Armed Forces and Political Power in Eastern Europe: The Soviet/Communist Control System

By Bradley R. Gitz | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 1
The Soviet/Communist Control System
and NSWP Reliability

INTRODUCTION

1989 will clearly be remembered as the year in which the Cold War ended and the structure of the international system was dramatically rearranged. More specifically, it will be remembered as the year in which a series of democratic revolutions swept away the long-established communist regimes of Eastern Europe, thereby ending the artificial division of the continent since the end of the Second World War. Although certainly brought on by worsening socioeconomic conditions and a chronic lack of institutional legitimacy, the revolutions of 1989 could not have taken place without the repeal of the "Brezhnev Doctrine" and its replacement by a "Sinatra Doctrine" emphasizing the independence of the Soviet Union's East European allies. The repeal of that doctrine of limited East European sovereignty was thus both a signal for mass movements throughout the region to rid their countries of unpopular neo-Stalinist regimes and also the most tangible reflection of the sincerity of Mikhail Gorbachev's "New Thinking." 1 The Soviet willingness to accept the membership of a unified Germany within NATO represented, of course, the most dramatic concession of all. 2

While a peaceful, orderly transition away from communism for Eastern Europe is still far from assured, the collapse of the Warsaw Treaty Organization (WTO) as a viable mutual security system was an inevitable consequence of these developments. As the institutional lynchpin of the Soviet-East European relationship, the Pact could hardly have been expected to remain unaffected by the dramatic changes sweeping bloc

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