed a group called the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) to try and get independance.
  • By summer 1988 police and army forces were sent in to crush the KLA. Over 250,000 people were displaced from their homes because of the fighting.
  • Slobodan Milosevic (the new leader of Yugoslavia) was carrying out ethnic cleansing-he was trying to force out the Albanians in Kosovo by using terror.
  • The UN were seriously concerned at the 230,000 people who had been made homeless by the Serbian and Yugoslav forces.
  • They demanded that there be a ceasefire between Kosovo and Yugoslav forces.
  • Milosevic rejected this-ethnic cleansing campaign was launched.
  • NATO began a bombing campaign against Serbia in 1999 to try and force them to remove their troops and end the conflict in Kosovo.
  • After 2 months of bombing, Serbia agreed to remove its troops from Kosovo. It allowed KFOR, a NATO-led forces, to take control of the region.
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Problems facing USA and UN Post Cold War

UN Case Study: Kosovo

Successes

  • A UN task force, called UNMIK, was set up to help rebuild Kosovo and sort out their policing. They did make some progress.
  • Serbian forces were forced out from Kosovo in summer of 1999.
  • Kosovo was able to develop as an independent nation with support from NATO and the UN.

Failures

  • Hundreds of thousands of refugees fled to Albania and Macedonia.
  • Thousands dies in the conflict.
  • NATO bombing killed at least 488 civilians.
  • Ethnic cleansing had gone ahead despite UN intervention.
  • The progress of UNMIK (the UN task force in Kosovo) was very slow. Ethnic tensions between Serbs and Albanians remained.
  • There have been many allegations that the members of the 2 UN forces in Kosovo (KFOR and UNMIK) were corrupt.
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Problems facing USA and UN Post Cold War

UN Case Study: Kuwait

  • Saddam Hussein became leader of Iraq in 1979. He was a ruthless dictator who used chemical weapons against his people.
  • In 1990 Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. The UN demanded that Iraq withdraw their forces.
  • Saddam Hussein wanted the wealth and oil of Kuwait.
  • The UN banned trade unions with Iraq in order to put pressure on Hussein to withdraw his forces from Kuwait.
  • Saddam Hussein refused to withdraw his Iraqi forces from Kuwait, so the UN used force to try and remove them.
  • The use of force to remove Iraqi forces from Kuwait was called the first Gulf War. President Bush (Senior) was in charge of leading the UN forces from 34 different countries in a campaign known as Operation Desert Storm.
  • After the Gulf War, the UN continued to ban other countries from trading with Iraq. This was to try and force Irag to give up their weapons of mass destruction.
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Problems facing USA and UN Post Cold War

UN Case Study: Kuwait

Successes

  • The UN tried to help Iraq using the Oil-for-Food Programme. This meant Iraq could trade oil for food and medicines. This trade would be carefully monitored.
  • The ban on trade did limit the amount of money Iraq could spend on buying or developing weapons of mass destruction.
  • The Gulf War in 1991 did successfully force Iraqi troops out of Kuwait.

Failures

  • The ban on trade with Iraw had a negative impact on the ordinary people. There were shortages of food and medicine which caused more deaths, particularly of Iraqi kids.
  • The Oil-for-Food Programme did help Iraqis, but some argued that it was corrupt. This meant that the UN and/or Iraqi officials were trying to make money for themselves rather than helping people.
  • There were further problems with Saddam Hussein and in 2003 coalition forces invaded Iraq to remove him as leader.
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