On November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall came down. Hardly anyone had foreseen this event. When President Ronald Reagan had challenged Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in June 1987 “to tear down this wall,” he never anticipated that Berliners themselves would have the opportunity and courage to bring about such dramatic change. We now know that the Wall came down as a result of accidental circumstances, a series of mistaken statements and understandings among officials of the German Democratic Republic. No one had planned for this to happen, and no one had plans to deal with a new landscape that might have been dreamed about but had never been imagined as an imminent possibility.

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Copyright © 2011 by Cornell University. This book chapter is included by permission of the publisher, Cornell University Press, with all rights reserved. This book chapter first appeared in In Uncertain Times: American Foreign Policy after the Berlin Wall and 9/11.

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