Monday, December 19, 2005

At Cold War's End: US Intelligence on the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, 1989-1991

At Cold War's End: US Intelligence on the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, 1989-1991 - A CIA document including links to full-text intelligence reports on events during the final years the Soviet Union and the Cold War. It also includes a brief historical overview and extensive references.

From the site:

The last great drama of the Cold War--the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe and the end of the four-decade-old East-West conflict--unfolded in three acts between 1989 and 1991. Even as the story began, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev already had made the largest opening to the outside world in Russian history. To convince the West, and above all the new administration in Washington, of his sincerity, Gorbachev had made major concessions on arms control, withdrawn Soviet troops from Afghanistan, pledged to reduce Soviet ground forces by half a million, and rejected class warfare in favor of "pan-human values" as the basis of Soviet foreign policy. Initially skeptical because of past disappointments with d├ętente, President George Bush and his foreign policy team gradually convinced themselves that Gorbachev was ready for dialogue and compromise. They set a high price for cooperation, however, and were gratefully surprised to find that the Soviets were willing to pay it.

The second act of the drama began in the fall of 1989 with peaceful revolutions in Eastern and Central Europe (except Romania) and the fall of the Soviet "outer empire." The de facto collapse of the Warsaw Pact (it would formally dissolve itself a year later) plus a new treaty that substantially reduced Soviet superiority in conventional forces in Europe resulted in a stronger Western alliance--so strong that the US could redeploy forces from Europe to the Persian Gulf for use against Iraq. East Germany, the USSR's main prize from World War II, was united with West Germany and integrated into NATO.

The third and final act closed with the 1991 dissolution of the USSR. The centrifugal forces in the "outer empire" stimulated and accelerated those in the "inner empire" as the Soviet republics sought sovereignty and then independence from Moscow. At the same time, Gorbachev's domestic reforms ran into serious trouble, and the economy went into a tailspin. Gorbachev's struggle with the old imperial elite in the communist party, the armed forces, and the military-industrial complex culminated in the August 1991 coup, which, when it failed, finished off the USSR--and Gorbachev himself. On Christmas Day 1991, at 7:35 p.m., the Soviet flag flying over the Kremlin was lowered and replaced by the new Russian banner. The USSR officially ceased to exist on 31 December. The Cold War was over.

No comments: