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STANFORD -- The revolutionary changes that enveloped Eastern and Central Europe caught Moscow by surprise and permanently altered the relationship between the Soviet Union and the East
European nations, writes Hoover scholar Richard F. Staar in East-Central Europe and the USSR (1991, St. Martin's Press, United
States, and MacMillan Press, London, $49.95). Staar is the editor of the book.
As regimes in East-Central Europe dismantled their bankrupt Soviet model in favor of political pluralism and a free market economy, said Staar, "leaders in Moscow began to pay attention."
"The abortive coup showed the extent of opposition to such reforms for the USSR," he said. "Since that is now behind them, Gorbachev and Yeltsin can take advantage of the East-Central European experience and apply it selectively to their own conditions."
The book begins with a historical section on relationships
between the East-Central European nations and the Soviet Union. It chronicles the participation of those nations in the era of glasnost under Gorbachev. Subsequent chapters examine their political, economic and social infrastructure and projects their near-term future.
Authors who are experts in the field assess the significance--economic and military, as well as political--of
the revolutions in East-Central Europe and provide insights into the chances for success of the transformations that have so drastically altered the region.
After the initial exhilaration associated with volatile political change in the region, there will be a "long process of reviving bankrupt economies and creating new governmental systems
patterned after those in Western Europe," Staar said.
While each country differs in both economic and political stability, he said, the entire region has a singular common experience:
"It is the dreadful legacy of almost half a century on the path to nowhere."
Staar warns that, historically, many revolutionary changes in the political landscape have ended in tyranny.
"This may indeed be the fate of the Soviet Union," he said. "Should such a development occur, let us hope that the pattern does not replicate itself throughout East-Central Europe."
Staar is a former professor of foreign affairs at the National War College and U.S. ambassador to the conventional arms control talks in Vienna. He has authored or edited numerous books, including Communist Regimes in Eastern Europe, Foreign Policies of the Soviet Union, Soviet Military Policy Since World War II and Yearbook on International Communist Affairs.
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