Gorbachev and the German Question: Soviet-West German Relations, 1985-1990

Gorbachev and the German Question: Soviet-West German Relations, 1985-1990

Gorbachev and the German Question: Soviet-West German Relations, 1985-1990

Gorbachev and the German Question: Soviet-West German Relations, 1985-1990

Synopsis

Challenges views that Gorbachev caved in to the West on German reunification. Analyzes his new thinking and shows how internal and external factors interacted to develop Soviet policies that helped transform postwar Europe.

Excerpt

For more than 40 years following the end of World War II, the Soviet Union viewed the division of Germany as the key to peace and stability in Europe. Yet in July 1990, Mikhail Gorbachev met with West German leader Helmut Kohl and accepted the unification of the two German states. This remarkable event marked the culmination of a complex transformation of the Soviet security environment which was at once rapid and gradual.

The change was rapid in historical terms, since geopolitical realities that had stood over 40 years evaporated in a period of months. Likewise, the Soviet vision of international relations which traced its origins back to Vladimir Lenin and the birth of the Soviet state seemingly disappeared overnight. Yet the transformation was gradual in political terms. The Gorbachev leadership came to power with an ideological worldview significantly different from its predecessors. New foreign policy principles began to emerge soon after Gorbachev's promotion, and actual policy changes followed shortly thereafter. Starting in 1988 and continuing into early 1990s, Soviet reformers promoted ideas that broke radically with traditional approaches. In the process, Gorbachev and his supporters drew on the work of international relations scholars dating back to the 1970s.

The period 1985-1991 was the last in a series of dramatic chapters in Soviet-West German relations. One of the first foreign policy acts of the . . .

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