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Reasons for the end of the cold war

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Introduction

Reasons for the end of the cold war J. Gower Throughout the 1980s, the Soviet Union fought an increasingly frustrating war in Afghanistan. At the same time, the Soviet economy faced the continuously escalating costs of the arms race. Dissent at home grew while the stagnant economy faltered under the combined burden. Attempted reforms at home left the Soviet Union unwilling to rebuff challenges to its control in Eastern Europe. During 1989 and 1990, the Berlin Wall came down, borders opened, and free elections ousted Communist regimes everywhere in eastern Europe. In late 1991 the Soviet Union itself dissolved into its component republics. With stunning speed, the Iron Curtain was lifted and the Cold War came to an end. The most important long-term reason was communism's inability to achieve anything other than a totalitarian system that supported repression, exploitation, and often murder or imprisonment of the people by a tiny well-organized elite that enjoyed what little wealth and privilege the system produced. At worst, as in the Soviet Union, China, and Cambodia, to name a few, communism resulted in genocide. ...read more.

Middle

He understood that central planning had failed to achieve prosperity or equality. By the late 1980s, the Soviet Union could no longer afford to maintain its eastern European empire, its military buildup, and operate a centrally planned economy. Gorbachev chose to give up the empire and military buildup, in a desperate attempt to concentrate all resources to reform and revive the Soviet economy. In February 1986, Gorbachev denounced the 'Brezhnev Doctrine', which justified a Soviet invasion of any communist country that was threatened by a democratic revolution. Instead, Gorbachev called for radical reforms in the Soviet Union, which would be achieved by 'glasnost' Although Gorbachev intended to reform the Soviet Union and Communist party, the political changes that he enacted proved so revolutionary that they eventually destroyed both the Soviet empire and communism. Ironically, the domino effect of revolution that American policymakers feared so much throughout the cold war occurred only in Eastern Europe. The democratic revolutions that swept Eastern Europe in 1989 and 1990 were largely the result of peaceful mass demonstrations that convinced the communists to allow free elections. ...read more.

Conclusion

The coup leaders were arrested and tried for treason. The failed coup accelerated the destruction of communism and the Soviet empire. During the coup, Latvia and Ukraine declared their independence, and statues of Lenin were toppled in Estonia and Lithuania. On August 24, Gorbachev resigned as head of the Communist party and recommended that its central committee be disbanded. On August 29, Yeltsin and Gorbachev appeared before the Russia parliament. Over Gorbachev's protests, Yeltsin dramatically issued a decree abolishing the Communist party across Russia. On September 2, the Soviet Congress of People's Deputies approved a plan to reduce the Kremlin's authority and allow a looser federation of the Soviet republics. On September 6, the Soviet Union recognized the independence of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. On October 18, Gorbachev and presidents of eight other Soviet republics agreed to join an economic union; the Ukraine joined on November 4. On December 4, 1991, Russia, the Ukraine, and Belarus declared the Soviet Union dead but agreed to form a commonwealth. Communism and the Soviet empire had all but vanished. A small but ultimately decisive factor in the toppling of the cold war was the USA's 'missile defense system'. The USA spent billions, ultimately bluffing Russia into believing that if a war did ever happen, they would lose. ...read more.

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