Assess the Reasons for the Overthrow of Soviet Power in Eastern Europe

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Assess the reasons for the overthrow of Soviet Power in Eastern Europe. The Cold War (1945-91) was mainly between some of the most influential countries, USSR, USA and western European countries. Soviet power had dominated Eastern Europe for the majority of the Cold War, however, around the early 1980s this power began to falter. There were many reason for the overthrow of the Soviet power, some of which were, the economic decline in the USSR, the power of the people, the introduction of Gorbachev and Western prosperity. So which of these reasons was the most important? The most important reason for the overthrow in Eastern Europe was the economic decline in the USSR. Simon J Ball (1998) also argued that “there is little doubt that the Cold War came to an end as a result of Soviet economic failure. This failure led in turn a failure of nerve amongst the Soviet governing elite.” Ball suggests that if the Soviet Union did not experience an economic failure then they may have been able to keep power and it was that economic failure that triggered the other factors. By 1986 the Soviet economy suffered from both hidden inflation and pervasive supply shortages which were aggravated by an increasingly open black market that undermined the official economy. In addition, the USSR spent a lot on the military, they lost over 15,000 soldiers in the war against Afghanistan which had cost them $8 billion per annum. They also overspent in the Reagan years, the defence spending increased by $32.6 billion as they tried to compete with the USA STAR WARS programme but could not compete. Also, the USSR spent $40 billion propping up Communist Governments throughout the world. The USSR was left behind by the new wave of industrialisation as it was based on information technology, they were left desperate for Western technology. Due to the overspending on the ‘superpower’ status the
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