Beyond the Cold War

East Germans climb the Berlin Wall

The postwar era collapsed in 1989. When the year began, relations among countries were essentially what they had been for forty years: a divided Europe, a Soviet Union that maintained an East European empire by force, and an America that assumed "superpower" responsibilities vis-à-vis its allies in NATO and in Asia. By the year's end the countries of Eastern Europe seem to have been liberated from the pressures of the Brezhnev Doctrine (though Soviet troops remained). Communist governments put in place and held there by force had collapsed. The division of Europe had been overcome symbolically with the collapse of the Berlin Wall, and literally with the progressive opening of borders between Hungary and Austria, Czechoslovakia and Austria, East Germany and West Germany. More than 700,000 Soviet troops were still stationed throughout Eastern Europe, but the will to empire had apparently been replaced by a will to modernization.

Meanwhile the relative

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