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In Uncertain TimesAmerican Foreign Policy after the Berlin Wall and 9/11$
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Melvyn P. Leffler and Jeffrey W. Legro

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801449093

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801449093.001.0001

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The Wall Comes Down

The Wall Comes Down

A Punctuational Moment

(p.13) 1 The Wall Comes Down
In Uncertain Times

Mary Elise Sarotte

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines the fall of the Berlin Wall, which it considers a “punctuational” moment—a moment of dramatic and unexpected change. It first provides a background on how the opening of the Berlin Wall happened on November 9, 1989 and what transpired in the immediate aftermath of the Wall's collapse. It goes on to discuss how the governments of the United States and West Germany responded to these events in terms of foreign policy and strategic planning. It suggests that the events surrounding the fall of the Wall “were fraught with uncertainty and risk” and arose independent of American will. The chapter also explores the legacy of the events of 1989–1990 for the year 2001 and argues that President George W. Bush and Secretary of State James A. Baker missed a unique opportunity to configure new institutions for the post-Cold War era, institutions that could have paved the way for Russia's integration into a new international order.

Keywords:   Berlin Wall, United States, West Germany, foreign policy, George W. Bush, James A. Baker, Russia, international order, strategic planning

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