What would have happened if the Soviet Union 1) never invaded Afghanistan in December 1979, 2) Starting in 1980, enacted precisely the same economic reforms that China did, 3) harshly cracked down on any protests or other “pro-democracy” reforms with its military, as the CCP did in response to the Tiananmen Square protest of 1989.
Given that the Soviet Union’s population in 1991 was 293,000,000, what would be a reasonable estimate for the Soviet Union’s GDP, had it maintained its political and military integrity, and enacted the economic reforms (market based) that China did, while ruling with an iron fist politically and especially militarily, crushing any revolts, but not invading any nations that it did not already have control over (i.e. Afghanistan)?
For comparison, the population of the United States in 1991 was 252,000,000, and that of China was 1,158,000,000.
I think the USSR could be the third or fourth largest economy in the world today, following the US, China, and maybe Japan. In spite of the lack of population, I can see the USSR maintaining itself as a military and political superpower, its GDP being somewhere in the range of half of that of US. The possibility of two rapidly growing economies that are tending toward market economies but are governed by Communist nations, with their combined GDP matching or even exceeding the US GDP is somewhat fascinating. There’s even a possibility of the United States eventually being the first to collapse out of the USSR/China, given that our national debt is so high today…and shows no sign of going down.
I think the fundamental policy mistake that the Soviet Union made was to refuse to look to China as a model for its future. The USSR could have taken the road of China up until the early 1980s imo.
What do you guys think? Remember that hindsight is 20/20, but nobody expected China to become this prosperous within 20-30 years.