Breakup Of The Soviet Union An Essay

This essay has a total of 2788 words and 10 pages.

Breakup Of The Soviet Union An


In one week, the summer of 1991, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic, became history.
The forces of reform unleashed by President Mikhail Gorbachev in the mid 1980's generated
a democratic movement. 'Mr. Gorbachev may be revered for the democratic forces he
unleashed- his policies of perestroika, or reconstructing, and glasnost, or openness.
However, his failure to put food on Soviet tables and his reluctance to move boldly on
economic reforms doomed him to be a failure'; (Sieff). His economic policies threw his
country into even more turmoil and chaos, as the different nationalities used their new
freedoms to move away from the union. 'Gorbachev sincerely wanted to reform the communist
system, but he did not want to eliminate it. He recognized there was a lot of wrong with
his country, but right to the end, he never grasped the extent of the problem'; (Russia).
As a result, the breakup of the Soviet Union was not a singular event that occurred
overnight, rather was caused by decades of neglect and abuse to the former nations by the
central communist government. A government that would never end, but find ways to cover-up
its identity.

From the start of the Twenty- Seventh Party Congress in 1986, perestroika, Mikhail
Gorbachev's program of 'economic, political, and social reconstructing, became the
unintended catalyst for dismantling what had taken nearly three- quarters of a century to
erect'; (Perestroika). Conservatives have called it as a 'public effort to subtly seduce
the Western world to lower its guard'; (Corpus), believing it was a disguise just to
distract foreign nations. Liberals believe it that it is a 'mandate for disarmament and
cooperation between two extremely different value systems while under the death threat of
nuclear war'; (Corpus). However, Gorbachev declares that it is a 'union of principals and
socialism and not a response to a poor domestic economy or wholesale abandonment of basic
communist tenets'; (Corpus). Furthermore, he asserts that perestroika is a 'blueprint for
the Soviet Union to emerge from the economic backwardness into global industrial
competitiveness'; (The Meaning Perestroika). He believed that was the only way that the
Soviet Union would be able to survive now. Yet, the question of 'what is perestroika?';
still exists. Some believe that it is a 'conspiracy organized by the CIA, and by the West
in general, a conspiracy which aimed at military/political subversion of the USSR and of
communism in general'; (Yakovlev). Some say perestroika was 'a betrayal either intended as
such from the very beginning and quiet conscious, or a betrayal that just happened to
occur'; (Yakovlev). While others still declare that perestroika 'was stupidity, probably
caused by good intentions, which resulted in an absolute lack of responsibility';
(Yakovlev). In truth, perestroika was a historical significance, which was noble in its
goals but had major repercussions to the nation, as well as to its people. Gorbachev's
perestroika confirms a desire to discard the Stalinist days of forced collectivization and
terror. Furthermore, it is not only a declaration of Leninist's ideas that will insert a
new dose of motivation into the national awareness, but a hopeful effort to restore trust
between the people and their government.'; Perestroika is an effort to inspire Russia
towards values and high standards'; (Rodrigue). However, Gorbachev's solutions are flawed
because of the 'lack of an ethical framework to guide his programs'; (The Collapse of
Stalinism). He did not 'have a clear plan of what kind of political and social system must
be created,'; says Fydor Bulatsky, a speechwriter for Krushchev, close aide of Andropov,
and former advisor to Gorbachev (Sneider). Perestroika has focused on 'three planes, three
trends, three directions of problem. First is the struggle for priority either ideology or
of common sense, second is a struggle for supremacy either of the party or of the state,
and third is the struggle for redistribution of power and property. In part, it was due to
the objective tasks of perestroika itself that we had so many lanes, so many trends of
confrontation within perestroika process'; (Yakovlev). At this point, the party was too
busy restoring its image and trying to prove to its people that life could be good; as a
result, these three struggles show how perestroika was developed and implemented.
Gorbachev had a choice, he could turn perestroika into 'a truly, people's democratic
revolution, going to the utmost, really bringing the society total freedom, or to remain a
Communist reformer, operating in the familiar and controlled milieu of the party
bureaucracy'; (Sneider). He attempted to make a society that was totally free, but this
obviously did not happen. In 1990, Gorbachev again had an opportunity to allow perestroika
to be seen as a glorious theory that will save the nation when 'Article Six of the
Constitution giving the Communist Party a monopoly had been abolished and a presidential
system was to be established'; (Nadler). Nevertheless, he chose to be elected by the
Congress instead of by the people; this was his greatest mistake. Again, a cover- up was
made. While he did allow elections to take place, Congress chose him in reality. The only
person on the ballot ticket was Mikhail Gorbachev of the former communist party. No one
was allowed to run because the government did not choose him or her. 'Perestroika didn't
manage to overcome itself. Public, social, and political forces awakened by it remained
unclaimed, while the old structure continued to exist and act against reform'; (Sneider).
It brought another result that was unforeseen; the 'emergence of powerful nationalist
movements in the fifteen republics of the Soviet empire. From the Baltic republics to the
heartland Russia, democratic reformers won power by detaching themselves from the
Communist Party'; (Sneider).

As with perestroika, the early stages of glasnost were meant to be limited in extent.
Soviet society would be open to criticism by its 'intellectuals—artists, scientists,
writers, and others'; (Glasnost and Perestroika). However, it did not, initially, include
every day citizens of the working class. Gorbachev believed that if he allowed people to
speak their minds and informing them of the status of the nation and its failures, he
would win their support for perestroika. In 1989, the crimes and hardships of the Stalin
decade were talked about openly, and every angle was criticized along with the party
itself. Every failure and every success of the system was now being exposed and exploited.
Every step the government took was being questioned publicly. The Communist Party, the
government, and Gorbachev were now facing sever criticism, after implementing a program
that was supposed to aid them. However, the 'relations with the United States improved.
Gorbachev began having summits with President Ronald Reagan and continued them with
President George Bush'; (Glasnost and Perestroika). Agreements on arm reductions were
signed, and discussions on reducing nuclear weapons were taking place. Around the world
Gorbachev was 'hailed as a dynamic leader, whose bold initiates were quickly diminishing
the threat of nuclear war';, but at home he was seen as a leader who went against his
words and was leading the USSR into more chaos (Glasnost and Perestroika). The feeling of
glasnost also spread throughout Europe. In Poland, 'Wojciech Jaruzelski, head of the
Polish Communist Party, called for fundamental changes to rescue the economy. In June,
elections took place where the union won seats and n July, Jaruzelski moved into the new
seat of president'; (Glasnost and Perestroika). Furthermore, Hungry, East Germany, and
Czechoslovakia all followed Poland and changed their government, establishing new order.
Although it was good that relations were getting stronger continually, this did not ease
the lives of citizens. Thus, Russia itself befell to its policies and repercussions
occurred.

During the second half of 1991, the Soviet Unions, 'the world's largest nation and a
highly militarized nuclear superpower, broke apart into its constituent republics';
(Commonwealth). The Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, captured by Stalin
in the Second World War, demanded independence and started a movement of secession. The
effect was a domino one where other Russian nations began to have the same sentiments and
started revolts against the centralized government. 'On December 08, 1992, leaders of
Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus met to sign and agreement which declared that on December 25,
1991, the Soviet Union was succeeded by the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), a
loose confederation of twelve of the former republics'; (Commonwealth). Gorbachev
obviously opposed such actions taken by these countries but was in fact powerless against
them. The day that CIS was established was also the day the Gorbachev resigned and was the
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