Strategic shock – The collapse of the Soviet Union: 1989


  1. Gizewski, P.
  2. Alie, N.
Corporate Authors
Defence R&D Canada - Centre for Operational Research and Analysis, Ottawa ON (CAN)
This study was written in support of the project; Future Security Environment Part 2: Future Shocks, launched by the Directorate of Future Security Analysis (DFSA) in December 2008. The project aimed at identifying and evaluating plausible Strategic Shocks in order to help inform and enable policymaking and capability development. One aspect of the project involved illustrating the lessons learned and consequences of shocks that have occurred in the past. The present study, “Strategic Shock: The Collapse of the Soviet Union; 1989,” was chosen by members of the DFSA research team for its exemplification of a “geopolitical shock.” The study contends that not only did the Soviet collapse generate considerable economic, political and social turmoil in former Soviet satellites, but throughout the international system as a whole. Old predictable rules gave way to uncertainty. Regional rivalries and ethnic and religious rivalries long suppressed by superpower influence and patronage re-emerged. Threats of state failure, regional conflict and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction multiplied. And key national and international institutions and organizations - long focused on the threat of the Soviet monolith -- were thrown into crises of identity and purpose. Beyond this, the disappearance of the longstanding threat led to the creation of a vacuum in careful thought and strategic vision on the part of governments. Without a central organizing principle and clearly d

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Shocks;Futures;Future Security Environment;Soviet Union;Union of Soviet Socialist Republics;Soviet communism;Geopolitics
Report Number
DRDC-CORA-TM-2010-166 — Technical Memorandum
Date of publication
13 Aug 2010
Number of Pages
Electronic Document(PDF)

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