chapter  17
12 Pages

Rise and fall of the Soviet system

The Soviet Union was born in war, it was forged in war, and it was tempered by war, but it did not, surprisingly enough, die in war. It was the First World War that made possible Lenin’s seizure of power; during the Civil War the essential features of the system emerged; the Great Patriotic War (the Second World War) acted to relegitimate the system; and although the USSR’s engagement in the war in Afghanistan from 1979 to 1988 brought it no honour, it did not seriously precipitate its downfall. Some might argue that the USSR’s enormous commitment of resources to fight the Cold War debilitated it to the point of collapse, but the argument that the Soviet Union collapsed in a time of peace remains valid.