Reforming Tsars, Good Tsars, and Tsars in General

Cynthia H. Whittaker talked about how a “good tsar” often gets confused with a “reforming tsar,” and how it may be best to think of someone like Peter the Great as a “reforming tsar.” She seems to re-message and re-package how we think of tsars in a way that we should think of good ones not as “good” but as “reformers.”

Peter the Great Pic

Peter the Great, who is defined by some as an example of a “good” or “reforming” tsar.

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Gorbachev: What were his Aims?

Gorbachev was a reformer without question, but to what end? What were the aims of his reform attempting to achieve?  Gorbachev was not a Stalinist era child, he was a Khrushchev child.  Khrushchev was the first General Secretary to introduce new reforms to the Soviet Union since the reign of Stalin.  All of his policies were centered around forgetting Stalin and his dark era.  Gorbachev saw this as a child and learned that Khrushchev would be remembered as the “Great Reformer” by many. … Read the rest here

Gorbachev’s Naiveté?

Was Gorbachev either incredibly trusting or naive? Even though both Kohl and Baker verbally and somewhat transparently agreed that NATO would not extend its border east if the Germanies rejoined, it seems unreasonable to believe that these two things could happen simultaneously. How could one-half of a country belong to NATO and the other half not? Comparatively this is like saying that any state west of the Mississippi River is not to belong to NATO. A situation of further divide is unlikely terms for any forming nation.… Read the rest here


In the book, 1989, Mary Elise Sarotte used her book to look at the final days of the Soviet Union and the events that helped cause the collapse of the Soviet Union.  She argued that the events in China did not “transfer to Europe”, the easing of tensions by the Americans first and then the Soviets, the East Germans demanding a change in “the status quo”, “self confidence increase”, and “television transforms reality at a crucial moment.”1

One of the more crucial points and one of the more striking things to me, that Mary Sarotte made was the impact the media, particularly television, had on the end of the Soviet Union.  … Read the rest here

Sarotte on the Factors of the Soviet Union’s Collapse

In “1989”, Mary Elise Sarotte questions the factors at play in the fall of the Soviet Union. In her first chapter, she discusses the changes that occurred in 1989 and argues that the Soviet Union’s collapse was propelled as a result of changes within the Soviet Union’s internal status quo, unstable relations with between Americans and Soviet politicians, and changing international relations in Europe. She also points to the looming fear of nuclear warfare that characterized the Cold War and defined the era in general.… Read the rest here

Whittaker- The Dual Autocratic Identity

Whittaker’s thesis and stance on the reforming of Russia encompasses the two mentalities of Russia: the conservative history under autocracies and the desire for progress. She mentions that because Russians had only ever truly been governed under a strong, authoritarian leadership that there was an expectation of that way of societal structure (as nothing else had ever been implemented) where the state always came before the individual. However, she importantly notes the contrast that was brought about by reforming tsars.… Read the rest here

Thatcher and Gorbachev

3 Points:

1. Thatcher realizes that Gorbachev and her have different prerogatives but shows a willingness to cooperate as long as each side gets what they want.

2. The most important detail regarding each country’s foreign policy is to make sure there is no chance at a presumed “World War III”. Each side realizes that would be disastrous to their own country’s interests and domestic policy, so they will go to great lengths to avoid such an event.… Read the rest here

Remarks on East-West Relations at the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin

Substantive Points

  1. United States President Ronald Reagan gave this speech on June 12, 1987 in West Berlin. The speech was televised globally (including East Berlin) with the Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin wall as a key backdrop. President Reagan announced to the German people that he joined them as their fellow countrymen and firmly believed that there is only one Berlin. He stated, “as long as this gate is closed, as long as this scare of a wall is permitted to stand, it is not the German question alone that remains open, but the question of freedom for all mankind.” The President saw the Berlin wall essential to the future of not only Berlin, but also Europe as a whole.
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CIA Intelligence Assessment: Rising Political Instability Under Gorbachev

3 Points:
  1. December 1988, Gorbachev delivered a “watershed” speech at the United Nations that demonstrated his growing liberalization efforts. All of these efforts would create a less intrusive force in the eastern bloc, as shown be attempts to decrease the military forces prevalent there and the amounts of armaments used.
  2. President Bush saw these as empty promises; pointing out how despite the perception that Gorbachev was creating opportunity for the people in the Soviet Union, their standards of living remain very low- similar to as they were under Stalin.
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Perestroika and 100 wilted flowers

Perestroika and glasnost  were terms Gorbachev used to embody his cultural reforms and openness to Western influence. The Chinese, too, had a period of openness. In 1956 Mao said that,  “The policy of letting a hundred flowers bloom and a hundred schools of thought contend is designed to promote the flourishing of the arts and the progress of science.” This “100 Flowers Movement” was ended in 1957 with political persecutions. Both Communist powers handled political dissonance in the second half of the 20th century differently, with the USSR embracing and the Chinese silencing controversy.  … Read the rest here