• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

The SDI, never a realistic idea, brought about an end to the arms race. Discuss.

Extracts from this document...


HISTORY ASSIGNMENT The SDI, never a realistic idea, brought about an end to the arms race. Discuss. The arms race in the twentieth century was fuelled only by the rivalry between the two superpowers during the Cold War - it actually drew to a close when the USSR broke up. The SDI, launched by Reagan, undoubtedly must have created a certain amount of tension for the Soviets but it certainly was not the predominant factor that brought about the demise of the Soviet Union and the subsequent end of the arms race. Gorbachev, when he became the Soviet President, was serious about stemming the rot that had developed in his country's economy. He thus, did not want to increase defence expenditure, and tried to begin a fresh process of arms control and reduction; he wanted to make the world completely nuclear free in fifteen years. However, Reagan, who is widely seen as a right-wing President was suspicious of his motives in the beginning, even after the Soviets sent out a positive signal by unilaterally banning nuclear testing for a year. ...read more.


From 1983 to 1987 the Strategic Defense Initiative alarmed Soviet leaders because it threatened to reverse what they saw as the trend toward strategic stability and stable costs. Nonetheless, they did not respond to it by creating their own SDI program. That is, they continued their existing research programs on lasers and other advanced technologies, plus their existing design-work on space weaponry, but they did not mount an effort to test or develop SDI-type weapons. In addition they studied counter-measures to space-based weaponry, but since the SDIO never designed a plausible system, they had nothing specific to study, and their military spending was not affected. Between 1985 and 1987 Gorbachev spent a great deal of effort trying to convince the Reagan administration to restrain the program, presumably because he thought his own military-industrial complex would eventually force him to adopt a program of some sort to counter SDI, but by the end of 1987 the Soviet leadership no longer regarded SDI as a threat. This completely disproves the theory that SDI, Reagan's military buildup and the ideological crusade against Communism had delivered the knockout punch to the Soviet system that had been on the ropes since the early 1980s. ...read more.


did. When the START I treaty was signed in 1991, the U.S. had deployed 12,646 strategic warheads, the Soviet Union 11,212 - the numbers were so large as to be almost meaningless in terms of deterrence. During the 1980s, the Soviet economy continued to deteriorate as it had during the 1970s. The economic decline resulted from the failures of the system created by Lenin and Stalin and not from any effort on the part of the Reagan administration. Without Gorbachev, however, the Soviet Union might have survived for many more years, for the system, thought on the decline, was nowhere near collapse. It was Gorbachev's efforts to reverse the decline and to modernize his country that knocked the props out from under the system. The revolution was in essence a series of decisions made by one man, and it came as a surprise precisely because it did not follow from a systemic breakdown. The Arms Race of the Cold War almost came to a virtual stop after the breakup, as the Russian Federation had severe economic problems in the early 1990s, and could not afford to keep producing nuclear weapons. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level International History, 1945-1991 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level International History, 1945-1991 essays

  1. The First World War was a new type of war. It brought about horrific ...

    This is one reason why the allies won the war. Submarines became a key feature of the war at sea. Germans combated British sea power with its submarines called u-boats. In 1915 the Germans declared they would attack any boat that tied to get through their blockade of the British Isles.

  2. What part did Ronald Reagan play in bringing the Cold War to an end?

    his first term may have been an attempt to intimidate the Soviet Union in order to bring them to the negotiating table. The growth in the size of the American armed forces was not done in order to wage a future war but to put pressure on the already inefficient

  1. Khrushchev's Decline and Fall.

    Doctrine, and Cuba remained both free from the threat of invasion and intact as a base for Communist subversion throughout the Western Hemisphere. Khrushchev's newly pacific posture (or resumption of the policy of detente, if one prefers) was reinforced in August 1963 by the installation of a Washington-Moscow "hot line"


    * It was quite common for whole families - three generations often - to live in one room. Dormitories were supplied for workers, who were often separated from families. Canteens at work provided food. Standard of living * There is no doubt that the standard of living fell for most ordinary Russians during the 1930s.

  1. American History.

    he was very cynical and saw people as being motivated by economic self-interest alone [no virtuous common good for him]. - With Hamilton's outlook in mind, it is not surprising that, when Congress asked him to assess the public debt and come up with a plan to fix it in 1789, he came up with some controversial stuff...

  2. Nuclear Arms Race - A cold war investigation.

    I believe it is best explained by Carl Sagan famous analogy describing the overkill in the arms race with the "two men standing waist deep in gasoline; one with three matches, the other with five."

  1. You Will Never Be Forgotten

    On July 1, 1980, President Carter signed the legislation. ("Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision") It took approximately two years to complete the memorial, from the signing of the legislation to the dedication on 13 November 1982. (Howe) The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, headed by Vietnam Veteran Jan Scruggs, collaborated with the United States Fine Arts Commission.

  2. Vietnam Research Project

    He ignited the gasoline by lighting a match and burned to death in a matter of minutes. David Halberstam, a reporter for the New York Times covering the war in Vietnam, gave the following account: "I wish never to see that sight again, but once was enough.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work