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

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Why did communism collapse in Central and Eastern

Reagan and the renewal of the Cold War

  • President Carter's response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan meant an end of SALT II and to the spirit of detente that had existed in the 1970s.
  • The American-led boycott of the Moscow Olympics in 1980 was counteracted by a Soviet boycott of the 1984 Olympic Games, which were held in Los Angeles.
  • When Ronald Reagan became President of the USA in 1981, there was a further deterioration in the relationship between the USSR and the USA. This is sometimes called the Second Cold War or simply a renewal of the Cold War after the detente of the 1970s.
  • Reagan had promised a hard-line approach to Communism and this was partly the reason for his election as President.
  • Reagan had a close ally in Margaret Thatcher, who had become Prime Minister of Britain in 1979.
  • Reagan decided that the best way to defeat the USSR was to get so far ahead of them that they had to give in and end the Cold War.
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Why did communism collapse in Central and Eastern

Reagan and the renewal of the Cold War

  • Reagan took some measures which were designed to threaten the USSR, while others were designed to protect the USA:
  • Massive increase in military spending - $325 billion in 1980 to $456 billion in 1987.
  • Re-started the development of the neutron bomb in 1981.
  • Invested funds in the building of two bombers - one a more traditional type and another called the 'stealth bomber', which could avoid a country's defences.
  • Speeded up the development of Peacekeeper missiles, which were more accurate.
  • Installed cruise missiles in Europe in 1983, which took 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.
  • Assisted the mujahidin in the fight in Afghanistan against the USSR by providing them with money and arms.
  • These policies of Reagan greatly concerned the USSR. In particular, the development of the SDI, also known as Star Wars, could mean the end of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD).
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Why did communism collapse in Central and Eastern

Solidarity in Poland

  • The formation of the first independent trade union in Poland, Solidarity, has its roots in the poor standard of life of people in Poland in the 1970s.
  • In 1978 Pope John Paul II, a Polish Cardinal, was elected pope. A year later, he visited Poland. Communist governments normally try to get rid of Christianity but this proved to be difficult in Poland because of the strength of the Roman Catholic faith there.
  • Most of the people in Poland are Roman Catholics and the support of the Pope and the Church for Solidarity encouraged them to challenge the communist government in an attempt to raise the standard of living of the people.
  • Lech Walesa played a key role throughout and it was his leadership that persuaded the 17,000 workers at the Gdansk shipyards to go on strike for freedom and justice in 1980.
  • Walesa became the leader of Solidarity and they put forward 21 demands including the right to form independent trade unions, the end of censorship, more freedom for the Church and improvements in the national health system.
  • As support for Solidarity gathered strength, waves of strikes, marches and demonstrations spread across northern Poland.
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Why did communism collapse in Central and Eastern

Solidarity in Poland

  • 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 and allowed to exist.
  • This could have been allowed because the Soviet Union felt stung by the worldwide reaction to its invasion of Afghanistan or that America threatened the Soviet leaders that if they invaded Poland, America would sell weapons to China.
  • At first, working conditions improved and Solidarity's popularity increased, in Poland and in the West. However, divisions began to surface within the trade union.
  • Walesa saw Solidarity as an organisation to improve working and living conditions for its members, not a political movement. However, 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.
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Why did communism collapse in Central and Eastern

Solidarity in Poland

  • 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. Many arrests followed.
  • In 1982 Solidarity was declared illegal.
  • In July 1983 Lech Walesa received the Nobel Peace Prize, but he was not allowed to leave the country to receive it in person.
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Why did communism collapse in Central and Eastern

Soviet failure in Afghanistan - its political and economic effects on the USSR

  • There are many reasons why the USSR wasn't successful in Afghanistan:
  • The USSR didn't have full support of the Warsaw Pact.
  • Soviet soliders failed to see the point in fighting.
  • Afghans were fighting for their own country.
  • Opposition in Afghanistan towards the USSR was more organised.
  • In Czechoslovakia and Hungary the USSR was attemtping to maintain an existing system - not setting up a new one as they were in Afghanistan.
  • The communist government set up by the Soviets in Afghanistan was unable to gain trust of the people.
  • The Soviet army was affected by disease and were unable to cope with the guerilla tactics of the mujahidin.
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Why did communism collapse in Central and Eastern

Soviet failure in Afghanistan - its political and economic effects on the USSR

  • There were many political and economic effects on the USSR:
  • Around 15,000 Soviet troops were killed, with over half a million casualties.
  • The USSR lost much heavy equipment.
  • The enormous expense crippled the Soviet economy.
  • The effect on army and economy contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Empire in Eastern Europe.
  • Over 1 million Afghans died and there was worldwide sympathy for Afghanistan.
  • USSR/USA relations were worsened and detente ended.
  • USA gave support to other countries defending human rights, e.g. Solidarity in Poland.
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Why did communism collapse in Central and Eastern

Mikhail Gorbachev

  • When Gorbachev came to power, he faced many problems.
  • Some of these problems were internal:
  • Central planning - inefficient - corrupt
  • Industrial production falling
  • Farming inefficient. Lack of food.
  • Shortages of goods
  • Inflation
  • Some of these problems were external:
  • High cost of arms race
  • High cost of controlling satellites in Eastern Europe
  • Cost of maintaining Afghanistan war - no victory in sight
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Why did communism collapse in Central and Eastern

Mikhail Gorbachev

  • His main policies were those to reform the Soviet economy, introduced in 1986.
  • They included policies that were similar to Dubcek's 'Communism with a human face', which had been suppressed in Czechoslovakia by the Soviet army in 1968.

Perestroika - means 'restructuring' or 'reform'

  • Gorbachev described perestroika as a means of overcoming the process of stagnation by accelerating the economic progress of the USSR.
  • It involved the introduction of private profit and competition in industry.
  • To stamp out corruption
  • To provide goods people wanted at a price they cost to make
  • To remove the central planning by the government in economics
  • For everyone to do their job properly
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Why did communism collapse in Central and Eastern

Mikhail Gorbachev

Glasnost - means 'openness' or 'opening up'

  • Included an increase in free speech and a reduction in censorship
  • Criticism of the government was allowed and opponents of the government were permitted to return
  • Non-communists were allowed to stand for election
  • Have leaders who should listen to people's views and accept criticism
  • Gorbachev was trying to encourage open debate and make the people feel that they had a share in making the decisions and in this way help to restore their faith in the governement
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Why did communism collapse in Central and Eastern

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 economy,
  • He announced that he would reduce Soviet spending on arms.
  • 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 first met Gorbachev in Geneva in 1985, Reagan tried to convince Gorbachev that it was in the interests of both countries to negotiate and reach agreements.
  • 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 that visit, the two powers signed the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, in which all medium-range nuclear missiles were banned, and Reagan agreed to stop work on the 'Star Wars' project.
  • The treaty was ratified in 1988 when Reagan visited Moscow.
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Why did communism collapse in Central and Eastern

Gorbachev and Eastern Europe

  • The situation in Eastern Europe was similar to that in the USSR. Poor living standards 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. They wanted glasnost and perestroika to exist in their countries, and so did Gorbachev.
  • The problem was the communist rulers of the states of Eastern Europe. They feared that reforms like glasnost and perestroika 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.
  • In 1989 the leaders of the communist states in Eastern Europe were told that they could no longer rely on the Red Army to support them. Nor would leaders be told what to do by telephone from Moscow. Gorbachev believed that people should be allowed to choose their own form of governement and go their own way. 
  • This policy became known as the 'Sinatra Doctrine'.
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Why did communism collapse in Central and Eastern

The end of Soviet control in Eastern Europe

Poland

  • Although Solidarity had been illegal since 1981, it continued to oppose Jaruzelski's communist government throughout 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 Solidarity being made legal and partially free elections.
  • Walesa's party won all the seats that were open to them. Even though the communists were guaranteed victory in many seats as no other party was allowed to stand for election in them, they failed to win a majority.
  • At the end of 1989 the first non-communist government in the former Soviet satellite states was set up in Poland.
  • In December 1990 Jaruzelski resigned and Lech Walesa became President of Poland.
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Why did communism collapse in Central and Eastern

The end of Soviet control in Eastern Europe

Hungary

  • From 1956 to 1988, Hungary had been ruled by Kadar. Kadar had gained some measure of independence for Hungary from the USSR. He carried out reforms to the economy in Hungary and they began 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.
  • The reformers in the Communist party were admitted to the government after Kadar's resignation and measures similar to Glasnost were introduced in Hungary.
  • The first break in the Iron Curtain occured in August 1989, when Hungary opened its border with democratic Austria.
  • In October 1989, the Communist Party allowed other parties to stand for election and in 1990 the Hungarian Republic was declared and free parlimentary elections held.
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Why did communism collapse in Central and Eastern

The end of Soviet control in Eastern Europe

Czechoslovakia

  • After the Prague Spring of 1968, Czechoslovakia was ruled by Husak. The secret police still existed and threatened the freedom of the people. Many of the opponents of Communism emigrated to the West.
  • In March 1987 the communist government of Czechoslovakia announced that it was committed to reforms similar to those of Gorbachev in the USSR.
  • Although stating publicly that he supported the changes, Husak was not fully committed to glasnost and perestroika. Progress with these reforms was slow, which led to a series of demonstrations in the main cities 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. In 1989 Havel was supported by Dubcek.
  • The unpopularity of the government and the demands of the USSR for reform resulted in a collapse of the communists in Czechoslovakia, after the Velvet Revolution.
  • Husak resigned and Havel was elected President on 29 December 1989. 
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Why did communism collapse in Central and Eastern

The end of Soviet control in Eastern Europe

East Germany

  • The leader of East Germany, Honecker, refused to put Gorbachev's reforms into effect in East Germany. 
  • Thousands of East Germans fled to the West through Hungary after it opened its border. Others showed their opposition by a series of demonstrations and protest marches.
  • Gorbachev visited the country and urged the communist governement to carry out reforms, but Honecker refused. On 18 October Honecker was forced to step down as leader and was replaced by Krenz.
  • Rallies in favour of democracy were held and East Germans continued to move to West Germany through 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. On 3 October 1990 East and West Germany were reunited again.
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Why did communism collapse in Central and Eastern

The end of the Cold War

  • The move to disarmament was confirmed in the Washington Treaty signed at the end of 1987.
  • Gorbachev's reforms in the USSR and the movement to increased democracy in Eastern Europe did much to fruther improve relations between the USA and the USSR.
  • The collapse of the Berlin Wall meant the end of the Iron Curtain.
  • 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.

The collapse of the USSR

  • In June 1991 Boris Yeltsin was elected President of the Russian Republic. He demanded the end of communist domination and the break-up of the USSR. 
  • In 1991 the old communist leaders feared the reforms so they decided to get rid of Gorbachev. A military group tried to seize power by capturing Gorbachev, but Yeltsin rallied the Russian people to resist and the army supported him, and the coup failed.
  • Soon the individual Soviet republics became independent -  the USSR no longer existed.
  • Gorbachev had to resign.
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What problems face the USA and UN?

USA as a global power

  • After the fall of the USSR, the USA was the only country with a military and economy strong enough to be able to take action across the globe - making it the world's only superpower.
  • The USA had the most powerful military in the world, even with post Cold War cuts in spending. Through the 1990s, the US's military expenditure made up more than a third of the world's military spending. No other country came close to spending as much as the US did.
  • The USA's economy was strong throughout most of the 1990s, remaining the biggest in the world while Russia struggled after the collapse of the USSR.
  • This gave the USA a lot of power to get involved in disputes around the world.

 

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What problems face the USA and UN?

The champion of democracy in the world

  • In 1990-1991 the USA supported the UN demands for Iraq to withdraw from its invasion of Kuwait and led the UN coalition which successfully drove out Iraqi forces.
  • In 1992-4 the USA led a UN force trying to bring peace and stability to Somalia, which was suffering from a chaotic civil war. 
  • In 1994 in Operation Uphold Democracy the US successfully intervened to restore the democratically elected president of Haiti after a coup.
  • In 1994-1995 after the break up of Yugoslavia, there was a violent civil war and genocide in Bosnia. The US led a NATO bombing campaign which lifted the Bosnian Serbs' siege of Sarajevo and helped to end the conflict.
  • In 1999 the USA led th NATO bombing of Serbia, in an attempt to end the conflict in Kosovo.
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What problems face the USA and UN?

US relations in Europe

  • After the Cold War, Western Europe no longer needed protection from the USSR, so the USA reduced its military presence. US missiles were withdrawn from the UK in 1991.
  • The UK continued to be one of the USA's closest allies, supplying much of the support for the US-led interventions in Kuwait, Bosnia and Kosovo.
  • Other European countries, such as France, the Netherlands, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland, all contributed to the US-led UN coalition in the Gulf War.
  • The US was also willing to work more closely with former allies of the USSR. In 1999, three former Warsaw Pact members - the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary - joined NATO.
  • US involvement in Bosnia, Kosovo and Nothern Ireland showed a US commitment to Europe.
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What problems face the USA and UN?

Conflict: Iraq and Kuwait

  • Saddam Hussein became leader of Iraq in 1979. He was a ruthless and brutal dictator, who had used chemical weapons against the people.
  • In 1990 Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait for its wealth and oil. The UN demanded that Iraq withdraw their forces.
  • The UN introduced sanctions (a ban on people trading with Iraq) to put pressure on Saddam Hussein to withdraw his forces from Kuwait.
  • In 1990-1991 the USA supported UN demands for Iraq to withdraw from its invasion of Kuwait.
  • Saddam Hussein refused to withdraw his Iraqi troops 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 kept its strict sanctions against Iraq. They hoped the sanctions would force Iraq to give up its weapons of mass destruction and stop it from trying to get hold of or make more.
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What problems face the USA and UN?

Successes

  • The UN tried to help the Iraqi people with 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 Iraq had a negative impact on the ordinary people. There were shortages of food and medicine, which led to a big rise in the deaths of Iraqi children.
  • The Oil-for-Food Programme did help many Iraqis, but the programme did face some accusations of corruption. It is believed that some profit was unlawfully made by the UN and Iraqi officials.
  • There were further problems with Saddam Hussein and in 2003 coalition forces invaded Iraq to remove him as leader.
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What problems face the USA and UN?

Conflict: Kosovo and Serbia

  • Slobodan Milosevic became leader of Yugoslavia in 1989 - he believed in more power for Serbia and so cracked down on Kosovo.
  • In the late 1980s, the government of Serbia started to try and increase their control over Kosovo. Kosovo was an area 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 independence.
  • By summer 1998 police and armed forces were sent in to crush the KLA. Hundreds died.
  • Milosevic was carrying out ethnic cleansing - he was trying to force out the Albanians in Kosovo using terror.
  • The UN said they were seriously concerned by the 230,000 people made homeless and 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 for KFOR, a NATO-led force, to take control of the region.
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What problems face the USA and UN?

Successes

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

Failures

  • Hundreds and thousands of refugees fled to Albania and Macedonia.
  • Thousands died in the conflict.
  • NATO bombing killed at least 488 civilians.
  • Ethnic cleansing has gone ahead despite UN intervention.
  • The progress of UNMIK 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. They have said that individuals were involved in crime and violence as they could not be prosecuted.
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