1. Jorg Haider and Margaret Thatcher
Jorg Haider led the far-right Alliance for the Future of Austria. In the 1999 general election, Haider garnered 27% of votes, which earned him inclusion in the government. Subsequently, Austria experienced months-long sanctions imposed by the European Union owing to his seemingly anti-Semitic statements. Margaret Thatcher was Britains first female prime minister and leader of the conservative party and was also known for her controversial conservative ideology.
The two leaders are connected by their right-wing politics in their respective countries. Jorg Haider constantly supported attacks on immigrants, aggressive Euroscepticism, and advocated for effective tapping of anti-Semitism. Regarding Margaret Thatcher, her right-wing pro-corporate philosophies motivated her to attack labor organizations and facilitate massive privatization of public transport and social housing.
Jorg Haider was an example of fearless and extreme right-wing politics. He would use simple but provocative language alongside other figures that were regarded as the pioneers of the new European far-right populism that began in the early 1990s. An example of his hardline standing is when he praised the orderly employment policy that was implemented during the Nazi regime in Germany. Margaret Thatcher shaped the philosophy that later came to be known as Thatcherism, which was based on the belief that markets should be free from government regulation and that a state should be small. This philosophy shaped the nation more than any other had done before. In her view, the role of the government should be confined only to the essential regulation areas, such as the currency and defense.
2. Gregor Gysi and PDS Party of Democratic Socialism
Gregor Gysi is a German attorney and politician belonging to The Left, a political party that was partially derived from the Socialist Unity Party of Germany. In the late 1980s, when the democratic transition was taking place, he joined the reformist camp that was inspired by Gorbachev. The Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) was a German democratic socialist party that was active from the late 1980s to the late 2000s.
Gregor Gysi served as the chairman of PDS at the time when the party was calling for a cessation of the NATO bombing. In his position, he made a controversial trip to Belgrade and held personal talks with Milosevic during which he was vigorously attacked in the parliament and accused of serving as the Fifth column for Belgrade. The PDS provided a forum for Gysi to popularize his pro-democratic ideology important in the democratic transition that was on course.
Gregor Gysi is recognized for having worked alongside other lawyers in presenting a counter-draft that was a component of the government's Travel Bill. The draft saw mass public demonstrations authorized in Germany. He later seized the opportunity to organize a mass rally during which he spoke about and advocated for various democracy-related reforms such as free elections. He also led PDS to become the only party to have voted in parliament as a fraction in opposition of the Yugoslavian war and Germany's participation in the bombing. After the party made its position known, Gregor Gysi severally called for NATO to cease its bombing activities.
3. Jean-Marie Le Pen and Daniel Cohn-Bendit
Jean-Marie Le Pen is a French politician who served as the leader of the National FrontParty since its foundation in 1972 and until the year 2011. Daniel Cohn-Bendit is a French-German politician who led student movements during the 1968 unrests that characterized France. He was popularly known as Danny the Red due to the color of his hair, as well as his political stance.
The two leaders are related by the influence they had on their followers. Daniel Cohn-Bendit had a strong influence on his fellow students and even the other citizens. Many people would follow his political ideas and offer support, which led to his gaining much popularity despite his young age. On his part, Jean-Marie Le Pen came to be known by his opponents as the Devil of the Republic due to his might in polarizing public opinion on the issues he fought for. His political activity was a significant factor during the regime as he would manage to move the masses towards opposing or supporting a given issue.
The two leaders involvement in politics was not like that of most leaders of their time. They were targeted at specific social issues that affected their nations at that time, and they can both be termed as social-political activists. Daniel Cohn-Bendit, for instance, advocated for sexual freedom, even going to an extent of taking part in the occupation of girls premises. On his part, Le Pen spoke on issues relating to the European Union, immigration to France, and law and order.
4. Andrei Sakharov and SS-20
Andrei Sakharov (1921-1989) was a Soviet physicist who made a significant contribution to the military might of the USSR. His work was inspired by the fascination he had for cosmology and fundamental physics, but he devoted two decades of his career to designing nuclear weapons. SS-20 refers to a two-stage solid-fuel, a ballistic missile that was based in the Soviet theater. It is thought to have been an augmented or replacement of SS-4s and SS-5s; it provided up to 3 times the number of warheads characteristic of the older force.
The two terms are related in that they both worked towards improving the Soviets military capacity. Andrei Sakharov was involved in overseeing the development of a more effective design of the Soviet hydrogen bomb, different from that suggested by Klaus Fuchs.
Sakharov is recognized as the father of the Soviet hydrogen bomb. However, apart from his work as a physicist, he also rose to become one of the most courageous critics of the regime as he fought to defend democracy and human rights. In fact, he came to be regarded as a spokesman of mankinds conscience. This position is significant because the development and use of nuclear weapons have over the years become an issue of contention with regard to human rights. This is actually what has informed the debate calling for countries that have nuclear weapons at their disposal to ban them. Additionally, USSRs nuclear weaponry activities sparked off criticism and enmity between it and other nations.
5. The Red Brigades and Aldo Moro
Red Brigade refers to a left-wing Italian paramilitary organization that stepped into the limelight in the 1970s for having engaged in murders, kidnappings, as well as sabotage. Its self-proclaimed aim was to frustrate the Italian state and, by doing so, clear the way for a Marxist upheaval under the leadership of a revolutionary proletariat. Aldo Moro served as Italys Prime Minister from 1963 to 1968 and again from 1974 to 1976. He led the Christian Democracy (DC) party.
The two terms are related because the Red Brigades admitted that they have kidnapped and later killed Moro, despite the fact that both of them were left-wing. In 1978, while serving as the Prime Minister, Moro proposed consolidation of his party with the Italian Socialist Party, with the cabinet having the support of the Italian Communist party. This idea was strongly opposed by many including his own DC party and, most importantly, the Red Brigades. As such, as he was headed to a Chamber of Deputies session to be part of a discussion on a vote of confidence in support of the new government, he was kidnapped and killed 55 days later.
Aldo Moro was a key player in the effort towards making the Historic Compromise. If the compromise succeeded, it would have made Italy the first post-war Western European nation to have included communists in a government led by the majority. Having obstructed the efforts that would have made Italy make history, the Red Brigades gained popularity albeit for the wrong reason.
Part II: The End of the Cold War
The most important discontinuity in the history of Europe between 1939 and 2004 was the end of the Cold War, which lasted for 45 years between 1947 and 1991. The war ended abruptly and unexpectedly in 1989 and this marked the beginning of economic, social, and political changes that took place all over Europe and even beyond. However, the most important impact of this event was that it played a major role towards European integration and the subsequent increase in the membership of the EU. This essay will argue that the end of the Cold War was extremely important due to its contribution towards European integration efforts and breaking up a long history of global conflicts within or involving Europe.
The Cold War divided Europe for more than 40 years and eventually culminated in the disintegration of USSR. When Gorbachev rose to power in 1988, he noted that it was difficult to keep up with the arms stockpile that had been created by Reagan. He also realized that even though USs nuclear defense project was far-stretched, it had the capacity to render Soviet Union's nuclear strength irrelevant. Additionally, the Soviet Union was at the time experiencing many internal problems that included social unrest and an uncompetitive old-fashioned industrial economy (Natarajan). Considering all these factors, Gorbachev initiated the withdrawal of the Soviet influence and cleared the way for the independence of the former Soviet states. The resulting fall of the USSR caused the reunification of Germany and the US withdrawal from Europe and European affairs. This turn of events, in itself, was a major boost towards the efforts to integrate Europe (Natarajan).
In the aftermath of the Soviet Union's collapse, fifteen new European nation-states emerged, among them Estonia, Latvia, and Ukraine. In addition to these, several other states that initially belonged to the Eastern bloc but were not a part of the USSR came up. They included Poland and Czechoslovakia. Nearly all of these new states were willing to come together in a liberal democratic European deal (Natarajan). After the Cold War was over, the key European players such as Britain and France joined efforts and started to find ways in which they could bring together the European states. America was a perfect example of such a union. The nation was almost thrice the total size of the combined Western Europe. However, one could travel a distance of 3000 miles from the East to the West and not come across a single border, currency, or language change, or even use a passport. Europeans began to think that the division that characterized Europe for a big part of its history was indeed the root cause of the conflicts that constantly occurred between the nations. It was also a barrier to the continent's efforts to realize its economic potential in the future (Natarajan).
So far, the tangible benefits of engaging in economic cooperation had been manifesting since the European Coal and Steel Authority was established in 1951 and the European Economic Community creation after the 1958 Treaty of Rome. The community consisted of 9 countries and included France, Belgium, Netherlands, and Italy. There were notable improvements in the economy of Western Europe because of the economic cooperation. By the time the Cold War was coming to an end, the region's average per capita income had doubled the average of the Eastern region (Natarajan). Better still, at this point, Gorbachev's initiatives to defuse tensions created by the Cold War and open up the USSR offered an opportunity for the Western European nations to enhance their efforts towards achieving political and economic union. The Eastern region could not afford to be left behind. In 1986, the EEC nations had signed the SEA and set a 1992 deadline for the creation of a single market characterized by total freedom of movement for people, goods, services, and money. In 1993, the European Union was established. This was followed by Austria, Finland, and Sweden joining two years later and raising the membership to 15 (Natarajan).
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As the membership of the union grew, more free trade and open market agreements were signed. This implied that member nations could buy from and sell to each other, an aspect that largely boosted their economic performance. The adoption of the Euro currency was another major step towards achieving easier trade among the member states and lowering the costs involved. Most importantly, it is a symbol of close ties that exist between the nations. The unity that characterizes the union can be seen in the steps that were taken in response to Greeces financial crisis, despite the criticism that was involved. After the rest of the nations realized that Greeces fate could extend to them, they pooled billions of Euros to rescue the Eurozone (Natarajan).
The end of the Cold War and the subsequently increased integration of Europe was also a lesson to Europe and the world that, whereas it is possible to solve military problems politically, political problems are best solved economically. By uniting politically, nations can overcome warfare problems by incorporating heterogeneous groups into a common framework that settles the differences in opinions. This way, the problems are solved by negotiation as opposed to using physical force (Bradley). EU nations have also realized that it is more valuable and durable to have an economic advantage than military or political domination. The British Empire came into being at a time when England's commercial interests were spreading across the world as the nation looked for economic opportunities. If only Britain had the generosity and foresight to share its economic benefits with Europe, it is possible that the British Commonwealth could have arisen as a viable intermediary step a century prior to when the EU was founded. However, it is important to note that this kind of cooperation could not be achieved in the first half of the 20th century due to the conflicts and wars that characterized it. The end of the Cold War was thus an important event in history as since then European nations have not engaged in conflicts of nature witnessed there before (Bradley).
In conclusion, the end of the Cold War was the most important discontinuity in Europe's history in the period between 1939 and 2004. It was not only the end of the widespread hostilities amongst European nations but also a beginning of an era of renewed commitment to integration. Following the formation of the European Union, member nations started to look for ways of economically and otherwise progressing themselves as one, just as the US has been doing. Much time had been lost in conflicts and antagonism; it was time to rebuild. Although not all European nations have joined the union, the membership has been growing, a trend that can be attributed to the benefits those who are already members have reaped over the years. Nevertheless, it is important to note that the efforts to bring different nations with different political and social standings under one umbrella did not go smoothly. Notwithstanding, the end of the Cold War set the stage on which initiatives that sped up integration were taken.