“Behind me stands a wall that encircles the free sectors of this city, part of a vast system of barriers that divides the entire continent of Europe. . . . Standing before the Brandenburg Gate, every man is a German, separated from his fellow men. Every man is a Berliner, forced to look upon a scar. . . . As long as this gate is closed, as long as this scar of a wall is permitted to stand, it is not the German question alone that remains open, but the question of freedom for all mankind. . . .
General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate.
Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate!
Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
—Ronald Reagan, address at the Brandenburg Gate, June 12, 1987
Unlike the eventual destruction of the Berlin Wall, I do not intend on tearing down my blog after the completion of this course! On June 12, 1987, President Ronald Reagan famously pleaded withGeneral Secretary Gorbachev and the Soviet Union for the dismantlement of the Berlin Wall. Although no immediate action came directly from Reagan’s speech, eventually the wall dividing East and West Berlin would fall, and so would the Soviet Union.
The End of the Soviet Union
The month of December, 1991 would ultimately be the month in which the once mighty super power, the Soviet Union, would receive a fatal blow and disintegrate. On December 1, voters in Ukraine overwhelmingly approved a referendum on independence. A week later, Belorussia signed a declaration terminating the Soviet Union and replacing it with the Commonwealth of Independent States. Then on December 21, the presidents of all the other republics with the exception of Georgia (already embroiled in civil war) and the three Baltic states, declared their willingness to enter the Commonwealth (The End of the Soviet Union). As the world watched with amazement Gorbachev announced his acceptance of the dissolution of the Soviet Union and his resignation as its president on December 25, 1991.
The Soviet Union disintegrated into fifteen separate countries. The collapse of the great power was hailed by the west as a victory for freedom, a triumph of democracy over totalitarianism, and evidence of the superiority of capitalism over socialism. The thought of a great power, such as the Soviet Union, coming to an end is hard to fathom. The United States rejoiced as its formidable enemy was brought to its knees, thereby ending the Cold War which had hovered over these two superpowers since the end of World War II. Without a doubt the breakup of the Soviet Union had a profound effect on the globe and transformed the entire world political situation, leading to a complete reformulation of political, economic and military alliances across the board (Fall of the Soviet Union).
“Now that the Soviet Union, with its centralized political and economic system, has ceased to exist, the fifteen newly formed independent countries which emerged in its aftermath are faced with an overwhelming task. They must develop their economies, reorganize their political systems, and, in many cases, settle bitter territorial disputes. A number of wars have developed on the peripheries of the former Soviet Union. Additionally, the entire region is suffering a period of severe economic hardship. However, despite the many hardships facing the region, bold steps are being taken toward democratization, reorganization, and rebuilding in most of the countries of the former Soviet Union (Fall of the Soviet Union).”
It is truly difficult to imagine that a global power like the Soviet Union, with military, political, economic, and social influence in every corner of the globe could eventually be dismantled. It makes you wonder is it really true that all great powers eventually fall? We have seen it before, will we see it again?
Featured Image: http://alphahistory.com/coldwar/fall-of-the-berlin-wall/
Reagan image: http://alphahistory.com/coldwar/fall-of-the-berlin-wall/
Reagan Speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MDFX-dNtsM