The myth of Ronald Reagan winning the Cold War is equivalent to the rooster raising the Sun.
I really hate to offer "after the fact" predictions, but it was evident to any reasonably intelligent student of sociology and demographics by the late 1970s that the USSR was only years aways from a meltdown. Several factors came together at a particular point in time:
The inherent degeneracy of self-selecting oligarchies, especially paranoid Politburos and Central Committees determined to avoid another Stalin or Beria, where current powerholders tend to pick less capable (non-threatening) oligarchic replacements. Witness the late-stage rise of Andropov, who got his major career boost as Brezhnev's driver/gofer.
The seriously "racist" nature of Russian society as reflected in the USSR, where power was vested in a hierarchy of Great Russians, Ukranians, White Russians, and every other group, in that order, something demonstrated especially well in the Committee for State Security's (KGB) separately maintained armed forces and in the makeup of the regular armed forces, where Great Russians and the "Little Brother" Slavs made up the bulk of the select forces (Strategic Rocket Troops, Special Forces, GRU intelligence units) and non-Slavs were relegated to "Tail" or "grunt" units, usually under Slavic commanders. A look at the ethic makeup of attendees of the military academy at Frunze, the USSR equivalent of West Point, would illustrate this point very nicely.
Also, and in light of Russian racism, the 1960/70s work of Helene deEncausse et al on the relative birth rates of the USSR Slavic (decreasing sharply) and non-Slavic (sharply increasing) populations, portending a rise of the non-Slavic majority population into power positions in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), a situation exacerbated by the declaration by the USSR-resident Grand Muftis in the 1940s/50s that membership in the (atheist) Communist Party was not incompatible with Islam, somewhat like saying you can be a good Baptist and a Democrat or Republican. This freed Muslims to join the political system in a quite successful way (q.v. Georgian Muslim Eduard Scheverdnaze) and become an increasingly large percentage of the CPSU "grassroots" with obvious implications.
For a society with power so centralized in Moscow, it was unthinkable for the Slavs to even consider such power passing to non-Slavs. In fact, the dissolution of the USSR and the demise of the CPSU may have been the only way to ensure that power over the former Russian empire remained in the hands of the Slavic tribes.
The Flaming Moderate
Disrespecting the South
: Zell is right about many non-Southerners thinking the South is filled with boobs. But you can forgive them that error if you realize that most of the Southerners they know are politicians.
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