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The Legacy of 1989 and 1990

The Legacy of 1989 and 1990

(p.195) Conclusion The Legacy of 1989 and 1990
Mary Elise Sarotte
Princeton University Press

This concluding chapter looks at the legacy of the contest of 1989 and 1990. The legacy of 1989–90 shows the power of chance and contingency. At many points, all state leaders, superpower and otherwise, were simply reacting to change. They had to propose models of order for the future precisely because they were overwhelmed by disorder. Often they were not so much designing events as simply surviving them. The challenge was to make the best use of events, no matter how unexpected they might be. The most unexpected was the opening of the Berlin wall on November 9, 1989, which shocked everyone, and might easily not have happened at all. Indeed, the collapse of the Berlin wall and the subsequent struggle to co-create order in post-Cold War Europe represent truly major turning points in modern history.

Keywords:   1989, state leaders, models, Berlin wall, post-Cold War Europe

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