I've been reading a fascinating book (borrowed from Tam's bookshelves), by John Lewis Gaddis, The Cold War: A New History.
Don't any of you tell me how it comes out -- I'm about three-quarters of the way through. Gaddis has good things to say about Eisenhower and Truman, Reagan and the second John Paul; Nixon and most of the Soviet leadership, not so much. A recurring theme in the book is the legitimacy of governments: how it is derived, how it is maintained, how it is lost. Also the degree to which a government is subject to its own laws.
It's a worrying perspective. The Federal government of the United States these days shrugs off domestic violations far more serious than actions that were once shattering revelations -- and it passes with little comment.
In 1989, the Soviet Union looked as strong as ever but was, in fact, balanced on the edge. One more tiny shift and-- It collapsed. The United States is the last remaining Cold War Superpower -- but is the clock ticking on our own 1989?
6 months ago