International Relations - End of USSR/Gorbachev Question? Watch

yodadrinkingsoda
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Hi everyone,

I've been going through past questions on International relations and stuck on this question:

"'Mikhail Gorbachev was entirely responsible for the failure to revive the Soviet Union's economy from 1985.' How valid is this assessment?"


I have reasons why Gorbachev DID cause it - being Anti-alcohol law, Law on Joint ventures and so on - but doubt I can extend all this so much

BUT - the question caps off at 1985, so what reasons, apart from Comecon would be okay to use, because I'm assuming you cannot mention anything before 1985 such as the policies of Reagan (all before 1985 and not Thatcher etc.

Thanks,
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michiganpapi
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(Original post by yodadrinkingsoda)
Hi everyone,

I've been going through past questions on International relations and stuck on this question:

"'Mikhail Gorbachev was entirely responsible for the failure to revive the Soviet Union's economy from 1985.' How valid is this assessment?"


I have reasons why Gorbachev DID cause it - being Anti-alcohol law, Law on Joint ventures and so on - but doubt I can extend all this so much

BUT - the question caps off at 1985, so what reasons, apart from Comecon would be okay to use, because I'm assuming you cannot mention anything before 1985 such as the policies of Reagan (all before 1985 and not Thatcher etc.

Thanks,
Whilst it starts from 1985, you could speak of how the Brezhnehvian Stagnation the previous years essentially provided a chance for Gorbachev to reform the economy. Remember the insufficient oil and fuel supplies during the Brezhnevian Era supplemented by the Soviets being technologically behind the US, producing only around 18,000 computers whereas the US were able to produce over 150,000 in the 1980s. Whilst this is the case (give some details of the failures during Brezhnev's era which led to economic stagnation and put Gorbachev in an economically weak position) you may use this paragraph to link to your next on how it was essentially his responsibility. Nevertheless, a quote that i find useful from Martin Walker is: 'The more Gorbachev reformed the system, the more he destabilised it'. Your points are good, however you need to understand that Gorbachev was oblivious to the fact that in order to revive the system, he would have to destabilise it first, rather than reform the stagnation. This somewhat parallels with Lenin's reign. He was aware of the fact that a framework must be set up for his successor, Stalin, in order to deal with limited opposition. However, in this case its simply economically.


Whilst this may be the case, the collapse of communism also put Gorbachev in a bad place economically, and it is argued that the collapse was solely his responsibility due to his beliefs. He believed 'force or threat of force, neither can, nor should be instruments of foreign policy. This principle of freedom of choice is mandatory.' This ultimately resulted him in abandoning the Brezhnev Doctrine in 1989, replaced by the so-caled 'Sinatra Doctrine', allowing the Warsaw pact nations to determine their own global affairs. Hungary began the process, its government granting freedom of speech and association, and its communist party accepting multi-party systems. Furthermore, 100,000 Hungarian troops began marching through the streets of Budapest, demanding their nations withdrawal from the Warsaw pact, and on 2nd May, Hungarian troops began removing the barbed wire across the frontier with Austria, undoubtedly creating a chink in the iron curtain, a symbol for Gorbachev's inability to control, both economically, and globally. Ergo, (you could state) Gorbachev was more concerned with his beliefs presenting a sense of freedom to these nations, rather then focusing on destabilising and then reforming the collapsing economy.


Both this paragraph, supplemented by your paragraph on failed reforms link nicely to the underlying theme during Gorbachev's rule - Inability to Control.

(Some facts to add to your paragraph: by 1991, GNP had fallen a further 8%, national income reduced by 10%, exports reduced by 33% and imports reduced by 45% - His policies were evidently failures)

Hoped this helped in any way.
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yodadrinkingsoda
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(Original post by michiganpapi)
Both this paragraph, supplemented by your paragraph on failed reforms link nicely to the underlying theme during Gorbachev's rule - Inability to Control
I see, but like I said the question caps off at 1985, so would it possible to mention the Brezhnev doctrine?

Also, What I meant in my questions was that I couldn't think of any reasons as to why it WASN'T Gorbachev who caused the collapse of the Soviet economy (Guess I didn't make that clear, sorry)

So, since the questions caps off at 1985, am I right in saying you cannot mention reasons as to who caused the collapse, such as the actions of Reagan, Thatcher and John Pope II, who all acted before 1985 causing its collapse.
Also, the points you mention on the economy and the Brezhnev stagnation, this is all before the date so could I still use this? Also, wouldn't you say that this is more of an external factor to prove that it wasn't Gorbachev who caused the collapse, but the backward nature of past leaders and already inflexible command economy?

Thanks for your detailed response, will keep these in mind
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michiganpapi
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(Original post by yodadrinkingsoda)
I see, but like I said the question caps off at 1985, so would it possible to mention the Brezhnev doctrine?

Also, What I meant in my questions was that I couldn't think of any reasons as to why it WASN'T Gorbachev who caused the collapse of the Soviet economy (Guess I didn't make that clear, sorry)

So, since the questions caps off at 1985, am I right in saying you cannot mention reasons as to who caused the collapse, such as the actions of Reagan, Thatcher and John Pope II, who all acted before 1985 causing its collapse.
Also, the points you mention on the economy and the Brezhnev stagnation, this is all before the date so could I still use this? Also, wouldn't you say that this is more of an external factor to prove that it wasn't Gorbachev who caused the collapse, but the backward nature of past leaders and already inflexible command economy?

Thanks for your detailed response, will keep these in mind
1) You could still speak of the way in which Brezhnev left Gorbachev in a weak position economically and simply link it back to the way in which the evident stagnated economy when Gorbachev came to power meant that it was not entirely his fault - Think about it for a minute, you wouldn't totally ignore the state of the economy when Gorbachev came to power would you? So how did it get to that state? In this way, you are able to mention that Gorbachev had limited control over the economy.

2) You could further speak of how the nuclear arms race was essentially provoked to a great extent by the US. Although there were the implementations of treaties such as START and SDI, they were merely rejected and therefore superficial propositions. The Nuclear arms race undoubtedly left Gorbachev in a weak position economically due to the previous expenditure, illustrating again that it was not entirely Gorbachev's responsibility.
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magnusthedog
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You could talk about the strong influence of hardliners in the Soviet government who managed to maintain disproportionate funding for the Soviet military, which they by created an extremely unbalanced civil industry (which was far behind the US in many incidences) versus the Soviet military-industrial complex. In addition, these hardliners maintained an inflexible economic system centred around the Gosplan and other centralised governmental departments which stiffled economic growth through inefficient central planning.

You could mention (which would count as some good historiography) Ludwig von Mises' and Friedrich Hayek's 'economic calculation problem' (kinda complicated search it up)

You could also mention how Reagan actively attempted to sabotage the Soviet economy by various means although some of his attempts were before 1985 however (you can find more information of this by looking at this PDF from a journal - NATIONAL STRATEGY, INTELLIGENCE AND TRADECRAFT - How the United States Won the Cold War. Its not a particularly reliable piece of research, for it lacks detailed analysis, but its good for general research and knowledge about Reagan and the Soviet economy.

Hope that helps ....
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yodadrinkingsoda
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(Original post by magnusthedog)
You could talk about the strong influence of hardliners in the Soviet government who managed to maintain disproportionate funding for the Soviet military, which they by created an extremely unbalanced civil industry (which was far behind the US in many incidences) versus the Soviet military-industrial complex. In addition, these hardliners maintained an inflexible economic system centred around the Gosplan and other centralised governmental departments which stiffled economic growth through inefficient central planning.

You could mention (which would count as some good historiography) Ludwig von Mises' and Friedrich Hayek's 'economic calculation problem' (kinda complicated search it up)

You could also mention how Reagan actively attempted to sabotage the Soviet economy by various means although some of his attempts were before 1985 however (you can find more information of this by looking at this PDF from a journal - NATIONAL STRATEGY, INTELLIGENCE AND TRADECRAFT - How the United States Won the Cold War. Its not a particularly reliable piece of research, for it lacks detailed analysis, but its good for general research and knowledge about Reagan and the Soviet economy.

Hope that helps ....
These are some great points, (My exams tomorrow so it's probably a bit too late to do some extra reading haha) thanks for all your help!
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alexgoldsmith
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Don't you think it would be more likely for them to ask within the context of the end of the Cold War? We were told by the guy that wrote the textbook that the end of the Cold War is all they can ask about with regards to this section - so maybe they could put it as 'Gorbachev's failure to reform the economy was the most prominent factor in the end of the Cold War,' or perhaps 'Mikhail Gorbachev was the key architect in the end of the Cold War,' as this would give scope to talk about relations with the US and Reagan, summits, agreements etc
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