Changes in Formerly Communist Nations
While their views ran parallel, Winston Churchill and President Ronald Reagan found themselves nearly alone in their view that Communism was metaphysically flawed and that opposition to such regimes was paramount. However, after nearly 45 years of opposition to such Communist regimes, their prediction to came to fruition as the world witnessed the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War era.
As you read in Week 2, Churchill geographically defined the Iron Curtain in his “Sinews of Peace” speech. He noted that the Iron Curtain was “erected” by the Soviet Union to close itself and certain eastern European allies from contact with the West.
“From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an “iron curtain” has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia; all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject, in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and in some cases increasing measure of control from Moscow” (Churchill, 1946).
While there were physical barriers later erected within areas of Soviet control, the Iron Curtain was not an actual physical barrier, contrary to some people’s misunderstanding. Instead, it was a move to form a political, ideological, and military barrier from the West and other non-Communist nations post – World War II. While there is debate about how much impact President Ronald Reagan’s “Tear Down This Wall” speech had on the start of the collapse of Communism, many claim that it changed the world.
Imagine how hard life must have been for those under Soviet control who were effectively imprisoned behind the Iron Curtain. How must they have felt when they heard the news of President Reagan’s speech? Was their reaction joy and relief or was it fear of change? In this assignment, you will share your thoughts about what led to the fall of the Soviet Union and how people were affected by the changes.
To prepare for this assignment:
• Research one former European Communist country. (See the map on page 499 of the course text.)
• Read President Reagan’s “Tear Down This Wall” speech from this week’s Learning Resources and reflect upon its impact on the breakdown of the Soviet Union.
• Review Gorbachev’s Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance speech from this week’s Learning Resources.
• If necessary, review “The Sinews of Peace” (aka “The Iron Curtain” speech) from the Week 2 Learning Resources.
• Consider how individuals living in the former Communist Soviet Union were affected by that nation’s collapse.
• Think about how social structures were affected after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
• Draw from this week’s reading and reflect upon the length of the Cold War era and how long it took for Communism to fall.
• Call to mind the differences in the daily lives between individuals living in a democratic nation versus those living in a Communist country.
• Imagine how hard life must have been for those under Soviet control who were effectively imprisoned behind the Iron Curtain.
• Reflect on how people must have felt when they heard the news of President Reagan’s speech. Was their reaction one of joy and relief or was it fear of change?
• Consider how much impact President Reagan’s speech had on the collapse of Communist Soviet Union.
• Compose a 2- to 3-page essay in which you do the following:
o Select and defend the biggest change in a particular country and the lives of its citizens after the collapse of Communism.
Which element of change had the most impact on that country?
What can you infer about how life changed for individuals living in that former Communist nation?
o Support your assertions by making at least 2 references, in proper APA format, to your course readings.