Eastern Europe: A Freer, but Messier, Order

In the waning years of the 20th century, the greatest challenge posed by Communism will not be containing its spread but coping with its decline. From the bloodshed in Beijing to the political paralysis in Poland, efforts to shed hard-line systems are provoking agonal gasps that are at turns cheering and frightening.

When he begins his tour of Poland and Hungary this weekend, President George Bush will seek to certify a new era emerging from these convulsions. For Poland and Hungary are where the cold war began 42 years ago. And when historians write about the implosion of Communism in the...

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