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Why Did The Cold War End
By Miha Alam
“Cold war (1940-1990) was a battle of words, propaganda and competition in various fields between two superpowers, USA and Soviet Union” (Weiner, 401). The cold war came to an end in 1991 due to the collapse and decline of communist ideologies (Weiner, 409). The Soviet became weak in the field of military supremacy, economy, science and technology. The emergence of the US and the west as strong economies also helped to end the cold war. (Weiner, 409). Gorbachev becoming the leader of Soviet Union triggered the end of cold war.(Weiner, 409).Revolutions in Europe, Gorbachev’s reformed policies and Reagan’s doctrine are main reasons which lead to the end of the cold war.(Weiner, 408)
The “Reagan Doctrine” is one of the factors which contributed to the end of the cold war. (Weiner, 424). The end of the cold war started with the Richard Nixon. He used the policy of Détente to control the arms race. He signed two Strategic Arms Limitation Treaties (SALT I and SALT II). (Weiner, 422). However, Reagan came up with a strategy which was to outspread the Soviet Union. Reagan’s goal was to put a lot of pressure on Soviet Union and make Soviet Union spend so much money that they would run out of money while trying to catch up with the US(Weiner, 424). The soviet population faced many issues and went against the leader. Reagan carried out this plan by spending a lot of money on military and arms. He supported and sponsored capitalist groups all over the world to push out communism. Reagan spent approximately three trillion dollars over all. The invasion of Afghanistan and the launch of a military government in Poland further limited the Soviets. These factors lead to the breaking down of the communist party and the decrease of communist influence. (Weiner, 424)
Gorbachev’s policies helped to improve the relations with the West, helping to end the cold war. (Weiner, 409) In 1986, the meltdown of the nuclear reactor at Chernobyl had a negative impact on large population and area to dangerous radiation levels. This forced the Soviet Union to introduce reforms. Gorbachev introduced two new policies of Glasnost (openness) and Perestroika (restructuring). Using these policies, freedom of speech was allowed. The media had more freedom than before. The publishing of books was allowed and the jailed protesters were released. The policy of “perestroika’ was carried out to increase the productivity in agriculture and industry by making factories and farms self-sufficient and profitable. Gorbachev developed their “command economy” by letting the head of the farms and factory, take decisions regarding the production and distribution of profits. Gorbachev motivated the workers by increasing the wages which was based on individual productivity. The Soviets were allowed to establish their own private businesses. These reforms and policies introduced by Gorbachev resulted in the decline of the communist party because they started to adopt the capitalist’s system for example starting own businesses etc. Perestroika reduced the direct involvement of communist leaders in other nations. Gorbachev began to reduce the number of soviet troops in some of the nations which decreased the communist influence and gave the Americans an advantage. Free elections were held in the Eastern European countries and the Soviet Union. This helped to elect new people with new ideas and more political reforms, causing the system to gradually change. In 1987, Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan signed the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty to reduce the level of arms by destroying all American and Soviet medium range missiles with in a specific time frame. These measures decrease the tension between both the countries and therefore, the cold war ended. (Weiner, 409).
A chain of revolutions in the Eastern Europe countries which were under the communist influence, lead to the end of the Cold War (Weiner, 432). Since Gorbachev got busy in improving the reforms, the Eastern European countries weren’t given any attention.(Weiner, 402) Thus, the communist regimes began to fall in the Eastern Europe and revolutions took place (Weiner, 432). In East Germany, Eric Honecker was overthrown and the Berlin wall was torn down, symbolizing the end of communism in Germany (Weiner, 433). In Poland, the Solidarity party challenged the Communist party which led to free elections in Poland(Weiner, 433). The Solidarity Party won the elections and changed into a capitalist system. In Hungary, Karol Grosz came in power and democratized the nation. He introduced reforms in order to stabilize the economy (Weiner, 435). The fence between Hungary and Austria and Hungary and East Germany, was taken down. In Czechoslovakia, Alexander Dubcek became the party leader and began reforms known as “Prague Spring”. Through this, they began to improve relations with the west and started adapting capitalist’s beliefs and philosophy (Weiner, 434). The soviets ordered to restrain, however, when the Eastern European countries refused, the Soviets invaded Czechoslovakia. (Weiner, 436). Twenty years later, “velvet revolution” caused huge protests and student demonstrations letting the popular leader Vaclav Havel become re-elected (Weiner, 436). Similarly, communist regimes in countries like Bulgaria, Albania, Romania, and Yugoslavia collapsed. All these revolutions in the East European countries lead to the decline of the communist party and the end of the Cold war (Weiner 445).
George H.W. Bush and Gorbachev officially ended Cold war at the Malta Conference by signing agreements in 1989. The decline of communist ideologies, weakening of the Soviet economy, increase in the non-Russian population in Soviet Union, and the emergence of leaders like Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan with their policies, followed by the collapse of the soviet satellite countries- lead to the end of the cold war (http://www2.sunysuffolk.edu/westn/coldwar.html). This changed the dynamics of the world politics (Weiner, 402). Gorbachev said “The end of cold war is our common victory”.
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