Role Reversal: The Collapse of the Dollar-Enforced Empire
The Soviet empire started to crumble around 1989. The time period between the forming of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in the late 1940s and the retreat of Russia from Eastern Europe with the eventual collapse of communism in Russia is known as the Cold War. There was a great power confrontation in Europe that did not result in war.
Essentially, US-led NATO stood its ground to prevent further Soviet expansion from the territory it occupied at the end of World War II and waited for the inevitable collapse. Now, perhaps not everyone saw the collapse of the Soviet empire as inevitable. But all one had to do was view the Soviet empire for oneself, up close and personal, which is what I did in the early 1970s as a young Air Force officer.
The State of the Communist Economy
The Russian economy at that time is painful to describe. Moscow and Leningrad (Saint Petersburg), the so-called jewels of the Soviet Union, were depressing. Everything was shoddily built. There were very few cars on the streets. There were no retail shops deserving of the name. Lines formed in the middle of the night awaiting the opening of the few bakeries. I saw this for myself from my hotel window on the Nevsky Prospekt in Leningrad. GUM, the “world’s largest department store” near Moscow’s Red Square, sold nothing that was equal to what could be found in any garage sale in the West.
Actually, that should not be a surprise since at one time all those garage-sale goods were marketable. I did not visit Berlin, but those who did say that crossing the Brandenburg Gate from West Berlin to East Berlin was shocking…
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