By 1989 the communist movement was going through its final convulsions on the world stage. The ideology laid out in the Communist Manifesto by Marx and Engels, imported to Russia by Lenin, imposed on East Europe by Stalin and exported to the developing world by his successors had lost whatever was left of its legitimacy. For those mired in the past, the Cold War lingered on without direction and without end. For those engaging in the future it was imperative to start setting a new agenda for international cooperation.
In 1989, a consortium of research fellows from EWI produced a treatise on arms control called Conventional Arms Control and East-West Security published by Oxford and Duke University Presses, while another team released a supporting volume entitled, Managing the Transition: Integrating the Reforming Socialist Countries into the World Economy. Both were to have significant impact on expert debate. By 1990, the USSR was entering a full-scale economic crisis with increasing shortages, plunges in production, and a dangerous decline in state revenues. To facilitate responses to the financial and humanitarian crises, EWI was asked to convene many new types of meetings. One of the most useful was the first ever meeting between policy planning directors of the USSR and Eastern Europe with the United States and Western Europe. EWI's high-level Consultative Group on Economic Reform in the USSR brought Gorbachev's top team to the U.S. to work and Western experts to Moscow.
Personally sanctioned by Gorbachev, the Consultative Group was created to handle the increasing economic crisis of the Soviet Union. EWI had begun to shift its emphasis away from hard security concerns and concentrate on the wrenching economic transitions in the East. As the Soviet system stood on the verge of collapse, the failures of the command economies now posed as much of a threat to the unification of Europe as the Cold War had only a short time before.