Kenneth I. Juster
U.S. Government Assistance to
Central and Eastern Europe
During the past year, we have witnessed the most dramatic changes on the European continent since the end of World War II.
The turn away from communism and the emergence of democracies in Eastern Europe represent nothing less than a vindication of U.S. foreign policy during the postwar era. We also must appreciate the fact, however, that the communists drove the countries of Eastern Europe and their economies to the brink of ruin. They have left behind in these countries an obsolescent industrial base, massive debt, and environmental decay. Perhaps the most damaging legacy, however, is psychological: populations grown accustomed to risk avoidance, a degeneration of entrepreneurial skills, and a dependence on government largess (including price subsidies, guaranteed jobs, and rent control). Thus, the new governments of central and Eastern Europe have their work cut out for them. So, too, does the West -- because it is in our interest that the East Europeans succeed.
For the United States, a successful transition to democracy and