Dissolution: Sovereignty and the Breakup of the Soviet Union
In December 1991, the Soviet Union passed into history as a legal entity, breaking apart into15 successor states. This clear and convincing book explains why. Walker argues against much of the conventional wisdom and scholarly literature on the breakup, which emphasizes what he calls the 'demand side' of the problem, or the role of nationalist mobilization and the rise of separatist aspirations in the USSR's union republics. He points out that support for dissolution was limited to a handful of republics that included only a small portion of the Soviet population. Instead, the author highlights the critical role played by the USSR's ethno-federal system, as well as the normative claims and legitimizing myths of Soviet nationality policy. These institutions and myths empowered the anti-union opposition even in those union republics where they had limited support, and they help account for the highly ineffective strategy that Gorbachev adopted to overcome the USSR's 'nationality crisis.' Walker also shows how confusion over the meaning of some of the key terms of Soviet political discourse during perestroika-particularly 'sovereignty' but also 'union, ' 'federation, ' 'confederation, ' and 'independence'-contributed to a 'fog of war' that helped bring about the full disintegration of the USSR, an outcome that surprisingly few desir
What people are saying - Write a review
LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - LibraryThing
Short and insightful: The question that Edward Walker addresses in this short book is not why the Soviet Union broke up - but rather why it broke up in the way it did. Why were all 15 of the Union republics recognized as independent states in 1990-1991, while none of the other regions of the country were - even if they managed to attain de facto independence through force of arms (e.g., Abkhazia, Transdniestria, Chechenia)? When the USSR shattered, why did it do so exclusively along the lines drawn by Soviet leaders (mainly Stalin) a few decades earlier? Walker argues that the answer is the Soviet Union's curious federal structure, in which each ethnic group was given its own homeland whose status varied with respect to the size and importance of the titular nationality. The most important nationalities were given 'Union' republics - the 15 constituent members of the USSR - with "sovereignty" and an official (though meaningless for nearly all of Soviet history) right to secede from the Union. Other countries were able to use this fact to recognize the Union republics - and only the Union republics - as sovereign states without explicitly undermining any country's territorial integrity. After quickly reviewing the Soviet federal structure and the ambiguities of the 'sovereignty' possessed by the Union republics, Walker focuses his attention on the USSR's last few years of existence. He is most concerned with Gorbachev's attempts to take the Soviet Constitution and the right of secession (at least somewhat) seriously and his repeated efforts to draft a new Union treaty. Each successive draft of that treaty gave less and less power to the center, until the effort was aborted by the hard-liners' coup and the formation of the CIS by Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. Walker also gives a sympathetic explanation of the reluctance on the part of many Western leaders to encourage the dissolution of the Soviet Union (such as the famous "Chicken Kiev" speech). Walker discusses their fears that the breakup of the Soviet Union would be accompanied by a series of civil wars similar to those that later plagued the former Yugoslavia - with the added complication, of course, that the USSR had huge stockpiles of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and materials. He also surveys the attempts by the Crimea and some autonomous republics such as Abkhazia and Tatarstan to declare their own sovereignty, as well as the different interpretations that can be given to the collapse of the Soviet colossus (liberty triumphing over tyranny, or incompetent bumblers inadvertently smashing one of the most powerful countries in the world, for example). And he manages to do it all in only a little over 200 well-written and engaging pages. Few books so short are able to contain so much insightful explication. A must-have for those seeking to understand the breakup of the Soviet Union.
Sovereignty Federalism and Soviet Nationality Policy
Perestroika and the Parade of Sovereignties
Sovereignty for the Autonomies
Multiple Sovereignty and the New Union Treaty
Sovereignty as Independence
JSTOR: Dissolution: Sovereignty and the Breakup of the Soviet Union
Dissolution: Sovereignty and the Breakup of the Soviet Union. By Edward W. Walker. The So- viet Bloc and After. Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield, ...
Public Responses to Elite Changes in the Soviet Union, 1987-1991
Dissolution: Sovereignty and the Breakup of the Soviet Union. Lanham Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield and Berkeley Public ...
convention2.allacademic.com/ meta/ p198566_index.html?PHPSESSID=c2088baea13954278ef25d2972662d6d