What factors helped bring an end to the Cold War?

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Q. What factors helped bring an end to the Cold War?

In this essay I will argue about the end of the Cold War, why and how did the Cold War end?. Actually, in the late 1980s, the Cold War came to a dramatic end. Essay outlines the approaches followed in this essay. During this essay I would explain the end of the Cold War and who helped to bring an end to the Cold war. Politically, I used to put the question with which people are concerned as: Which factors did more to bring about the end of the Cold War, the actions and decisions of individual statesmen, or long term impersonal factors? The aim of this essay, first of all is to explain what is Cold War and between whom and when did it end?, did the Cold War ended by Reagan?. Secondly, I would highlight my understanding of his points about taxes and military. This essay will also address the following issues; Did Reagan and Gorbachev played an important role in the end of the Cold War?; what factors bring about the end of the Cold War, the actions and decisions of individual statesmen, or long term impersonal factors or Berlin Wall in Germany from 1981-1991? While the actions of Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev played important roles in this process, impersonal factors such as the inherent inefficiencies of the Soviet system and the continued Western policy of containment had a greater impact in ending the Cold War. Finally, explain clearly these factors to show the factors which brought an end to the Cold War and did really Reagan one of the important elements that helped to ended the tension?.

The Cold War refers to long period of tension and rivalry between two political and economic systems in particular, the United States of America(USA) and the Soviet Union. The Cold War actually was a post World War II struggle between the United States and its allies and the group of nations led by the Soviet Union. This period was characterized in particular by superpower control of two opposing military and political blocs. Direct military conflict did not occur between the two superpowers, but intense economic and diplomatic struggles erupted. Different interests led to mutual doubt and hostility in a rising philosophy. The United States played a major role in the ending of the cold war. It has been said that President Ronald Reagan ended the cold war with his strategic defense policies. As well as, the Cold War can be said ended with the reunification of Germany in 1990. In the year1949, Germany was divided by the victors of World War II and they occupied different regions. The western regions united to form a Federal republic and the Soviet eastern region became communist East Germany. At this point the cold war had begun. Berlin, the previous capital of Germany was divided into East Berlin and West Berlin but was located deep inside the soviet controlled region. Then, in 1961, the Soviet government built a wall which separated the two parts of the city. It was not until the 1980s that “cold war tensions reduced through the glasnost (openness to public debate) polices of soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev”(1). Finally, in November 1989, the wall destroyed under the hands of the Germans and the cold war ended.

The downfall of the cold war started when Ronald Reagan came into office in 1981. Reagan had two main points to develop. He wanted to cut taxes and increase military spending. He felt that the United States of America should take a confrontational approach towards Russia. Mikhail Gorbachev was the leader of Russia in 1985. He wanted to improve the Russian economy. He also wanted to improve relations with the United States. “He used his glasnost (openness to public debate) policy and perestroika (restructuring) to help the Russian economy”.(2)  

  1. Charles S. Maier, ed., (1991), The Cold War in Europe: Era of a divided Continent, NewYork: Markus Wiener Publishing, Inc. P.27.
  2. Ralph B. Levering, (1988), The Cold War, Illinois: Harlan Davidson, INC, P.169.

Both leaders wanted a “margin of safety”. Reagan took a tough stand against Russia and its allies. The soviets could clearly see that when Reagan said “he wanted a “margin of safety”,(3) he meant that the United States should be superior to Russia. Moscow would not let this happen. They wanted equality. Reagan also believed that military power and respect for America abroad were inseparable from economic strength. However, Reagan’s defense policy resulted in the doubling of the debt of the United States. He used the money for new strategic programs and for expensive conventional programs such as expanding the navy from four hundred to six hundred ships. Reagan also received increases for the CIA and other intelligence agencies so they could aid anti Russian forces in Afghanistan and other Third World countries. Reagan’s administration did not have strong or consistent policies towards Russia. It was divided between people who favored careful negotiations and people who strongly opposed efforts to deal with “the enemy”. The negotiators were centered in the State department. It included “Richard Burt, George Schultz, Richard Burt, and Secretary of State Alexander Haig. The other side included Caspar Weinberger, Richard Perle and Senator Henry Jackson”.(4)

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Soviets became frightened by the United States’ policies. They were going to negotiate with Reagan at first but because of military buildup, lack of interest in arms control, Soviets were afraid Reagan would attack the nation. So, “Soviets kept the KGB (Russia’s version of the Federal Bureau of Investigation) on alerted from 1981 to 1983 just in case”.(5) A Russian military plane had shot down a South Korean civilian airliner that was flying over Soviet territory. The plane was traveling from Anchorage, Alaska to Seoul Korea. Sixty one Americans were killed on the flight. When the United States heard about ...

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