Was the fall of the USSR the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century?

Was the fall of the USSR a major geopolitical catastrophe?

  • Yes

    Votes: 1 4.0%
  • No

    Votes: 19 76.0%
  • I have mixed feelings

    Votes: 5 20.0%

  • Total voters
    25
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Russian leader Vladimir Putin has described the fall of the USSR as the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century.

After 1991 the US became the world's only superpower, with disastrous consequences, particularly in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, Francis Fukuyama's 1992 book "The End of History", in which he declared that western liberal democracy and the free market had triumphed, has come to be seen by many as a symbol of an overconfident, complacent and hubristic attitude that led the west to its own set of failures and catastrophes in the years since.

Was Putin right?
 
No. Mess in ME wasn't inevitable. Whole talk about "greatest geopolitical catastrophe" is just Putin's nationalist talk. Much bigger catastrophe was division of Ottoman Empire and speciality foundation of Israel. It helped to create anti-western extremist Islam.
 
Definitely not. The worse geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century (to the point that it's known as the Seminal Catastrophe) was World War 1. A great deal of the nastiness of the 20th century was a result, direct or indirect, of that war. World War II, the Chinese Communist Revolution, the situation in the Middle East, maybe even the Russian Revolution...

The fall of the USSR was an upheaval, but it wasn't the worst upheaval of the 20th century. Not by a long shot. I'm not sure I would even call it a catastrophe. As maligned as the U.S. is for its Cold War policies (and for good reason), the USSR was worse, and I'm not sure the world would be a better place if they hadn't fallen.
 
Maybe not a "catastrophe", but certainly not a positive outcome for Russia. Definitely a good outcome for Europe - Eastern Europe is no longer dominated by a foreign power and Western Europe doesn't face imminent nuclear annihilation. I'd argue it was good for the developing world (particularly Africa) since the US is less likely to perceive regime changes as a threat to its established order than it was in the Cold War. And good for China, since it lost its biggest continental Asian rival.

I'd argue that Putin is using a more long-term view than most people realize. Having a sole global superpower is probably not beneficial for the world. However, having multiple great powers has not been a very effective deterrent against large-scale warfare either (see WWI).
 
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No. it had some pretty severe consequences for Russia and the Balkans but not even close to being the worst thing to happen to those nations in the 20th century, not even a close second or third. The years after have pretty much been a major upturn and definitely the most peaceful for the west compared to the rest of the century by a wide margin so I don't think that is a valid point at all.

In short, bad for Russia, positive for pretty much anyone else.
 
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Maybe one of the worst for Russia, but I can not imagine a catastrophe against Russia worse than that inflicted by the Nazis in WW2.
 
Putin’s speaking from the Russian perspective, both in general and in terms of the Russian state’s historical approach to it’s own international security. When viewed through those specific lenses, it’s difficult to argue that he’s wrong. But obviously those aren’t the only ways to view it however.
 
Putin’s speaking from the Russian perspective..

No, he's speaking from the perspective of the current Russian regime which would like to pin the blame on the mess they are currently in the middle of. Comparing it to the two world wars, and the interwar period hell even the Russo-japanese war its current state is something of a wonderland.
 
The fall of Soviet Union is only a runner up as a geopolitical catastrophe for Russia. Long behind Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, Nicholas II, Brezhnev et al... From perspective of KGB, it was a catastrophe, of course.
 
Putin’s speaking from the Russian perspective, both in general and in terms of the Russian state’s historical approach to it’s own international security. When viewed through those specific lenses, it’s difficult to argue that he’s wrong. But obviously those aren’t the only ways to view it however.

Putin's primary criterion is maximizing Russia's geopolitical power.

From that perspective, his assessment makes sense. Russia never achieved such power as it had as the bulwark of the Soviet enterprise, especially from 1945 to 1989.

By any other measure, however...

What the world lost in 1989-91 was a continent-sized slightly housebroken totalitarian empire incapable of producing anything but high end military technology and vast oppression. (Unless you count some fine art by Solzhenitsyn, Pasternak and Shostakovich. Though even the latter fall into the category of "great misery can produce great art." Russia has a long and rich experience in this vein, however.)
 
No, he's speaking from the perspective of the current Russian regime which would like to pin the blame on the mess they are currently in the middle of. Comparing it to the two world wars, and the interwar period hell even the Russo-japanese war its current state is something of a wonderland.

His words were “Geopolitical catastrophe”. That term has specific meaning which gives a specific context to his statement. Russian borders and alliance structure in the two world wars, the Russo-Japanese, and certainly the Cold War were vastly more secure from a Russian perspective then they were now, seeing as they rested much further from the Russian core.
 
What the world lost in 1989-91 was a continent-sized slightly housebroken totalitarian empire incapable of producing anything but high end military technology and vast oppression. (Unless you count some fine art by Solzhenitsyn, Pasternak and Shostakovich. Though even the latter fall into the category of "great misery can produce great art." Russia has a long and rich experience in this vein, however.)

I think it's the "Wars produce great art and technological progress" -fallacy at work, IMHO. Without all the human suffering Russia would have had vast talent pool of artists and scientists. Without doubt countless of talents were lost in GULAG, Civil War, mental institutions and drudgery etc.
 
It was a bad time for Russia but a good time for Poland, the Baltics, the Ukrainians and every one else who suffered under the Russian bootheel.
 
It was a bad time for Russia but a good time for Poland, the Baltics, the Ukrainians and every one else who suffered under the Russian bootheel.

On the other hand, Russia was also liberated almost entirely (ok, Chechnya et al) from keeping up an empire, which is mightily expensive business and had a decent chance on focusing on doing something more productive on the long term. Russian leadership just blew it's chances, Yeltsin via incompetence and circumstances, Putin just by incompetence. What has been the last time Russia had halfway decent leaders?
 
His words were “Geopolitical catastrophe”. That term has specific meaning which gives a specific context to his statement. Russian borders and alliance structure in the two world wars, the Russo-Japanese, and certainly the Cold War were vastly more secure from a Russian perspective then they were now, seeing as they rested much further from the Russian core.

Disagree, Sino-japanese war led to a geopolitical enviroment where Russia was percieved as a much more valid military target than it otherwise would have been. Much worse political consequence than anything russia faces now.

First world war saw the collapse of Russian influence and civil war and foreign occupation during the interwar years having it effectively ceasing to exist as a coherrent nation for a few years after the war where nations like poland could extract military victories.

Second world war for Russia was a result of the winter war which proved disastrous for the soviet union as it again resulted in being percieved as a valid target for a german invasion with a resulting 27 million dead Russians, again nothing today compares to it even remotely.

No nation today percieves Russia as a valid military target for conquest. There are no real external military threats, and its internal dealings are far more stable than the vast majority of the 20th century, no mass deportations, no rebellions claiming thousands of lives and no real danger of them being percieved as a valid military target.
 
It was the greatest geopolitical event of the 20th century. Russia might have lost territory, but given its nukes that hardly jeopardizes their security, it just takes away their governments ability to enslave and rule over other people.
 
This was very bad indeed for every people of labor, who was not living as rentiers or investors - because as soon as the western world realized the absense of Big Red Competitor in the East, it immediately began to cut down all social programs for the own population.

Most of the welfare-state programs and income cap regulations was invented because of need to prove that the capitalist world can also not be focused on profits, at least temporarily.

After the dissolution of the Soviet civilization project the tap with surplus profits was immediately closed. "Thank you all, this charity no longer pays off. Kiss our asses, enjoy your Hartz 4 and so on".
 
It was a bad time for Russia but a good time for Poland, the Baltics, the Ukrainians and every one else who suffered under the Russian bootheel.

Ostalgie and Yugostalgie says otherwise.

They've come to raid your stockings
And to steal your Christmas pud
But don't be too downhearted
It's all for your own good
The economic infrastructure
Must be swept away
To make way for call centres and lower rates of pay
And they'll all hold hands together
All standing in a line
Cos they're privatising Santa
This merry Christmas time
 
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