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Posted on 08/14/2011 2:23:57 PM PDT by Steelfish
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Reagan’s policies of confrontation had some impact, but not they did not constitute the major impact.
The Soviet Union had progressively weaker leaders from Stalin to Krushchev to Brezhnev (Brezhnev was famous for stagnation and decline). The KGB elite were the first to realise that the Soviet system was not working, so they attempted to tweak it around the edges (like the Chinese). They engineered the appointment of a reformer - Gorbachev. Unfortunately for them, Gorbachev promoted political freedom before economic freedom and the center collapsed.
China would have suffered the same fate as the Soviet Union had Deng (1)insisted on political freedom before economic freedom (2)blinked during Tienanmen square.
Bob Mugabe, Assad and the Burmese Generals have been running first grade oppressive regimes for decades on tight budgets. So, economic viability is not a prerequisite to running an oppressive regime.
As some one who has studied the collapse of the Soviet Union, I cannot praise Mikhail Gorbachev enough. I know it is not fashionable to praise Gorbachev in conservative circles, but think about this; what if the Soviet Union had Deng instead of Gorbachev, Reagan notwithstanding - we would be looking at a very different nation in Eurasia.
It requires immense personal courage to attempt to reform a fundamentally evil system from within and Gorbachev displayed tons of courage.
(Just FYI, Gorbachev reached out initially to Thatcher and Thatcher famously described him as “a man we can do business with”).
Reagan was great, but to conclude that the Soviet system collapsed simply because the Russians scared stiff of Reagan and US arms spending between 1981 and 1984, flies in the face of serious historical facts.
Many Indians will beg to differ. If he never had any real support, why is chair at the Red Fort and why has an International Airport been named after him?
As a Westerner, you may never understand how “colonials” like us feel about the British Empire and the Second World War. I have relatives that fought in Burma and I am told that the Japanese dropped leaflets with the words “Africans, what are you fighting for”. Indians may have had the same tortured feelings.(The West African Frontier Force and The Kings East African Rifles also fought in Burma - this doesn’t get mentioned too often, though)
It is not a coincidence that a good number of independence fighters were men who fought in Burma.
1. Note I never said he had no support
2. He's a romantic figure as a fighter
3. Even the successful non-violent movement realised that having a bugbear like Bose was good as a threat to the British ("see, we are non-violent, but if you don't take us seriously there is the other option)
however, he never had any serious support
I don't know about African sentiments regarding the British, but I have visited india quite often helping with Mother Teresa's and I have friends I value and trust who are Indians. Indians may have had the same tortured feelings. -- is not completely true. Indians were ambiguous about the colonial adventure, but that was love-hate and now is mostly acceptance of the bad and the good. The French on the other hand inspired just hate while the Portuguese inspired more love than hate.
The Indian soldiers understood that they fought for their king George and they were very loyal -- the only ones that I read who joined Bose's army were those who were POWs (as I said above) or Bose's initial group. No service members deserted.
Well, perhaps it was Reagan’s policy of confrontation which increased the USSR’s economy problems and basically made the KGB anoint a reformer like Gorbachev. What kind of economic reforms did the KGB seek? Anything like Lenin’s New Economic Policy?
That’s a very simplistic reading of history.
I agree that economists grossly overstated the size of the Soviet economy, but a little overlooked fact was that the Soviet economy became heavily dependent on Oil and Gas during the seventies and agricultural production began to decline during that period.
The Brezhnev years were periods of economic and foreign policy stagnation and Brezhnev neither had the brutal vision or the ruthlessness required to make the Soviet system work.
The Oil glut of the late seventies and 1980s and the costly campaign in Afghanistan drained the Soviet Union. So the KGB understood (without Reagan telling them), that something needed to be done. The Soviets also realised that the rapproachment between China and the US would lead them isolated, hence the search for a reformer in the mold of Deng to reinvigorate the Soviet system.
No serious ex-soviet political scientist will present such a simplistic view, there are a confluence of factors that cause a decline of an empire. I will be betraying my academic experience if I concluded that the Soviet Union collapsed simply because of Reagan, the truth is much more nuanced.
There was Lech Walesa at Gdansk who led the first mass movement to successfully challenge the Soviet system (after the failures of the Czechoslovakian and Hungarian uprisings). There was John Paul II and there was Thatcher. There were also millions of unnamed heroes.
I know Americans have a penchant for taking all the glory (Hollywood did movies about American pilots in the Battle of Britain and was very liberal about the facts in a movie about the Enigma machine - it was captured by a British submarine not an American submarine as the movie portrays).
Remember that the “greatest generation” (World War II) included millions of Britons, millions of Indians and about half a million Africans. America hardly ever wins convincingly when She fights alone, and the Cold War was neither fought solely by the Americans nor was it won solely by Americans.
Actually, I meant that Reagan’s policy of confrontation was certainly *one* factor, and probably a not insignificant one, but not the only one. From what I heard, Andropov believed in economic reform, if I’m not mistaken. If he had lasted, what kind of reform policies would he have carried out?