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The End of The Cold Warby Rutvij BhattUnited States History IIMrs. Jacqualyn J. NewmanStroudsburg High SchoolMarch 17, 1997TOPIC:The End of the Cold WarThesis Statement: What role did the United States play in the ending of the ColdWar The cold war was a post-World War II struggle between the United Statesand its allies and the group of nations led by the Soviet Union. Direct militaryconflict did not occur between the two superpowers, but intense economic anddiplomatic struggles erupted. Different interests led to mutual suspicion andhostility in a rising philosophy. The United States played a major role in theending of the cold war.
It has been said that President Ronald Reagan ended thecold war with his strategic defense policies. In the year1949, Germany was divided by the victors of World War II andthey occupied different zones. The western regions united to form a Federalrepublic and the Soviet eastern region became communist East Germany. The coldwar had begun. Berlin, the former capital of Germany was divided into EastBerlin and West Berlin but was located deep inside the soviet controlled zone.1 Then, in 1961, the Soviet government built a wall which separated thetwo halves of the city. It was not until the 1980s that cold war tensions easedthrough the glasnost (openness to public debate) polices of soviet leaderMikhail Gorbachev. Finally, in November 1989, the wall crumbled under the handsof the Germans and the cold war ended.2 The downfall of the cold war started when Ronald Reagan came into officein 1981.
Reagan had two main priorities. He wanted to cut taxes and increasedefense spending. He felt that the United States of America should take aconfrontational approach towards Russia.3 Mikhail Gorbachev was the leader of Russia in 1985. He wanted to improvethe 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 standagainst Russia and it's allies. The soviets could clearly see that when Reagansaid he wanted a 'margin of safety', he meant that the United States should besuperior to Russia. Moscow would not let this happen. They wanted equality.5 Reagan also believed that military power and respect for America abroadwere inseparable from economic strength. However, Reagan's defense policyresulted in the doubling of the debt of the United States. He used the money fornew strategic programs and for expensive conventional programs such as expandingthe navy from four hundred to six hundred ships.
Reagan also received increasesfor the CIA and other intelligence agencies so they could aid anti-Russianforces in Afghanistan and other Third-World countries.6 Reagan's administration did not have strong or consistent policiestowards Russia. It was divided between people who favored careful negotiationsand people who strongly opposed efforts to deal with 'the enemy.' Thenegotiators were centered in the State department. It included George Schultz,Richard Burt, and Secretary of State Alexander Haig. The other side includedCaspar Weinberger, Richard Perle and Senator Henry Jackson.7 Soviets became frightened by the United States' policies. They weregoing to negotiate with Reagan at first but because of military buildup, lack ofinterest 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 airlinerthat was flying over Soviet territory.
The plane was traveling from Anchorage,Alaska to Seoul Korea. Sixty-one Americans were killed on the flight. When theUnited States heard about this; Reagan was furious. He denounced that the'Korean airline massacre' was a 'crime against humanity' for which 'there wasabsolutely no justification legal or moral..' 9 Soviets said that they thought it was a spy plane and when they inquiredwho it was, they received no answer. That is why they shot it down. This crisisgave 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 Heaccused the United States of pursuing a militarist course that is designed toachieve 'dominant positions in the world without reckoning with the interests ofthe other states and peoples'.11 Soviet leaders thought that the United States' response to the airlinerincident combined with the continuing lack of progress on arms control, wasproof that they should not improve relations with the United States. ThatDecember, they withdrew from the arms control negotiations in Geneva. For thisreason negotiations that would end the cold war were halted.12 Reagan proposed a program called 'Strategic Defense Initiative (Alsoknown as 'Star Wars').' The program was where an experimental rocket waslaunched off a remote island and intercepted an incoming ICBM (intercontinentalballistic missile) warhead that was about one hundred miles above earth. Thiswas a demonstration of the Pentagon's ability to solve the problems ofballistic-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 takethe initiative soon after coming to power in spring of 1985. Most WesternEuropeans derided 'Star Wars' as 'a pointless escalation in the arms race' andGorbachev thought this way also. Gorbachev denounced 'Star Wars' and tried toshow that Russia was a peaceful nation.
He reduced the number of 22-20 missilesaimed at Western Europe and also announced a moratorium on underground nucleartesting. Russia also offered to make deep cuts in it's missiles if the UnitedStates would stop researching 'Star Wars.' Gorbachev arranged a summit meetingin 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 Reaganto try to negotiate a comprehensive arms control agreement that weekend.Gorbachev offered a few significant ideas. He agreed in principle to the 1981United States proposal to eliminate medium range missiles from Europe andsuggested that there be a fifty-percent cut in strategic weapons for the nextfive years.16 Then, Reagan proposed that they destroy all ballistic missiles for thenext ten years and Gorbachev responded by suggesting they abolish all nuclearmissiles. Reagan agreed but then Gorbachev made it clear the any furtherresearch of SDI (Strategic Defense Initiative) should only be done in thelaboratory. Reagan then said that this restriction would 'kill' SDI.
WhenGorbachev refused to move his position, Reagan left. Reagan was forced to choosebetween 'Star Wars' and a deal that would end Soviet nuclear threat throughdisarmament, Reagan's basic partialism and distrust of Russia won.17 In February, Gorbachev offered to separate the European intermediaterange missile issue from strategic and space weapons issues and said that hesupported the long standing United States proposal to remove all Soviet andUnited States intermediate range missiles from Europe. Reagan respondedpositively 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 armstreaty 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 weredetected.20 In his speech to the United Nations on December 8, 1988, Gorbachevannounced the withdrawal of fifty-thousand Soviet troops in Eastern Europe. Thewithdrawn forces were tanks and units with bridging equipment. The West concededthat the Eastern section had stronger non-nuclear forces and that to move towardequilibrium in Europe required deeper reductions on the Eastern side than theWestern side.21 The Soviet Communist Party agreed to let Poland have a democraticelection on June 5 1989. In the elections, Solidarity (a labor union) won alandslide victory. Despite Solidarity's win Communists still regained controlof the Parliament.
The reason was that election rules guaranteed it a majorityof seats. However Solidarity won almost all the seats it was allowed to competefor. This Polish election that allowed the opposition to share power with theCommunist Party was a major part of the historic movement for political reformin the Soviet Union.22 On November 11, 1989, the Berlin Wall came down. This marked the end ofthe cold war. East Germany has announced that all border restrictions werelifted. President Bush wanted to 'seize every chance' to promote democracy inEastern Europe Secretary of State James Baker called the lifting of the Germantravel restrictions 'the most dramatic event in East-West relations' since WorldWar 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 ofconflict 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 thecold war. Though we made relations worse, we also helped end it. Reagan's 'StarWars' policies made Russians very nervous.FootNots1 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 (NewYork: 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' http://usa.coldwar.server.gov/index/coldwar/ 2 Feb.199710 http://usa.coldwar.server.gov/index/coldwar/11 Young, 2812 Young, 2813 Tom Morganthou, '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', 2822Brinkley, Alan An Uneasy Peace 1988-, Vol.
10 of 20th Century America, 10vols. (New York: Grolier 1995):2223Brinkley, 3024'George Bush addresses Europe' http://www.rjgeib.com/thoughts/burke/ 13 March1997.
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