Chapter 29: The Cold War Era and the Emergence of a New Europe



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The Soviet Stance on Revolutionary Developments

  • Gorbachev refused to rescue the old-line communist governments and party leaders in Eastern Europe and formally denounced the Brezhnev Doctrine.

  • For the first time since World War II, Eastern Europeans were free to shape their own political destiny without the fear of Soviet military intervention.

  • Citizens took to the streets to express their desire for democracy.

  • World responded with horror to the violent repression of pro-democracy protestors in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square by the People’s Republic of China in May 1989 and the communist parties of Eastern Europe could not offend world opinion with similar attacks on democratic demonstrators.

  • The Collapse of the Soviet Union

    • Section Overview

      • By 1989, it was clear that Gorbachev and the Soviet Union could no longer afford to support communism in Eastern Europe.

      • Gorbachev also concluded that the Communist Party in the Soviet Union must restructure itself and its relationship to the Soviet State and society.

    • Renunciation of Communist Political Monopoly

      • In early 1990, Gorbachev proposed to the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party that the party abandon its monopoly on power.

      • After intense debate, the committee abandoned the Leninist position that only a single elite party could act as the vanguard of the revolution and forge a new Soviet society.

    • New Political Forces

      • Gorbachev confronted challenges from three major political forces.

        • Conservatives

          • In the Soviet context, conservatives were those who wanted to preserve the influence of the Communist government and Soviet army.

          • Due to the dreadful economic situation in Russia, Gorbachev appointed members of conservative factions to key positions in the government.

        • Those who wanted much more extensive and rapid change

          • Led by Boris Yeltsin, this group wanted to move quickly to a market economy and a more democratic government.

          • Yeltsin was elected president of the Russian Republic, the largest and most important of the Soviet Union’s constituent republics, and was able to challenge Gorbachev from this position.

        • Regional unrest in some of the republics of the Soviet Union

          • Greatest unrest came from the Baltic republics of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, which had been independent states until 1940 when the Soviet Union swallowed them.

            • In 1989 and 1990, parliaments of the Baltic republics attempted to decrease Soviet control and Gorbachev used military force to resist these moves.

            • Lithuania actually declared independence.

          • Unrest erupted in the Soviet Islamic Republics in Central Asia and the Caucasus.

            • Riots broke out in Azerbaijan and Tajikistan.

      • Gorbachev worked to renegotiate the constitutional arrangements between the republics and central government but failed to do so and this may be the single most important cause of the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

    • The August 1991 Coup

      • The end of the Soviet Union

        • The conservative forces that Gorbachev brought into the government placed him under house arrest while on vacation in the Crimea and attempted to seize control of the Soviet Union.

        • The day of the coup, Boris Yeltsin climbed on a tank in front of the Russian Parliament building to denounce the coup and ask the world for help to maintain the Soviet Union’s move toward democracy.

        • The coup collapsed in two days, Gorbachev returned to Moscow, and Yeltsin steadily became the dominant political figure in the nation.

        • The Communist Party, compromised by its participation in the coup, collapsed as a political force.

        • In December 1991, the Soviet Union ceased to exist, Gorbachev left office, and the Commonwealth of Independent States came into existence.

      • The collapse of European communism in the Soviet Union and throughout eastern Europe has closed the era in which Marxism dominated European socialism that began in the 1870s with the German socialists’ adoption of Marxist thought.

  • The Yeltsin Decade and Putin

    • Yeltsin faced extreme economic and political troubles.

      • Political problems

        • Resistance from the Russian Parliament

          • Most of the Russian parliament—which consisted of mostly communists, opposed Yeltsin personally.

          • In September 1993, Yeltsin suspended Parliament, who responded by deposing his.

          • Parliament leaders tried to incite popular uprisings against Yeltsin in Moscow.

          • The military backed Yeltsin, however, and he surrounded Parliament with troops and tanks.

          • After Parliament aroused riots in Moscow, Yeltsin ordered the tanks to attack the Parliament building, crushing the opposition.

          • Yeltsin’s power was consolidated and the Western powers supported him.

        • In December 1993, Russians voted for a new Parliament and approved a new constitution.

      • Economic troubles

        • Exchange of state-run industry to private business gave way to extreme corruption as opportunists ascertained wealth as they came to possess former state-run businesses.

          • This created a small group of wealthy individuals who the press dubbed “the oligarchs.”

          • Political assassinations occurred and extreme political unrest ensued.

        • In the face of these problems and in declining health, Yeltsin resigned from the presidency near the turn of the millennium.

    • Vladimir Putin (b. 1952) succeeded Yeltsin as president.

      • Putin renewed the war effort against rebels in the Islamic province of Chechnya.

        • Many Russians have lost their lives fighting here, but Putin’s commitment to this conflict has increased his support in Russia itself.

        • After the terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001, Putin supported the American assault on Afghanistan, largely because the Russian government was afraid that Islamic extremism would spread beyond Chechnya to other regions in and around Russia.

        • In September 2003, a group of Chechens captured an elementary school in Beslan, a community in the Russian republic of North Ossetia.

          • 1,200 students, teachers, and parents were held hostage for several days.

          • When government troops stormed the school, approximately 330 of the hostages were killed.

      • In the wake of this event, Putin moved to increase the central government’s control over the economy and political power of local governments dominated by some of the leading oligarchs.

        • Despite Putin’s concentration of power, Russia remains more democratic than it ever was under the Soviet Union.

    Section Eight: The Collapse of Yugoslavia and Civil War

    • Background on Yugoslavia

      • It was created after World War I

      • Borders included seven major national groups: Serbs, Croats, Slovenes, Montenegrins, Macedonians, Bosnians, and Albanians.

        • Historically, these groups have had many conflicts.

        • Cultural differences

          • The Croats and Slovenes are Roman Catholic and use the Latin alphabet.

          • The Serbs, Montenegrins, and Macedonians are Eastern Orthodox and use the Cyrillic alphabet.

      • Tito (1892-1980), the leader of Yugoslavia during the 1940s, acted independently of Stalin and encouraged a cult of personality around himself.

        • He hoped this would quell ethnic disputes.

        • He instituted complex political power sharing among these groups.

      • After Tito’s death, economic difficulties undermined the authority of the central government and Yugoslavia gradually dissolved into civil war.

        • Events leading to the civil war

          • Nationalists movements

            • Slobodan Milosevic (b. 1941) led the Serbs

              • Serbs believed they were not given sufficient influence in Yugoslavia and Serbs living in Yugoslavia—outside Serbia—faced systematic discrimination from Croats and Albanians.

            • Franjo Tudjman (b. 1922) led Croatia

          • In the summer of 1990, in the wake of the changes in the Soviet bloc nations, Slovenia and Croatia declared independence from Yugoslavia.

            • The full European community recognized their independence.

        • By June 1991, full-fledged war had erupted between Serbia and Croatia.

          • Conflict ensued until 1992 when Croatian and Serbian forces determined to divide Bosnia-Herzegovina.

            • Bosnian Muslims became crushed between the two opposing forces.

            • Serbia pursued a policy of “ethnic cleansing” and killed or forcibly removed many Bosnian Muslims.

          • The unremitting bombardment of Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina, brought the violence of the Yugoslav civil war to the attention of the world.

            • The United Nations attempted to impose sanctions but go little results.

            • After a shell exploded at a marketplace in Sarajevo, killing dozens of people, Nato forced the Serbs to withdraw their artillery from around Sarajevo.

            • NATO carried out strategic airstrikes.

        • In 1995, the leaders of the warring forces negotiated a peace agreement in Dayton, Ohio.

          • Bosnia was granted independence.

          • NATO troops have enforced the terms of this agreement.

      • Toward the end of the 1990s, Serbian aggression against ethnic Albanians in the province of Kosovo again drew NATO into Yugoslav affairs.

        • International media broadcasted images of ethnic Albanians were rounded up and deported from Kosovo, where they constituted the majority population.

          • There were many atrocities, casualties, and deaths.

        • In 1999, NATO again carried out an air campaign and sent troops into Kosovo to safeguard ethnic Albanians.

          • The air campaign was the largest military action in Europe since the close of World War II.

      • In 200, a revolution overthrew Milosevic and the new Yugoslav government turned him over to the International War Crimes Tribunal at the Hague where his trial dragged on without a verdict.

    Section Nine: The Rise of Radical Political Islamism

    • Section Overview

      • Attacks of September 11, 2001 on the United States impacted US foreign policy in a number of ways.

        • First, it transformed American policy toward the Middle East.

        • The end of the Cold War has been succeeded by a new political world order in which both the United States and the nations of Europe, including the Russian Federation, are endangered by terrorist attacks from non-governmental organizations.

      • Radical Islamism is the term scholars use to describe an interpretation of Islam that came to have a significant impact on the Islamic world during the decades of decolonization.

        • Ideas informing radical Islamism extend back to the 1930s and resistance to British rule in Egypt.

    • Arab Nationalism

      • Roots of Radical Islamism and Arab nationalism

        • Developed in countries like Egypt and Syria in the 1920s and 1930s.

        • Gamal Abdul Nassar was an Arab nationalist leader who emerged in Egypt during World War II

          • He did not appeal to advocates of Radical Islamism because he promoted a form of socialism.

      • Characteristics of Radical Islamism

        • Resistance to Western ideas

        • Create a society based on rigorous interpretation of Islam.

      • Nationalism forged by nondemocratic Middle Eastern governments, usually traditional monarchies or authoritarian regimes dominated by the military, brought different results to the various Arab nations.

        • Saudi Arabia--wealthy and powerful due to oil

        • Kuwait—wealthy but not powerful

        • Jordan, Syria, and Egypt, which lacked oil, remained burdened by large impoverished populations.

      • Many Arab governments have worked out arrangements with local Muslim authorities.

        • Saudi Arabia turned its education system over to the adherents of a rigorous, puritanical form of Islam called Wahhabism.

        • Egyptian government has tried to pit different Islamic groups against one another.

      • In general, Muslim religious leaders were hostile to the Soviet Union and its influence on the Islamic world.

    • The Iranian Revolution

      • Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (1902-1989) managed to unite the middle and lower classes of Iran to overthrow a repressive, but modernizing government, that had long cooperated with the United States.

        • For the first time, a religiously dominated government , defining itself in Islamic and nationalistic terms, took control of a major nation.

        • The Iranian constitution gave the clergy the final say on all matters.

      • The Iranian Revolution challenged the largely secular Arab nationalist movements in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Algeria,

      • Fundamentalism, but is more correctly termed Islamic or Muslim reformism, was a cultural reaction of Middle Eastern peoples who lived under European colonialism, then Arab nationalist leaders.

        • Minority of Islamic reformist wish to see their states governed strictly by Islamic law, or the Shari’a

      • Iranian clerics have been publicly hostile to the United States, whom they regard as “the Great Satan,” and the West in general.

      • Conservative Arab governments feared the Iranian Revolution would challenge their legitimacy and moved to crack down on radical reformists.

        • President Anwar Sadat (b. 1918) of Egypt was assassinated by a member of Muslim Brotherhood on account of the Egyptian government’s crackdown on radical reformists.

    • Afghanistan and Radical Islamism

      • Section Overview

        • Muslim religious authorities declared jihad, literally meaning “a struggle” against the atheist, Western, Soviet Union that attempted an invasion in 1979.

          • Afghan resistance became nationalistic, universalistic, and religious.

          • Thousands of Muslims from throughout the Islamic world arrived in Afghanistan to oust the Soviets and their Afghan puppets.

          • The United States, and conservative Islamic states, supported the Afghan cause for different reasons.

            • Conservative Arab states saw the Afghan resistance as an opportunity to resist Soviet influence and to divert the energies of their own religious extremists.

            • The United States saw the Afghan war as another round in the Cold War.

      • The Taliban and Al Qaeda

        • Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989 created a power vacuum that lasted for more than a decade until the Taliban, rigorist Muslims, seized control.

          • Taliban imposed a strict interpretation of Islamic law that involved the following:

            • Strict regimentation of women

            • Public executions

            • Floggings and mutilations.

          • The Taliban allowed groups of Muslim terrorists, like Al Qaeda, which means “Base,” to establish training camps in their country.

            • The ideology of these terrorists groups came from across the Islamic world but had been inculcated in Pakistan.

              • Pakistani government had long handed over control of education to Islamic authorities who established Islamic schools, or madrasas, that taught reformed Islam, rejection of liberal and nationalist secular values, intolerance toward non-Muslims, repudiation of Western culture, hostility to Israel, and hatred of the United States.

      • Jihad Against the United States

        • After successful jihad against the Soviet Union, radical Muslims, many the products of the madrasas system of education, turned their attention to the United States, the other great Western power.

          • The United States attracted the attention of radical Islam during the Persian Gulf War of 1991.

          • During this conflict, some conservative Islamic governments, like Saudi Arabia, cooperated with and permitted the United States to build bases on their soil.

          • Islamic extremists, like Osama bin Laden (b. 1957), saw the establishment of US bases in Saudi Arabia, the location of the holiest sites in Islam, as a new invasion by Western crusaders.

        • The United States became a target because of its secular public morality, its international wealth and power, its military strength, its ongoing support for Israel, and its adherence to UN sanctions imposed on Iraq after the Gulf War.

          • Attacks on the United States

            • 1990s—targets associated with the US

              • World Trade Center in 1993

              • US army barracks in Saudi Arabia in 1996

              • US embassies in East Africa in 1998

              • US Cole in the Yemeni port of Aden in 2000

    Section Nine: A Transformed West

    • In 2001, following the attacks of September 11, President George W. Bush declared “a war on terrorism.”

      • US attacked and overthrew the Taliban government in Afghanistan

        • Taliban strongholds and resistance remain strong to this day

      • Defeat of Taliban destroyed Al Qaeda bases but not its leadership that remains intact but dispersed and in hiding.

    • Following the Afghan campaign, the Bush administration set forth a policy of preemptive strikes against potential enemies, which landed the US in a prolonged war in Iraq, based on incorrect reports of Iraq harboring weapons of mass destruction.

      • US captured and allowed the citizens of Iraq to try, convict, and execute Saddam Hussein.

      • The invasion of Iraq was undertaken in the wake of criticism from France, Germany, and Russia.

        • French and German opposition to the war fractured NATO and European Union affairs.

    • Al Qaeda terrorist struck in Madrid, Spain on March 11, 2004

      • 190 people were killed

      • Happened right before the Spanish election and the government that had supported the US invasion of Iraq was removed from power and replaced by a new government that immediately withdrew Spanish forces from Iraq.

    • In 2005 thousands of Iraqis braved threats to vote in the first meaningful election held in Iraq since 1950.

    • On July 7, 2005, terrorist bombings struck a London bus and subway system with considerable loss of life.

    • Many Europeans see their values and their emerging political community as different from American values.
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