(Sources) - How far do you agree with the view that Reagans actions to roll back the Soviet empire led to the ending of the Cold war?

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Use Sources J, K and L and your own knowledge. How far do you agree with the view that Reagan’s actions to roll back the Soviet empire led to the ending of the Cold war?

After Carter’s failure in dealing with yet another Soviet aggression; Reagan’s anti-communist ideas had appealed greatly to the American population resulting in a victory for Reagan. A staunch right winger, his hatred of communism was well known. Reagan saw the USSR and communism in unsophisticated moral terms as the embodiment of evil. His forthright hostility towards the USSR symbolised the change in American public opinion caused by the growing disillusionment with Détente. American right wing encouraged Reagan’s new foreign policies to be the essential factors in rolling back the Soviet empire. However to what extent the Reagan Doctrine was successful and whether or not it was responsible for the ending of the Cold War cannot be solely explained by this Triumphalist view presented in source J. The role of Gorbachev and the East Europeans themselves had also played a vital part in the ending of the Cold War as outlined in source K; but as Zubok explains in source L, that the end of the Cold War was a by-product of many factors all linking in with each other. One explanation on its own isn’t enough because, although pressure from the West did allow the tensions to rise to the surface; the “process of liberalisation inside the Soviet Union” was already undermining the communist system from within, causing the collapse of communism later on.

The Triumphalist views mentioned by Frances Fitzgerald in source J suggest that the rise of neoconservatives i.e. “Reagan’s advisers” caused the attitudes to change of the American public as they were “going back to the roots” to “create a ‘revolution’ in government”. Thus the re-enactment of a hard-line approach to communism was introduced through the establishing of the Reagan Doctrine to provide necessary pressure on the USSR causing it collapse therefore “winning the Cold War”. This was heavily supported by the American right wingers arguing that an aggressive stance against communism and its expansion would show the Soviet Union how serious and effective the USA is. According to J. L. Gaddis, the re-evaluation of the arms programme was what crippled the Soviet Union’s economic state so they had no choice but to call an end to the arms race and the Cold War. He also argues that the SDI programme was the final straw for the Soviet economy to become on the brink of bankruptcy. However, the views highlighted by the Ideational School suggest that Soviet scientists did not consider SDI to be a realistic policy – rather, something in the realm of science fiction so it can be argued that the SDI programme wasn’t significant in pressurising the Soviet Union but rather unnecessarily expended enormous amounts of dollars which could’ve been put to better use. Regardless of the limited successes of the SDI programme, Reagan’s approach was strengthened by the support he received from Thatcher; she enabled him to deploy nuclear missiles in Europe, as having US nuclear missiles based in Britain was of vital importance in putting pressure on the Soviet Union since it was tangible evidence of Reagan’s new anti-communist approach.

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On the contrary, historians writing at that time may have been biased towards Reagan’s policies as they saw firm action as the only effective way of standing up to aggression. This was reinforced by events such as the war in Iraq against the dictator Saddam Hussein – using the end of the end of the Cold War as a justification for the foreign policies of Reagan. But Zubok discusses, in source L, how “the pressure from the West revived Cold War tensions, but it is hard to see it as a decisive factor” and this is because the critics of ...

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