collapse of the USSR

1. Choose one of these theories and explain how it relates to the collapse of the USSR, and assess and justify whether it relates to its internal or external foreign policy.

  • Discuss whether all three of the causes are equally at fault, or whether one, more than the other, is the basic culprit of the demise of the USSR.

Respond to this post below 50 to 100 words


The Imperial Overstretch theory is that powers tend to expand until they implode. With each territory added the cost of maintaining the whole in manpower and capital escalates until the empire can no longer be maintained. To visualize this theory, think about planting a tree in a small pot. Trees have enormous growth potential without regard for where the roots will pull resources from as they expand. If you plant an oak in a small pot it will grow, but eventually choke itself off as the roots run out of resources from which to pull. Just as in horticulture, in government you must always be careful of maintaining a healthy growth rate.  Imperial Overstretch is an outwardly external foreign policy as it is looking at always taking on new territory without regard of the cost. The only way to ovoid overstretch is with an internal policy of a strong, flexible, government focused on the logistics of governing as much as the politics of it. This kind of balance is highly unlikely to ever be maintained.


I feel that all three theories (Imperial Overstretch, Defective System, and Bungled Reform) contributed to the downfall of the Soviets. Communism is a defective system in that it relies on the people to constantly consider the good of the people as a whole and often disregards the wellbeing of the individual in doing so. There is little room for personal success. Imperial Overstretch contributed by wasting resources in maintaining a presence in countries that were not entirely invested in a communist manifesto to begin with. This also forced an arms race with the west, where innovation and productivity are encouraged and rewarded. The Bungled Reform was the final nail in the coffin of Soviet communism. In admitting that the system may be fundamentally flawed, they killed what little goodwill communism had left with the Soviet people. By trying to adopt a western style without the west’s legal backbone of checks and balances on business, the Soviets set themselves up for corruption and misappropriation of state resources.


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