Armageddon averted

Essay by starlaxoCollege, Undergraduate September 2004

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Stephen Kotkin, in Armageddon Averted: The Soviet Collapse, takes upon himself the responsibility to answer the question of how and why did the Soviet Union collapse and simply cease to exist. He presents the arguments that the collapse was at the fault of Mikhail Gorbachev and his idea of socialist reform. The story is written in the setting of the first ten years of the Russian makeover. I felt that this book was very different from most of the other Russian books we have read so far because Kotkin is an American writer, writing about an unfamiliar topic and system.

The first few chapters of Kotkin's book concern the reasons behind why the reform was carried out. He also clears up some myths about the Soviet Union.

"Virtually everyone seems to think the Soviet Union was collapsing before 1985. They are wrong. Most people also think the Soviet collapse ended in 1991.

Wrong again. " (Kotkin 1).

After that he begins with the oil crisis near the beginning of the 1970's. Major Siberian oil discoveries came into play in the 1970s, giving the Soviets a huge amount of oil just as world prices were beginning to take off.

"When, in October 1973, the Arabs and Israelis suddenly went to war for the fourth time, Arab states, including the previously reluctant Saudis, announced a decision to roll out the 'oil weapon.' After so many years, such talk seemed like crying wolf. This time, however, the Arab nations made good the threat." (Kotkin, 10).

During this time, since Russia was a major oil producer, they did not have much to do with the crisis. In turn, Kotkin explains, they were never really required to restructure their industrial market and they have been suffering ever since. Kotkin does not explain things such...