The End of The Cold War by Rutvij Bhatt United States History II Mrs. Jacquelyn J. Newman Stroudsburg High School March 17, 1997 TOPIC: The End of the Cold War Thesis Statement: What role did the United States play in the ending of the Cold War The cold war was a post-World War II struggle between the United States and its allies and the group of nations led by the Soviet Union. Direct military conflict did not occur between the two superpowers, but intense economic and diplomatic struggles erupted. Different interests led to mutual suspicion 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. In the year 1949, Germany was divided by the victors of World War II and they occupied different zones. The western regions united to form a Federal republic and the Soviet eastern region became communist East Germany. The cold war had begun. Berlin, the former capital of Germany was divided into East Berlin and West Berlin but was located deep inside the soviet controlled zone.
1 Then, in 1961, the Soviet government built a wall which separated the two halves of the city. It was not until the 1980 s that cold war tensions eased through the glasnost (openness to public debate) polices of soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Finally, in November 1989, the wall crumbled under the hands of the Germans and the cold war ended. 2 The downfall of the cold war started when Ronald Reagan came into office in 1981. Reagan had two main priorities.
He wanted to cut taxes and increase defense spending. He felt that the United States of America should take a confrontational approach towards Russia. 3 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. 4 Both leaders wanted a 'margin of safety'. Reagan took a tough stand against Russia and it's allies. The soviets could clearly see that when Reagan said he wanted a 'margin of safety', he meant that the United States should be superior to Russia. Moscow would not let this happen.
They wanted equality. 5 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. 6 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 George Schultz, Richard Burt, and Secretary of State Alexander Haig. The other side included Caspar Weinberger, Richard Perle and Senator Henry Jackson. 7 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. Soviets kept the KGB (Russia's version of the Federal Bureau of Investigation) on alerted from 1981 to 1983 just in case.
8 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 this; Reagan was furious.
He denounced that the " Korean airline massacre' was a 'crime against humanity' for which 'there was absolutely no justification legal or moral... .' 9 Soviets said that they thought it was a spy plane and when they inquired who it was, they received no answer. That is why they shot it down. This crisis gave more tension to the cold war situation. 10 On September 23, 1985, Andropov, the Soviet leader at the time, issued " one of the most strong anti-American statements since the Stalin Era'.
12 He accused the United States of pursuing a militarist course that is designed to achieve 'dominant positions in the world without reckoning with the interests of the other states and peoples'. 11 Soviet leaders thought that the United States' response to the airliner incident combined with the continuing lack of progress on arms control, was proof that they should not improve relations with the United States. That December, they withdrew from the arms control negotiations in Geneva. For this reason negotiations that would end the cold war were halted. 12 Reagan proposed a program called 'Strategic Defense Initiative (Also known as 'Star Wars').' The program was where an experimental rocket was launched off a remote island and intercepted an incoming ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) warhead that was about one hundred miles above earth.
Thiswas a demonstration of the Pentagon's ability to solve the problems of ballistic-missile defense. 13 What if free people could live secure in the knowledge that their security did not rest upon the threat of instant United States retaliation to deter Soviet attack; that we could intercept and destroy strategic ballistic missiles before they reached our own soil and that of our allies? 14 (President Reagan commenting on 'Star Wars') It was Reagan's support for 'Star Wars' that enabled Gorbachev to take the initiative soon after coming to power in spring of 1985. Most Western Europeans derided 'Star Wars' as 'a pointless escalation in the arms race' and Gorbachev thought this way also. Gorbachev denounced 'Star Wars' and tried to show that Russia was a peaceful nation. He reduced the number of 22-20 missiles aimed at Western Europe and also announced a moratorium on underground nuclear testing. Russia also offered to make deep cuts in it's missiles if the United States would stop researching 'Star Wars.' Gorbachev arranged a summit meeting in Geneva with Ronald Reagan which is where they had talks about 'Star Wars.' Little progress was made on arms control and Reagan was held responsible.
15 Gorbachev and Reagan also met in Reykjavik. Gorbachev challenged Reagan to try to negotiate a comprehensive arms control agreement that weekend. Gorbachev offered a few significant ideas. He agreed in principle to the 1981 United States proposal to eliminate medium range missiles from Europe and suggested that there be a fifty-percent cut in strategic weapons for the next five years. 16 Then, Reagan proposed that they destroy all ballistic missiles for the next ten years and Gorbachev responded by suggesting they abolish all nuclear missiles. Reagan agreed but then Gorbachev made it clear the any further research of SDI (Strategic Defense Initiative) should only be done in the laboratory.
Reagan then said that this restriction would 'kill's DI. When Gorbachev refused to move his position, Reagan left. Reagan was forced to choose between 'Star Wars' and a deal that would end Soviet nuclear threat through disarmament, Reagan's basic partial ism and distrust of Russia won. 17 In February, Gorbachev offered to separate the European intermediate range missile issue from strategic and space weapons issues and said that he supported the long standing United States proposal to remove all Soviet and United States intermediate range missiles from Europe. Reagan responded positively to Gorbachev's speech and he resumed talks with Gorbachev.
18 The modern world has become much too small and fragile for wars and policy of force. It cannot be saved and preserved if the thinking and actions built up over the centuries on the acceptability and permissibility of wars and armed conflicts are not shed after all... [If the arms race continues] The situation in the world may assume such a character that it will no longer depend on the intelligence or will of political leaders. It may become captive to technology, to technocratic logic.
19 Mikhail Gorbachev Reagan agreed with Gorbachev and the United States signed a nuclear arms treaty eliminating all the intermediate-range missiles stationed in Europe. Thiswas the first ever agreement that eliminated an entire class of nuclear weapons. American officials were sent to Russia to make sure that any violations were detected. 20 In his speech to the United Nations on December 8, 1988, Gorbachev announced the withdrawal of fifty-thousand Soviet troops in Eastern Europe.
The withdrawn forces were tanks and units with bridging equipment. The West conceded that the Eastern section had stronger non-nuclear forces and that to move toward equilibrium in Europe required deeper reductions on the Eastern side than the Western side. 21 The Soviet Communist Party agreed to let Poland have a democratic election on June 5 1989. In the elections, Solidarity (a labor union) won a landslide victory. Despite Solidarity's win Communists still regained control of the Parliament. The reason was that election rules guaranteed it a majority of seats.
However Solidarity won almost all the seats it was allowed to compete for. This Polish election that allowed the opposition to share power with the Communist Party was a major part of the historic movement for political reform in the Soviet Union. 22 On November 11, 1989, the Berlin Wall came down. This marked the end of the cold war. East Germany has announced that all border restrictions were lifted. President Bush wanted to 'seize every chance' to promote democracy in Eastern Europe Secretary of State James Baker called the lifting of the German travel restrictions 'the most dramatic event in East-West relations's ince World War II.
23 George Bush had comments on the Berlin Wall also. He went to Mainz, Germany where he said a few words. For 40 years, the seeds of democracy in Eastern Europe lay dormant, buried under the frozen tundra of the Cold War. And for 40 years the world has waited for the Cold War to end. And decade after decade, time after time, the flowering human spirit withered from the chill of conflict and oppression. And again the world waited.
But the passion for freedom cannot be denied forever. The world has waited long enough. The time is right. Let Europe be whole and free. 24 George Bush The United States of America played a huge role in the ending of the cold war.
Though we made relations worse, we also helped end it. Reagan's 'Star Wars' policies made Russians very nervous. Footnote 1 Walter Lippman, The Cold War: A Study in U. S. Foreign Policy (New York: Harper& Brothers Publishers, 1947) 48-52. 2 Charles S.
Maier, ed. , The Cold War in Europe: Era of a divided Continent (New York: Markus Wiener Publishing, Inc. , 1991) 27. 3 Ralph B. Levering, The Cold War (Illinois: Harlan Davidson, INC.
, 1988) 169. 4 Levering, 1695 Levering, 1696 John Young, Cold War Europe 1945-1989 (New York: Edward Allen, 1991) 26. 7 Levering, 171-28 Levering 1739 'The End of the Cold War' web 2 Feb. 199710 web Young, 2812 Young, 2813 Tom Morgan thou, 'Reagan's cold war 'sting'?' , Newsweek 32 August 1993: 3214 Levering, 18015'Ending the Cold War', Foreign Affairs Spring 1988: 24-2516 Young, 2817 Young, 2918 Young, 2919 Levering, 187-18820'Ending the Cold War', 2721 'Ending the Cold War', 2822 Brinkley, Alan An Uneasy Peace 1988-, Vol. 10 of 20 th Century America, 10 vols. (New York: Grolier 1995): 2223 Brinkley, 3024'George Bush addresses Europe' web 13 March 1997..