Changing the World
It was December 31, 1991, when the world sat and watched the fall of the Soviet Union. The collapse marked the end of a stagnant empire; an empire that for years ruled under a communist dictatorship. This day signified the end of communism not only in the Soviet Union but also in Eastern Europe. It was also the end of a long international competition between two superpowers, and the end of the Cold War. However, it also marked the beginning of a new era, one with salvation and change. The beginning of a political and economic reform across the globe. A beginning for a number of countries that fought for democracy and demanded independence. The weakened political structure and economic difficulties within the country, as well as their methods to fix them, led to the collapse of the Soviet Union and marked a turning point in world history.
Although the Soviet Union had been around since 1922, they really did not emerge as one of the two great powers in the world until after World War II. With the focus of projecting dominate power and influence over the rest of the world; the Soviet Union channeled all of its money into the arms race and military development. This meant that very little money went back into the growth of the country. Eventually by 1980, the economy became stagnated and unstable. The government started to lose public support, as Soviet society started to feel the effects of the cracking economy and develop their own different political points of view. However, with the death of Leonid Brezhnev, emerged a new Soviet leader eager to make a difference. In 1985, the power passed to a man who would eventually be the country’s last head of state, Mikhail Gorbachev. Gorbachev’s primary goal was to revive the stagnated Soviet economy and improve government performance. He considered and implemented outside marketing methods to develop economic growth and profit. Gorbachev implemented radical reform over the government, as he encouraged open discussions over Soviet problems and allowed limited elections. Although Gorbachev’s intentions were to overcome years of downfall, his policy reform did not have the results that he intended them to have. He did not realize he was giving the people the freedom of speech; the freedom to question policy and criticize economy failures. Gorbachev also made substantial efforts to ease international tensions by entering into discussions over the use of mid-range missiles. Later he knew in order to improve the Soviet economy, he needed to end the material arms burden he had with the Cold War and improve international relations. His first step to do this was when he abandoned the Brezhnev Doctrine, the doctrine that declared that the Soviet Union had the right to use military force to maintain a strict rule.
In 1989, Gorbachev renounced the Brezhnev Doctrine, and set in motion a chain of revolutions across the region. Communist regimes no longer had the backing of the Soviets to help them deal with public rebellion. This led to semi-free elections and Poland voting for a communist free government. It was not long before neighboring countries like Hungary and Czechoslovakia followed Poland’s example. The borders separating the east and west were torn down, making escape to the West a desirable trip for the East Germans. Initially, the East Germans were restricted and then eventually banned from traveling outside the walls by the East German regime. However, trying to earn the respect of the people, the regime reduced the restrictions and opened up travel to the West once again. People went into shock, and quickly began to tear down the wall that had so long kept them from fleeing to West. For over 28 years, the Berlin Wall kept German citizens from crossing the border and now it was gone, almost as fast as it went up. The fall of the Berlin Wall inspired peaceful revolutions and…