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Eastern Europe on Trial

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Mikhail Gorbachevs efforts to modernize and restructure the Soviet Union may be impeded by the East European client states it has dominated since the end of World War II. Moscows six allies -- East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, and Hungary -- are key members of its military alliance, the Warsaw Pact, and of its economic alliance, the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance. The Soviet Union has long established functional and symbolic, bilateral and multilateral, and formal and informal means for their subordination. Now, in the era of glasnost openness and perestroika restructuring -- at a time when the imperatives of Soviet systemic reform demand external quiescence and assistance -- the very legacy of Soviet control may imperil this vital region. Eastern Europe is now on trial. Soviet leaders have sought the integration of this highly variegated region with little success. Non-Eastern Europes aging political elites face a future constrained by economic disarray, ecological and social ills, structural maladjustment, and a separation of society from the state. The regions military forces have been functionally integrated, but their larger societies remain attitudinally alienated. For Moscow, the forces of disruption in this turbulent region are too overwhelming for the forces of integration to effectively control. In the absence of attitudinal integration, the challenge to General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev in Eastern Europe is clear. For perestroika to produce the results glasnost promises, Gorbachev must grant greater autonomy to East European peoples and institutions despite the potential threat this poses to the basic premises of Moscows political control.

Subject Categories:

  • Economics and Cost Analysis
  • Government and Political Science
  • Sociology and Law
  • Psychology

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