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Cold War, Fall of the Iron Curtain

Page history last edited by peterga 11 years, 1 month ago

"To give credit where it is due: in the last months of 1989, especially since the fall of the Wall, and thorughout 1990, this initial superabundance of caution turned into a combination of entirely deliberate restraint ("don't dance on teh Wall!" was the injunction heard in the corridors of the White House and the State Department) and some quite impressive statecraft in support of Helmut Kohl's drive for German unification on Western terms.  But for the decisive nine months, from the beginning of Poland's roundtable talks in February to the fall of the Wall in November, the United States' contibution lay mainly in what it did not do."  NYRB 11/5/09

 

"Defense Secretary Dick Cheney suggested that Gorbachev's policies 'may be a temporary aberration in the behavior of our foremost adversary.'" - NYRB 11/5/09

 

"Every writer on 1989 wrestles with an almost unavoidable human proclivity that psychologists have christened "hindsight bias" -- the tendency, that is, to regard actual historical outcomes as more probable than alternatives that seemed real at the time (for example, a Tiananmen-style crackdown in Central Europe).  What actually happened looks as if it somehow had to happen.  Henri Bergson talked of the 'illusions of retrospective determinism.'  Explanations are then offered for what happened.  As one scholar commented a few years after 1989:  no one foresaw this, but everyone could explain it afterward.  Reading these books, I was again reminded of the Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski's 'law of the infinite cornucopia,' which states that an infinite number of explanations can be found for any given event."  -- NYRB 11/5/09

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