Both the blocs developed weapons of mass destruction and diverted large funds towards the arms race. The situation, as if with magic wand, had changed drastically in 1989, when one East European country after the other like a row of falling dominos and the Soviet empire, so assiduously built over a period of four and a half decade, disappeared suddenly.
The East European countries—never very happy with Russian bear hug finally regained their independence and moved towards democratisation and market economy. The Soviet Union itself lost its majesty in the comity of nations.
USSR not only lost an empire but also its nomenclature when 15 of erstwhile republics decided to part company with it and proclaimed their independence. For the Western world, it was a dream coming true.
Their adversary was not gone but was standing at their doorsteps with a begging bowl. It is difficult to surmise at present the factors which led to the demise of communism in, and the collapse of the USSR. However, following are the probable causes of the same:
(i) The Soviet Union neglected the consumer sector and concentrated more on building up a formidable defence network to give itself the respectability of a superpower. The people at large were denied some of the basic facilities ever so common in the capitalist economies.
(ii) The Soviet Union extended liberal assistance to its allies, which its economy could hardly sustain. Cuba, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Angola, even India were recipients of Soviet largesse. This was primarily done to build up an image and that, too, at a considerable loss to the local economy.
(iii) The greatest factor responsible for the collapse was its intervention in Afghanistan from 1979 onwards. The United States of America succeeded in its resolve to break the back of the Red Army in Korea from 1950-53.
The USA could stand the enormous cost of intervention in Vietnam, during its peak almost Rs 35 lakh per minute were spent in the Vietnam conflict in 1967-70, because of a strong domestic economy. In spite of this large financial commitment, USA had to retreat from Vietnam.
The US, when provided with the opportunity, left nothing to chance in undermining the Soviet resolve and determination. The Reagan Administration supplied every conceivable offensive and defensive weapon to the Afghan guerrillas to weaken the Soviets,
(iv) The bloated public sector of the Soviet Union, run on doctrinaire lines, proved inadequate to meet the people’s expectations. The Soviets watched the progress of consumerism in the Western society and those permitted to travel abroad brought back excellent quality products, accentuating the contrast between the capitalist and the socialist economies.
The complacent managers and indifferent executives of the factories failed miserably in meeting the aspirations and refused to change their hackneyed style of working.
The East European countries have very quickly adopted the capitalist system, and have been assimilated with the European Union; all of them have been integrated with the European Union. East Germany is now fully integrated with the rest of Germany. Cold war is over and the specter of a spark getting ignited is remote.