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Thread: What was it like internationally when the Soviet Union fell?

  1. Top | #21
    Veteran Member Ford's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bilby View Post
    It was the end of history.

    For my entire life it had been obvious that the Cold War was the defining political reality that underpinned everything that happened. Every political question was couched in terms of its effect on the Cold War - if a cabinet minister had a mistress, he had to resign because otherwise the Soviets could blackmail him. Same if he was homosexual. Or had any other secrets he wouldn't want to be made public.

    It was an obvious and unquestioned certainty that the Cold War would keep going, essentially forever. The only way that this could possibly NOT occur would be a Hot War, which would have been an extinction level event for Homo Sapiens.


    And then, overnight, it fell apart. And it took a few weeks to even consider the possibility that it wasn't all a big strategic play to flush out the remaining anti-Communists so that they could drive tanks over them.

    It's impossible to overstate the impact on everything of this event.
    All of this.

    It was hard to grasp that it had just collapsed because the Cold War mentality was so deeply ingrained. I grew up across the bay from an Air National Guard base that was considered to be a prime target for when (not if) the missiles came. We even had a plan. No duck and cover...we'd just grab a few beers, get in the boat, head out into the bay and watch the fireworks. There was nothing else to do. Crazy, huh? When the wall fell, I was working three jobs so I didn't really process it. Honestly I don't remember much of anything from that time, but in 1990 my schedule was a little less intense. I was working at a radio station on the weekends, and played that Jesus Jones song quite a lot, along with "Wind of Change" by the Scorpions, and music really helped it to sink in. There was also a great song by Rush that didn't get played much on the radio called "Heresy" which really captured the feeling well.


    (View video on YouTube)

  2. Top | #22
    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    It was part of the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe.

    It started in 1989.

    I remember Poland and Hungary peacefully accepting non-Communist parties. Then hordes of East Germans passed through Hungary to get to Austria and West Germany. East Germany opened its border with West Germany, and the Berlin Wall was officially breached.

    I remember big demonstrations in Czechoslovakia and I was worried that the Communist government might attack them. But they didn't, and Communism fell there also.

    Then in December, Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu were put on trial and executed, ending Communist rule in Romania. The nation was ruled for a while by a military junta called the National Salvation Front.

    I learned later that Bulgaria also had its fall of Communism around then and into 1990.

    In 1990 and 1991, the Soviet Union tried to hold onto the Baltic states without being too nasty about it. Not much luck, and the Baltic states departed in mid-1991.

    Also in 1990, Germany reunified, with the nation's capital becoming Berlin. I recall that a big issue with this happening is that the Soviet Union had a large number of troops there and nowhere for them to go in the Soviet Union itself.

    In August 1991, Soviet traditionalists attempted a coup, and Boris Yeltsin successfully beat it back. Mikhail Gorbachev was vacationing at the time, and his political pull became much reduced. Late that year, the three Slavic republics voted to abolish the Soviet Union, and the remaining republics agreed. Gorbachev conceded defeat, and I remember the Soviet Union's flag being lowered at the Kremlin and Russia's flag raised.

    As this was going on, Communism fled in Albania and Croatia and Slovenia became independent of Yugoslavia.

    This started a big civil war where Bosnia-Herzegovina ended up independent in 1995. Then in 2006, Montenegro became independent of Serbia, meaning the end of Yugoslavia.

    Macedonia had become independent in 1991, and it has recently been renamed North Macedonia in a deal with Greece. This is to avoid seeming to claim some territory called Macedonia in Greece itself. It was known as FYROM, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia for a while, and Greece called it the Republic of Skopje. As an inhabitant of the state of Salem in the nation of Washington, what can I say?

  3. Top | #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by bilby View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Tammuz View Post
    It wasn't only the US, it was an international coalition that expelled the Iraqi army. And Iraq was clearly violating international law by annexing another country.

    Do you think the rest of the world has no reason to care that Russia has annexed Crimea, and should not have put sanctions on Russia in response?
    I do not. But did they invade Crimea and throw Russia out?

    No?
    Your argument was that the Iraqi annexation was not a threat to Americans, therefore it was wrong to bother. I pointed out that the Russian annexation of Crimea is also not a threat to Americans. Do you therefore consider it wrong to impose sanctions on Russia for that?

    Quote Originally Posted by bilby View Post
    Then apparently there are differing levels of 'violating international law', depending on how much of a pushover the Americans think the offenders will be.
    That's not really relevant.

  4. Top | #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Tammuz View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    I grew up in the western United States, and this is the first political event I have a conscious memory of. Obviously I was too young to understand the implications at the time aside from "everyone is very happy that a wall fell down", but I do remember the era of optimism that followed; us 90's kids were raised with this feeling that the old world was on its way out, that we were headed toward a new globalized reality in which many long-standing problems - ecosystemic collapse, warfare between major powers, racism, terrorism - might perhaps be tackled by some chirpy PSAs and storybooks with moral lessons at the end. We were going to be richer than our parents, more caring than our parents, we would create technological wonderlands. Well, best two out of three I guess! People in my generation often blame 9/11 for the collapse of all that optimism, but I think the slowly deteriorating economy had as much to do with it. There were political battles, but at least if you were white and middle class and hadn't yet realized yet that you were gay *cough*, they all seemed pretty low-stakes compared to the trauma and quiet anxiety our parents had clearly been raised under. I remember my parents (ardent Democrats in the middle a mostly Republican county) being not just horrified, but kind of disgusted, offended by the Gulf War. This was exactly the kind of violent foreign adventuring that was supposed to end now that we no longer had the USSR to pin our garland wars on. Little did they know...
    I don't really understand why the Gulf War was so disliked. Iraq annexed another country, in clear violation of international law, and I don't know of any data that the Kuwaitis wanted to live under Saddam's thumb.
    Because the first war was about saving the Saudis who had long personal relations with the Bush family. It was about oil only, not about liberating Kuwait. Kuwait was a talking point for forming an Arab coalition.

    SA was and is a brutal dictatorship. That is what we rescued. A stae at the time with a strong religious anti American ideology. It remains today.
    That might well be true. But to my mind, it doesn't justify the Iraqi annexation of Kuwait, or make the expulsion of them from Kuwait unjust.

  5. Top | #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tammuz View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post

    Because the first war was about saving the Saudis who had long personal relations with the Bush family. It was about oil only, not about liberating Kuwait. Kuwait was a talking point for forming an Arab coalition.

    SA was and is a brutal dictatorship. That is what we rescued. A stae at the time with a strong religious anti American ideology. It remains today.
    That might well be true. But to my mind, it doesn't justify the Iraqi annexation of Kuwait, or make the expulsion of them from Kuwait unjust.
    The point is we now have a history of supporting brutal dictatorships because they are our dictatorships. The Sha, the Arab monarchies. We have a history of meddling gone wrong. VN, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq. We took down Hussien who had been the regional balance to Iran. Now Iran has direct influence in Iraq.

    Bush Sr did not go into Iraq for that very reason. If we topple Iran the results will be just as unpredictable. It could destabilize the region.

    The only reason we rescued Kuwait was because of oil. If the Hormuz straight is blocked or interfered with it wood have serious global consequences. The unwritten agreement since the 70s was we provide protection and the Arabs pump oil to keep prices down.During the Cold War the Arabs were in the Soviet camp. The second and third Arab Israeli wars were Soviet USA proxy wars.

    I really did not care that Kuwait was plundered. We could have let Hussein sweep the Arabs then deal with him. IMO the Arabs are no better than Hussein, especially SA. The killing of the NYT reporter in a Saudi embassy was right out of Hussein's playbook. You could not pay me to visit SA where I would be at risk speaking politics and religion.

  6. Top | #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Tammuz View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post

    Because the first war was about saving the Saudis who had long personal relations with the Bush family. It was about oil only, not about liberating Kuwait. Kuwait was a talking point for forming an Arab coalition.

    SA was and is a brutal dictatorship. That is what we rescued. A stae at the time with a strong religious anti American ideology. It remains today.
    That might well be true. But to my mind, it doesn't justify the Iraqi annexation of Kuwait, or make the expulsion of them from Kuwait unjust.
    The point is we now have a history of supporting brutal dictatorships because they are our dictatorships. The Sha, the Arab monarchies. We have a history of meddling gone wrong. VN, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq. We took down Hussien who had been the regional balance to Iran. Now Iran has direct influence in Iraq.

    Bush Sr did not go into Iraq for that very reason. If we topple Iran the results will be just as unpredictable. It could destabilize the region.

    The only reason we rescued Kuwait was because of oil. If the Hormuz straight is blocked or interfered with it wood have serious global consequences. The unwritten agreement since the 70s was we provide protection and the Arabs pump oil to keep prices down.During the Cold War the Arabs were in the Soviet camp. The second and third Arab Israeli wars were Soviet USA proxy wars.

    I really did not care that Kuwait was plundered. We could have let Hussein sweep the Arabs then deal with him. IMO the Arabs are no better than Hussein, especially SA. The killing of the NYT reporter in a Saudi embassy was right out of Hussein's playbook. You could not pay me to visit SA where I would be at risk speaking politics and religion.
    Kuwait is slightly more liberal than Saudi Arabia. You generalize a lot about Arabs.

    I still think it was right to cast out the Iraqi army from Kuwait, and preventing the annexation. Other American wrong-steps don't change that. Your declared lack of empathy speaks for itself.

  7. Top | #27
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    Iran is far more liberal and democratic than Saudi Arabia. Iran has selections that can actually mean something in terms of policies.

    Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are corrupt decadent anachronistic monarchies. If it were not for the support of Israel and the regional oil politics they would be our arch enemies as well as Iran.

    I could have given a shit about Kuwait. Underneath it all the Arab oil dictatorships preach a fundamentally anti western and American theism. Saudi Wahabianism. They did not earn their wealth. American business developed the Saudi infrastructure, and then they nationalized it. Fuck then all. Let them slaughter each other in the name of Allah until they get sick of it or run out of people to kill.

    Post WWII the Europeans figured out mutual prosperity and security was better than the centuries of conflict and destruction.

  8. Top | #28
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    The Fall of the Berlin Wall was definitely a big deal in the US. Of course, the Republicans tried to give Reagan credit for it, absurdly pretending that his "Tear down this wall" speech 2 years prior was the cause. At the time he made that speech, no one cared or paid attention, and the Soviets viewed it as what it was, self-aggrandizing cold-war bluster. After-the fact, media started playing the speech over and over, giving a false impression of a more timely connection. Historical analysis shows, that speech had nothing to do with it, and almost none of the East Germans who later demanded the wall come down had heard that speech. The protests in East Berlin were part of worldwide protests in most countries being controlled or occupied by the Soviets.

    The reality is that David Bowie and Bruce Springsteen probably had more causal impact on sparking the dissidence that would lead to the fall of the wall. In 1988, Bowie played a concert as close as he could to the wall and thousands of East Berliners got as close as they could to hear it, then they rioted. The same year, Springsteen played in East Berlin and spoke about "tearing down barriers" to 300k people, probably half of the cities youth, and watched by the rest on TV.

    The youth that was largely responsible for the riots that eventually brought the wall down were likely mostly motivated by an interested in being able to listen to rock and roll and consume other western culture, rather than a political ideology.

    Most importantly , 6 months after the fall, Roger Waters fulfilled an earlier promise by staging a Pink Floyd: The Wall concert for the first time since the original tour of it 10 years prior. It was attended by almost half a million people. Interestingly, the only reason that so many people could attend and view the show is b/c it was held in the still barren open space called "no man's land" that had been cleared of all trees and buildings so the wall guards could get a clear shot at refugees. It was powerful stuff, especially for a die hard Floyd fan like me.

  9. Top | #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by bilby View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Tammuz View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    I grew up in the western United States, and this is the first political event I have a conscious memory of. Obviously I was too young to understand the implications at the time aside from "everyone is very happy that a wall fell down", but I do remember the era of optimism that followed; us 90's kids were raised with this feeling that the old world was on its way out, that we were headed toward a new globalized reality in which many long-standing problems - ecosystemic collapse, warfare between major powers, racism, terrorism - might perhaps be tackled by some chirpy PSAs and storybooks with moral lessons at the end. We were going to be richer than our parents, more caring than our parents, we would create technological wonderlands. Well, best two out of three I guess! People in my generation often blame 9/11 for the collapse of all that optimism, but I think the slowly deteriorating economy had as much to do with it. There were political battles, but at least if you were white and middle class and hadn't yet realized yet that you were gay *cough*, they all seemed pretty low-stakes compared to the trauma and quiet anxiety our parents had clearly been raised under. I remember my parents (ardent Democrats in the middle a mostly Republican county) being not just horrified, but kind of disgusted, offended by the Gulf War. This was exactly the kind of violent foreign adventuring that was supposed to end now that we no longer had the USSR to pin our garland wars on. Little did they know...
    I don't really understand why the Gulf War was so disliked. Iraq annexed another country, in clear violation of international law, and I don't know of any data that the Kuwaitis wanted to live under Saddam's thumb.
    Saddam Hussein was led to believe by American diplomats that the US wouldn't intervene if he annexed Kuwait. He thought the Americans were on his side, having supported him in his long war against Iran. And the Americans were unnecessarily vague about their opinion of his 'recovering' the territory he felt was stolen from Iraq by Kuwait.

    The invasion and subsequent war could easily have been averted by a clear and unequivocal statement by the US, warning Iraq not to invade.

    And once he invaded, there wasn't any particular reason why the US should have done anything about it - as long as the oil kept flowing, the US had no reason to get involved in this local war.

    It's not like America has intervened in all the other places where territory has been invaded or annexed, or in every other local conflict around the world. Sure, there was a moral argument to act; but the Americans have turned a blind eye to plenty of those, before and since.

    The US went to war because they wanted to. They weren't harmed, or even threatened; they were just showing off.

    It was an opportunity to show the world that they were the only remaining superpower, and that if they said 'jump', everyone was expected to say 'how high?'. Shock and awe wasn't for the edification of the Iraqis. It was supposed to shock and awe the entire world.
    There was more to it than that even. Once we set up there 'to protect Saudi Arabia,' we never left, which was a complete insult to devout Muslims (really pissed off an unknown at the time by the name of Osama Bin Laden). Plus they were pulling oil from Iraq by bore drilling. There was a lot of strategic/economic intention with Kuwaiit - more than just the US being dicks.
    I'm not saying Saddam was a 'great' guy but he did have a secular government and there were more WOMEN college graduates from Iraq than ANYWHERE in the ME.

  10. Top | #30
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    Sigh....I miss David Bowie.

    Quote Originally Posted by ronburgundy View Post
    The Fall of the Berlin Wall was definitely a big deal in the US. Of course, the Republicans tried to give Reagan credit for it, absurdly pretending that his "Tear down this wall" speech 2 years prior was the cause. At the time he made that speech, no one cared or paid attention, and the Soviets viewed it as what it was, self-aggrandizing cold-war bluster. After-the fact, media started playing the speech over and over, giving a false impression of a more timely connection. Historical analysis shows, that speech had nothing to do with it, and almost none of the East Germans who later demanded the wall come down had heard that speech. The protests in East Berlin were part of worldwide protests in most countries being controlled or occupied by the Soviets.

    The reality is that David Bowie and Bruce Springsteen probably had more causal impact on sparking the dissidence that would lead to the fall of the wall. In 1988, Bowie played a concert as close as he could to the wall and thousands of East Berliners got as close as they could to hear it, then they rioted. The same year, Springsteen played in East Berlin and spoke about "tearing down barriers" to 300k people, probably half of the cities youth, and watched by the rest on TV.

    The youth that was largely responsible for the riots that eventually brought the wall down were likely mostly motivated by an interested in being able to listen to rock and roll and consume other western culture, rather than a political ideology.

    Most importantly , 6 months after the fall, Roger Waters fulfilled an earlier promise by staging a Pink Floyd: The Wall concert for the first time since the original tour of it 10 years prior. It was attended by almost half a million people. Interestingly, the only reason that so many people could attend and view the show is b/c it was held in the still barren open space called "no man's land" that had been cleared of all trees and buildings so the wall guards could get a clear shot at refugees. It was powerful stuff, especially for a die hard Floyd fan like me.

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