Conclusion: Implications for US Security
Sixty-eight years after the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Soviet political system is beginning to experience great stresses that threaten not only to challenge the polity, but also potentially to transform the status quo ante. Concomitant with the transformation from Soviet elite and societal optimism to general pessimism about the future of the Soviet political system, there has been a similar transformation in Soviet relations with East European allies. East European elites—as all political elites—require continued support from local constituencies in order to maintain legitimacy and authority. To the degree that old methods for solving nagging endemic problems prove unfruitful, and to the degree that East European societies articulate demands and/or dissent, East European local elites must either respond to local constituencies or lose authority. The general transformation of Eastern Europe from Soviet asset to liability also has had a spillover effect on Soviet-East European military relationships.