In Episode 9 of Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the
States, he cites Fukuyama’s famous declaration in 1989 that the
collapse of the Soviet Union signaled the end
of history as such, and the universalization of Western liberal democracy. However, what
may have appeared to be a new era of great peace soon found itself bogged down
in another war.
Oliver Stone sees the 1988 election of George H.W. Bush not so much an extension of the Reagan administration, but a new era in “triumphalism” that would continue through the
Clinton administration, in which the
emerged as the world’s lone superpower intent on exerting its military and
economic influence all over the world.
The opportunity had been missed to build a brand new alliance with the US Soviet Union.
Stone assails H.W. Bush for not fully reaching out to Gorbachev at this time, but instead caving into neo-conservative interests that wanted to see the
Union cleaved apart and made weaker. Stone forgets to mention the great turmoil
within the Soviet Union that led to its collapse
in 1991. Instead, he sees the Bush
administration’s embrace of Yeltsin as a purposeful attempt to marginalize and
discredit Gorbachev, who Stone cites as “one of the most visionary and
transformative leaders of the 20th century.”
There are several things wrong with this premise. First, the
Soviet Union had been teetering on the
edge of collapse for more than a decade.
Not once does Stone mention the Solidarity movement in or
bother to explore the fragmentation occurring in the country during this
time. It wasn’t just the Warsaw Pact
that was splitting apart, but the Poland Soviet Union
was convulsing inside, with separatist movements throughout its vast union.
Secondly, Stone erroneously ties the Baltic nations with the Eastern bloc nations. The Baltics had been fully absorbed into the Soviet Union after WWII and would remain a part of the
for 2 more years, gaining
independence in 1991, not 1989 as Stone implies in his brightly colored maps. He also fails to note that Gorbachev used
economic blackmail to hold the the Soviet Union together, cutting off natural gas and
fuel supplies to the Baltics when they seceded in 1990. Since the Baltics refused to buckle, long
used to deprivations of this kind, Gorbachev commanded tanks to roll into USSR Vilnius in January, 1991, in an attempt to crush ’s independence bid once
and for all. However, he seemed to have second
thoughts. His place in history as the
great transformational figure might be lost if the uprising in Lithuania turned out to be just another Prague
Spring, and so Gorbachev withdrew the tanks 3 days later. Vilnius
Lastly, Gorby's vision of the new Soviet Union was of a “kinder, friendlier superpower,” just like George H.W. Bush had extolled for
during his 1988 election
bid. This is what Perestroika and Glasnost were about, only the restructuring and openness Gorby imagined was
not what the suppressed republics within the America Soviet Union
imagined. Gorby never for a moment
imagined the fall of the ,
and did what he could to hold it together.
It was only when the wheels began falling off, and Russia itself
declared independence (led by the feisty Boris Yeltsin) that it became clear to
Gorbachev his dream of a revitalized Soviet Union was over. USSR